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New Job = Change of Contact Arrangements Required

(6 Posts)
salvargio Mon 27-Oct-14 15:55:48

I hope you can be of help.

To give you a little background history…
In September 2012 I separated from my wife and filed for divorce on the grounds of Unreasonable Behaviour. Although quite lengthy and drawn out, this was accepted by the courts and finalised in December 2013. During the marriage we had our son now aged 3 years and 7 months (she also has an elder child from a previous relationship now aged 7 years and 2 months). When the split took place my contact was reduced considerably to every other weekend (Friday evening through to Sunday afternoon), these terms were based on both the fact I worked weekdays and that they were the same terms the father of her elder son had.

Throughout the last two years or so I have found it increasingly difficult to liaise with my ex-wife, she often does not tell the truth when talking face to face, and does not reply to text messages/emails etc. I am on the Birth Certificate of our son, we both have shared responsibility and residence (however not certified through the courts – to the best of my knowledge). A statement of arrangements – Children was completed during divorce proceedings.

Although having requested that I am consulted with regards to medical, schooling issues etc, this has not been the case. For example our son was put into Pre School without liaising with myself as to which and to how often he goes, this still changes without being run by me. I also think that he may have been baptised without my knowledge although I cannot prove this?

I have recently got a new job and my working structure is to change as of 1st December 2014. I will be working a shift pattern of 4 days in which consist of 2 days followed by 2 nights with then 4 days off, this is a rolling shift pattern. Therefore the current contact arrangement is no longer suitable, and would mean that he would only see me once every 6/7 weeks under the current arrangements.

My hopes with getting this new job was that I could hopefully allow my son to spend more time with his father, and on a personal note, to allow me to take on some parental duties, that I long for such as taking and collecting my son from school, helping with his homework etc.

I am to run this by his mother later this week, and it is highly likely that the need of legal assistance will be required. I was hoping that perhaps you could provide me with some assistance as to contact, I would ideally like to contact to be 50/50 with me having our son on my days off or at least 3 of the 4 days (reasoning behind this being that for the majority he will be a school with only the occasional days off falling on a weekend).

I do ideally want to keep it out of the hands of solicitors/courts and preferably mediation and perhaps Cafcass if they would assist.

I thank you in advance,

3xcookedchips Mon 27-Oct-14 16:26:21

If you have been following these threads you may be aware, you should not talk in terms of your rights but the rights you son has with respect to having an ongoing relationship with BOTH his parents. Keep that in mind with all communication with your ex, solicitors, 3rd party agencies and the courts should it come to that.

First of you might want to write a nice polite letter/email to your ex explaining how now that your son is older it might be time to discuss increasing the time he and as your shift patterns are changing to try and fit and change in schedule with your new working pattern. i.e. It wouldn't necessarily be in our sons interests to see less of you.

Talk about the benefits to your son, and so on and so forth.

Your expectations of 50/50 would more than likely only happen if your ex agrees, although it can happen in court they are reluctant.

You want to try your damdest to keep this out of court. You do not want to rely on CAFCASS who will only be invoved if you do make an application.

Suggest, that if you;re both not able to come to an agreement then mediation is an option. Don't make any threats of court.

With regard to medical and schooling information they are side issues for the moment and can be turned around. If you say communication with the ex is difficult, then go straight to the source. Build your own relationships with the Pre-School and medical practice and ASK for information you require, ask for updates on your sons development from the pre-school. Unless there is an court order to the contrary, they are obligated to provide you relevant information.

Don't allow her to be a filter for information if she cant be relied upon.

Being baptised - is that a big deal to you?

Not knowing his pre-school schedule, although maybe frustrating how your ex chooses to arrange child care in her time then that's up to her. At the end of the day this is small beer to worry about.

Have you had any holiday time with your son, what happens at xmas and Easter, Fathers day, Mothers day, all things to consider.

lets hope mediation is as far this has to go.

salvargio Tue 28-Oct-14 10:30:17

Many thanks for your reply 3xcookedchips.

Yes I appreciate that an decision made is in the interest of the child at all times.

I’m currently in the process of drafting an initial letter to his mother mentioning the change in circumstances etc and will be proposing that we initially sit down and discus this as a first step, however this I can imagine will be refused based on history.

My theory in suggesting 50/50 residence was that if I were to go in with 2 days out of every 8 that I may be knocked down to even less. I understand that our son has a brother/half-brother, would this usually hold much weight in his mother’s case. I do not want as brothers there time to be non-existent of course not.

Yes I really do want to keep it out of the courts as this I feel is unnecessarily lining the pockets of the solicitors, however from past experience his mother is quite controlling (and with financial backing) would rather it go via the courts as a stalling tactic. For example, when I filed for divorce she stopped access to my stepson of 4/5 years, she agreed that contact would be sorted upon completion of the divorce, after she had strung the divorce out for 18 months she claimed that my stepson had come to terms of me not being about and the no contact in this period (something which is clearly not the case when we cross paths).

I have established relationships with both our sons doctors and preschool however after raising issues I am still not kept in the loop, be it through incompetence of whatever.

Having discussed this briefly with my solicitor, having arranged our son’s schooling etc without me does show that as mother she is not complying with the terms of shared parental responsibility etc, in the even that our son has been baptised this is yet another example of this. I personally am not religious and have made it clear that I do not wish for him to be baptised, furthermore and somewhat contradicting, had he of been, it is something that his grandparents, uncles and aunties etc from my side of the family would have missed out on.

I present I have our son for 4 hours on fathers day, either Christmas morning or afternoon (year on, year off) and I have him during my annual leave (5 weeks) throughout the year for holidays.

secondchanceathappiness Wed 29-Oct-14 22:48:08

Hi Salvargio - I read your post and it really resonated with what my DP is going through at the moment. His exW seems to think that she can make all the decisions re their children with not a second thought to what he thinks/wants, but if he dares buy them a new outfit or whatever he is quizzed/reprimanded/made to feel like he has done something terrible for loving his children. See my thread on this forum:

It is so unfair and I just wanted to say that you have my sympathy. I really hope that you get this all sorted.
There are MANY good men out there who deserve more than their exWs allow them. Speaking as a single mum who has no contact with the father of my children, these women really don't know how lucky they are. I sometimes think they don't realise that there are women who would love to have someone to share the parenting with,even if they are no longer a couple. I wish you all the best. Keep fighting.

salvargio Thu 30-Oct-14 08:34:29

Thank you for your message secondchanceathappiness it's very much appreciated.

lostdad Mon 03-Nov-14 13:24:50

You're right to want to be able to come to amicable arrangements with your son's mother. Court is the worst possible outcome for a child (only no contact being worst) and it is in his best interests for you to work together.

3cookedchips has made some excellent points.

If you are unable to come to any arrangements between you and your ex your first port of call is mediation. Since April this year it is a pre-requisite of going to court (if it goes that far).

When it comes to mediation and court think in terms of your son's best interests - nothing else. Bearing this in mind - you mention 50/50. It's worth remembering that this is extremely rare and from the off risks you being painted being more concerned with your `rights' (as 3cookedchip don't have any) than your son's best interests. Ask for this and you will likely be asked why you feel this is the case - answers such as `So he will see we are equal parents' will be unlikely to convince the court.

With regard to schooling, medicine, etc. you do not need your son's mother's permission or cooperation. As you are on his birth certificate you have Parental Responsibility (PR). This means that in law you have an identical status to his mum. You are able to contact the doctor, school, etc. and discuss his health, treatment, education, etc. In theory it is possible that they say you need Mum's permission: You don't. If that happens, there are ways around this.

Finally - consider joining Families Need Fathers. It is a national charity with branches and support meetings around the country (with pro bono solicitors and McKenzie Friends like me(!) there to give advice), a helpline, a forum and other stuff.

Good luck!

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