Making Arrangements In The Other Parents Contact Time

(276 Posts)
SnowWhiteWinter Wed 05-Dec-12 09:46:17

Hi everyone, I have another thread too but have some other issues that I'd like to pose to mumsnetters. Everyone gave very honest advice (even if it was a little harsh at times) on my other thread (which I will update as soon as we have an update) and I (and my DP) would very much appreciate some honest opinions here too, and ideas of what to do etc.

My DSD (3) is starting a new preschool in January. She has been on the waiting list for over a year and was finally offered a place in October. It's so much better in every way than her current one, which has just had a "satisfactory" Ofsted report, and this one is "outstanding" - not that Ofsted reports are everything but it just adds to the list of reasons why the new one is better. It's bigger, more activities, better facilities, nicer location etc.

DSD's mum doesn't want her to change preschool but decided to leave it until 2 weeks ago to email DP to tell him. She likes the old one and wants her to stay there. We now have a very awkward situation as she is already enrolled in the new one and deposit is paid. For those of you who have not read my other thread, DSD's mum has only been having her and my other DSD on a 50/50 basis for the last 6/7 months. Before that, she was only seeing them about 1 night per week for around 2 years. During this time things like pre schools and schools were considered, visited, chosen and applied for - she wasn't interested in what choices were made, didn't want to visit any etc, so my DP and I did this, until 6 mths ago she had never been to see DSD's preschool. There is no residency order in place, no court involvement so far, which sort of makes things harder as when DSD's parents can't agree I guess it's a bit of a stalemate!

She hasn't actually given any particular reason for wanting to stop the move just "I like the current one". DP has asked her to visit the new one so she can see how great it is, she won't, she also doesn't want the prospectus we picked up for her, she just will not discuss it. DSD knows she is going to the new pre school after Xmas, she has been and visited with us a couple of times already too.

So my 1st question is What do we do? Cancel the new better preschool because her mum doesn't want her going there, even though she has been waiting for a space for so long, knows that's where she is going and we have paid deposit and we believe it's much better (hence the long waiting list).

My 2nd question is a little bit last minute. Next week, during the DSD's time with their mother, the new pre school is having their "induction" session for all new January starters. The children meet the staff and key workers and all the other new starters, parents have coffee and introduce themselves etc. This is only done once and unfortunately falls on a day when DSD's are with their mum. DP has written to her about 5 weeks ago and explained this all and proposed we take DSD to it (it's only 2 hrs). DSD's mum is at work that particular day, so DSD will be at pre school all day that day anyway so we would pick her up, take her for two hours and drop her back to preschool. DSD's mum has said no, DP cannot take her out of preschool for 2 hours as it is her week with the children.

Now as there is no court order in place DP knows he can very easily just go and get DSD and take her and return her but he is torn as to what to do. He has never once planned something during their time with their mum or asked to take them to anything during that time- and as she is working it doesn't make a difference to her anyway as DSD will be at pre school. He has asked their mum if she could get the time off work to take her instead of us, or we all go together, but she has ignored this possible idea. So what do you guys think? It is for DSD's pre school education but it's certainly not compulsory, it would just be very nice for her and I would think helpful for DSD to go. DP doesn't want to cause problems or act unreasonably during their mums contact time, but equally we know she is saying no because she doesn't want her to start at the new preschool at all (she may have other reasons but she hasn't mentioned any).

All advice greatly received, some of you have so much experience as step parents and of step family situations perhaps someone has been in a similar situation? Part of me just wants to say to DP, forget it, let her mum make the decisions just to keep the peace.

SnowWhiteWinter Fri 07-Dec-12 21:04:10

allnewtaketwo - That's a really good point, I suppose we never know what the future holds, I assume that if DP and I break up then the PR is revoked somehow. I know it sounds awful but I am honestly not sure.

Just DP and I went to the last meeting. This was after the parents consultation where they told use that some mornings DSD is very quiet and upset when she gets to school, but the teacher stated it was only mornings after being with her mum. DP and I were worried and wrote to headteacher, they then backtracked a bit and said they "think" it's the mornings she's with her mum but will keep a record for a few months to identify a cause and hopefully a resolution. We got called in for a meeting about this and they mentioned attendance then too. As far as we know the head has called in their mum for a meeting too but we are unsure if she went as she hasn't answered DP when he asked her via email. Meeting is last week of term, just DP and I - I assume their mum will have a separate meeting.

Disney... I do sound blase, but I'm not. I have always taken responsibility of DSD's alongside DP, I feel responsible for them, I feel I am one of the few adults in their lives that needs to make sure they are provided for, needs to ensure they have a secure and happy home etc, and I take those responsibilities very seriously as I do for my own DC too. You're right about the paperwork.

NotaDisneyMum Fri 07-Dec-12 22:41:11

PR awarded to a StepP is not rescinded automatically in the event of divorce - one or more of the other people with PR have to apply for the court to have it removed.

This is why it is such a big issue to have it awarded in the first place and marriage is a necessary pre-requisite for it to be agreed without a court order/decision.

Either snow and her DP are married, in which case a PR agreement can be signed by the DSD Mum and Dad, or they have been to court to secure PR through residency order or PR order.
Anything else isn't legal.

PoppyPrincess Fri 07-Dec-12 23:48:12

snow I've just been reading online and it sounds like it would probably be Special Guardianship. The parents still have parental responsibility but you are able to exercise parental responsibility. This can be obtained as long as all parties with parental responsibility agree.

NotaDisneyMum Sat 08-Dec-12 00:02:40

poppy You may be right - although a Special Guardian has day to day responsibility for a DC, does have PR and they can exercise that PR to the exclusion of others with PR - it's part of the adoption legislation; would a reputable solicitor really recommend that?!?

PoppyPrincess Sat 08-Dec-12 00:11:35

I'm not sure, it sounds like its usually used in cases where grandparents are bringing up a child, but maybe it could have been used here. I'm no legal expert and I won't pretend to be.
But to say that DSD is only 3 so either this agreement/order was done not very long ago....in which case why are the details so vague? or it was done when she was very young and therefore when snow and DP hadn't been together very long, in which case why would both parents give any PR to somebody who hadn't been involved for that long?

allnewtaketwo Sat 08-Dec-12 07:20:14

Poppy I was wondering that. The posts make it sound not very recent, despite DSD2 only being 3

PoppyPrincess Sat 08-Dec-12 08:42:31

I know everybody is different but even now after DP being DS's stepdad for 3 years and us having our own child together I still don't think I'd want him to have PR, mainly because I don't see a need for it but also because I think it's important that boundaries are set.
DS's dad doesn't have that much involvement with DS, 1 day per week which is the same as the girls mum had at the time of apparently signing a form to give OP PR but I can pretty much be certain that DS's dad, even during the time that he wasn't seeing him at all, wouldn't sign something to give DP PR. and the 2 of them quite get on but he just doesn't know him well enough to give any kind of power or rights to our son.
I don't believe that their mum was ever that disinterested in the girls to not be bothered about signing a piece of paper to give OP guardianship/PR, OP has said herself that they don't speak to one another. And if she was that disinterested then she wouldn't have seen them every weekend and wouldn't now be insisting on 50:50 care.

Again, it just doesn't add up to me

MagicLlama Sat 08-Dec-12 08:51:13

See I dont think it can be a SGO, because this actually limits the parents PR. I cant see that Snows DP and the ex would agree to giving Snow more rights than themselves!

A SGO for Snow would basically say the DSDs were living with HER, not with her DP!

I would also be astounded if a SGO was made when the children were already living with someone with PR, especially when it appears that someone had not been involved in the childrens lives very long.

MagicLlama Sat 08-Dec-12 08:55:44

There would also have been Local Authority involvement and reports by professionals, you cant just apply and agree a SGO by yourselves, (and im sure Snow would have remembered these rather than just say they popped out to London and signed something) as a person with a SGO is entitled to financial help from the LA, thus meaning that you have to notify them before you do it, unless you had already applied to adopt the child, so the LA were involved anyway?

You and your DP didnt apply to adopt the DSDs when the ex was uninvolved did you Snow?

NotaDisneyMum Sat 08-Dec-12 08:59:43

The mere fact that it is subject to speculation is fairly unbelievable - who on earth signs a piece of paper that may, or may not, give them PR for two very young DCs at the request of their DP and his solicitor without really understanding the legalities, implications and the reasons why?

Furthermore, when issues arise regarding the DCs in terms of schooling, residency, welfare etc, that piece of paper is stashed in a box in the loft and is considered irrelevant to the situation.

Astounding.

Someone, somewhere, at some point is going to pick this situation apart - probably not until things go horribly wrong - but when then do, I only hope that the professionals who have failed snow, her DCs and DSD are held to account.

allnewtaketwo Sat 08-Dec-12 09:37:01

Well if Snow's DP was looking out the paperwork from the attic she should know by now. I must say it all sounds very bizarre, but I'd gamble that the DP knows a hell of a lot more about it than Snow does.

timeforachangebaby Sat 08-Dec-12 10:07:24

SS do not always get involved in situations like this - that's a hell off an assumption - one of my children lives with my mum - they have had no involvement - it's a private arrangement between parents.

I have already pointed out it is quite possible to act in loco parentis without being asked to produce a piece of paper.

There may be legal implications on the minutest chance something went wrong but with the dad consenting I doubt it.

Honestly.

Xalla Sat 08-Dec-12 10:17:12

I was thinking about this - I have friends in London whose nannies literally do all the childcare - take the kids for vaccinations, take them to pre-school, collect them when they're sick, sign consent forms for swimming lessons etc. I can't imagine any of them have been given PR!!! I just can't think if any reason there would be to justify Snow (or her DP on her behalf) applying for PR or an SGO.

allnewtaketwo Sat 08-Dec-12 10:46:12

Let's believe for a second that OP has PR.

However, Snow has said that the mother can't bear to look at her, and the two of them do not speak. Why would a mother consent to PR for a woman she can't even bear to look at. It doesn't make any sense. Unless there was some pressure being exerted for whatever reason, or the mother wasn't of a sound mental state at the time.

PoppyPrincess Sat 08-Dec-12 10:57:48

Exactly, PR isn't so much about having the ability to do things for the child it's about being legally OBLIGED to do things. If there are 2 parents who already have the obligation then there is no need for another person to have the responsibility also

MagicLlama Sat 08-Dec-12 11:00:26

timeforababychange

Is that directed at me? I havent mentioned anything about SS.

You can have your children go and live with someone else without any involvement of any authority if you so wish. However those people do not have legally official PR, only delegated PR.

However, you cannot have a Special Guardianship without first giving the local authority 3 months notice and the court receiving reports on the situation. This doesnt appear to apply to Snow.

timeforachangebaby Sat 08-Dec-12 11:03:19

No it was a general observation on the thread, legally speaking is one thing, but as someone who has done most of the things mooted as impossible on this thread, in real life, when dealing with practicalities, it doesn't require the legal side as sorted as people think.

timeforachangebaby Sat 08-Dec-12 11:05:51

Take an example, a child is estranged from a parent for whatever reason, and lives with SM and Dad, Dad is away, child has accident in school, is the school seriously going to turn the SM away when she comes to collect, having already been given authority by dad.

Is the hospital then going to refuse to treat the child.

In real life, the SM would collect child and take to AnE, there will be no mention of paperwork/PR, in real life, they don't even ask.

PoppyPrincess Sat 08-Dec-12 11:32:35

I think fundermentally everybody is in agreement but everybody is getting lost in all the legal speak. The top and bottom of it is that in snow's circumstances there is no reason for her to have PR/SGO and it seems unlikely that any legal body would recommend it, that parents would want it or that a court would grant whatever responsibility she has apparently been given.

catsrus Sat 08-Dec-12 13:37:38

From what I know about SGOs the local authority does not have to be involved - i think it's entirely possible the OP has a SGO see this site here which states (in the section for "who can apply for an SGO")
"f. Anyone who has the consent of all those with parental responsibility for the child "

If the DM was unable/unwilling to exercise her PR and the OP had full time care - which seems to have been the case, then a SGO would have enabled the OP to simply get on with parenting the children with her DP. This seems to have been an unusual situation and the OP and her DP simply trying to do what they could to give the dcs a stable family life - and the DM agreed with that decision.

MagicLlama Sat 08-Dec-12 13:48:18

Cats

If you read the section that says "what is the process" on that link it says the following:

There is nothing in the Special Guardianship regulations setting out a planning process which local authorities must follow, as there is for adoption. Each local authority will need to establish their own policies and procedures to make a decision about special guardianship for children in their care, and it is not necessary to have a panel to make this recommendation.

All applicants must give their local authority 3 months notice in writing that they are going to apply for an order, and local authorities are required to produce to the court a report on all children, not just those who are looked after, when an application is made. This report must include information about the child, the child’s wishes, the child’s birth family, contact arrangements, the prospective special guardian and recommendations about whether or not an order should be made (See the schedule to the relevant regulations for further details). The local authority is expected to start work on this report, or arrange for someone else to do it, as soon as possible after receiving the notice. The court cannot make an order without having received a report. Local authorities are expected to ensure that the social worker who prepares the report is suitably qualified and experienced, but there are no restrictions on who can write the report as there are for adoption

Before making the Special Guardianship Order a court must consider whether to vary or discharge any other existing order made under Section 8 of the Children Act 1989. The court can also decide to make a Section 8 Contact Order at the same time as the Special Guardianship Order. In all circumstances the court must consider the whole range of options available before making a Special Guardianship Order.

MagicLlama Sat 08-Dec-12 13:52:11

Additionally, having given Snow a SGO, would massively limit her DPs PR, which would seem a mad thing for a solicitor to suggest and any parent who was still actively involved in looking after their children to agree to:

1. What is Special Guardianship

The Adoption and Children Act 2002 introduces a completely new court order, Special Guardianship, intended to provide another option for legal permanence for children who cannot grow up with their birth families.
A Special Guardianship Order gives the special guardian legal parental responsibility for the child which is expected to last until the child is 18. But, unlike Adoption Orders, these orders do not remove parental responsibility from the child’s birth parents, although their ability to exercise it is extremely limited

catsrus Sat 08-Dec-12 15:07:42

I'm pretty sure (but not 100%) that this only refers to children in LA care Magic - the court can grant one - if my memory on this is correct - in other circumstances which do not involve looked after children. I'll see if I can find the info I read a while back about it.

catsrus Sat 08-Dec-12 15:13:01

I'm glad I said I wasn't 100% - it does involve the LA - so i remembered that wrongly blush better info here.

MagicLlama Sat 08-Dec-12 15:18:42

No im quite sure its all children. The guidance itself says, the report must be done on all children, not just those who are looked after, when an application is made.

So anyone can apply for a SGO, but a report still has to be done.

Its a very serious matter limiting a parents PR, and the courts wont just do it on a say so without gathering information, even if that parent says its OK. They have to have medical reports to check the parent isnt suffering from something, they have to be sure the parent knows what they are signing away, they have to be sure the person applying for the SGO is suitable.

Also as I said, if Snow has a SGO, then she overrides her partners RP (as a person with PR cannot be given a SGO, so it cant be for Snow and her DP). I cant imagine any solicitor anywhere, if the parent is suitably caring for his children, suggest his new partner applies for something that trumps his PR!

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