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Court ordered contact with DCs

(36 Posts)
jayho Wed 09-Mar-16 19:09:32

Post divorce we have a standard court order for eow, one midweek, half the holidays.

During half term, 11 yo said that ex assaulted him.

Police and SS investigation, ex denies. SS have offered intervention on safety basis, ex has declined.

Police & SS do not believe there are any safeguarding issues and that contact can resume after suspension pending investigation. SS advice that it should be phased to build trust and confidence.

11yo does not want contact, 7 yo does not wnant to go alone.

I am completely supportive of rebuilding trust, confidence, relationshiip etc.

Initially ex proposed seeing just 7 yo, punishing 11yo. I explained that the court order covers both and he needs to propose a way forward that achieves this.

he then asked me to drop at his rather than collecting from school. I attempted this, the children refused to leave the car. I called him and asked for alternatives, he had none.

I've suggested him meeting the children at a neutral venue or a third party collecting the kids.

Where do I stand?


supportive bit may be through clenched teeth

aprilanne Wed 09-Mar-16 19:14:54

i would go back to court to state the children dont want to go to exh house .can he maybe come see them at your house to start with and try and build some trust .but if children so scared i would not force them .or maybe see the kids at a contact centre .

jayho Wed 09-Mar-16 21:01:58

I'd sooner have ummm something bad in my house than him (he's something very bad)

bunique Wed 09-Mar-16 21:05:57

I think he needs to seek legal advice and maybe limit his contact to letter for now to rebuild trust with your children.

Fourormore Wed 09-Mar-16 21:12:01

If he isn't in agreement then you will need to apply to the court for a variation.

Toffeelatteplease Wed 09-Mar-16 21:52:24

I have a question: is it important who applies to court? If genuinely there is nothing to be achieved by taking it to court other than risking the kids going into an unsafe situation would you still apply?

Fourormore Wed 09-Mar-16 22:21:20

If the OP just stopped making the children available then she would be in breach of the order. Police and SS have said no safeguarding issues and SS have no power to override a court order so they can advise phased resumption of contact but they can't enforce it.

RudeElf Wed 09-Mar-16 22:23:37

What would actually happen though if she did breach the order? (by supporting the DCs wishes)

Fourormore Thu 10-Mar-16 07:27:18

Without knowing the full details of the case, it's impossible to say. I can't imagine it's a good idea with both the police and SS saying there's no safeguarding issues. The DCs wishes are irrelevant in terms of it being a breach. It's a court order and presumably it doesn't say "make the children available unless they don't want to go".

lavenderhoney Fri 11-Mar-16 20:42:08

At 11 they have a say, I think re contact.

Could you speak to cafcass and ask advice? And could your 11 yr old ( and 7 yr old ) be represented? I know this does happen in some cases.

Maybe you need another lawyer well versed in this type of case or back to court.

Otherwise a contact centre? That seems sensible tbh, not in your home, not in his and d c will feel safe.

jayho Fri 11-Mar-16 22:16:43

thanks for input, things have moved on a bit.

He has not responded to my proposal and although he was supposed to have contact tonight did not turn up at school to collect, did not notify me or school that he was not going to and has not responded to my emails asking what he proposes re contact.

So he has now formally breached the order.

I am making the children available.

I think cafcass may be the way forward, view?

Fourormore Fri 11-Mar-16 22:40:00

You can try cafcass. They may not be able to help if the case is closed.

He may also not have breached the order as such. Often they order you to make the children available but it's not very common to order the other parent to actually take up the contact available.

That said, just failing to turn up to school is awful.

MeMySonAndl Fri 11-Mar-16 22:45:39

Are your children safe with him? If you think they aren't, don't push it. Keep a record of his lack of showing up, no replies to communication and let him come back when he is ready. You do't want to impose your children on to a parent that is not prepared, at this time, to take good care of them.

jayho Sat 12-Mar-16 07:41:28

The contact is ordered, it's what he specifically asked for. There's also a clause that I should 'make up' time if the kids are ill..... My solicitor at least added 'where possible' to that one.

Thanks MeSon, I think that's the best I can do. I don't think the eldest would be safe with him.

Can he apply to court for contact with one child and not the other?

Marilynsbigsister Sat 12-Mar-16 10:05:53

The thing is OP, that it's not a case of him breaching the order because weirdly a non resident parent cannot be forced to have contact even if they have asked for it. I know it seems odd, but it's the way it is. The order is against you, to make you make the children 'available' for contact with their father. If you do not make them 'available' then you have breached the order. Him not turning up for contact he has requested and been granted is strangely his option. The only issue that he could have faced was one of 'child abandonment' which is very serious, had the children been left somewhere to collect where there was no adult with care, although it would be an unusual situation...(think dropped off on a street corner where he has agreed to collect from..)

jayho Sat 12-Mar-16 11:23:07

Thanks Marilyn that makes sense

Fourormore Sat 12-Mar-16 12:20:46

He could apply for a court order for just one but he doesn't need one - he already has an order that says you have to make both children available. If he only wants to see one, that's his choice.

I would be wary of trying to argue that you couldn't get a 7 year old to leave the car. If he had to go to school or to the doctors, I'd imagine you would have somehow encouraged or made him him go.

I hope you can all find a way forwards.

You will be able to apply to the vary the order if after a few months the contact is still not taking place.

jayho Sat 12-Mar-16 14:47:50

so if the order says he should collect from school or my home - there aren't any drop offs for me - and he says he wants me to drop off, I assume I can say that, no, they are available from where they should be according to the order?

DollyTwat Sat 12-Mar-16 14:56:49

Jaho I had this with my ex for many years.
He'd do something awful and the do would refuse to go. He'd back off for about 10 months then around Xmas time he'd start wanting to see them.
He would then take me to court saying if blocked contact. Cost me a fortune.

We had supervised contact for a while, that would be an answer for you perhaps? The contact centres are ok, lots of toys etc and you wouldn't have to see him for handover

MeMySonAndl Sat 12-Mar-16 15:48:54

If the order says he is collecting them from school, and he does, both DC will have to go with him. It is not optional, if the child throws a tantrum saying he doesn't want to see him and you let him stay with you, it would be you who is breaching the order.

I would say that in the meantime, while contact is becoming more established, it would be a good idea to tell the school that you will be on call ready to pick the DC up if he doesn't show up. Just keep a record of how many times he has not shown (the record will be very useful to prove how unreliable he is, if he chooses to take you to court again).

Fourormore Sat 12-Mar-16 16:04:23

If the court has not ordered you to drop the children off somewhere then you would not be breaching the order by refusing.

You wouldn't be breaching the order if the children absolutely hysterically refused to go with their father. You are ordered to make the children available - no more and no less. You would find yourself in trouble if you weren't really making an effort to encourage them to go, though.

NotQuiteSoOnEdge Sat 12-Mar-16 16:20:08

If he hasn't turned up that's harmful for your kids. Make sure school have logged this event.

I'm in a parallel situation. I dropped my two off at school and they were supposed to go for an overnight with their dad. They asked to speak to the Senco and told her they didn't want to go home with him. They are 8 and 5. School told him, and though he was visibly angry with the children he accepted it (school only told him at pickup).

He then told them they were never to embarrass him like that again <helpful>. So they did it again for the next overnight. He was phoned in advance that time, and was so aggressive on the phone that we were escorted to our car at pickup.

He has, luckily, seen that they will vote with their feet, and has stopped overnights atm as they were just going to keep refusing, but it leaves us in a weird limbo where the court order is being broken by both of us, by agreement. I'm worried now that I could get into trouble for not following the order. Surely though as he is voluntarily returning them at bedtime (they'll see him during the day), I can't be held accountable?

jayho Sun 13-Mar-16 15:26:51

Thanks four, useful.

Sorry you have similar NotSo

Complicating factor is that I work full-time, 40 minutes away from school. I can't just up and leave if he doesn't turn up and so this is costing me a fortune in extra childcare. He doesn't pay child maintenance of course.

MeMySonAndl Sun 13-Mar-16 15:39:42

I disagree with that Fourormore, I know someone was threatened with 6m of jail by the judge. The NRP went to pick up the child with court order in hand and... the help of the police (the bastards, this was classed as a civil matter but they saw it fit to intervene). The child was practically dragged from the PWC's home despite being absolutely hysterical. Admittedly, they got to this after many problems, where the kid refused to go and the NRP put the blame on the PWC.

So, it is a good idea not to actively block contact, but if he doesn't want it... don't push him. You are not breaking the order if he doesn't show, sadly, he is not breaking it either if he lets his child down.

MeMySonAndl Sun 13-Mar-16 15:50:17

Jayho, if you use an after school club on your days, ask them to be on call, so you only have to leave work if the afterschool club is full and unable to take them.

It may make sense to tell your boss/human resources about the situation in the hope that some formal or informal flexitime can be arranged (where you can work extra time on the days you don't have them so you can take time off when he doesn't show up). Another option is to have a couple of SAHP on call for such an eventuality.

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