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Contact v work - what weight in Court?

(22 Posts)
dunfightin Fri 21-Mar-14 11:42:32

I work pt and ex-p/nrp is on benefits. We have court order due to historical DA and mediation is a non-starter due to this and ex's total refusal.

Among very many other issues ex-P is now telling me of "commitments" that mean he can't do certain days - specifically one day on which I work. This only affects holidays when extra holiday contact forms part of the court order and also time made up if EOW is disrupted by holidays - allowed for in the order. DCs are school-age.
Lots of small things going against the agreements made and a couple of things that in the order that in practice are slightly woolly and thus give rise to disagreement means we are likely to go back to court. The stress is really getting to me.
My question is: If we do go back to court, what weight is the court going to give to my work commitments and request that while ex-P isn't working contact needs to factor in the work schedule.
Also as no final agreement made do I as the respondent have to pay additional fee if I take matters to court? We are now both self-repping.

FrogbyAnotherName Fri 21-Mar-14 15:37:22

In my experience, courts don't care about 'childcare' requirements at all and expect the RP to make their own arrangements - presumably, you can pay for a holiday club or childminder to cover the days you work?

dunfightin Fri 21-Mar-14 15:41:24

That's not the problem. I don't ask ex to do childminding because he wouldn't or would take delight in letting me down and causing problems at work. It's about his other "commitments" and making the arrangement work.

dunfightin Fri 21-Mar-14 15:43:05

Babybarrister or STDW are you around?

FrogbyAnotherName Fri 21-Mar-14 16:02:26

There was a thread somewhere about this recently - although courts have the power to penalise NRP who refuse contact in line with the order, it's unlikely to happen as it would effectively place a child in the care of an unwilling parent.
I don't think your work schedule is relevant though, particularly if you're not relying on contact to happen in order to work - unless I've missed the point ?

dunfightin Fri 21-Mar-14 16:28:22

Maybe being unclear. But if one parent doesn't have work and you are in the position of having to sort out contact during working week then fact that other parent is at work so can't do handovers on certain days/times when others are perfectly fine. NR non-working parent wants contact when it suits, then complains when start off point is different and explanation is partially to do with RP's work commitments. Yes, I could pay someone to do handovers/pick-ups but seems unreasonable. So would court listen to that?

balia Fri 21-Mar-14 17:50:47

I think if you are self-repping you need to work on expressing the problem with clarity! I'm v confused. Maybe try to avoid all the 'one parent, the other parent' bit and just say - I work, I need to sort contact out. The court order says this, ex wants this...I think you'll get more useful advice that way!

Bloodyteenagers Fri 21-Mar-14 17:58:01

So he wants to hand contact when you are unavailable to do the handovers?

dunfightin Fri 21-Mar-14 23:55:13

Hi, having to be a bit vague. But basically I suggest x and y or z when contact needs to be made up or changes over the holidays. It's days I work as I don't have enough holiday to cover school holiday so to me makes sense. He sees DCs instead of holiday club, I see them when I'm not working/can get time off.
He is now saying he can't do x or y because either he doesn't like it/wants to be difficult would love if I lost my job /is 'busy'/has 'plans'. Or he can do x time or y time but I say I have to be at work by then or won't be finished in time. Also he will never take DCs to anything at all - parties, see friends, go to cinema, dentist - all the stuff that I have to fit in on my week day off.
So if I say to ex ok what times do you fancy and I'll fit round you (which is basically what he expects), I'm in the position of begging work for more flexibility - unlikely to get it; cutting my hours so that I can fit round someone who enjoys making me squirm; paying for bits of childcare; and then seen as not pulling my weight at work because I'm dealing with negotiations with ex that get nowhere. And I can't always get the holidays from work I would like as we all have DCs in my dept so line manager looks back at who had what last holiday and expects us to share it out fairly i.e. no one can take every half-term off.
So if we do end up back court, what is the judge likely to say if I point out I'm working and juggling like mad while ex isn't working and doesn't do any of the routine parenting stuff 't can we please take into consideration my work patterns when negotiating extra/holiday contact.

FrogbyAnotherName Sat 22-Mar-14 07:34:20

I'm still not sure I've understood - why is contact being 'made up' or altered?

In any event, it's highly unlikely that the court will issue an order based on your/exs current working pattern. They may consider a general 'handover at 6pm' so as to fit in with most conventional work commitments, but the specifics if your job and your exs lack of work are unlikely to be accommodated - unless, of course, the court considers the DCs are better off residing with the non- working parent.

Nappaholic Sat 22-Mar-14 08:30:06

The court has to make any decision on the basis that it is in the best interests of the children - not of either parent.

I suspect the court will have sympathy with you in terms of practical arrangements, and encourage yr ex to co-operate more, but in the end, if an arrangement is in the best interests of the DC, it won't matter If it's inconvenient for you...or him!

Perhaps it's time for a complete rethink of the arrangements - what would you propose if you were starting from scratch?

dunfightin Sat 22-Mar-14 11:18:07

Thanks for that Nappaholic. The normal arrangements are good i.e. EOW and one eve in week.
Frog sorry but I don't like your tone. I'm not going into details here but there are sound and evidenced reasons why the ex is highly unlikely to be made RP and those are to do with what's best for the DCs. As I said upthread there was DA in the past. Not my choice to end up in court nor to go back there though I feel that ex is pushing me to be the one who asks for further directions. The issue is for school holidays and negotiating them in everyone's best interests - with the DCs first of course.
Posted this on legal as I deal with the general inconvenience and do the juggling but now it's getting to the point when I'm seriously worried about my job - ex doesn't step in when one of the DCs is ill or for school strike next week so I have to take time off and when I run out of holiday allowance it's unpaid and my line manager grumbles. So if we do go to court I wonder whether fact that I fear I may lose my job - which will directly affect the DCs wellbeing - will make a difference to court's thinking.
Does financial well-being of the DCs count? Given that ex is on benefits, the only money to support them comes from me.

FrogbyAnotherName Sat 22-Mar-14 14:14:09

I'm sorry that you 'don't like my tone'', I appreciate I've not been sympathetic, but the reality is that a NRP cannot be forced to have contact at all, let alone have it dictated to him that it must happen at a time he is stating is inconvenient/not possible for him. How do you suggest such an order would be enforced? What penalty do you propose would be a suitable deterrent to prevent him being awkward?

I'm very confused by your assertion that your DCs dad wouldn't get residency due to DA, and yet you are insistent that he has regular contact in order to facilitate you working.

You are not alone (check out the LP board) - but seeking court intervention to change your DCs Dads personality so he becomes considerate and flexible just isn't realistic.

dunfightin Sat 22-Mar-14 15:29:49

Frog I'm not forcing him to have contact but I am asking that he factors in the reality of my job. I'm not asking for court intervention, it had to happen due to safe-guarding factors has has gone from supervised and then moved forward via court process, Cafcass etc.
My problem is that ex demands a certain date and it's my one day off so in the holidays we do a job lot of haircuts, shoes, dentists etc which he refuses to do. I suggest a day in holidays he says he can't do it then suggests the very day I have down for dentist etc. He tells me to change my work to accommodate him, I point out that it's impossible (which it honestly is) and then he accuses me of all sorts. He also won't do half-days, an afternoon and evening, a bit later so that I can get to appts with one or the other of them. If the DCs have stuff going on he won't take them or says it doesn't count as contact. I don't think he will ever change, which is why I fear the court will have to rule on this one i.e. say whether he has to try and accommodate my work-pattern. I'm wondering, for example, if the courts ever say the NRP's contact time falls when they are at work - which would be pretty silly for the DCs - or if they say contact has to happen according to work timetable. If so does it equally apply the other way round.

FrogbyAnotherName Sat 22-Mar-14 16:00:57

Your ex is being an awkward arse, but I honestly don't think the court will order that he, as the NRP, is specifically required to accomodate your work pattern. So what if he 'accuses you of all sorts' when you don't agree with him? Thats his problem, not yours.

If the order doesn't specify days for contact in the holidays, agree the dates with him in advance, schedule the DCs appointments on different days and don't agree to swap days if he tells you later that the ones you've agreed are no longer convenient. You don't need a court order, you just need to stick to your plans.

I can only tell you my experience of courts and the degree (or not) that they consider work patterns. When DH ex (RP) withheld contact DH applied for a contact order, and in court, DHs ex requested an order that meant contact only took place when she "needed'" DH to have the DCs because she was working. The court disagreed, and issued an traditional EOW-type order that resulted in the DCs often being with DH while their mum was at home, and her using other family members as childcare when she was working. During one holiday, The DCs spent more nights with their maternal grandmother than either of their parents, despite one or other parent always being available.

If you and he argue too much over this, the court may lose patience and issue an order that doesn't suit either of you.

Nappaholic Sat 22-Mar-14 16:21:30

The courts don't like dealing with the minutiae of contact arrangements, but my feeling is, from what you've posted OP, that the court is unlikely to have much sympathy with yr ex. How many "other commitments" can he have if he's not working!

Problem is, if he's of that nature, it's dangerous to rely on him for "childcare", as you no doubt well know. What would you do if he wasn't around at all?

dunfightin Sat 22-Mar-14 18:26:40

I'm wondering too what it is that means he puts DCs behind these 'commitments'? No my business though I guess it would be different if he was working.
I don't rely on him for childcare - and couldn't when we were together. Younger DC went to CM while I was working as he had a habit of being 'busy' on days when I was at work and I thought he was being SAHD when I went back to work after DC1 was born. I was always scrabbling around for emergency childcare between birth of DC1 and DC2; it was nightmarish.

FrogbyAnotherName Sat 22-Mar-14 19:21:59

I don't rely on him for childcare - and couldn't when we were together

I'm not sure what you are looking for then? Why do you want a court order insisting he takes your work into account?

I may have got the wrong end of the stick, but if I've understood right, the scenario you face is this:

you: I'm making the DCs available for contact on x day or y day
ex: That's no good for me, I want z day
you: I'm off work that day so the DCs are having haircuts, going to the dentist, buying school shoes etc
ex: why don't you swap your day off so I can have them when I want them? You're blocking contact, it's not fair on them.

Surely you don't need a court order, you just end the conversation as follows:

you: I'm sorry, z day doesn't work for me, but x or y days will be fine. Let me know by the end of the week.

Nappaholic Sat 22-Mar-14 22:03:45

Seems Frog has a prob need to be firmer and not get drawn into a debate. As long as you are making the children available (and can demonstrate it - keep emails or texts) it isn't really you frustrating contact, is it?

babybarrister Sun 23-Mar-14 15:35:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MidniteScribbler Mon 24-Mar-14 05:30:51

I think you'd be better of getting the contact days set in stone. Eg ex has then Wednesday from school pick up to school drop off on Thursday, then EOW from x time to x time. He has first half of school holidays, you have the second (or whatever). Then stick to it religiously. Arrange your own childcare if you're working when it is your contact time. Don't expect anything from him, you'll only be disappointed.

dunfightin Mon 24-Mar-14 23:29:32

Midnite would be wonderful, if he wasn't an awkward arse and also if I was always free to take holidays from work when I wanted or if my line manager granted what I requested, and even then I'd have to survive scowling looks from my colleagues. My contract says I have to be available every day except Sundays and that does include Bank Holidays and Boxing Day. I suppose I could just take my holidays during school terms and barely see the DCs when they are off. I think I'm still scared of him sad

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