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contact orders

(22 Posts)
muser31 Thu 13-Mar-14 19:55:56

i am going to see a solicitor in the next week or so to let them know i want to get a divorce as things just haven't worked out in counselling at all. i don't know what way to approach this. do you think it would be much more stressful doing everything the legal route, or trying to sort it all out in mediation? or via solicitors letters - is that an option? i don't fancy everything going to court. when we separated neither of us had any money and we rented the house, so thats all sorted - its just the stuff in the house will need divided, and i don't think there will be much problem with doing that.

i guess im a bit worried about sorting child contact out and wether it would be better to think what would be best with a solicitor, go to mediation to try to get to an agreement amicably, and then if we are arguing too much, try solicitors letters, and then i guess last resort is a contact order. i have no experience and limited knowledge so if anyone can give me their experience/ tips i would be so grateful. at the minute he takes toddler one night a week, sometimes he changes this due to work. he doesn't take her during any holidays or help out when she is sick.

FrogbyAnotherName Thu 13-Mar-14 22:33:02

at the minute he takes toddler one night a week, sometimes he changes this due to work. he doesn't take her during any holidays or help out when she is sick.

Do you think this is the best thing for your DD, or do you think more/less contact would be in her best interests?

That is how these decisions are made - separated parents discuss what they each believe is best for the DC, and reach a compromise they can both agree to.

Some do that without any outside involvement, some discuss it in mediation, some ask a court to decide for them because they can't agree.

Your solicitor can advise you on the legal process, but they can't tell you what is best for your DD. Its up to you to decide what you think is right for her and then do your best to reach an agreement with her Dad. As she gets older, her own views will also influence the arrangements.

STIDW Thu 13-Mar-14 23:12:08

It's certainly a good idea to consult a solicitor initially to find out where you stand and what options there are. If you then decide to negotiate an agreement between yourselves or with the help of a mediator you do so from an informed position.

From the sound of it, unless either of you have a pension, there aren't many resources so the finances should be relatively easy to sort out. However you need to be aware that there is potential for future claims to be made after divorce if there is no legally binding financial settlement. That means if you inherited or won the lottery your husband might be able to claim against you successfully.

As for arrangements for children, some charities such as Action for Children offer family mediation.

muser31 Fri 14-Mar-14 07:33:11

thanks for your replies. i guess i don't really know what is best for her, and i think that is what i thought the solicitor would tell me, or the courts would tell me.

maybe i do know a little.... i know at the minute he is often picking her up at 4 or 6 the night before and dropping her off at 1 the next day cos of work. i think it would be better if he had at least one full day with her as well as one night, and if it was more consistent every week rather than so changeable so that she could have the same plans from week to week. i think it would be good for her if he took her a couple of extra days and nights in the holidays too, and helped more when she was sick, but i know that this is to help me out not necessarily her - but it would help her ultimately because its no good to her to have a mum who is struggling. any thoughts?

Russianfudge Fri 14-Mar-14 08:41:04

Unless there's anything you're missing out there I would suggest that she's not having enough contact with Dad. Is this because he has refused, or you? Sometimes you just fall in to it I guess.

Because he is little, most professionals suggest little and often rather than big chunks, but only the two of you will know what is right for your child. It's fairly standard to have one week night and every other weekend with the NRP.

What do you think would work?

muser31 Fri 14-Mar-14 10:34:53

hi - yes i would have agreed with you. see i didn't really know there was a standard, and i think that would be good for him to know. it is him that has wanted this, and he only started taking her overnight because i pushed for it. he says he cannot take her anymore because of his studies (he is studying and working part time) he will finish this summer though. do you think the best thing to do is to ask him about it in an email if he wants to discuss it in mediation, and then tell him these things, and if it doesn't go well ask the solicitor to write him letters to try to sort it out? i don't mind if he doesnt' have her a whole weekend - i don't see that happening anytime soon as he is quite selfish! but even a bit more than currently, and a plan for when he cancels (such as him taking her another day rather than not at all, would help)

cestlavielife Fri 14-Mar-14 11:56:25

downlaod a parenting plan and work thru that - only use solicitor when you want to get it signed off otherwise you will be paying a fortune.

see also links here

set a regular consistent routine

cestlavielife Fri 14-Mar-14 11:57:10

this one is a good template whether religious or not

STIDW Fri 14-Mar-14 13:12:06

Good contact for children relies on parents working together or at least not against each other. Going to court to have an order imposed on the other parent tends to leave parents resentful and resistant which makes working together very difficult, if not impossible. So court isn't a good place to settle arrangements and best avoided whenever possible. Parents who agree arrangements between themselves or with the help of a mediator are more satisfied with and more likely to stick to arrangements.

There is no one arrangement that suits all families. You can't force a parent to care for a child against their wishes. If neither parent wants to look after children they go into care. Above all arrangements need to be practical so if your husband is studying and working they will need to be worked around. A parenting plan will set out agreements about notifying each other and changing contact.

Obviously there will be some changes to routine when parents separate, but children also need many routines and established bonds to stay the same to give them a sense of security. Short frequent periods of contact tend to work better for younger children whereas older children may be more settled with longer less frequent spells. IF a parent has been responsible for caring for the children the majority of the time they are the constant in the children's lives and children benefit from some continuity.

littlemisssarcastic Fri 14-Mar-14 22:10:36

Agree with STIDW.

I would also add that court ordered contact won't make the NRP adhere to contact, not even if they agreed to it in court.
If the NRP chooses not to adhere to contact set by a court, it becomes a long arduous journey, consisting of returning the matter to court over and over to very little avail.
If I had the choice, I would try mediation first as far as contact is concerned and try to resolve your issues surrounding contact amicably. It will save you and your children a lot of time, effort and money.

That's my tuppence worth anyway.

muser31 Sat 15-Mar-14 07:23:21

thank you - i got a lot of other advice on another thread saying i should go to court because he has been EA in our relationship, but most of his behaviour was when we were together and hasn't been so much of an issue now - yes he is still very selfish but i agree that will not change if we go to court or not, and i myself don't want to go down that route if i can help it.

to be honest i haven't even told him i want the divorce yet. i haven't done anything - its all very fresh out of marriage counselling, he knows i didn't want to carry out because i felt he hadn't changed.

since then he has actually been quite nice and we have got on well (which is rather strange)

please help me and let me know what you think of the following plan:
for the sake of my dd i want to keep us on amicable terms IF that is a possibility. he has always made it very clear that he hates the legal route.... so what im going to do is write him an email, today maybe tomorrow, and something along the lines of

' i am sorry things turned out this way but i want to go ahead and get a divorce. there is a lot to sort out - some stuff in the house is yours too, issues to do with dd really need to be discussed, and i think making a parenting plan is very important - which will go over all the stuff concerning her. i am willing to go out and sit down over a coffee to try and talk over these things to come to agreement, but a lot of people do go to mediation for this, and if we find we are arguing then i think thats what we will have to do and i would appreciate if you would respect the fact that i will feel safer with a mediator if we can't agree. please can you let me know what you think, - if you don't get back to me i have no choice but to go down the legal route with this. thanks.

what do you think? i think i would like the opportunity to try to sort it out with him alone first, even given our history. but a lot of time has past since then, and i think somehow the dynamics change when he knows we are getting divorced. he knows i won't stand for any crap now, as for example in marriage counselling i just said i wasn't going to continue as i didn't like what i was hearing... so he knows if he begins to be unreasonable that i will refuse to carry on and suggest a mediator or solicitor. by the way i do get free legal aid so it won't cost me to get the solicitor involved. i really do appreciate feedback on all this im a bit nervous!

muser31 Sat 15-Mar-14 07:23:57

ps ive downloaded the parenting plans as a template for us, thankyou

Monetbyhimself Sat 15-Mar-14 09:00:41

Email sounds fine although I would change the word 'safer' to 'I would feel more confortable with a mediator'
He will be on the defensive/offensive immediately if you suggest that he scares you.
Good luck with it all. It's never easy.

muser31 Sat 15-Mar-14 10:50:40

Great point thank you

muser31 Sat 15-Mar-14 10:50:53

Great point thank you

lostdad Tue 18-Mar-14 10:37:24

STIDW `Good contact for children relies on parents working together or at least not against each other.'

Not sure I disagree. In my situation my ex refuses to work with me and has `worked against me' by a number of tactics (i.e. moving our DS hundred's of miles without consulting me, seeking to exclude me concerning his health and education, teaching him that another man is `Daddy' and leaving me no option but to pursue a case that lasted 5 years and took 15 hearings). Since leaving without warning 7 years ago she has refused to speak to me on the phone or face to face: All communication is via the written word.

My son has good contact: He is with me around 40% of the time and is asking for more.

Interestingly enough there is also case law that advocates courts making Shared Residence Orders to send out a message to parents that they have equal status in the eyes of the law.

While it is true that nothing (including the courts!) can make an ex behave in a reasonable manner children can enjoy good contact even in the face of implacable hostility - it is true in my case and I have assisted many others in the same situation.

lostdad Tue 18-Mar-14 10:37:37

Sorry...`not sure I agree'!

STIDW Tue 18-Mar-14 19:41:32

It's a bit academic debating Residence or Contact Orders as they will be replaced next month by Child Arrangement Orders wink but, yes, in some cases Residence both in favour of one parent and shared has been granted to address power issues between parents. As one judge recently pointed out, however, it is more usual for residence to be awarded to one parent and contact to the other.

In the second quarter of 2013 applications for contact were made in respect of 41% of children involved in applications and orders for contact were made for 60%. Applications were made for residence in respect of 29% of children and orders for residence made for 22% of children. Applications for prohibited steps were made for 13% of children and orders were made for 9%. Contact orders were made for 60% of the children involved in orders made and a residence order was made for 22% .

I have no idea what proportion of the residence orders were for shared residence but clearly the reality is Shared Residence Orders are a relatively small number of the total number of orders made and whatever the application the outcome is more likely to be a Contact Order than any other order.

I stand by what I said. Good contact for children relies on parents working together. When parents lack empathy or understanding of each others position communication is distorted and problems aren't resolved constructively. The detrimental effects on children's well being is well documented. Children are at risk from parental conflict and/or because house rules aren't coordinated, there is a lack of coordinated supervision, the children shoulder the responsibility of communicating exchanges between parents etc etc.

Parallel parenting when parents disengage from one another and parent to the best of their ability in "their" time protects children from conflict but the children are living in a void and feel insecure about their parentage and identity. That tends to lead to low self esteem and emotional and behavioural problems in later life such as teenage pregnancy and dysfunctional adulthood relationships. That's one of the main reasons why the outcomes for twice as many children from separated families is poor when compared to children of intact families.

"Each parent represents 50% of L's gene pool. Children, moreover, learn about relationships between adults from their parents. In twenty years time it will not matter a row of beans whether or not L spent x or y hours more with one parent rather than the other: what will matter is the relationship which L has with her parents, and her capacity to understand and engage in mutually satisfying adult relationships. If she is given a distorted view of adult relationships by her parents, her own view of them will be distorted, and her own relationships with others – particularly with members of the opposite sex – will be damaged." - Wall LJ

muser31 Wed 19-Mar-14 12:23:55

thank you for these perspectives. i am more determined than ever to get a good relationship with dh. he has persuaded me to go back to marriage counselling, he would like to try to make things work. i don't think he is going to change sufficiently for me to want to get back together, but i do think its really important that we get on well and do the parenting plan and even become friends again, for the sake of our dd and our own emotional well being. we have agreed to go back to marriage counselling to discuss issues about our relationship, and also to go out for coffee to discuss issues to do with dd, but if we don't agree to discuss these issues in mediation. i just want the whole thing to be resolved its already been dragged on for far too long.

STIDW Wed 19-Mar-14 13:26:52

Good for you, I'm so pleased. If you go to organisation like Relate it isn't necessarily to save the marriage. The counsellors can help you come to a decision and keep communication channels open when relationships so hopefully you can separate with dignity. That doesn't mean you have to be friends and you will need to establish some autonomy, but if parents can at least remain civil it makes separating and negotiating arrangements easier.

Children may need some time to grieve for the loss of their parent's relationship and to readjust but in the long term have much the same long term outcomes as children from intact families when their separated parents work together.

STIDW Wed 19-Mar-14 14:16:08

That was from my iPhone. Sorry for the typos but the gist is there.

muser31 Thu 20-Mar-14 16:02:06

thanks...we are going jointly again next week... i feel such lack of energy and motivation at the minute. just wish all this was sorted out as its so draining and im super tired all the time.

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