Just over 6 months my 7 year old daughter came to live with me. Her mother and her boyfriend had been arrested and bailed for a matter I won't go into here.
During that time, my child has had regular visits up to Darlington to see her mother although, while the police investigation was going on, my daughter was staying at friends and family members' houses as my ex was nor her partner were to have any unsupervised contact with children.
The case has now been dropped and they are both in the clear.
As I said before, my daughter has been with me for some time now and has settled into school and doing well.
I, of course, like any good father would prefer my daughter to remain in my care and I have applied to the court to change the residency order in my favour.
The court date is April 23rd. Obviously, before that, we have the Easter holidays when, ordinarily, my daughter would be visiting her mother.
My worry is that if I allow her to make the visit, her mother would not return her in the hope that keeping hold of her may tilt the court hearing in her favour - the magistrates not wanting to upset the status quo etc.
I intend to speak to my ex and hope that I can talk her into my understanding that our child's schooling comes first - (she has a Year 2 SATS test coming up at the end of April and I want her focussed on that and to do well in it). Ideally, regardless of what the court decides, I think my daughter would be better off to at least finish the school year before (if it comes to it) she is uprooted and placed into another new school.
The advice I seek - Would I be better off by not allowing the visit to take place? Is there something (other than talking to my ex) that I can do to ensure that my daughter is returned if I do allow the visit?
you could ask the court for an 'ex parte' hearing. This is where it's just you and the judge, you would be heard on the same day you make your application at the discretion of the judge. As it's a new application, you would have to pay, or get a fee remission. I'm not sure if you could have an ex parte hearing with a magistrate though. you could apply to vary the order (if you have one) and ask for an 'abridged time for service,' which mean you could have a hearing within a couple of days on the matter of the school holiday.