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Whose responsibility is it to take and return children for Contact visits?

(11 Posts)
lulupop Mon 01-Aug-05 09:24:33

Long time since I've been on mumsnet, as my hideous divorce has taken over my entire life just dealing with all the threads my ex-h makes.

He lives in London and I live in Kent. I had been taking the kids up there on Fridays and collecting them on Sundays, for his Contact visits. Last week he decided to stop paying me any maintenance AT ALL. So I told him I cld no longer afford the train tickets and he'd have to collect the kids himself.

He has gone beserk about this and is making all kinds of threats about how he's going to lodge a complaint with the court that I am "denying access", how I will "be made to pay" for this, that the cost of his train tickets (he earns well over £100K p.a!) will be deducted from any final settlement I get, and so on.

I am pretty sure that all I have to do is facilitate contact, and that it's not my responsibility to actually take the kids to and from. But I'm not sure. Can anyone tell me?

lulupop Mon 01-Aug-05 09:25:01

sorry, obviously that should read "all the threats" he makes! Hope he's not on here anyway!

Mosschops30 Mon 01-Aug-05 09:32:17

Message withdrawn

tarantula Mon 01-Aug-05 09:38:33

AFAIK it is not your responsibility to take the kids to their father at all and if he is not paying maintainence then there is no way you should have to fork out for the tickets to get them to their fathers. you arent denying access at all. If hes that bothered tell him to get up off his lazy arse and come and pick them up. His complaint wont be upheld at all I shouldnt think. If it is let me know and Ill tell dp's ex. Love to hear what shell have to say to that ( I get on well with her BTW so not being malious here)

OldieMum Mon 01-Aug-05 09:51:50

I'm not a lawyer, but had 10 years of dealing with DH's ex-wife, who did her best to obstruct contact. I would be amazed if you had any obligations other than not actually obstructing contact. Our strong impression was it is extremely difficult for ex-husbands to make formal complaints stick. If your ex-h goes to a solicitor, I expect that the very most he could persuade them to do would be to write a letter to you, or your solicitor, complaining about the change in arrangements. You could then reply explaining that you can't afford the fares any more, but are happy to facilitate contact in any other way that you can. If you do start exchanging letters, make sure that yours are full of sweet reason, so that, if it did ever get to Court, you could not be accused of 'getting back' at him over maintenance by making contact difficult. I know you are not doing this, but you want to make this clear in any future dispute.

lulupop Mon 01-Aug-05 09:57:24

Unfortunately we have reached a point where, regardless of what I do, ex-h will say that I am "using" the children. Latest example was when I told him DS (3) was more anxious than usual when returning home after Contact, ex-h said I was making it up to suit my own ends.

I am perfectly prepared for him to see them, but don't see why 1) the travel should cost me money; and 2)I should put myself out in any way for a man who won't even pay maintenance for his own children, despite earning a fortune in the City.

Also, current Contact arrangement is that he has them 3 weekends in 4 (I don't work at the moment). I think this is a lot, and given DS's anxiety, I wld rather reduce it to every other weekend. But I know I will have an almighty fuss from ex-h if I suggest this. What is "normal"?

joash Mon 01-Aug-05 09:58:04

Couldn't agree more with what everyone else is saying. Although our circumstances are different, we were constantly told by social workers, etc that we do not have any obligation other than ansuring that GS was 'available' for the agreed contacts. We also had it written into the contact order, that if GS's parents didn't arrive at our house by a certain time - we could take it that contact for that particular date was off.
I totally agree with what Oldiemum has said about the letters; "...start exchanging letters, make sure that yours are full of sweet reason..."
We knew that whatever we said or did, GS's dad would be awkward - so we just 'played the game' - and kept it sweet regardless of our feelings towards him.

Hope this helps.

joash Mon 01-Aug-05 09:59:58

The other thing I sugest is that you start to keep a contact diary. Note the times he has the kids, his mood, his attitude towards you and the children, their demeanour before and after contact, etc - anything, no matter how trivial it might seem at the time. As the diary builds, it gives a tremendous picture of 'dad' and his affect on the kids as well as demonstrates his commitment or lack of commitment.

joash Mon 01-Aug-05 10:02:59

And - no matter how tempting - don't cheat with the diary. I'll admit there were times when I really wanted to write something just to make him look bad, but I remained honest and his lack of consistancy and mood swings showed through. Good luck.

aloha Mon 01-Aug-05 10:04:59

No, you don't have to take the children and collect them. In fact, that is very unusual. My dh always collects and returns his daughter to his ex. Sometimes it feels unfair but much as we loathe her (long story but she really has been horrible) she does of course do far more ferrying about during the week as she has dd then and so it isn't unfair at all really.
The court would laugh at him if he said that you were preventing access if all you are doing is saying he can pick up the kids himself. He sounds vile and I'm sorry, but you must try to rise above his silly threats. You do hold all the cards he re the children. If you want to reduce his contact to alternate weekends, I'm pretty sure you will be able to do this via the courts. One way to make certain of it is to apply for your ex to have them one weekend a month, the court will look for a compromise and hey presto - alternate weekends. I don't recommend this though. It is what dh's ex did and the bitterness of the court battle was just terrible.
However, my dh isn't the least bit like your ex.
I can't believe he has just stopped paying maintenance. What a tosser. How dare he pretend to be interested in his children and do that.

aloha Mon 01-Aug-05 10:07:26

btw, while your ex sounds absolutely horrible, I think it is sadly normal for children to be anxious after contact visits. This doesn't mean they are a bad thing. Dd used to cry going back to her mum's because she was sad but she would have been a lot sadder not to see him. It comes with the territory when parents split up. On the bright side, dd is a very happy, sorted and sensible adolescent now.

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