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what happens when a contact order is broken? is it "optional"?

(32 Posts)
Pendu Mon 27-Jun-16 13:40:43

I am at the end of my tether with ex H.

We have an agreement which says the DC should be available at 6pm Friday and back 6.30 pm Sunday. (Every other weekend) I used to drop them because I tried everything to keep things civil , but ex is always being nasty and controlling so I put my foot down and have now said come 6pm Friday if you want to see them. Now he says he can't commit to it (I knew it - he wants an easy life of me dropping them) and might come Friday's, might come Saturday's and as I wanted custody, I have to suck it up. This is amongst all sorts of things like calling me a shit mum, mentally unstable etc etc. DC1 has a Sunday activity which requires commitment and ex always makes an excuse not to take him, which just adds to it.
Anyway, can my ex do this? I never say on a Sunday evening that I can't have the boys because its inconvenient - I always make sure I'm there for them but he just uses me. Last week DH had to take one dc to work and I took two to work because my ex neither came nor was I going to let him keep controlling me. If he doesn't want to take any steps to see them, I want rid of the court order - I can neither go away with my family because he can click his finger and demand his rights, nor can I carry on with my weekend work because I don't know if he will come or not.

I have given 4 years to him for the boys sake (though he has even physically assaulted me when he failed to return the dc once and I went to collect them), he tells the DC all sorts about me (which eldest copies now) - heck he even pulls down his underwear and passes wind in their faces ( he did worse with me when we were married )

I just want an end to the control - it's like his last hurrah . If he had any concern or care for the DC, I would do anything for them... But it's all about control and games.

Anyway what are my options? I am trying to give him a chance to make arrangement eg his wife collect the DC or he sort out his work hours (like I have to) but he's already told me he's not going to and "doesn't have to".
Is this a basis to end the agreement?

Redken24 Mon 27-Jun-16 14:04:28

I dont think you can end the agreement per se, you need to contact whoever wrote the agreement (sheriff?) and inform them of this blatant disregard of access
Inform them of the list of grievances etc, start a diary if you havent already - including these weird things he does to the kids, the emotional abuse ( about you)
Good luck xxx

WannaBe Mon 27-Jun-16 14:09:28

If the contact order says that the DC should be available for contact every other weekend then that's what you do. I.e. You make them available to be collected at 6:30 PM on the Friday. He cannot be made to take the DC however, but as long as you make them available you are not in breach iyswim.

So if he refuses to collect the DC then assuming the contact order doesn't state that you have to drop them off, if he doesn't collect them then you assume that contact won't be happening.

I would seek legal advice to clarify but that's the way I see it. Perhaps for clarity you could just ask on a Friday whether he will be collecting the DC. If he says no just state that they will be ready to be collected at 6:30 on Friday. If he doesn't collect then you do nothing.

boobyooby Mon 27-Jun-16 14:11:45

I'm afraid a contact order only dictates when the resident parent has to make the children available for the nrp to have the contact.

If, in this case your ExH decides he isn't collecting them then it does fall to you. Its absolute rubbish - Ive been there, and had to soak up the childrens upset and moods let alone work or god forbid a social life on a Saturday evening when I thought I would be child-free.

It's bloody ridiculous isn't it!!

Pendu Mon 27-Jun-16 14:14:53

But my problem lies with he uses the order to then control me - he tried before to get me to live within an 8mile radius of my home if I moved, I can't ever move outside England or Wales but for nothing .... He's not interested in the actual contact. I have to hover around every other weekend incase he decides to come - I can neither make plans to work nor make plans anywhere but local with the DC. If I say I have work at 7, he says he will come at 8. I just want to be free of him sad

WannaBe Mon 27-Jun-16 14:21:22

Take back the control. Tell him the DC will be available at 6:30 and it's not flexible.

So if he's not there at 6:30 then go out by 6:45. The alternative is that you tell him you will be dropping the DC off at 6:30 and if he's not home then you will be taking them back with you and he can see them in two weeks time.

And keep a diary of every time he misses contact because he thinks he should be allowed to control the situation.

I am generally not an advocate of withholding contact but as long as you stick to the actual schedule I.e. At 6:30 they were ready and he didn't show then he is the one who is going to have to get his act together.

boobyooby Mon 27-Jun-16 14:23:45

You can of course reapply to the courts to get the contact order changed.

Keep a proper diary note of all contact due, and the "excuses" and missed contact dates.

I found the most effective way to deal with my exH was to not play into his hands and if he could suddenly not come to collect on a Friday eve I would just reply with "OK, I'll let the kids know. They will look forward to seeing you on "insert the next date". I then would book cinema for next morning for the £1 each screenings, buy some sweets and get on with my weekend and ignore him. Visit my parents for lunch or just a walk in a local park or cake baking etc - anything so I didn't feel trapped indoors by him. He very soon got bored of the kids saying they didn't really miss him as we had fun anyway, although really it was more of a distraction for me (if that makes sense) and I also kept a diary for a year and when his CSA was reviewed I sent them all the dates of his contact he actually had v what the contact order said s they adjusted the overnight stays accordingly (another £10 a month but hey Rome wasn't built in a day!!)

He very rarely plays up now, if he does ring to say he is stuck at work then it does seem genuine but it does all still go in the diary!!

Pendu Mon 27-Jun-16 14:23:58

So he can come anytime in that weekend and if I'm not here, I'm breaking the order? This wasn't explained at the time sad I just want to get away - I can see my dear boys turning into him. It took me 8 years to get courage (from mn!) to go to a refuge and get away, and he's used every loophole to still control me. The divorce was granted but he wouldn't agree to signing a financial order unless I gave him 15,000 (so I had to Sign my home to my mother to release money to effectively buy my freedom), then he took every step he could to use to annoy me (throwing religious items the DC (by choice) wore in the bin, letting them play 18 + games , telling them they don't have to listen to me , they don't have to go to school, telling them people of my religion are stupid , dropping them off early on Sunday's to my work without my knowledge (until the DC were at my door and he was gone ), giving them beer, not taking them to activities because I pay/organise it, allowing them to come home covered in flea bites) . He even messaged my DH today and said I was causing trouble and to "control your wife ".

Do I really have to allow this ? He can come 5pm on a Sunday if he likes?

Pendu Mon 27-Jun-16 14:27:31

I am standing firm now , which he hates. I have said he needs to make arrangements .... But if I then refuse to be around on a Saturday or Sunday if he's missed the Friday pick up, won't I be in breach? He is so sly- if I say they will be ready on Friday, he says "so you are saying I can't collect them Saturday?"

Redken24 Mon 27-Jun-16 14:28:34

no no no,

Be available on the Friday at the usual time - tell him thats that and if hes not there then go shopping at 7 etc . If he tries anything like u should have brought them to me, well why should u ? travel is not stipulated at all.
I think you should definitely contact the court regarding these visits as it sounds like he is trying to alienate you.
He has a new wife? lucky her eh

Redken24 Mon 27-Jun-16 14:29:14

if the court order is friday then its friday not any other day

boobyooby Mon 27-Jun-16 14:30:29

I'm not 100% sure on how the law see's it tbh, but I used to give an hour leeway to collect once the excuses came in and then say sorry kids are going to bed at 7:30, you havn't made it so they will see you "next date" - if I fancied visiting my sister on a Saturday (50 miles away) I would just take the kids and ignore the ex! He would then have to wait until his next contact date!!

Think once you take away the control they think they have it helps (even though it doesn't feel like it at the time)

WannaBe Mon 27-Jun-16 14:32:00

Do what boobyooby posted above. So if he can't collect them on Friday you simply say "ok, I'll let the DC know, they'll see you on <insert date of the following contact Friday>. Don't engage with his questions, and make all contact in writing.

He absolutely cannot make you stay at home for the entire weekenD. In fact if he does say "so are you saying I can't see them....?" Then simply reply "you've said that you are unable/unwilling to fetch them on Friday. We have plans for the rest of the weekend, therefor the DC will look forward to seeing you in two weeks."

boobyooby Mon 27-Jun-16 14:32:57

sorry lots of other posts the time it takes me to reply.

Yes if he can't make his contact on a Friday then he has missed his contact - do not let him upset your plans on the Saturday etc, which is why I used to find the £1 screenings fab as I could turn off my phone legitimately and ignore and immerse myself in U or PG rated films for £3 for an hour or two.

Redken24 Mon 27-Jun-16 14:35:08

agree with boobyooby

Pendu Mon 27-Jun-16 14:37:40

I will definatly go to court - I don't care about my free weekends finishing (though it was nice!) , I just don't want them to be his pawns. I think I'll have a case? I've asked for items like uniforms but he refuses (I knew this, I don't want his money - I just wanted evidence) , he never pays anything above and beyond the minimal csa despite me having to pay a lot because poor dc1 is so messed up from him he has horse riding (which is basically his therapy - surprise surprise he has anger and self esteem issues) which is the very activity ex h can't be bothered to bring him to hmm, he has been to one parents evening in the 4 years , never signed a reading book or done homework, never puts on dc3 eye patch ... Basically he's done nothing positive at all to benefit them since we split. They even come home in school uniforms (when I used to drop them after school) on a Sunday evening because he would pinch the clothes I sent them with. If I outed myself with my old name, then a lot of oldies would know who it is grin

Lweji Mon 27-Jun-16 14:38:14

What is the exact wording of the contact order?

Being available at 6pm Friday is not the same as from 6pm Friday.

Lweji Mon 27-Jun-16 14:39:51

Also, FWIW, I wouldn't book activities that ex would have to take my child to.
If they are such arseholes that they don't care about the children, they will use it to upset you, because you may have paid for them or because you care about the child.

Pendu Mon 27-Jun-16 14:39:57

I'll write out the order - I need to track it down. It definatly doesn't say "from" because I didn't want to make a fool of myself , but now I'm doubting myself because some people think orders actually mean anytime within that time frame ... Let me have a look

Cakedoesntjudge Mon 27-Jun-16 14:46:51

This might be an unpopular thing to say but very few courts will actually enforce contact orders anyway!

My step brother is desperate to see his daughter and has so far taken his ex to court 3 times, each time has established a contact order that she then breaks within a month or so and prevents him from seeing the daughter. The police won't enforce it and just tell him to file another case at court, which then restarts the whole process!

So even if the contact order does say from 6pm rather than at I'd get on with your weekend's plans anyway. Keep a log as others have said plus a record of the messages and then if you do end up back in court I highly doubt there's a judge in place that would penalise you for breaking the agreement!

wejammin Mon 27-Jun-16 14:47:05

Hello smile

I'm a family lawyer.

You can't make the non resident parent have contact. You can apply to vary the order if he's not turning up.

Alternatively you can stop contact and leave the onus on him to go back to court to enforce, but this puts you in a bad light.

Did you go through mediation last time or were you exempt because of domestic abuse?

Pendu Mon 27-Jun-16 14:47:20

The order

Pendu Mon 27-Jun-16 14:48:24

Oh it does say from but I took that to mean he has them from 6 Friday to 630 Sunday .....

Pendu Mon 27-Jun-16 14:54:45

No mediation - I was in a refuge. Actually I had a separate agreement with the council to not allow contact but it all went into a grey area - it got ended because we were far away, but then he used that chance to then get contact . He actually refused to return them after a visit until I agreed to all manor of things, but because I had left my home to get them back I then had no where to bring them back to (I had assumed I could get temp. Housing ) and it all went to pot. He used them as a bargaining tool (he wouldn't get rid of tenants in our FMH until I agreed to access but I wasn't homeless because I had that home but yet I had no home in reality until he got rid of the tenants to bring the DC back to ... So anyway all his past issues were basically pushed aside and he got the access and I got my dc back) .

I don't care now about enforcing it ... But he's such a sly creature and he would have been in trouble if I make it hard for him eg go away with the kids on the Saturday . He even handed me a copy of the agreement with parts about non compliant parents being fined or jailed as a threat to me

Lweji Mon 27-Jun-16 14:56:27

As it says "from", I'd tell him where he can collect the children during that time.
You won't be hiding them or preventing contact, but if he has form for not collecting at reasonable times, then you can't sit and wait all weekend for him.

Eventually, you could decide the lack of commitment is not good for the children and make a conscious decision to prevent contact if he doesn't collect them at a reasonable time, or supports their activities/social events, and prepare for a court battle.

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