Contact question.... (long sorry)(15 Posts)
My Dsd's mum has decided she wants to change contact. Starting this half term instead of us seeing Dsd for half the week she wants the term time arrangement, i.e. Wednesday night thru Thursday afternoon, and Friday night until 5 on Saturday.
Dsd is almost 9 and the contact arrangements have been Wednesday night after school until drop off at school on Thursday, and pick up from school Friday until 5 on Saturday and half the holidays for the last three years. Dsd has previously said she wants more time with us but her mum won't consider it, I can understand that. Dsd is going to be really upset if she is here for less time in the holidays.
In June Dsd's mum, and her H moved a further 20mins away so total journey for us is now 45 min, that's fine but she wanted to change Dsd's school mid term which concerned DH. He took advice andcwas told tough, she's the resident parent and can do what she likes and Dsd's views are not determinative in any way as she's too young.
Following that advice DH feels there is little he can do about the latest situation.
I've suggested he asks her for mediation, as she is currently refusing to discuss it at all, and if she won't to apply to Court to regulate contact by order. DH is terrified he'll end up with even less....
What should we do?
I'm not too clued up on all of this but if she is trying to cut contact that is working fine and your step daughter is happy about, I would be inclined to say no. You're happy with the way things are and want to stick to it.
If she kicks up a fuss I would join Families Need Fathers and look for advice on there about how to get contact sorted out officially so she can't cut it when she feels like it.
I would be surprised, if your DH ended up going through court and getting a contact order, that he would have less time with his daughter as she is happy with the situation and has specifically asked to spend more time with him and you. I would suggest getting some formal advice, either from Families Need Fathers or a solicitor if you can afford it.
Also if your DH has parental responsibility for his DD then he does have a say in where she goes to school and whether this should be changed although if his ex won't listen then potentially then that would also be a matter for the courts to make a judgement on.
Thank you both, the previous advice was from a solicitor, who cost a bloody fortune!
We have said no, but dsd's mum isn't listening and is saying that is how it is now and she'll pick up dsd on Thursday early afternoon, short of being out for the day, which seems wrong, and liable to make things worse I'm at a loss.
I'll try FNF thanks for the help.
I would seek advice from FNF asap and see what they think you should do. Have you had anything in writing regarding the current contact agreements? Whether between you and his ex or overseen by the solicitor?
There's never been anything in writing, getting PR sorted was enough of a headache!
There is no reason why Dad couldn't apply to the court himself. Contact/Residence applications are straight forwards enough. Go to www.hmsc.org.uk to download form C1. Explain the arrangements to date, say that Mum has changed them and ask that they are agreed going forwards so that you don't get this every holiday etc. Court fee is £210 unless you are fees exempt (your local county court will be able to tell you if you are).
btw - the Judge's will not be very enthusiastic if you let on that you have joined FNF. By all means obtain advice from them but don't mention it at court or you run the risk of being seen as a militant parent which is probably far from the truth.
In the meantime accept whatever arrangements are offered as some contact is better than none but get to court ASAP to have all of the arrangements sorted.
Thank you cb, that's very helpful. I'm inclined to do just that but DH is worried he'd end up in a worse position. So hard
All family court action is a lottery, but with a three-year status quo, plus unilateral school change and move, he's in a very strong position.
I'd go for joint residence so that both parents are legally equal (don't have to have equal parenting time) so the child can't be yanked out of school without his say-so again.
Also, I've never heard of a negative reaction to FNF from courts - could you be confusing it with F4J, CBMum? FNF have been consulted by government, the legal estabishment, and have a register of McKenzie friends who are very well thought of.
Thanks mmred, I think I need to show DH this thread. It might make him feel better about the possibilities.
I was going to say the same mmrred. FNF and F4J are two very different organisations. Joining F4J might receive that kind of response in court but not FNF.
Hope you get something sorted emskaboo. x
FNF don't just offer help to fathers, they offer help for all family members.
Nope, certainly no confusion. FNF is viewed negatively by our local courts and Judges. The reality is if you appear at court before the Judge, dressed for the occasion i.e. don't rock up in jeans and t-shirt, and have an idea of what you want to say to the Judge then if you are appearing without legal representation it is very unusual for a Judge not to listen to what you have to say. Keep calm even if the other party is trying to rile you. I can't promise it works every time, but it usually helps.
cbmum - you're advice is a bit out of date.
The form for a contact order is a C100 form, C1 form is for PR applications.
The fee is £175, not £210.
FNF are quite well respected by the judiciary.
Mum is no more the "resident" parent than dad is - they both have PR, there is a shared care arrangement in place, they are both equal legal parents. Mum has no more right to make unilateral decisions about the child's arrangements than mum has. Dad would be well within his legal authority to return the current status quo that has apparently worked fine (and been mutually agreed) for the last few years.
Write to the ex, offer Mediation (sort out the Mediation bookings yourself, get them done ASAP). Get it all in writing. Request that the current status quo remain in place and no unilateral decisions are made as this would not be in the child's best interests.
Request that the ex respond constructively, confirming that she is going to attend Mediation and that she does so within 14 days, otherwise you will have no other option but to make an application to Court.
You will be expected to have tried Mediation anyway before going to Court and in all likelehood, the Court may say the equivalent of "go away and try Mediation".
Get your forms completed and ready to go. If the ex does not respond, file your C100 and get ready for Court.
Join FNF, get along to your local branch meeting and get some face-to-face advice. You may also need to look into the availability of a local McKenzie friend who will be able to help you out with forms, position statements and attendance at Court too.
I wonder if you could describe the negative reaction by your local courts and judges to FNF, cbmum? I've never heard of it before and in my limited experience, FNF has been universally praised by local courts and judges.
I think suggesting that a man should go to court alone and expect a fair go without any kind of support or advice is a bit optimistic, TBH.
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