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breach of a child arrangements order - has anyone gone back to court?

37 replies

bella1968 · 24/03/2016 12:25

I'm recently divorced and had a CAO in place since September last year. It's not easy as exh insults me to the children and calls me names whether they object or not he says they have to know what I'm like! Anyway the order states 7 days each handover Friday after school or by 4.30 in school holidays. Next week, the first week of the children's Easter holidays they are with him, on the Saturday 2nd April we go to my parents for our holidays and return on the Friday 8th. He has sent an email saying I must have them with him at 4.30 as they need to be on the road. He knows already that I have booked to travel back from Wales that day, I have told him we are leaving early that morning and should be back in time however if the trains delay us the children will let him know. He's gone off the handle saying it is incumbent on me to have them with him at 4.30 as per the court order . Thing is he is taking them to Jersey, flying probably that night as he's said he needs to be on the road and then they will have to fly back Sunday as the children are in school on the Monday. Why on earth he's not doing this during their week on holidays but instead waiting until the weekend when we come back I don't know, I've already booked the train there's not much I can do.

It doesn't stop me worrying though and if we are delayed and not back on time, causing him to miss the flight, will he take me back to court? I believe he's just trying to cause a stir, we will have been travelling all day, flying to Jersey that night won't be fun for them they will be tired from the day and the holiday!

Any comments/advice/chat would be appreciated. I'd like to know anyone else's story of dealing with a difficult ex and having a child arrangements order in place and how that works for them if you're willing to share that is Smile

OP posts:
Fourormore · 24/03/2016 13:03

If it's because of a train delay then he'd be a bit silly to take it back on that one thing and you'd be unlikely to get more than a slap on the wrist. Technically if they missed their flights, he could ask the court to make you pay for them.

HOWEVER if the court order says back by 4.30 then you need to allow time for train delays when you're planning your return journey. It's no good saying "Why is he waiting til then" because that's his time and the children should be with him and he is free to make his travel arrangements accordingly.

bella1968 · 24/03/2016 13:32

thanks Fourormore I appreciate what you're saying even if we were driving back from Anglesey it takes 6 hours but we are taking the train which means 2 trains and a tube, he knows it takes ages to get back and we are leaving at 9 as it is.

OP posts:
DorynownotFloundering · 24/03/2016 13:36

Could you not travel
Back on the Thursday at your leisure them have a lazy day at home doing something nice with the kids so they are all chilled for going to their Dads? I know you shouldn't have to change your plans to appease him but heading off any confrontation before he has a chance to get arsey is better for the kids & therefore you if less stressed.

DontcarehowIwantitnow · 24/03/2016 13:37

HOWEVER if the court order says back by 4.30 then you need to allow time for train delays when you're planning your return journey. It's no good saying "Why is he waiting til then" because that's his time and the children should be with him and he is free to make his travel arrangements accordingly.

I agree. You know what the timings are. It isn't a new proposal, you agreed in court.

He may not take you to court, but if he has fights etc booked he may be rightly very annoyed.

ivykaty44 · 24/03/2016 13:43

Give him the offer in writing of collecting the dc from Wales instead, give him the option of stations he can pick them up from on route back. Put this in writing send and save.

If anything goes tits up with travel arrangements beyond your control - say he then takes you to court - you have more than adviced him about travel arrangements, offered him alternative access and quite frankly the judge would not be interested as you have made steps to give him access and you can't control British rail.....

He is scaremongering to try and ruin your holiday - take no notice

Fourormore · 24/03/2016 15:57

Presumably the court order says that the children are to be returned to their father. It's not a valid solution to say Dad should be doing a 12 hour round trip or picking up from stations at various points across the country just because Mum has pushed travel times right down to the wire. Also IIRC this isn't "access" - both parents have "residence".

I absolutely understand the frustration, Bella, but this is one of the down sides of having a court order. You have to have the children back on time. It's your responsibility to make sure that happens.

lateforeverything · 26/03/2016 09:18

Urgh this is so frustrating! I understand it's the OP's responsibility to get the chn back on time but cutting the trip short just to be sure would annoy me no end. I think the chn's dad is cutting it a bit fine himself with his plans and the kids will be knackered. To be fair, op had already outlined her plans first.

(As an aside, I do know a man who called the police and accused his exp of abduction when her plane back with their dd was delayed due to a strike, even though he was aware of this via text messages.) Confused

Fourormore · 26/03/2016 10:10

I'm sure the police told him where to go, lateforeverything.

VimFuego101 · 26/03/2016 10:16

I think you need to leave earlier if you can't be confident you'll be back in time for him to catch his flight. The court order sounds like it's very clear about handover times.

lateforeverything · 26/03/2016 10:26

Yes, there was nfa four, just saying that I have had first hand experience of a loopy parent in a holiday situation. Well actually he's loopy in pretty much any given situation but again, that's an aside Wink

Even still, my friend was forced to give a statement and account for her whereabouts, flight number etc even though it was all on the dp's phone.

Not scaremongering, just saying that it can and does happen Hmm

lateforeverything · 26/03/2016 10:27

*ex dp's phone

Dalmatian2017 · 26/03/2016 10:35

Why dont you travel back Thursday afternoon?

Fourormore · 26/03/2016 10:40

But this isn't a loopy parent. It's a parent with a court order who is asking that the court order is followed. A strike you can't really account for, fair enough, but delays can be accounted for.

lateforeverything · 26/03/2016 11:01

I'm aware that it was a different set of circumstances, that's why I said 'as an aside' but anyway.

I honestly cannot remember my court order having exact times on it, excuse my ignorance but is that standard practice?

Fourormore · 26/03/2016 11:32

It's not unusual.

bella1968 · 27/03/2016 10:31

Thanks for all your replies, I appreciate them.

In answer, if we came back any day like Thursday it would be the same situation as it takes that long to get back from Anglesey. As it is we are leaving at 9 drop the hire car off at Chester and then a 12.35 train to Euston then a tube to ldn brdg and then another home then a bus so you see I'm doing the best I can and he knows how long it takes so booking to fly out that night is putting me and the children under enormous pressure should there be delays. If everything runs on time it will be fine as I can get them on a train going his way instead of mine that way they'll be in plenty of time. I have no idea why the judge set the 4.30 handover time when I don't get home till 5.30 from work but if my ex was a reasonable man and not trying to get keys to the house and take my belongings (he part owns the house we are selling) then it wouldn't be an issue. The children are nearly 13 btw. They are with there dad as from yesterday, I had to call the police as he put his foot in the doorway and I couldn't shut the door, when I tried he got his phone out and said I'm filming you abusing me! He wouldn't leave until the children had their school uniform which he should have at his house but refuses to buy! Anyway what I am saying I that he's been difficult as he could have taken them over next week to jersey instead of rushing them off the day they've travelled home all day only to fly out for 2 days in jersey (they have to be back in school Monday) he could even have taken them yesterday.

I'll get the children to his by 4.30 however I can, but I'm worried now that if the trains are delayed then i have no control, that really was my question, what can he do? Should we have not gone on holiday???? This is where because of the 7 days and handover time and his inflexibility unless it is him asking its a real nightmare!

It'll be different next year when he asks if he can take the children to Florida for his brothers wedding which I believe is in Easter and has even asked the school for permission for time off school! Which they won't give. If it suits him he does what he wants, when he says no to me he manages to make himself look the hero but when he asks I have to say yes otherwise the children suffer. All in all I have to stick to the order but he can do what he likes!!

Another of his moans to the children is "she refuses to get a car", that's me! The fact is, I cant afford one but I do buy clothes, school uniform, things that they need, whereas he doesn't, my dd says he won't buy anything for her and always says aren't you with your mother that week or can't your mother buy it!! Yet now my son probably hates me because I called the police 😞

OP posts:
Fourormore · 27/03/2016 10:47

What an awful situation. I'm not going to comment on the rest of your post because there are always two sides to a story but I wanted to pick up on this: "so booking to fly out that night is putting me and the children under enormous pressure" - you need to change your mindset a little bit here. He isn't putting you under pressure - the court order is. This is what the judge decided, for whatever reason. Believe me I know how frustrating court orders can be when judge's make decisions that seem to have no real basis but that's what it is.

There's also no rule that you have to stick to the order but he doesn't. You both do and you are both free to take the matter back to court for variation or enforcement where necessary.

So to answer your question - of course you should have gone on holiday, you should just have made arrangements that would have made sure you were definitely going to be ready to do the handover at 4.30. Instead you've chosen to stay on holiday for an extra day and so will have the stress of worrying about delays. It's rubbish but it is your choice. Our 8 day holidays are 6 days now - 1 night at the start in case the children don't get handed to us on the first attempt and 1 night at the end to allow for delays travelling home. It's crap but it's what we have to do to comply with the order.

lateforeverything · 27/03/2016 12:00

I don't agree that it's just the court order putting OP under pressure as exh could be flexible if he wanted to. I understand that it's the OP's choice to have x number of days' holiday but I personally find it bizarre that exh booked tickets for the same day knowing that the chn were unlikely to be returned to him before 4:30pm that day as OP had already outlined her travel plans. Despite the fact that the court order technically allows for that, it doesn't necessarily mean that it was the best thing for him to do.

For example, regarding pick-ups/drop-offs my court order says something like 'arrangements can be altered, taking into account the best interests of the child'. But anyway, what's done so good luck making your decision OP.

I just think that flexibility is key in any patenting situation, whether you're together or not but that's just mo Hmm

Fourormore · 27/03/2016 13:02

This is a high conflict situation, late, and the best thing in that situation is for everyone to just stick to the order. That way, further conflict can't arise and that is far better for the children than getting an extra few hours with either parent.

bella1968 · 27/03/2016 16:45

Thanks fourormore and late, I think I may have been confusing, I've not taken the decision to come back a day late, I'm travelling back on the handover day which means we are travelling Saturday to Friday but it would be the same any day. I booked the trip months ago, he knew we were travelling back on the Friday so my point was it is strange he's decided to fly that day and not during the whole week that he has them, I think its inconsiderate to the children. If he had told me his plans before I booked the trains I could have arranged to come back on the Thursday but I didn't know this is why I say he's putting the pressure on me. I don't want the children to miss out on going to jersey or them missing their flights. I know that i must get them to him for 4.30 that's not the issue, the issue is that i will now stress the whole journey back and possibly before about whether or not the trains will be delayed or not and whether we get back on time.

He says that i break the order all the time i guess he means because the children can't come home till i get home at 5.30 at the moment as i won't give them keys, i cant trust him not to get them off them, he's already tried with both but so far they've refused. He brings them plus their things at 5.30 or after whereas they go straight to his after school and come to get their stuff over the weekend. When we've moved after selling they will have keys but will still need their stuff so i think they are best to get it then go to the other parent that way its all done.

I agree with both, flexibility would be nice and i don't see why it can't happen or fairness to the children but he's always out to get me so yes, that's why the judge gave the order so specific so yes, i guess i need to take this into consideration in future, call it a learning curve! Its only been since September 15 but these things don't happen often. Thanks for 2 sides though your comments were really helpful 😊

OP posts:
DontcarehowIwantitnow · 27/03/2016 16:52

I booked the trip months ago, he knew we were travelling back on the Friday so my point was it is strange he's decided to fly that day and not during the whole week that he has them

Thing he could say it is strange that you are travelling back on the day of handover. knowing they should be with him by 4.30. That date is in the court order.

It works both ways iyswim.

lateforeverything · 27/03/2016 17:09

Yes you're only 6 months in OP, I really hope that things settle down in the future.

Enjoy your break Smile

Fourormore · 27/03/2016 17:50

I'm sure he has his reasons, Bella. It can't be much fun for him not knowing whether the children will be back on time for the flight.

And again, the pressure on you isn't coming from him - other than that he is asking you to make sure you follow the court order which is perfectly reasonable. You knew you had to be back by 4.30 and yet you chose travel plans that meant you're not sure you can do that. The pressure is a result of your choices. It's really important that you understand this because until we accept the part we play in these conflicts, nothing can move on and we stay stuck in these old patterns.

If he's saying you're breaking the order all the time, just remind him he can take the matter back to court if he wishes. That's it. You don't need to get into any further conversation, just keep repeating "You can apply for a variation if you wish". And then ignore him.

The flexibility can't happen because it's a high conflict situation. Sure it would be nice but for flexibility to work you need to be somewhat amicable and have similar views about what is in the children's best interests. Clearly you don't or you wouldn't be in this situation so for the sake of the children, you and your ex just need to comply with the order. That's it. Anything else just makes it harder for the children.

bella1968 · 27/03/2016 20:56

I don't get it fourormore, how can you say I've chosen travel plans that won't get me back on time?? I'm leaving Anglesey at 9am! Should I leave at 6am?? Or that I should be leaving on Thursday? I guess that's what I should have done eh? I'll know better next time. Suck when he'll do what he likes and take them on holiday for longer when he feels like it! Sad

OP posts:
Fourormore · 27/03/2016 21:07

I didn't say they wouldn't get you back on time I said you're not sure that they will. If you don't want the stress of being unsure whether you'll be back on time, it's down to you to make sure that you are. So yes, if that means leaving at 6am or the day before, that's what you need to do because that's what the court has ordered you to do. You don't get to flout the order just because he does. If he flouts the order, you can take it back to court.

I'm returning from my holiday a day "early" to make sure I can make the handover time I'm committed to. It's crap but it's necessary.

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