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Exh not communicating

(16 Posts)
MsColouring Mon 06-Jun-16 20:46:24

I have also posted this in legal but posting here for a different perspective. I am a step-parent but this is about my own children:

Brief synopsis. Me and ex split 5 and a half years ago. A far from amicable divorce - ex very bitter. Tried mediation - didn't work, went to solicitors - went round in circles, went back to mediation - agreements not stuck to and ex was absolutely vile to me. Then ex took me to court to try and get 50:50 - he lost but contact order was put in place with him having every other weekend and half the holidays. Things were OK for a little while after that but for the last 3 years there have been constant niggles - mainly ex trying to twist the words of the contact order to try and suit his needs. His family live in N Ireland and he visits regularly, taking the children. One of his issues was that he wanted my written permission - despite the fact I had given verbal permission. I have never tried to stop him taking them, I have just asked to be kept in the loop about when they are traveling and for him to let me know they are there safe. He doesn't like me having phone contact and has blocked it in the past. Dd (9) now has her own phone - but sometimes she can't find it when they are staying.

Things got tricky last year and his solicitor was writing me letters to which I responded back to personally. We used to have a contact book that was passed between the houses but after they kept being 'lost' every time he went back on an agreement I decided not to use it any more. I also didn't like the angst it caused during handovers. I suggested we used e-mail or an app to share information - he refused this saying that we could communicate via text.

But recently he just will not reply to my texts, even those about sorting out dates and it is causing a lot of uncertainty. E.g. one half term couldn't drop the children round to his as I was waiting for a delivery so i texted him. He didn't respond and didn't turn up to collect the children so I was left not knowing what to do. He has not responded over dates and then later moaned about them. I texted him last week about an injury on my ds's toe and treatment and got no response so was worried it wouldn't be treated. In the past, dd has had to let me know when they would be back.

But things came to a head yesterday. I was expecting the children back at 6pm yesterday as is normal after a weekend at the end of half term. I knew they had been to Ireland and had asked him the week before whether or not they would be back by 6 - I got no response. Yesterday came and they didn't turn up at 6. Eventually got through on his phone at 8pm to find out that they were at the airport in Belfast waiting for a flight. He had decided, without telling me, that he was going to keep them Sunday night as today was a non-pupil day. I had not had any contact from them since the previous Wednesday so was thinking all sorts when they didn't come back.

I really want to stop this situation happening again as it was really stressful on both me and the children but I don't know what I can do. I can't force him to return my texts. The emotional part of me wants to say that he can't have holiday contact until all times and details have been communicated but I don't think I can get away with this and don't really want to stick the children in the middle like this. I could try and get the court order tightened up but might only improve things for a short time. I really don't want to do mediation as he was so vile last time. And can't see that getting a solicitor to write a letter will do much.

Any suggestions?

wheresthel1ght Mon 06-Jun-16 21:13:17

I suspect going back to court to get things in firm concrete so he cannot do this is going to be your only course but I doubt it will make any difference to be honest

Bananasinpyjamas1 Mon 06-Jun-16 21:44:39

Sounds awful flowers my Ex is annoying as hell, and sometimes erratic too. It puts so much unnecessary stress on things.

What I do is tell him clearly in an email that he must reply to confirm - I do this the day before an agreed contact date - before I drop our child off, otherwise I will not travel to him.

Picking up is another matter, I've waited hours not knowing when he'll drop them and he also never answers his phone.

I don't know what you can do?

Wdigin2this Mon 06-Jun-16 21:51:55

I've never had the regular contact thing, as all our DC were grown when we met. But, I cannot understand how, when agreements have been arrived at, especially by court order, and the NR parent flouts them?? This must be a terrible worry for you, he obviously knows that, and the DC must realise that their father is cutting them off from you, when they're with him, so it must be stressful for them too!
You need to get this sorted out, once and for all, but I don't know how you can do it! Hopefully another poster will advise you how to go about it!

throwingpebbles Mon 06-Jun-16 21:56:19

Ugh. No advice. Dealing with the same kind of crap here. You have my huge sympathies. It's a shit way to live and really hard to figure out what to do. His job requires flexibility so we can't have a concrete court order, and he exploits that all the time.

MsColouring Mon 06-Jun-16 22:07:59

Thanks for the responses. My mum thinks I need to speak to a solicitor for advice. I'm going to give a couple of days to calm down before making any decisions.

crusoe16 Tue 07-Jun-16 07:00:40

I think returning to court to firm up the order is your only option unfortunately and getting something along the lines of 'any avoidable changes to be agreed with a minimum notice period of X days' added to it. Also all travel arrangements i.e. flight details to be provided to the other parent X days in advance, possibly along with copies of the paperwork? I'd also get phone contact written into the order - so you can speak to the children while they're with him.

Frankly I'd then make it clear you'll phone the police every time he doesn't comply / return them when he's supposed to. Actually I think you're within your rights to withhold their passports if he's not returning them when he has agreed and not informing you either? It is threatening behaviour but what else can you do if he's refusing to communicate with you?

1ofthosedays Tue 07-Jun-16 09:46:10

Doesn't that count as a breach if he didn't return them at the specified time?
My DPs CAO states specific times/days for during the holidays and for changes to be made only if agreed by both parties. It used to be vague around holidays but had to be made more specific as his ex would not offer any holiday time!

Unless you have PSO or Non Molestation then I dont think ringing the police will do anything. They cant get involved in family law. If he has PR then he is within his legal rights to take children out of the country for up to 28 days. If an order is in place and he can not make the children available at the specified time then you can file for an enforcement order (if this is a repeated occurrence)

Informally you can say that you will not provide the DCs passport until you are provided with travel/accommodation details for the holiday as there is an issue with not returning on time. I think 2 weeks is usually the standard notice period you need.

Im not sure what to advise regarding phone contact and communicating arrangements tbh. it all depends how strict your court order is...

crusoe16 Tue 07-Jun-16 10:06:33

1ofthosedays is right - the police can't actually do anything. They will document your call though which can be handy. DH had to do a lot of it many moons ago.

I'm always a bit confused about what trumps what when it comes to contact orders and PR / SRO's.... Technically anyone with PR has the right to take their kid abroad for 28 days but if there's then a contact order in place stating they can have holiday contact between X date and X date, does that render the PR thing null and void?

1ofthosedays Tue 07-Jun-16 10:40:44

crusoe16 Im pretty sure that the court order trumps PR

You are under a legal obligation to fulfil the requirements of the court order, if you are unable to meet these requirements (ie make child available at the specified time in the order) and an alternative arrangement has not been made then you are breaking a court order.

However, if it is a one off and for a holiday, the court would probably wouldn't take any action if an enforcement order was filed and be of the view that it isnt in the best interests of the child to do so. All of the circumstances/details of the holiday/breach and past behaviour of both applicant and respondent would be taken into account.

I think in OPs situation it would count as a breach if a specified drop off time is mentioned in the Court Order and the ex refused to communicate changes to the arrangement.

Zampa Tue 07-Jun-16 10:52:08

Filing an enforcement order reach time he commits a breach seems your best bet. Whilst it will build up a pattern of his behaviour in the eyes of the court, it could prove expensive.

MsColouring Wed 08-Jun-16 19:54:30

Thank you for all the responses. Had an unexpected day off work today which gave me some head space to think things through.

I think the conclusion I've come to is that there is not much I can do. I could try going down the legal route but I don't think it will change much. I have been thinking that I could refuse to hand kids over until he gives me details but this risks putting the kids in the middle which isn't fair on them.

The only practical thing we can do is change dd's phone network to one with better N Ireland coverage and/or give her access to whatsapp or similar on her tablet so she can message us that way.
Mentally, I can just prepare myself for him behaving this way. Sucks though sad

throwingpebbles Wed 08-Jun-16 20:46:52

I don't think the legal route would change much either. ExH has ignored court orders, he's ignored tellings off from judges, it's always going to be like this and I have realised the legal route is not a good use of money

It's definitely about any practical steps or finding ways to limit his ability to take the piss (eg how about his holidays ending at the end of school hols so if he brings them back late it would be the school giving him a telling off?)

Biglettuce Thu 09-Jun-16 00:50:32

If it is any consolation, I have felt like you many times. And contemplated the legal route too. But it would have just made it worse. Unfortunately dickish and erratic Behaviour isn't something that is an easy fix. Some of the suggestions are very good, like making school start the end day.

swingofthings Thu 09-Jun-16 10:52:16

I wanted to avoid any sort of contact with Ex as soon as possible as somehow, it always ended up with him sending a nasty response back and led to me being angry/upset, so when DD asked for a mobile at 9 or 10, I was pleased it meant I could have contact with her directly.

You say your DD has her own mobile now and clearly her father is ok with it. I am guessing that you couldn't get a hold of her in Ireland. Is it because of not being able to use the phone away from the main land or because she wasn't looking at her messages? I spoke with my two DC as soon as they had their mobile and explained the importance of regularly checking for any messages and keeping in contact. They've been good (well DD better than DS) and usually can rely on them keeping in touch this way. Life has been so much better for everyone since Ex and I haven't needed to communicate (except the odd thing that didn't need to involve DC).

bibliomania Thu 09-Jun-16 13:24:02

Your dcs are starting to get to an age where there will be less and less need for communication between you and your ex. I'd be inclined to talk a deep breath, and wait out another few years. Not sure it's worth the upset and expense of a court battle - it's not going to change who he is, and if someone wants to find a way to twist a court order, they'll carry on trying, regardless of what it says.

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