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contact over distance (and court)

(28 Posts)
Tinynewlife Mon 29-Feb-16 21:49:43

Hello, I am new here and hoping to get some advice.
Does anyone have experience of what contact a court would award for a young child over a significant distance (150 miles)?
LO sees ex every other weekend daytime only locally - ex does the travelling. Ex threatening court as wants overnight contact and to take LO back to his for the weekend, progressing to more I would imagine.
Situation complicated by DV and my concern over contact, however ex has been threatening court and I think it is only a matter of time....................
LO also about to start school later in the year too.
Despite best efforts at cordial relationship with ex, it just descends into aggression and ultimatums if he doesn't get what he feels entitled to regardless of LO.
So as well as likely contact pattern and who does the travelling, I guess I also want to ask about limiting contact with ex for myself too. At point where I am sick of trying to cope with his abuse and to limit contact between him and myself to a minimum for my own mental health and wellbeing. Keep hearing this is detrimental to kids, so have tried to keep the lines open so far, but really struggling with it all now.

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bibliomania Tue 01-Mar-16 14:48:20

It's hard to give any hard and fast advice about what the court will decide. They'll look at what's in the child's best interests. Contact, including overnights, is generally considered in the child's best interests, unless there is a reason why not.

How is your ex with your dc? If he's reasonably okay, then it's possible that it could mean overnights on a Saturday and during holidays (less likely at other times as it may disrupt your child's schooling).

With regard to the travelling, it's common for one parent to bring the child one way and the other to return, but the court may take into account who moved. The person who made the decision to move away could be asked to do most or all of the travel.

The issue of how your ex behaves to you is a separate matter. The best advice is not to engage. Tell him the contact you are offering and say if he wants to go to the court for more, that's up to him. Don't get bogged down in negotiations each time.

If you do a search of other threads, there's advice about having a special email address you use for him, and only checking it at certain times (or get someone else to read it and tell you anything you know). Keep any exchanges to email or text if he tries to bully you in verbal discussions.

Limiting contact between parents is not detrimental at all in cases where one parent is hostile to the other - it is legitimate (and in your dc's best interests) for you to take care of yourself.

Natsku Tue 01-Mar-16 14:56:11

Me and my ex live two and a half hours drive away. Court decided on a temporary plan in the autumn that steps up the visitation bit by bit to overnight one night every other weekend.

We've now decided, with the help of our daughter's social workers, to make an agreement ourselves which will be every other weekend (friday night to sunday afternoon, or saturday morning to sunday afternoon if he can't get off work early enough on fridays) and longer visits during school holidays once she is school age (two times two weeks in the summer and alternating half terms and christmas etc.).

Waiting to see if he agrees to all the terms though as I've started I cannot do any of the travelling as I don't drive and he lives in the middle of nowhere so public transport is out of the question. For the temporary plan the Court said he had to do all the travelling/cover of transportation costs.

Fourormore Tue 01-Mar-16 15:16:01

If your child is almost school age then it's likely they will order overnight contact. 150 miles isn't that far really. NRP is usually expected to do the travelling.

Set up a separate email address for your ex to email you on. Only check it when you feel able. Keeping contact to a minimum isn't necessarily detrimental but conflict is.

3xcookedchips Wed 02-Mar-16 15:31:19

NRP is usually expected to do the travelling

no, it is not expected of the NRP

Fourormore Wed 02-Mar-16 15:34:43

I disagree. There's obviously no hard and fast rules but I bet if you did a survey, the majority of the travelling would be done by the NRP.

Natsku Wed 02-Mar-16 16:48:01

We have hard rules about it over here, I guess because the RP is assumed to have the greater financial burden so having the NRP take care of the transportation including the costs balances it out a bit.

Tinynewlife Wed 02-Mar-16 21:23:15

Thanks very much all for your messages, really appreciate hearing some real-life experiences as have spoken to three solicitors who have just said the courts will decide if we can't agree between ourselves.
In answer to questions - I left, but it wasn't a deliberate decision. He was so violent one night I took LO and went to my parents, and we just ended up staying. After divorce, we have recently moved to our own place (took a good few years) which is not far from my parents as I have basically needed a lot of support (emotionally as well as practically). LO getting used to new circumstances. Whether a judge will take that into account I don't know. But I would never have moved away otherwise and tbh there was a history of escalating behaviour so I didn't go at the first sign of trouble.
I know overnights will happen, and I will find a way of living with that as long as it is not my decision to put LO in that situation. LO has a good relationship with my ex (solicitor advised allowing contact to keep it out of court) but I have been sole carer at night and I think LO would struggle especially as so many changes at mo.
Very concerned about the possibility of having to do all the travelling. It would be a 4 hour journey, making it 8 hours of travelling in a weekend. I find it insane that a young child would have to do that every other weekend. I also can't afford to do that for myself, let alone the 2 of us as its not far off the time of paying for their seat too. Plus, I just find the being a single parent thing pretty tiring even with zero social life outside of child activities.
Where are you Natsku that there are fast rules about who travels?
Thanks also for advice re ex - wI'll sort new email address and keep it super functional. He has now switched from I am taking you to court unless you do X, y, z to I am sad that you don't communicate with me over LO's life (I did do this while in mediation until the threats and ultimatums started). Such a waste of energy and high stress levels.
Again, thanks all for replying. I worry in my little head so much and it's good to get it out and hear from real people out there.

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Natsku Wed 02-Mar-16 21:43:37

I'm in Finland. In my situation I was the one that moved further away but the Court still said my ex has to do the travelling but I had good reasons for moving (moving to somewhere with a support network, so same as you). Once DD is older I think we'll stick her on the bus to travel at least to the half way point, if not change buses and travel to the nearest town to her dad but probably not until she's a teenager for that unless she's very confident.

Tinynewlife Thu 03-Mar-16 19:50:22

I se. I hope it works out for you and your ex accepts the terms. Hope you DD is ok with it all too.

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Natsku Thu 03-Mar-16 19:58:53

Fingers crossed. Hope you get a reasonable solution. Considering there was DV in your situation maybe your ex is only threatening court as a way to scare you/hurt you and doesn't actually want overnights? Or might change his mind once he hits difficulties with sleepless nights etc. Or, like my ex did, change to become a really involved dad when he first had overnights (when we were together he did sod all).

Tinynewlife Thu 03-Mar-16 20:40:52

Thank you. I am glad your ex is now being more involved, hopefully that will be best for your DD.
Mine did sod all too when together. He did not even stay at our home for several months as he was too tired!
I think he will go to court. I think he genuinely loves DS and now that DS is old enough to be engaging he wants more time. He also feels DS is in need of his input as a dad, thinking I am depriving him. He denies and minimises abuse, but if court is willing I can apply for medical records where he broke his hand and his perpetrator programme records. But yes, if there are difficulties to his lifestyle, more money to spend etc. There is a v slight possibility he will not go through with it or he wouldn't keep up contact. I a, resigned to having to go through it all now though - just hope DS is ok. At least if it goes through court I have done all I can. Otherwise, if anything happened, I would have nothing to fall back on.

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Natsku Thu 03-Mar-16 20:46:30

Going through court will probably be best thing, don't know about how it works in the UK but here the court orders social workers to investigate both parents, health and criminal records and home life etc. so could work in your favour if they do it the same way there.

eyebrowse Thu 03-Mar-16 21:00:55

if it is so far (time wise) and LO is about to start school, half the school holidays might be better than every other week end.

It might be the case that your ex will threaten court to scare you but might not actually go through with it.

Keep a diary of all the problems you are having and concerns about LOs time with him so you have some evidence for a court case. You can ask for contact only at a contact centre if there are concerns

NorfolkEnchantsToday Sat 05-Mar-16 10:41:13

I have this drive.
I do a court ordered 3 hour drive to drop DD off, then drive home.
Extwunt does the 6 hour round trip the following day for drop off

Tinynewlife Mon 07-Mar-16 20:11:13

Thanks all. Sorry, had to have a break from thinking about it as it was a contact weekend and I always find them so difficult.
I think he will take me to court. He started threatening it a year ago until I went through mediation. That was awful. Mr nice guy - mr aggressive and ultimatums or court. So I think it's inevitable. Just bracing myself. I hope the past behaviour will be taken into account, because there has been a period of contact with no safeguarding risk to LO I have been told he will get what he wants.
NorfolkEnchants do u mind me asking how old is DD and how do they get on with the travelling? Also, do they have to go if unwell?

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NorfolkEnchantsToday Tue 08-Mar-16 08:12:57

She doesn't go if unwell, she's nearly four and she hates the travelling. She does fall asleep which ruins everything when she comes home

frog51 Tue 08-Mar-16 23:17:54

Unless he already has legal aid in place., he will have to pay all his own legal fees. My ex was abusive etc and fought for 4 years to have unsupervised contact.. He is only allowed to send cards now despite all the threats .

iwantanewcar Mon 14-Mar-16 01:32:41

I was told by a court that just over 120 miles move was too far for EOW contact for a near secondary school age child.

Tinynewlife Thu 24-Mar-16 10:49:19

Hi all,

Thanks for the new posts - I hadn't had an alert or checked the thread. I have just told ex I am not allowing overnights - very nervous waiting for a response now.

iwantacar - very encouraged by your post about 120 miles being too far for evening or weekend contact - it's the only case i've seen - everyone else seems to have to travel long distance regardless of how tired that must make the child. what is the contact pattern for you?

frog51 - v glad it's worked out ok for you and your child. ex does not have legal aid but has a good job and am sure his family will help out. because i was advised (by my solicitor) to allow contact to keep it out of court (to avoid him having overnights etc), ex has had unsupervised day contact for a few years, so am now told he will get overnight. also that the abuse was bad but i left before it got too bad (!) so there will not be a fact finding. did you have a fact finding? my LO witnessed abuse and was included in it (was held while i was being pushed around) but was a v young at time so doesn't remember

norfolksenchants - do you mind me asking a bit more about your situation, how it ended in court (was it because you didn;t want to do the distance?) and what the contact pattern is?

Also, did anyone ask for residency? My women said worker said it would be worth it for me as if ex gets the contact and has child at his, it could end up with him keeping them there and the police wouldn't have any power to return them.

Thanks all. Literally shaking as I type.

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Fourormore Thu 24-Mar-16 16:41:19

You won't get a Child Arrangements Order stating that your DS lives with you unless your ex is saying that your DS should or does live with him. Having a CAO stating that the child lives with you doesn't give the police any extra powers. With or without one, you'd have to file for an emergency hearing for your son to be returned to you. Sometimes the police will get involved but as its a civil matter, they don't actually have the power to do so.

I would strongly urge you to listen to your solicitor. Court is a hideous process and it doesn't sound like you have objectively reasonable grounds to refuse overnights so you could be dragging yourself through this for your ex to end up with even more contact than he was originally asking for.

Tinynewlife Thu 24-Mar-16 21:36:20

Hi Fourormore, have you been through court? What're your circumstances?
I am
Concerned if I allow overnight contact and something happens because of ex's behaviour, I will then not have a leg to stand on further down the line. But yes, v concerned ex will get more contact than he actually wants, although he has originally stated he wanted every other weekend and half the holidays.

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Tinynewlife Thu 24-Mar-16 21:37:43

Is court so awful because you have no control and it depends on the judge (if you don't agree in mediation)?

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ByThePrickingOfMyThumbs Thu 24-Mar-16 22:00:51

Hi, Tiny I don't have a great deal of advice but I just wanted to say that I am in a very similar situation. Abusive ex whom I left suddenly when I just couldn't take anymore. I just scooped up my DCs, packed the bare minimum of their things and some clothes for me and left. I went to my parents (about 80 miles away) and never came back. It was tough. I lived with them for quite a while and am only just starting to feel like myself again, really. My confidence in all things took a bashing.

We are starting mediation soon. Finances are the sticking point with us really rather than contact but I still I really hope things can be sorted out there (we will be in different rooms as I cannot negotiate with him face to face) as I fear what might happen if a judge is unsympathetic to me.

Fortunately, we have managed to sort contact out between ourselves. My ex has the kids overnight EOW and also in the holidays too. I am lucky that my MIL is a lovely woman and has put huge pressure on him not to be a twat and be reasonable for our DCs sake. We deal with the distance by meeting at a neutral location (Tesco car park!) halfway between our homes. It works ok. Not ideal but ok. The DCs are used to it now and we make it work.

I would think carefully about refusing overnights. Abuse or neglect are the only things that the court would deem reasonable for denying contact overnight and you do not want to put their backs up unnecessarily. If ex has your DS unsupervised during the day, why not at night? Can I ask what you are afraid of in terms of this? Do you think your DS will be in danger of harm?

Sorry if this is a bit garbled!

Tinynewlife Thu 24-Mar-16 22:35:55

Hi ByThe,

Thanks for your reply and I am sorry for what you've been through - sounds very similar - I am with you on the loss of confidence and it taking a long time to get some sense of yourself back.
I am scared that my ex will lose his temper amd lash out at LO. That LO will be at best emotionally manipulated and at worst verbally or physically abused or witness my ex being abusive. He is like jekyll and hyde. There is unsupervised because I was advised to do this to keep it out of court and I wanted LO to be as old as possible to be able to communicate. Also, I have always wanted LO to have a relationship with their dad, just to be safe. Unsupervised in a public place with grandparents present for short periods of time feels much safer to me than a weekend in a private home, where it's more like "normal life" and ex could dominate and get wound up. I have a social worker friend who also makes this distinction.
Can I ask how you felt about your kids going away the first few times? Was MIL always present?
Also, re finances, I ended up taking ex to court. He made a best and final offer that was less than the money I had put into the joint situation. I hope mediation works for you ( I did shuttle to start with too), but be prepared that if your ex is abusive, he will prob not be reasonable, so try not to feel pressured into settling for less than you should (remember the kids), and don't worry about court. It's very practical and it's usual for the wife to get at least 50%, 60% is common, or more if curcumstances require it.
I get really confused about what the right thing for me to do is. Family, friends, GP, womensaid, some legal professionals are all go to court - get the abuse looked at, it prob won't make a diff but you have done best for your child and there will be something in writing to stop ex bullying and threatening. Other legals are saying stay out of court, and most recent views here suggest doing same. Argh! But thanks for replying all.
Good luck ByThe
We keep working for a normal life eh

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