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Old 02-14-2020, 04:57 AM
Dead Cat is offline
I was curious...
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: UK
Posts: 4,546

Family law question (Northern Ireland) - parental access

Background: about 4 years ago a good friend of mine fell hard for a nice young girl from Northern Ireland, who was living and working in England at the time. Within a year or so they moved in together, got engaged, and then married (in Northern Ireland). Not long after that, they bought a house together in Northern Ireland and had a kid.

Things seemed to go downhill from there and a year or two ago they mutually agreed to separate, and then divorced. He had no other connections over in Ireland so moved back to England, but used a lot of his time and money on visiting to see his son whenever possible (several times a year). I'm not sure of the details of the divorce but I think he basically gave over any rights he might have had to the entire house in exchange for not being required to pay maintenance (but I could be wrong about the latter detail). Those of my friends who know more about it seem to think he got a pretty raw deal financially but didn't want to contest it in order to get it over with more quickly.

His ex has since remarried and had another child with her new husband. As I understand it, visiting arrangements remained amicable at first, though apparently she wasn't willing to travel the other way to assist with this, nor to allow him to bring his son over to England for a visit.

However, he recently informed us that following his most recent visit, he had a phone call from his ex informing him that the kid appears upset and withdrawn for a few days following his visits, and as such she wants them to stop altogether. A letter from her solicitor will follow.

He will obviously contest this as he loves his son, wishes he could spend more time with him, and by all accounts the feeling is mutual. Any judge would laugh this out of court, right? How can she not realise that her son is most likely upset because he enjoys the time with his dad and wishes it were longer, and this is therefore a terrible way to address this? Several of my friends are of the opinion she was using our friend all along, and while I've been willing to give her the benefit of the doubt up to now, not any more.

Obviously he will be lawyering up, so I'm not looking for legal advice, mainly just wanted to vent. But if anyone has experience of this in general, especially if it happens to relate to the Northern Irish legal system, that might be useful.

I am 99.99% certain (and I've chosen that percentage carefully - I can't completely rule it out, of course) that there is nothing untoward going on between my friend and his son, but I worry that if she goes full-on crazy she might imply that, and it could be hard for him to disprove. It seems to me that's the only way she is likely to succeed in her apparent objective of cutting him out of their son's life, provided he follows the appropriate legal channels. But what an awful experience it's going to be for the kid, whatever the outcome. People are so horrible and selfish sometimes.