Specific Issue Orders (duplicated form legal) Advice needed please

(21 Posts)
mumtobealloveragain Thu 22-Aug-13 13:18:48

I've posted this in legal section but thought I'd ask here too as I'm sure plenty of other step parents have knowledge/experience of family court/issues/court problems etc.

I posted not long about about making an application to vary a residency order and got some very helpful replies. I have now concluded that my main issue would probably be best being addressed by a Specific Issue Order rather than an addition to the current residency order and was hoping someone may know how I should go about this.

My ex and I have shared residency of our 2 children (young primary aged) we have a mutually agreed Shared residency Order and we have the children on an alternate week basis, one week with him on week with me.

I have recently discovered (via and attendance report from the school) that he has been taking the children to school (well the eldest, the youngest starts next month) late very regularly during his week with them. Looking at the report he was late maybe one every 2 weeks starting from September last year (not so bad I guess) but this has gradually increased and got worse from April/May this year has increased to being late 2-3 days a week, every week (with him). Over the last 6 weeks that they were with him he was late exactly 50% of the time.

I have managed to speak to someone at the school to check this is correct (before I made a fool of myself with potentially wrong information) and it is 100% correct. 50% lateness during his weeks with his dad. I couldn't speak with the head teacher (summer holidays) only the office admin lady but she has confirmed the days he's late range from 10-30 minutes and the reasons given are always "traffic" ""children got up late" and other (what I consider non emergency) reasons. I have been told that they have had a word with ex about this but have not yet taken it to the next stage of a formal letter or Educational Welfare Officer but would consider that if it continues. Because I never get to school late his lateness is "diluted" by being 100% on time on weeks with me. So 50% lateness with his dad turns into 25% lateness overall, although she agreed this was still more than 1 day a week and still not acceptable.

Other posters said on my last thread that this wouldn't bother them, but I feel very strongly about this and plenty have people have agreed that being late to school 2-3 days a week is just not on! I am hoping a family Court Judge would see the importance of this and agree too. It is upsetting DS, he is anxious on his mornings with me, keeps asking if he is being quick enough, if we are being late - I didn't know this was due to being late with his dad so much, but I do now. He said he feels worried going in late and feels silly cause the other children all stare and that he misses his morning time to chat to friends etc. Not the end of the world I know, but not nice all the same.

So, I have tried speaking to ex about it and he has simply said that I know what he's like (he's AWFUL at time keeping and always has been) and he doesn't think it's a big deal. Youngest starts school next month so they will BOTH be late, so I really want to get it sorted. I have offered to do the school run on his weeks but he declined, whether that be them coming to me for bedtime and I take them or me getting up and out a bit earlier and collecting them in the morning before school and taking them, he won't agree to either.

Does anyone "with the know" know if I can get this into a Specific Issue Order and if so, how would I be best to word it? Another poster on my last thread said (quite wisely, thank you!) it may be shaky ground as there are already rules and laws about Education and a parent's responsibility to ensuring a child attends school. I know ex won't bother to change his routine or buck his ideas up any other way. I know I need to complete a C100, I will be self representing and happy to do this, but I'm not sure how I should word it or what I should ask for.

We live local to the school and only a short drive from his house. If he gave me a bit of notice in the mornings I could easily drive there in time to collect them to take them to school on time, myself or my partner do the school run everyday anyway for the other children even when my two are at their dad's (same school). Could I ask for the order to be made that he makes every attempt to get them to school on time unless emergency or unpredicted circumstances and if he thinks he may be late etc then he is to contact me and I will leave slightly earlier and collect them before taking all the children to school.

Any advice on how to get this into an order would be greatly appreciated.

bunchamunchycrunchycarrots Thu 22-Aug-13 13:22:07

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mumtobealloveragain Thu 22-Aug-13 13:29:46

I am a step parent and I have posted here a bit and often read threads here, so know that lots of people here have knowledge of family courts. This is about my children not my step children, but it still seemed like a good idea to post it here. It's about children who have two homes, two resident parents, a court order and a problem I need help with - why not post here?

I am not a lone parent, this is not a lone parent issue, so why would I post in Lone Parents? hmm

bunchamunchycrunchycarrots Thu 22-Aug-13 13:34:42

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stepmooster Thu 22-Aug-13 13:41:53

I would like to know what others have to say on this who have experienced similar. DH is worried about when his son starts secondary school and has to do a 37 mile journey to school each day. Its a commute on some very busy london arterial roads. There are going to be times when he is late due to traffic. DH doesn't have shared residency though so our circumstances are slightly different. Shouldn't the school be discussing the punctuality jointly with you both? Rather than just your ex, seems unfair to have not been in the know?

brdgrl Thu 22-Aug-13 16:20:02

if he thinks he may be late etc then he is to contact me and I will leave slightly earlier and collect them before taking all the children to school.

I can't imagine a court would try to micro-manage in this way???

I think it's a silly solution anyway. If she is running late with the kids in the morning, she is hardly going to know enough in advance to be able to ring you up, for you to rearrange your own morning (as you will obviously be getting the other children ready at your house), and then get over there to fetch them. It's not logical.

Also, since you are expecting a child now yourself, and already have - how many was it again - four? - aren't you just creating future problems? You aren't going to be able to continue to prioritise this issue, not without being at the expense of all those other children.

mumtobealloveragain Thu 22-Aug-13 16:41:45

I have not been banned crunchycarrots - it's also bad "netiquette" to accuse people online of trolling or lying when you have absolutely no idea. I've have no reason to lie! I'm sure the Moderators trace people's IP addresses or however they do it, so please report me to them and they can delete me if I'm a serial liar, troller, scammer or whatever you are accusing me of.

Brdgrl - Yes, I know exactly what you mean and this is my issue. It is sort of micro managing, but I can't see any other option but to have to "suck it up" and accept the children will be constantly late for school. He is just one of those people who are late for everything and doesn't seem to care much.

Can you think of any other options? I do want the children to have shared residency, as I believe it is best for them and I don't want to apply to Court to have the children school nights, and I am unsure even if I did if being late (even so regularly) for school would be reason enough for a Judge to order a change to our shared residency order. I have never tried to control his time with them or what he does etc, however, I have to draw the line at this ridiculous lateness for school. Everyone is late sometimes but 50% of all school days seems so often.

To drive to his house and pick the children up isn't really any extra hassle. To be honest we often get to school pretty early anyway and it would only add a little bit onto our journey. Would save them being late, save ex stressing (if he does) and rushing, it just seems a good solution. We are always up early and doing the school run anyway, so the extra "loop" to collect my other 2 is neither here nor there really. School is a priority for me and will continue to be, it won't be less of a priority just because we have a baby on the way. We don't have some sort of made house full of kids, my partners 2 children are only here 50% of the time and not alternate weeks, so it's only about 25% of the time that all the children are here together anyway.

StepMooster - I think they have a requirement to discuss it with us both, they know we have shared residency and have a copy of the order too. I think they've not said anything to me as they assumed a quiet word with him would do it. I suppose if I really can;t do anything about it Court wise then I'll have to let it continue next term and wait for them to take formal action ie sending a formal letter to us both. The thing is, I can't persoanlly make him get them there on time, I have to do the school run knowing my two children are going to be taken to the very same school late when I could easily take them myself sad

bunchamunchycrunchycarrots Thu 22-Aug-13 16:45:48

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mumtobealloveragain Thu 22-Aug-13 16:52:05

Wow! I now see what people mean when they say posters on this forum are either really lovely and supportive and helpful or just.. not.

Thanks for you help in what is a really worrying stressful situation for me!

bunchamunchycrunchycarrots Thu 22-Aug-13 16:53:09

smile My pleasure.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Thu 22-Aug-13 17:34:54

The thing is, I can't persoanlly make him get them there on time

No, you can't. There are already robust procedures in place to do that.

As I replied on your other thread, I think you'll struggle to prove to a family court that this is an issue when the school and EWO are not concerned enough to take robust action - which they can if they believe the DCs welfare/education is at risk.

Until you have formal action taken against you, I think you'll struggle in court. If you had money to burn, then you might find a Lawyer who was up for the challenge (my DPs first solicitor was very confrontational) but self-rep'ing about an issue that the professionals aren't bothered about seems like a hiding to nothing.

Have you self-rep'd before? Given everything else on your plate, I'm surprised you're even considering it tbh - particularly over an issue that can be resolved so simply.

Go into the school on the first day of term, tell them you are unhappy about your DCs lateness and ask them to help you achieve what is your legal responsibility - be that formally notifying you, referring to EWO or providing your ex with support such as pick-ups for the DCs by the school inclusion officer (if they have one).

Frikadellen Thu 22-Aug-13 17:41:22

Ask for a session of mediation with your x?

ElenorRigby Thu 22-Aug-13 17:45:31

"I can't imagine a court would try to micro-manage in this way???"

There's no way they would.

OP if you are for real don't waste your time or anyone else's.
Schools won't give a stuff and courts won't want know.

Seriously if that's all you have to worry about you can count your lucky stars smile

ChinaCupsandSaucers Thu 22-Aug-13 18:02:41

Seriously if that's all you have to worry about you can count your lucky stars

Quite. It sounds unsympathetic, but compared to some of the physical and emotional abuse DCs are exposed to at the hands of their parents that courts refuse to rule on, I'm afraid arriving at school at few minutes late is not a major issue - especially as the school aren't concerned.

OP remember that the judgement/ruling standards that are applied by family court in cases between parents are the same as cases brought to them by other agencies....your DCs lateness may be an issue for you but in context of cases the court see every day, it doesn't even raise an eyebrow.

purpleroses Thu 22-Aug-13 19:41:52

My ex is a bit rubbish at getting mine to school on time - and like you I become aware of it when I get the school reports.

Top tip would be to send the DCs with a "things I need in the morning" list that they can pin on the fridge - possibly by day of the week if their lives are complex. Eg PE kit, packed lunch, book bag, etc. And encourage them to get it all ready the night before. If your DS is bothered about being late, then he should have some incentive to get sorted out.

My DD used to always drag her heals and make us all nearly late for school every day unless I shouted at her. When her older brother was old enough to make his own way to school, I stopped hassling her and simply reminder her what the time was and told her she could make herself late if she wanted. She was late a few times and then realised that she actually needed to get herself ready on time and she's now excellent at getting ready on time. So your ex may not be doing your DCS too much harm in the long run if they are learning that by dithering around in the morning, they make themselves late.

I can't see a court wanting to get involved over something like that - and there's no way you could get a court order insisting that your ex rings you whenever he's running late - as even if you lived 5 minutes away, you wouldn't be able to get there on time, or if you did you'd find your DCs still in their PJs or eating breakfast so I can't see how it would work.

You could give the school a copy of the contact schedule of when the DCs are with your ex and when they're with you, so that they can look at the pattern of attendance and take it up with the right parent.

mumtobealloveragain Thu 22-Aug-13 20:43:55

EleanorRigby - Your post made me laugh. I do wish it was all we had to worry about, it's not, but it's my current worry! You're right though, in the grand scheme of things I know it's not on par with abuse and neglect, but it is upsetting and also frustrating, my kids are late for school when I'm up and ready and at the very same school the same morning but on time.

Purpleroses - He is too young to ensure himself that he is not late for school, I don't think he would know what to put in his lunch box and even if he did he certainly wouldn't be able to reach top cupboards to get the items, he can't even reach the sink taps to fill his water bottle. The kids are really good and will both get up, get dressed, brush teeth, wash face etc without much (if any) prompting. They don't mess around, they don't play up or cry to watch tv or anything like that. I don't know what goes on in his house of course but I lived with my ex long enough to know he's just lazy and can't be bothered to get out of bed some mornings, he always used to be late for work too. He also doesn't see school thing or other things for the children as important enough to get up early for.

The school do have a copy of the residency order and are aware of our alternate week pattern. The office staff, teacher and head teacher all know us personally (ish - from school only) and so any lateness issues would immediately be noticed as every other week only and therefore they would know it was with him not me.

I think I need to speak to the head once school starts and try and get a EWo involved.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Thu 22-Aug-13 20:59:53

I lived with my ex long enough to know he's just lazy and can't be bothered to get out of bed some mornings, he always used to be late for work too. He also doesn't see school thing or other things for the children as important enough to get up early for.

And yet despite this, you agreed to 50:50 shared residency?
Surely your solicitor advised you that this would happen (DCs would be late for school) when you agreed the order? Why did you not contest his application on those grounds? You'd have had a strong case on its merits, AND you're the female primary carer - which unfairly imo strengthens your case.

Hate to say it, but you should have seen this one coming and you and your DCs might have to live with the consequences of your solicitors shortsightedness until the issue becomes serious enough for EWO to take action.

purpleroses Thu 22-Aug-13 23:37:58

No you've misunderstood me - the note is only notionally to "help DS" get ready. The hope is that it actually helps your ex to remember things. But even a 6 year old is old enough to ask their dad to make their lunch up.

I don't see how your plan of you picking them up would work if you only have the DSC 50% of the time as you wouldn't be doing the school run the other 50%.

And family courts are about contact ,etc between parents. It's up to the school to decide if/when to take action about lateness.

mumtobealloveragain Sun 25-Aug-13 01:15:07

China, yes, you're right, perhaps I shouldn't have agreed to 50:50. But we already had it in place and so it was considered the "status quo". The school lateness issue wasn't one I was aware of until the end of last term and looking at it, it has gradually got worse since lats September.

I didn't know he wouldn't make the effort to get them to school, but in hindsight, I guess I should have guessed it would be that way.

I know I could have played the "but I'm the MOTHER" card, but I was trying to do what was best for them and they love spending time with their dad, so I though 50:50 was the fairest on them, even though I do wish I had them more of course. Also, I can't see it going down too well at court if I disagreed with his proposal to continue 50:50 and my reason was "well I think he might take them to school late".

Purple - It's a a good idea, but DS just isn't the type of child to say "hey dad, hurry up, can you make my lunch, can we leave now" he's very shy and quiet and well, it's just not him. I will have a word with him about helping his little brother to be quick in the mornings though, not sure if that will help.

Myself and/or my partner do the school run every day anyway, as even when my two youngest DC are at their dads and my DSC are at their mums we still have my eldest (still at primary school) to take to and from school each day.

I'm going to ask on the first day back for an appointment with the head teacher to try and discuss his lateness and come up with a plan...

ChinaCupsandSaucers Sun 25-Aug-13 10:30:37

mumtobe It sounds as if there's lots of backstory that would need to be factored in; I suggest at least one appointment with a solicitor, to find out what you might face from your ex in court.

How you conduct your life is your own business, but it is inevitable that the way the school interact with you will be influenced by their opinions of you. If I've read your posts correctly, you are an active stepmum to DSC who attend your DCs school (hence, you are in a relationship with their Dad) and yet your split from your younger DCs dad was only a year or so ago and you have recently been to court to agree arrangements for your DCs, as you were unable to come to an agreement privately.

Like it or not, people will judge you.

moonsquirter Fri 30-Aug-13 09:48:55

Blimey, so what if it's not a big issue in the context of separated families. Being late for school 50% of the time is a problem - it's upsetting the child and sending a really poor message about the importance of school.

Mumtobe, fwiw, I think speaking to the headteacher is exactly the right way to go. I can't see you achieving anything through the courts and schools should have a range of strategies to help or force your ex to get his act together. Good luck...

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