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consent order re child residence - can it be changed?

(19 Posts)
NicknameTaken Wed 14-Sep-11 21:05:41

I am hoping our consent order is final and not up for re-negotiation.

Split from ex two years ago due to his abuse (I took DD and went to refuge. She's now 3). We have a court order by consent. I'm the residential parent, he has a lot of contact. He had a solicitor representing him when the order was made, although he feels hard done by.

Now ex is alleging that I am not giving him the contact specified in the order. He can't give specific examples of me refusing contact, because there are none. In fact, he's been getting an extra three nights a month on top of what's in the order. I worry, but she loves him and wants to see him, so I've always facilitated it.

He wants to challenge the order and go for shared residence. I'm determined he won't get it. He is a non-national, with no job, assets or family ties to the UK, and I'm very anxious about him having residence and therefore the right to take her out of the country, in case he doesn't bring her back.

He's talking about court. He sent me an email saying he wouldn't be taking the extra 3 nights a month, because he resents me being able to say (truthfully) that he gets all the contact he's entitled to and more, plus these extra nights are convenient for me, which he doesn't like. That's fine. What I'm hoping for is some reassurance here that if he does go back to court, he won't get more contact and/or shared residence. As well as the issue of him taking her out of the country, he's a nightmare to co-parent with. Lots of accusations that I'm a bad mother (he's phoned the police three times to say - falsely- that I'd disappeared with her. It wasn't even on times he was meant to have her!) and he made allegations to social services that they've found to be totally unfounded. Shared residence/care would mean him steamrollering over me at any opportunity.

So, should I taking these threats seriously?

babybarrister Wed 14-Sep-11 22:23:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NicknameTaken Thu 15-Sep-11 11:50:30

Damn, not what I wanted to hear. Better to know, though. It seems there's no disincentive whatsoever to him treating me like shit and telling lies about me to police/social workers/solicitor.

I'd been hoping to avoid mediation because of the past abuse, and because he's the only one with something to gain. I just want to stick to the order.

anklebitersmum Fri 16-Sep-11 14:35:07

I don't see that shared residence would actually be all that likely, considering that there's already a court order in place for contact and that you are adhering with extras to that. There would have to be a solid reason to add it on now is what I mean.
If I were you I'd call his bluff, carry on with the order as is until such time as you get anything official that tells you there's something to be dealt with. IMO he's hoping to bully you into submission with just the threat of the courts so if you give in to his demands regardless you just allow him to get what he wants without the price tag-and more importantly legal advice for you.
Keep a log of all 'incidents' though, just in case.

cestlavielife Fri 16-Sep-11 16:19:32

keep the email print it out and save it in a file now and let him take you to court.

NicknameTaken Mon 19-Sep-11 09:32:46

Thanks for those points. I think AB is right about calling his bluff. What I'm hoping desperately for is that he'll get a job and he won't have all this time to brood and try to push me around. He had a job interview on Friday, so fingers crossed....

STIDW Mon 19-Sep-11 11:14:31

Generally speaking it is an uphill struggle changing an existing arrangement a lot unless children aren't surviving. If your ex thought residence in your favour was a satisfactory arrangement he would need to show why this is no longer the case. In any event I wouldn't worry about shared residence, practically it isn't that different from residence/contact.

Parents often have a sense of "winning and losing" in terms of being awarded residence and contact but it's worth remembering residence/shared residence orders determine where a child lives and it is actually Parental Responsibility that gives both parents equal responsibilities and rights to carry out their responsibilities.

EllieG Mon 19-Sep-11 11:18:37

Shared residence for little ones is not so popular - lots of research saying that for pre-schoolers it damages emotional welfare, especially if there is conflict. I'd be suprised if Court granted that, tbh, though nothing is certain and he can challenge it. If you PM me I can give you some more details (I work as a Family Court report - albeit not in UK, but similar issues and legislation).

NicknameTaken Mon 19-Sep-11 12:02:04

<breathes sigh of relief>

Thanks, that sounds better. I don't think he has any real chance of showing that DD isn't thriving, because she palpably is. My impression is that he is finding it hard to get legal aid to take this any further, so he's throwing mentions of the law around to intimidate me. I just have to stick it out.

Ellie, thanks for the offer of PM'ing you. I'm going to wait for now, in the hopes that it will fizzle out, but if he does take it any further, I will gratefully take you up on your offer.

I appreciate all the responses.

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 19-Sep-11 12:08:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NicknameTaken Mon 19-Sep-11 12:30:12

He asked to go to mediation and I refused. He is extremely manipulative and even now I'm not totally immune to his charm. I will ask for WA's help if this goes on. The next battle I'm dreading is choosing a school for DD. It's quite possible he could attempt to veto a perfectly good school simply because it's my choice. I won't let him, but I don't look forward to the conflict. Anyway, that's another day's battle, and hopefully the current one is simmering down.

STIDW Mon 19-Sep-11 12:54:53

I would take heed of babybarrister who is an experienced family lawyer. In England & Wales these days some judges will award SR to underline the importance of both parents whatever the age of the child.

Children who are insecure about their parentage tend to to grow up with problems with low self esteem leading to emotional and behavioural problems in later life such as dysfunctional adult relationships. Rightly or wrongly the risk of harm children suffer when they are exposed to low levels of abuse is balanced against the risk of emotional harm associated with identity problems. See the debate;

cestlavielife Mon 19-Sep-11 13:37:14

not sure what "insecure about parentage"means really - my Dc know who their dad is.

he is a man with significant MH issues who is unsafe to be around.

they are secure in that knowledge.
my oldest DD 11 is a lot more secure and happy now that she is not being forced to fortnightly cotact centre visits with him, or the supervised contact she was forced into when it mvoed on....she has been far more happy and secure with no contact since last october after he attacked my other DD....

she still knows her identity though.

but he will not be granted SR any time soon because of contact not being safe. and contact is only supervised at present.

my Dc know who they are and who their dad is - I am not entirely sure of the correlation between contact and insecurity about parentage?

you dont have to have contact every day to know who your parents are?

if a child has, say, a parent who has gone to prison for their violence - then the other parent yes has to work hard to amke them secure despite this parentage - the whole identity thing is skewed because the DC needs to know yes this is their parent but they dont need to grow up to be like them.

security about parentage isnt just about contact with the parent is it?
it may be about building security (knowledge of your identity) around zero contact - because that is what is safe/best. about knowng that parent A is like this but you dont need to be....

EllieG Mon 19-Sep-11 13:44:12

Generally Court doesn't change things unless it isn't working the way it is, if child thriving then leave alone, especially if there are concerns re non-resident parent (or at least that's how we do it here). Agree re mediation - not for use when someone abusive.

NicknameTaken Mon 19-Sep-11 15:05:56

Cestlavie, I understand your viewpoint, but I think my ex is less dangerous to be around than yours, so there are stronger grounds for contact.

Re STIDW's article, I agree with some of the points, but I'm not impressed by the fact that she talks about reciprocal DV and cites Erin Pizzey as evidence (who I understood to have been comprehensively discredited on this point). That's not my experience, and it doesn't ring true about the women I met in the refuge either. I don't claim victimhood/sainthood, but I have always tried to be reasonable and do the right thing, and it pisses me off to think that the assumption is that we must both somehow have been in the wrong.

QueenofWhatever Tue 20-Sep-11 12:38:32

I recently saw a solicitor (for something different) as I have a similar ex. She says there has been a sea change in the last 6-12 months and the role of the resident parent is getting increasing prominence.

She also advised me not to refuse mediation, apparently there has been a legal change around this. Legal types, am I right about this? She said the first session is a mediation assessment and then they either advise mediation, don't advise mediation or you can still refuse. However she said it doesn't go down well if you don't even go for the assessment. She said with my abusive ex, it is very unlikely it would be recommended.

NicknameTaken Wed 21-Sep-11 11:07:57

That's interesting, Queen. If he pushes for mediation again, I might go along for the assessment then. Two years ago, soon after the split, we were judged as unsuitable for mediation. It may or may not be the same again.

Anyway, ex has just got a job and he's suddenly all nicey-nice again. A big relief. I think any significant legal maneouvres are off the table for now.

EllieG Wed 21-Sep-11 22:00:07

I've just finished my mediator training. If you have a good mediator they should not recommend mediation where there is domestic abuse because parties won't be able to come to a truely informed decision and it ain't therefore mediation. So go, by all means, but make sure you say to the mediator (you will see them initially by yourself for the intake/assessment session) that you are frightened of this man and don't feel able to express yourself.

NicknameTaken Thu 22-Sep-11 11:45:56

Thanks for the advice. Noted.

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