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Access, travelling and children's rights

(6 Posts)
gingerbiskit Wed 24-Nov-10 19:37:32

Hi,
Does anyone know what my rights are as far as
the age at which my ds can make up his mind if he wants to visit his father? He is 11. My ex dh has already taken me to court about this as my ds is adamant he does not want to visit him, as he finds his father very intimidating and says he is a bully. We are divorced, and up until now the children have been visiting their father every other weekend, Friday night to Monday morning. My dd is 9 and she seems happy to go. When my dh took me to court, they told me that I had to 'make my children available'. It is very hard to 'make' my ds available when he is clearly distressed at the thought of going to spend the weekend with his father. So my ds continues not to go to his father's every other weekend, but my dd does.

The other issue is the fact that when my ex dh moved a little way out of town, we agreed that we would meet half way at a designated pick up point on Friday evenings and again on the following Monday morning (before school and work). This was a bit of a pain, to put it politely, but i went along with it as i guess i thought it was a compromise on my part. Then, he chose to move much further away to another town and he still wanted to meet half way fri to mon morning. Stupidly, i agreed. When i tried to stop this ridiculous arrangement by suggesting we change the access to Friday night to Sunday night as it was too much of a rush in busy traffic (and sometimes in early morning icy conditions) and making the children tired and causing them to not want to go to school in the morning, he threatened to take me to court. Which he did, so this problem + the fact that my ds does not want to visit were discussed in court and unforturnately, the court sided with my ex dh.

Recently, because my son does not want to speak to his father on the phone when he phones up to speak to him (he's angry at his father for taking his mother to court), he sent an email stating that he was not going to come to the pick up point even to collect his dd unless they phone him up beforehand to say they want to visit and then I'M to take them all the way over there myself !!

Also recently, i was without a car for about 2 months and in that time my ex dh did not come over to collect his daugher when it was 'his weekend'. I could not drive her to the meeting point. Why did he not come to get her? I also realised that the halfway point where we meet to drop off/pick up is not exactly half way as far as he's concerned because the time that we meet happens to be when he is either on his way from or to work, so he does not have to go much out of his way.

Please can anyone tell me what my rights are as far as drop off/pick up/travelling arrangements for access? Also, what rights I have as far as 'making my son available' for access? It is very difficult to find out information and rights as far as divorce/children's rights/access/travelling etc. Why is this the case? This sort of information should be readily available for anyone who wants to know.

There are other 'issues'...the court order is typed so badly that it does not make sense. Can i order a re-hearing because of this? My ex dh has told me i will be receiving a new copy 'in due course' and has been threatening me with more court action if i do not bring my son to meet him at the weekend. Can I take any action against his threatening, harrassing behaviour? Please help. Thanks.

GypsyMoth Wed 24-Nov-10 19:41:52

you should keep a diary of all this.....and apply for a variation

or let him take it back to court

or he collect (and see first hand the reluctance) and you go and get them on sunday eves

gingerbiskit Wed 24-Nov-10 22:37:40

thanks, ILoveTIFFANY, think i will start a diary - i know he does - everytime he picks up/drops off kids, he sits in his car and taps away on his phone - obviously documenting everything I say and do...or am I being paranoid? Yes, the idea about him collecting and me getting them on the sunday evening is an idea...What's involved in getting a variation? Do you have to apply to go back to court to get the order slightly changed or something? Thanks again.

prh47bridge Wed 24-Nov-10 22:55:05

It is better to apply for a variation than let him take it back to court. You want the emphasis to be on changing the existing order rather than enforcing it.

There is no statutory age at which your son can make up his own mind. The courts will take his views into account when determining the contact arrangements. As he is 11 his views should be a significant consideration for the court, but that doesn't necessarily mean the courts will do what he wants. The important point is that this is a matter for the courts. Once there is an order in place you have to conform with it, so at the moment you have to make your son available or you could face enforcement action.

I am not surprised the court didn't want to reduce contact just because the father has moved away. They may have been willing to make him pay the additional costs involved in travelling, though, as the normal rule is that the parent who moves away has to pay. They may also have been willing to alter the arrangements in a way that did not reduce the amount of contact.

Whether the father takes up contact or not is entirely up to him. The courts will not force him to have any contact with his children but they will force you to make the children available in line with the contact order.

You seem to be suggesting that you may have rights which allow you to ignore the contact order or vary it without going back to court. I'm afraid you don't, which is why you can't find any information as far as such rights are concerned. You have to comply with any court order but you can apply for a variation to the order if it is appropriate. If the order doesn't specify travelling arrangements it is up to you to sort this out with the father.

You have no power to order or request a re-hearing. You may be able to appeal against a decision or apply for a variation but that is another matter.

If your ex's "threatening, harrassing behaviour" is limited to threatening court action if you fail to comply with the court order I'm afraid there is nothing you can do about it. He is entitled to ask the courts to enforce the order if you ignore it. However, if he is harrassing you in other ways you should report this to the police.

gingerbiskit Wed 24-Nov-10 23:46:03

Thanks prh47bridge, I really appreciate all your advice - it's just what i needed to know. I will take my son to the drop off point on friday to make him available. I will try and find out more about costs for travelling and if he has to pay. I have an appointment with a solicitor at the C.A.B. next week, so I need to get some questions together! Thank you.

Dogooder Tue 06-Nov-12 17:07:11

Hi, you should keep a diary of all communication that is relevant and apply for a variation order but you will see that things these days in court are on the side of the male in terms of non resident parent access and travelling arrangements in particular.
You will find that solicitors are a waste of time and money and should be banned from acting in such cases as they break down bridges between two parents and in any case the Judge will always make the order which is easily achieved.
My partner has just been to court and she was trying for a residence order but the ex's barrister said if she applied then the ex would apply for a joint residence order which the judge said was tactical but did not guide her as to what a likely outcome would be as there would have to be another hearing so i fear she has backed down what a waste of tax payers money all this really is disgusting. My partners and her ex also varied a court order to decide on journeys the Judge felt it not right to do half journeys as one party might be late making the other wait so he requested that both parties do one full journey each. How the ex gets a barrister let alone a solicitor on legal aid what a waste of money for such an easy decision.
What a ridiculous decision as myself and partner foot the bill for journeys to and from school Etc and he just sits back after having an affair and gets the kids just dropped off, pays no maintenance as he went unemployed and has no involvement in the kids lives where schooling and communicating via phone calls are concerned other than having contact with the kids on every other weekend.
No wonder the country is struggling.
I feel better after that but really I wish you luck with your campaign to getting a resolve and hope the brief of the case above has helped a little as to there decisions these days.

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