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Contact Arrangements

(83 Posts)
MrsChiefTyrell Wed 15-Jul-15 22:22:05

Thought I'd post here to see if anyone has a similar situation or any knowledge of this.

My partner's kids live with us and see their mum alternate weekends. She wants more contact and he has offered her more - mid week contact. We have a final court hearing in a few weeks when hopefully this will all be sorted and a final order made.

She refuses to pay maintenance, none at all. She also refuses to contribute in any way to her own children's costs for activities, clubs, uniforms or anything. She is self employed with her unregistered small business and so CSA cannot touch her (we have tried for ages!). She has told the Judge she is unemployed and isn't claiming benefits or looking for work.

We are struggling to manage financially as we have to also pay for child care for before and after school for them, again she will not contribute.

So, what do you think of him suggesting that her contact days are arranged around my partner's working days? He works a rolling shift pattern so she'd get 50% of weekends but not alternate exactly and also she'd have midweek contact but on different days. This could be planned out well in advance for a whole year is necessary.

He wants to suggest this at the final hearing but is concerned how it will go down. He has to work as she won't contribute so i sit fair to ask she has them around his work to help us financially so we don't pay for childcare (plus then they don't have to go into childcare too!)

Starlightbright1 Wed 15-Jul-15 22:25:44

Well in theory it sounds good..However is she going to be do the hours around the work ( that she doesn't do)

Also what will happen about school holidays.. she may want more of them

MrsChiefTyrell Wed 15-Jul-15 22:36:06

He's suggested to her 50:50 for school holidays but blocks of 4/5 days so she has them whilst he is working and they are home when he isn't working. She wants them full alternate weeks, which is an absolute bugger for us for childcare too as no childminder will take children alternate weeks.

JakieOH Thu 16-Jul-15 00:00:05

Absobloodylootly you should! If you can't pay for childcare surely any judge (or whoever decides these things) will use common sense? What a useless mother angry the children are lucky to have you as their stepmum. Do you think she will stick to contact?

I'm not sure how that works? How do they think she is surviving with not working or claiming? Sounds weird!

crossroads15 Thu 16-Jul-15 06:19:53

Seems like a sensible suggestion to me, especially if as you say, the days can be given to her a year in advance. If she's told the judge she's not working and not looking for work then there's no reason it wouldn't work for her.

Will the kids be OK with it? I only ask because when my DSD was about 7, she started wanting set days so she knew who she'd be with on a certain day, especially during the school week so she does Mon & Tues with Mum, Wed & Thurs with Dad and alternates weekends now.

Have a look at school holiday clubs - you don't have to book full weeks for them usually so that might work if she gets alternate weeks during the hols. You can usually just book them for whatever individual days you need. Agreed you're going to struggle to get a childminder for week on, week off.

alwaystryingtobeafriend Thu 16-Jul-15 07:03:28

If this was an exh I can't help but think everyone would have jumped on the fact he refuses to pay maintenance but wants more contact. No one has brought up this fact that exw refuses to pay.

If she isnt paying maintenance then she should be accepting whatever arrangement you guys deem suitable and tough luck to her she should be lucky to see the kids at all with her crap attitude.

elizalovelacey Thu 16-Jul-15 07:18:06

Totally agree with Always.

Oswin Thu 16-Jul-15 07:26:47

Sounds a good idea but I'm not sure you can bring maintenance up. If you have a look at the thread in chat about maintenance a few posters have said they have been warned not to mention that there ex avoided paying for there child.

Which is ridiculous. Frankly if you don't provide for your children then the courts should be able to force you to pay when sorting out contact arrangements.

You and your dh have my sympathy op I have a non paying ex and it breaks my heart that he doesn't think he needs to provide for his child.

AliceDoesntLiveHereAnymore Thu 16-Jul-15 07:27:42

Payment of maintenance and contact are two completely separate issues. Children are not "pay per view."

Contact should be arranged in a manner that is best for the children. You can certainly ask for this arrangement but be prepared for the possibility that it may not go through.

AliceDoesntLiveHereAnymore Thu 16-Jul-15 07:30:31

I agree it is frustrating. My ex causes all sorts of issues with contact and hasn't paid maintenance in over 18 months. But tying it together puts money as a motivating factor when contact is about the children's rights to have a relationship with both parents.

fedupbutfine Thu 16-Jul-15 08:17:43

You can't mix contact with money. It is perfectly possible never to pay for your children and to have regular contact with them, ordered by the courts. Whilst most solicitors/barristers would bring up the lack of maintenance at some point in proceedings, it should not have any bearing whatsoever on the ultimate outcome. Contact is about the children, not the adults.

Ultimately, she is the child's mother and not some kind of convenient childcare for the other parent. The judge in this case should be looking to make an order that is as permanent as possible - if they were to agree with covering childcare arrangements, mum could be back in court within the week saying she's found a job and now it all needs to change.

If she isnt paying maintenance then she should be accepting whatever arrangement you guys deem suitable and tough luck to her she should be lucky to see the kids at all with her crap attitude

Yes, of course. It's perfectly acceptable to control access to a child based on ability and/or willingness to pay maintenance. Thousands of PWC have to put up with this kind of attitude and are driving their children around and incurring unnecessary costs relating to contact and childcare everyday due to a desire by the other parent to throw as big a spanner in the works of the other parent as possible. That's not the children's fault.

I sincerely hope a judge would make short thrift of a suggestion a NRP is good for nothing other than childcare.

alwaystryingtobeafriend Thu 16-Jul-15 08:52:07

It's no pay per view but if you are not willjng to contribute to the costs of your children then why should you be allowed to make demands aboutchildcare. And my point was if dad wasn't paying everyone would be saying what a dick he is.

AliceDoesntLiveHereAnymore Thu 16-Jul-15 09:09:12

Contact and maintenance are separate for a reason. The moment a parent brings up lack of maintenance payments in a contact discussion, it's going to go downhill in court. Contact is about the child's right to have a relationship with both their parents.

I have complete sympathy about the frustration of an ex not paying - I have been dealing with that myself as my ex doesn't pay maintenance (everything else in his life is a much higher priority than his dcs from what I can see). But I make a mental effort to keep that completely separate from the contact issues (which are many, believe me!!) as it only muddies the waters.

yellowdaisies Thu 16-Jul-15 09:28:28

I think it's a sensible starting point - but the things to focus on are:
1) That it's a reasonable routine for the DC - that it gives them maximum time with their DF, and is predictable, etc. She might try to argue that a simple EOW and every Wednesday type agreement would be easier for them to remember.

2) That it allows your DP to maximise his working hours/minimise paid childcare, which is important to the DC's wellbeing because he's their sole financial support.

And you might also have to agree that if she gets a job (that's declared) then he'd be willing to reconsider in order to accommodate her working hours.

PeruvianFoodLover Thu 16-Jul-15 10:56:02

So, what do you think of him suggesting that her contact days are arranged around my partner's working days? He works a rolling shift pattern so she'd get 50% of weekends but not alternate exactly and also she'd have midweek contact but on different days. This could be planned out well in advance for a whole year is necessary

You only need to read the posts on the lone parent board to know why this isn't a good idea. NRPs really shouldn't be relied on for childcare as part of a contact schedule, because at any point in time, they (the NRP) can cancel contact at the last minute and the RP is stuck. What if your DPs ex says at the last minute that she can't have the DCs one weeknight, or a weekend he's supposed to be working?

Sadly, I think your DP has to accept that he is solely financially responsible for his DCs. He is in the same situation as many mums whose ex's play the system to avoid maintenance. It's a case of cutting back where you can as a family so that the essential bills like childcare get paid. It's crap, I know, but comes with the territory of a flaky, irrepsonsible NRP, I'm afraid.

AliceDoesntLiveHereAnymore Thu 16-Jul-15 11:01:11

I do think that for children, it's important that the contact be regular and that they can predict or know when the contact is going to be. Rolling schedules based on someone's work pattern is not going to be easy for the children to decipher. I agree that using an NRP for childcare is never a good idea. The moment they have to cancel, there are bad feelings, things get blown out of proportion and the children are the ones that suffer from the fall out.

JakieOH Thu 16-Jul-15 12:49:10

Ive seen a lot of threads on here where SMs have complained that the exw uses DP as free childcare etc. these posters usually get anaialated and told that Its not childcare, he is the father it's his duty, she needs to work, she needs a life etc etc. because if this i always try not to say that DP exw uses him as a free babysitter --which she used to--and expects him to be on call if she decides to change shifts etc. i suspect this thread eould be very different if the DM was a DF.

MrsChiefTyrell Thu 16-Jul-15 13:06:57

Thanks for all your replies.

I absolutely agree contact and maintenance aren't linked and that children shouldn't be stopped having a relationship with a parent just because they are financially irresponsible towards them. Absolutely.

My partner isn't against contact and agrees to her having them midweek and 50% of weekends and also 50% of holidays. This contact pattern needs to be discussed and (hopefully) agreed but she won't do this before Court as we would prefer so wants to discuss this at Court- where the Judge may make an order that suits neither parent or the children. sad

He was hoping it would be seen as a naturally sensible solution for her to have her contact time around his shifts. Some sort of pattern needs to be in place and he works shifts and always has so either their pattern of being at home or with their mum is around his shifts or their pattern of being at home and in childcare is around his shifts. There's no escaping that. So in the summer holidays she has them Mon-Tues whilst he works they dont go into childcare at all or she has them Weds-Thurs when he's home to have them and on the Mon-Tues they have o go into childcare.

She stopped work as soon as we got majority residency as she knew it would be a struggle for us. We have 3 other children at home full time too. We literally cannot afford childcare for his two - a summer day camp is £25 per child per day- that's £250 a week sad

MrsChiefTyrell Thu 16-Jul-15 13:11:48

It's going to be an argument in her statement I know- she doesn't work so is free to have residency and my partner works to support the kids and so he should just have contact. Then she can claim benefits, council house, housing benefit and get a nice big chunk of his wages in maintenance. Thankfully we are fairly sure a Judge won't give her majority residency due to previous issues raised and the reason we got majority residency in the first place.

yellowdaisies Thu 16-Jul-15 13:35:21

I think that if his shifts are regular each week, then you've a very strong case to fit the contact around this.

But if what he's suggesting means that they're with their DM Mon-Tue one week, but Thu-Fri another, she may argue that that's not in their best interests (because it's complicated) and doesn't suit her either as she can't make regular comitments either with or without the children.

Weekends are a bit more arguable - My DC go to their dad's EOW but still seem incapable of remembering which weekend it is coming up, even if we've stuck to the routine for months. So doing weekends to fit with a work schedule might be viable even if it's not alternate weeks.

alwaystryingtobeafriend Thu 16-Jul-15 13:52:15

Sadly though in many cases maintenance and contact do go hand in hand. It does in our house. Which is crap. But it's how his ex is about stuff. If he won't pay he won't see his kids.

MrsChiefTyrell Thu 16-Jul-15 13:57:11

Please don't think I'm being dismissive of everyone's comments, I really appreciate your views as I need to hear the facts and the truth from an unbiased opinion. I guess I'm just disappointed that it's not what I wanted to hear and a little bit desperate now as I have no idea how we will cope longer term sad

I agree in an ideal world the children have a set steady pattern of care, but it's just not practicable in many situations- surely? I've even read on here a few times NRP's getting contact patterns ordered around their shifts. sad

I can't believe there isn't a better system set up to force feckless NRP's to pay. She's such a nasty thing too - tells the children to ask us for things we can't afford, tells the children that they can't do X as daddy won't pay, tells them she is so poor and has no pennies but daddy could buy it for them if he wanted to as he has all the money. She is basically financially blackmailing us into letting her have the kids more.

Even if she claimed benefits he'd get something in the way of maintenance but she doesn't - she claims to be living on air and buttons whilst she has a privately rented large house, nice car, off on overseas holidays (NEVER with the kids, they've never been overseas). She even has the bloody cheek to email him and ask him to provide XYZ for their weekend with her, he doesn't unless it means the kids going without but the cheek of her asking. We don't even get Child Benefit for them yet as she refused to inform them they now live with us and the appeal process takes so long! She's still getting that each month to spend on herself! Bitch.

AliceDoesntLiveHereAnymore Thu 16-Jul-15 13:57:21

I also don't think it's right that her contact with the children is at the mercy of his work schedule. What if 6 months down the road his work schedule is altered? Are you then going to argue that the contact schedule would need to be changed again?

Whether or not you can afford the childcare for the children is irrelevant when it comes to contact. Their mum is not there to provide you with a financial break by being your free childcare. It is your responsibility to sort out and pay for child care based on your situation. It's not her fault that you have 3 other children that also require childcare. That's YOUR issue.

Sorry, IMO you are being unreasonable. Basically you are saying that your need for free childcare trumps everything else.

MrsChiefTyrell Thu 16-Jul-15 14:10:17

Alice - Fair enough, thanks for your post, I appreciate your opinion.

MrsChiefTyrell Thu 16-Jul-15 14:12:46

We don't want her to provide us with a financial break or free "childcare" (for her own kids?), we want her to financially provide for her own children or failing that at least agree to help by being flexible about contact days (she apparently doesn't work and has no other kids so much easier to be flexible for her than us) to ensure my partner is able to work to solely provide for them. She won't do either at the moment and financial security and stability is important for all of the children sad

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