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Question
Posted by: Gavin | 2004/02/17

Custody of Child

My son is 4 years old and has been living in Ct with his mother for the last years and a half. We have been seperated for two and a half years. I see him at least once a month when he stays with me for week( sometimes longer ). My son and I have an excellent relationship and a very strong bond. We are now contemplating whether he should come to live with me, say from next year onwards. I have a feeling that we need to see child ph. for advice on the best way forward and if this si the best way to go. What would your advice be and could anyone put me in touch with a support group or child ph. as this will involve a change of custody or possible joint custody.

Regards

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Dear Gavin, Lucia sounds like she udnerstands the situation well. If the mother is in agreement with the lad coming to live with you ( presmably with her being able to visit and spend time with him ) and you two are separated bu not divorces, then so far as I know it's up to the two of you to decide as you both think best. If, as is usually the case, there is room for potential conflict and disagreement later on, it could be well worth it, when you two have decided, to get a lawyer to seek a court decision to formalize that agreement and make it more binding.
Lucia is also right that kids are usually more resilient and adaptable than we expect, fortunately, and usually cope pretty well with such changes, especially as he has already maintained a good relationship with you. If the two of you are in agreement with whatever arrangements for custody seem wise to you both, then the court can simply accept and formalize that. An expert's testimony is unlikely to be needed ( your lawyer would advise specifically on that ) unless the issue is contested, if you and your ex differ strongly about what would be best.
Then, if such testimony is really needed, as few good shrinks in SA specialize in giving expert testimony as such, your best bet would be to find a good local child psychologist to see the boy, and prepare a report. You could call the Stellenbosch University Mental health Info centre in the Dept of Psychiatry there, for names of such child srinks in CT.

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Our users say:
Posted by: volcano | 2004/02/17

Gavin, it is always a pity when a marraige hits the rosks for whatever reason but I must commend you (and your almost ex) that you are looking out for your son's best interest.

Reply to volcano
Posted by: Gavin | 2004/02/17

Thanks Lucia,

My wife and I are seperated and and need to finalise the divorce. We would like to see a child ph. and or expert to make a final decision before making the custody arrangement an order. I live in JHB, so no family physician in CT. Looking for an expert who can evaluate and or who knows what the court would accept. I cant keep on flying down to CT if they reject. If it is agreed that he would be fine, then joint custody or custody in my name would be submitted. Not sure that joint custody would fly with us living in diff cities though.

Reply to Gavin
Posted by: Lucia | 2004/02/17

Dear Gavin

Firstly - if you say "we are contemplating" - is that you and your wife whom you are only separated from or you and someone else ? Normally custody is determined during the divorce proceedings, since you are not divorced, but separated it would be best to see a lawyer who can go through the process of making the custody arrangement a court order. Your wife needs to be in total agreement of the court order, other wise I see trouble ahead.

It is going to be quite an adjustment for your son, but kids are very versatile and they tend to adapt fairly quickly. However, I hear your concern and you would like to soften the blow as much as possible. Best is to speak to your family physician who can refer you to a child ph to assist with the process.

Good luck.

Reply to Lucia

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