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Father not being allowed to see his children.

(40 Posts)
Writerwannabe83 Wed 04-Feb-15 15:27:40

I'm looking for some advice regarding my sister's partner who has two children from a previous marriage. His two sons are 6 and 10 and he previously had them three nights a week after school and they stayed with him every other weekend. Although he and his ex-wife didn't really get on with each other they kept all contact agreements amicable and fair for the sake of the children.

His ex-wife has also been in a long-term relationship and she knew about my sister. It was never an issue regarding contact.

However, early November last year the ex-wife's relationship broke down and since then she has refused the father any contact with their son's as she doesn't like the fact that her ex is in a relationship when she isn't.

As s result he hadn't seen his children for three months, not even over Christmas. He has gone round to their house many, many times and although he knows they are home his ex-wife won't answer the door. He has tried phoning but his ex-wife just hangs up on him. He's really, really upset about it and doesn't know what to do. Apparently she has form for doing this in the past and is only happy to restart access when she meets another man because then it's 'fair' as she's in a relationship too.

He said that this is that longest time she has ever stopped him seeing the children though and he is devastated.

He cannot afford a solicitor in order to get a formal arrangement in place which his ex-wife knows. She knows that the father can do nothing about it and loves having that control over him.

Both my sister and her partner are really upset by all of this because it's so unfair on him and so unfair on the children.

Surely he must have rights?

Can anyone offer any advice that I can pass on?

LittleBairn Wed 04-Feb-15 15:30:28

He does have rights but if he's not willing to pay for a solictor then not much can be done.

OldLadyKnows Wed 04-Feb-15 15:37:47 Contact Families Need Fathers, they can help with advice re self-repping in the family courts.

LaurieFairyCake Wed 04-Feb-15 15:39:37

He can apply to the courts himself! Doing nothing for 3 months is ridiculous

HeadDoctor Wed 04-Feb-15 15:41:04

He doesn't have rights, his children have a right to a relationship with their father. Second the recommendation for FNF - get him to go to his nearest meeting.

Writerwannabe83 Wed 04-Feb-15 15:41:30

It's not that he's not willing to pay for a solicitor it's that he can't afford one.

Thank you oldlady - I will forward that website on to my sister.

FuckYouChrisAndThatHorse Wed 04-Feb-15 15:43:12

He doesn't need a solicitor, he just needs to apply to the courts (can't remember the cost for this, a few hundred pounds I think), and then he can represent himself.

He needs a formal agreement. Not doing anything is a cop out.

momb Wed 04-Feb-15 15:44:44

The arrangements for children were presumably agreed by the courts at the time of divorce? If she is materially changing from these arrangements he can certainly pursue it himself. FnF can help but calling the court would be my first step: they were enormously helpful when I did my own divorce.

Writerwannabe83 Wed 04-Feb-15 15:45:11

Thank you fuckyou - that's great news. We all genuinely thought that nothing could be done unless he had a solicitor to enforce the contact.

I will tell him to look into applying to the courts himself, thank you.

Writerwannabe83 Wed 04-Feb-15 15:48:00

mom - it is my understanding that the contact arrangements hadn't been made via the court but a decision they had made between themselves in order to ensure that the children had regular contact with both parents.

FuckYouChrisAndThatHorse Wed 04-Feb-15 15:50:16

No problem, I hope it all gets sorted. I agree with getting him to call the court and see what needs doing.

Just tell him that the courts will want facts not opinions, so there's no point in going in and saying, "ex is a bitch and stopped contact because she's jealous", keep it to, "I was seeing the dcs every other weekend ( or whatever) and that was stopped on x date, for x reason"

(Disclaimer: not an expert!)

momb Wed 04-Feb-15 15:51:35

The arrangements may not have been assigned by the court but the court will have reviewed an arrangements for children statement where both parties agreed to some arrangements in principle.
Your sister's partner hopefully has kept a photocopy of these (or his solicitor if they did it via a solicitor).

Writerwannabe83 Wed 04-Feb-15 15:55:37

It's just such a shame. They have been divorced for about 4 years and it has never gotten to this stage.

I think the difference this time though is that the father proposed to my sister last September and I wonder if his ex has taken it badly and this is her way of trying to make things difficult for them.

The worry is that the ex-wife is going to force him to choose between his children and my sister. He would obviously and rightly so choose his sons but it's so wrong sad

3xcookedchips Wed 04-Feb-15 15:56:15

He does have rights but if he's not willing to pay for a solictor then not much can be done.

No, he doesn't have rights.

The children have rights to a relationship with BOTH their parents.

LB: Are you are aware how much it would cost to meet with a solicitor and have them send a letter? A lot more than most people can afford. Don't trivialise this situation with a reply that adds no value.

At this stage a solicitor would be a waste of money anyway - a letter on headed note paper that holds as much weight as a letter written by me, you or the postman.

This is what he should do:
1. Write the ex a polite letter explaining how its in the the children's interests they see their father, etc especially as there has been on going involvement in their lives. Suggest if they cannot come to an agreement they both attend mediation. Do not make any mention of court yet.
2. Give her 7 days to respond. If the response is negative make enquirers with a mediation co. who will seek to make contact with the ex to arrange a session or sessions.
3. If she doesn't agree to mediation, the mediators will provide a form saying further mediation wasn't possible. Make an application to court.
4. If you think she might use mediation to delay matters make the application to court in parallel with starting mediation - as it can take 3 months to get the first date.

Hopefullt mediation will work.
if she is a control freak - court not where she will want to be, but she may learn the hard way.

What are the reasons she is giving for stopping contact?

Tell him to conduct all comms from now using email, letter or text. Dont engage in arguments and keep conversations child focused.

Writerwannabe83 Wed 04-Feb-15 16:02:30

Thank you cookedchips - that was very helpful smile

LittleBairn Wed 04-Feb-15 16:44:08

3x I am aware its the children's rights but I was answering the OP, the children having the rights to see him inadvertently means he has rights too.
I'm very aware how expensive solicitors are I am currently trying to find one to deal with medical malpractice. We will be making huge sacrifices to afford one. Many people moan about how they can't afford it when if they made genuine sacrifices could have afforded it.
The fact that this situation has been going on and off for years sounds like he is looking for excuses.

My post still stands if he isn't willing to pay then there isn't much to be done, that's not trivialising the matter its a fact. He could represent himself but that rarely goes well and this is a serious matter.

Patchworkpatty Wed 04-Feb-15 16:58:11

We did own application last year as dh's ex pulled this stunt when her partner went to work abroad. Just went to the court, got a C1 or C100 I think can't remember exactly, filled it in, 3 copies , handed one to her on doorstep (she wasn't expecting that !) also filled in a court exemption fee as on low income at time. - you don't have to be on benefits. Just Income minus housing +household expenses+number of kids in house. they can give total or partial exemption on fees. Full cost last year was £212. if you don't get a discount. Got the court date, she didn't have leg to stand on , got royally roasted by the Judge and we got our contact back as it was before... took 6 weeks start to finish. You really don't need a solicitor for this sort of thing, monkeys could do it and now we have it in writing that she ordered by the court to make the children available for contact with their father , which is great as previously she would use contact as bargaining chip , so all in all it took all that power away from her and did us an enormous favour.

AnnieLobeseder Wed 04-Feb-15 17:08:15

I have to ask; if he's so desperate to see his children, why is he not doing anything about it? You say he can't afford a solicitor but has he been to CAB or asked on legal forums for advice? Why are you on here asking for him? If anyone tried to keep me from my children I would be out banging on every legal door, selling my every possession to pay for legal advice and working round the clock to get access again. Why has your BIL just rolled over without a fight? It seems that many men are more than happy to whine about their "bitch" exes who deny them access but at the same time are full of excuses instead of actually putting any effort into reestablishing contact.

Patchworkpatty Wed 04-Feb-15 17:11:43

Sorry LB.but you are talking complete twaddle ! representing yourself in court for children arrangement orders is now the norm. since legal aid was removed a couple of years ago, according to NAO self representing now accounts for over 72%.of cases. Whilst it might be harder for complicated cases involving international jurisdictions, vast majority are UK based a straightforward. Really how hard can it be to tell a judge you would like to see your children 2.weekends a month ? honestly, if you can't articulate that without someone holding your hand, you probably shouldn't be in charge of kids in the first place hmm

quietlysuggests Wed 04-Feb-15 17:20:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

3xcookedchips Wed 04-Feb-15 17:35:46

the children having the rights to see him inadvertently means he has rights too.

Again, I think you are making it up as you go along.

Parents have Parental Responsibilities, not rights - sorry, but you do seem to be showing a degree of ignorance.

How much experience do you have of LIPs to make that statement their outcomes.

3 months isn't really a long time when you are trying to come to terms with not seeing your children and at the same time trying to resolve the situation without running to a solicitor and or the court at the first sign of trouble.

He should be given credit for trying to keep it out of court.

If there had been a c/o, then yes 3 months would have been too long.

CAB aren't a great help in these situations, they advise to seek legal advice.

Quietly - You only provide a comment on indifferent fathers, what help is that to the OP who is asking for advice. Are you one of these mothers who continually moan about feckless fathers and their ilk?

People should come on here with solutions not moans about the ills of society.

Writerwannabe83 Wed 04-Feb-15 17:44:56

I think the reason he hasn't done anything before is because the periods of forbidden contact were relatively brief and it always blew over so he was expecting it to be the same this time round too. It's only because of how long it's gone on for this time and that she isn't showing any signs of backing down is what's making him realise that the time has come to do something to ensure contact is fixed and permanent.

He's previously been worried about rubbing her up the wrong way and worrying that she will stop contact altogether if he made things difficult for her but he knows now that he can't pussy foot around her anymore and he needs to stop allowing her behave like this.

He used to pick the boys up from school on his three nights but the mother has now told the school not to hand the children over to him and instead her own mother collects them.

He has been round to his ex MIL when she has the children but she also won't answer the door to him.

My sister has passed the FNF website details on to him.

TheGirlFromIpanema Wed 04-Feb-15 17:46:13

I agree with Annie tbh.

There is so much more could be done if a NRP has parental responsibilty. He could go to school and collect them himself, without doing anything wrong. So long as he collects them and lets her know their whereabouts she can't do anything about it, so I am at a loss as to why he hasn't seen them for 3 months if he's so desperate!

TheGirlFromIpanema Wed 04-Feb-15 17:48:33

So he went to school and they refused to hand the children to their own father, one who previously collected them 3 times a week? confused

Did he arrange a meeting with school to ask why? Sounds very peculiar to me that a normal loving father who plays a big part in his dcs lives would be denied access by the school....

3xcookedchips Wed 04-Feb-15 17:52:05

You'll be surprised how often the school will blindly follow the mothers instructions...Given that none of us are party to what ever conversation it makes no sense putting 2 + 2 and coming up with 5.

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