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wording on contact order

(13 Posts)
memorexzz Thu 24-Jan-13 18:11:55

Can anyone help please? Back in court soon for final hearing in child contact case. At the last hearing the wording of the court order was ambiguous and left considerable room for my ex to maneuver. This has caused some serious problems. Basically without revealing too much how can I ensure the magistrates understand the importance of a very carefully worded order so as to prevent further problems. I'm seeking standard contact, alt weekends and a mid week overnight plus holidays.

What happens if they give me another order that is open for her to interpret as she wants? Should i say something there and then in court or can i only wait for it to be re-listed ? I'm self- representing, does anyone think its worth me getting a solicitor to help with this specific issue? many thanks for any advice/ help.

Collaborate Thu 24-Jan-13 18:38:54

Write it down and send it in to court before the hearing. Give a copy to the other side.

balia Thu 24-Jan-13 19:23:48

Ask for a very clearly defined order and explain why. As you say, it is fairly standard contact but most court orders expect a certain level of communication between parents. You'll have to justify why you want things tying down.

memorexzz Fri 25-Jan-13 08:53:45

thanks very much for that.
Last time the paperwork wasn't there and the magistrates hadn't read anything, there was a delay whilst they read our statements. I am concerned that the nature of these problems are very difficult to understand and hard for me to summarise , and that without knowing what is going on the magistrates will find it hard to really see the importance of a watertight order. Or maybe I am overly worrying about the details and they see similar things all the time.

Is there anything I should do if the paperwork gets lost again and the magistrates have insufficient time to prepare themselves?

angstyanne Fri 25-Jan-13 14:41:52

Similar sort of problem here. Interim contact order was open to interpretation possibly and therefore open to argument and misunderstanding between me and ex.
I want to get to final hearing asap, but not sure if you can simply ask that to happen or the judge/magistrates decide.
I can see the point of very, very specific order as ex and I don't communicate but also how does that deal with the unexpected i.e. change of work patterns in the future, DCs going to social/family events.
At the moment, ex won't take DCs to birthday parties - youngest needs someone to stay with her, DS can be dropped and picked up. So contact order mentions such things but doesn't say what happens if DC want to go and ex won't take or buy pressie for birthday child.
How complicated and detailed can contact orders be?

Spero Fri 25-Jan-13 14:47:04

I am wary of orders which are too detailed. I think the risk is that people can get so entrenched that they then refuse to permit anything outside the order.

I always tell my clients to think of the order as a skeleton which they can flesh out. It should provide the basic framework of contact and a para saying 'such other or further contact as the parties can agree'.

Really detailed orders may have an initial appeal but things change so quickly in children's lives that the more you tie yourselves down in detail, the more risk you have of needing to return to court to vary something.

Life is full of changes and surprises so I think the goal is to get an order to set out clear expectations but allow for some flexibility when it is necessary. I appreciate that this gives space for an unreasonable person to mess around but frankly, no kind of order is going to stop that.

It might be worth paying for a short appointment with a solicitor to help you with wording, but you should probably be able to do it yourself. Just say contact will be (for example) every other weekend from X to X, Y to collect. If contact is not possible for whatever reason the resident parents shall use his/her best endeavours to inform the other parent asap and shall make arrangements for another date for contact to take place.

or something like that.

memorexzz Fri 25-Jan-13 15:18:28

spero I do appreciate that with a genuine emergency changes have to made quickly , with possibly very short notice and i can deal with that, but ex has history of refusing to give information when she has it- sometimes withholding information that affects contact for weeks- hence need for a more detailed order. I am willing and have been flexible and understand its importance . Many thanks for your input.

For what it's worth, having 5 separate contact orders all incredibly detailed (running to a total of about 30 pages) don't seem to stop my ex messing about and pushing every single thing to the last possible inch.

I do understand the need for them but please don't think it will resolve the problems.

I wish I could offer a more positive view, just be very very clear about why it's in the best interests of the DC.

Good luck.

Spero Fri 25-Jan-13 15:46:09

it sounds sadly as if you need to be applying to enforce the order you have rather than trying to make a new more detailed one. If she is preventing contact taking place she is in breach of the order and all orders should now contain a clear warning that to breach them is contempt of court which can in extreme cases be punishable by imprisonment.

Sometimes enforcement proceedings can stop people arsing around. But sadly LizaT speaks the truth.

memorexzz Fri 25-Jan-13 16:19:57

she isn't preventing contact taking place. She follows it to the letter. Problem is ambiguity of wording and too much room to maneuver .

An example: ex can change contact days with no notice- there is a recommendation but its only that, consequently i can never plan anything- even a family birthday party if i want DC to be there cannot be planned for certain as i don't know which day i will have contact. A further problem is overtime. I can't ever put in for weekend overtime as i don't know which day i will have contact until its very close- and by then all the overtime has gone . I can't let down DC and messing about work is not an option either. I see why she wants to keep her options open until last possible moment but it impacts on my family life and DCs family life with me too. I live near and can do play dates and parties with DC so they don't miss out.
Sounds like a detailed contact order may not solve anything though.

Spero Fri 25-Jan-13 17:32:55

Well that is just ridiculous. A typical contact order should read 'mother will make children available every other weekend from 4 on Fridays to 9am on Mondays and on Weds afternoons from 4-8. Such other and further contact as can be agreed'.

Sounds like you don't need a more detailed order, just an effective one!

angstyanne Fri 25-Jan-13 19:06:58

Is there anywhere to get sample contact orders, spero? From what you are saying it sounds like simple and straightforward is the way to go and that is is better to come up with a suggested one rather than hope that you can thrash details out on the day?

Spero Fri 25-Jan-13 19:25:46

Resolution. the sols group might do examples but i dont think they should be difficult for any reasonable litigant in person to do.

just say 'the resident parent shall make the child available for contact on following dates and times'

specify who will be doing the picking up and dropping off.

For school hols I usually say 'school holidays shall be split equally between the parties, precise times and dates to be agreed at least two weeks in advance' as generally no one is clear about term dates when they turn up at court.

Then a separate para 'such other and further contact as can be agreed'.

I think you have got to have fixed days and times as last minute ad hoc arrangements usually do not benefit the child.

But equally you have to build in flexibility to accommodate illness and special occasions, such as a birthday party the child wants to go to. But any contact missed should be made up later.

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