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Variation to contact order due to financial stress

(3 Posts)
5kidsgoingmad Sat 06-Nov-10 20:15:38

I left my ex in 2002 due to domestic violence. I left in the clothes I stood up in as it was the only way I could get away.
I stayed local to the children, and my ex made it very difficult for me to see them, as he would be violent when i was collecting them or dropping them off. When I had access for the weekend he would turn up drunk demanding them back. I would receive threats from him in the middle of the night. I fled the area to a safe distance, knowing he could not just turn up out without having to put some thought into it.
I continued to travel to get the children and take them back to my new home. I didn't want him knowing my address, and he doesn't drive.
Finally after a long court battle and cafcass interviews, I was granted full custody, he was given supervised contact. This was changed at a later court hearing, and a contact order made. I was to deliver the childern and pick them up everyother weekend, and for half the holidays.
As time has gone on he has refused the additional contact over the holidays (suits me). He has dragged me through the courts every other year trying to get residency (Always refused), but there has never been a waiver to the contact order.
I moved to get away from him, but recognised that whilst the children still want to see him, I still needed to transport them.
I created a new life and good job, and moved again to be closer to work, as I couldn't afford to both commute to work and maintain the costs of transporting the children.
My partner has increased his hours at work to cover the cost of transport.
However with the cost of fuel, maintanance of a good vehicle (300 miles every fortnight), and no child maintenance contributions from him in 7 years (he doesn't work) I can no longer afford to do this journey. But I am scared if I don't he will take me back to court again and get custody. But the costs are causing true financial distress, and also effecting family life.
If I put alternatives to him in writing like, he has them in the holidays for extended periods, or he contributes to the cost - else we are unable to continue with the frequency, would he be able to claim i am in breach of the contact order.

Sorry for the length of this, but the history is important, as i didn't move just to be awkward.

prh47bridge Sat 06-Nov-10 22:07:34

It is highly unlikely he would get custody if he took you to court at this stage. A change in custody is a last resort if all other measures to enforce contact have failed.

Even if he doesn't work he would be liable for child maintenance if you refer the case to the CSA. It won't be much but better than nothing.

It is usually the principle that the parent who moves has to pay the costs of contact. If it ends up in court you may be able to argue mitigating circumstances due to the threats and violence.

Simply suggesting alternatives will not put you in breach of the contact order. You will only be in breach if he does not agree to any changes and you fail to make your children available for contact in line with the court order. If he does refuse any changes you can ask the courts to change the contact order to reduce costs.

It might be a good idea to consult a solicitor who specialises in family law. Many will give you an initial half hour consultation for free.

5kidsgoingmad Sun 07-Nov-10 10:08:42

Thankyou. I am going to dig all the court paperwork out, as I have all the evidence of why i moved.
I'm hoping that the last contact order was as bried as to say i was to make the children available between the set times.. If so I'm hoping I won't be breaching the order by stopping taking them all the time.
I think you are right and i will need to speak with an expert.

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