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What is a reasonable access arrangement?

44 replies

SparklePrincess · 16/03/2008 21:05

H & I are currently in mediation thrashing things out for the future. He wants to have the dc from friday night until monday morning every other week & half of school holidays.
Im not overly happy about him having them overnight on the sunday because its a school night & id rather they came home in time for their dinner on a sunday instead to give them a chance to calm down before the school week begins. I have no problem with him visiting them during the week as long as I am informed in advance when hes likely to come.<br /> The reason I think hes going for the extra night is because according to the CSA site if they stayed with him over so many nights a year he could reduce payments to me. I honestly think its nothing to do with wanting to spend the time with them, as he`s never shown much of an interest before & consistently refused to take time off in school holidays to do family stuff.
What do you think? What would be a usual access arrangement?

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shelleylou · 16/03/2008 21:13

my xp has ds every other weekend from fri night to sunday night and as a result he keeps 7% of weekly maintenance. This has alwys been our arrange from when we were living 10 mins drive away to us now living 65 miles away. I think half of the school holidays is fair as it gives you both time to take dc away/plan fun things to do etc,. This could work in a few ways eg, split each halfterm in half and have a week each and same with summer holidays. Or you could alternate the holidays you have them 1 fulll half term then him etc. HTH

SparklePrincess · 16/03/2008 21:26

I think its fair, & im really not happy with the idea of him getting them up on a school day. Its hard enough for me to do it & im used to it, but he hasnt got a clue. We also have the added complication of our youngest having ADHD & is a blinkin nightmare getting ready for school (I have to dress her myself or we would never get out of the door) which H refuses to acknowledge.

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clam · 16/03/2008 21:39

So, warn the school in advance and let him learn the hard way! You may find he changes his mind pretty quick.

SparklePrincess · 16/03/2008 21:44

Im have no doubt in my mind that this arrangement will not last, his only interest is getting down the maintenance payments.
I dont want to agree to what he says when I know full well it wont happen & the children still cost me the same in the way of clothing etc here or not.

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ivykaty44 · 16/03/2008 21:51


Why not suggest a trail of having them till Monday morning and let him work out how hard it is to get them off to school.

I think the friday nite till Monday morning has its advantages

it gives the NRP two contacts with the school, friday and monday they have chance to talk to the teacher and see other parents at the school gates.

Gives the NRP "real" time instead of just "play" time with the children. The nrp has to do the "boring" routine stuff aswell as the treats. So this makes life with the children more real than fantasy.

It give the resident parent a real break and time to do adult things with their friends, go away for the weekend or even a long weekend Friday till Monday.

In the long run it will give the children real part of their fathers life and the children really could benifit from being with him all weekend.

NorthernLurker · 16/03/2008 21:58

If you can make it work the all weekend arrangement is a good one for the reasons ivykaty outlines - why should you be the one doing all the dull stuff and dragooning them out of the house every day! It doesn't sound like he's been much use so far - but maybe, just maybe he's decided to pull his socks up and be a proper parent. Worth a go I think.

Judy1234 · 16/03/2008 22:10

ivyk is right.
Another option is one week on and one off which works well if you both work full time or half the week with each parent. The main thing though is let him be a proper parent not just a doing the nice bits parent and if he has to get them to school on Monday with all the right kit (and and money for school) and on time he will also appreciate you more for the time you have them and also he will have to ensure the homework is completed at the weekend too etc etc.

ivykaty44 · 16/03/2008 22:15

Sparkle Princes are you worried what you are going to do for three or four days on your own?

Another really good thing about frid-mon is you don't get to see the xp every pick up and drop off and this does give you a lot of privacy. Privacy is way important because men can be funny about wanting to know what you are up too, this gives you a screen.

Try taking a step back and let him get on with a full weekend. Make it clear that he is the carer for the weekend and you must not be contacted unless it is an emrgency - otherwise you may not get any peice and what is the point of them going if he keeps contacting you for this and that. Use the mediation to get this across.

SparklePrincess · 16/03/2008 22:25

I dont have a problem in principle of him having them for that length of time, (if I thought he could cope) what I do have a problem with is him saying he will do this & having it drawn up into an agreement thus reducing my maintenance payments then defaulting on the agreement. Im not exactly going to be rolling in it so dont need him reducing money by making wild promises he hasnt got any intention of keeping.

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shelleylou · 16/03/2008 22:29

if he doesnt keep it it get back in touch with the csa and ask them to do a recalculation on the new circamstances which will take in to account how many overnight stays he has.

ivykaty44 · 16/03/2008 22:30

Then could you start asap and see how it goes, if he really is a wossy then it will fess up in about two months max - thing is though as soon as child access changes you can go straight to source and get nights figures money changed - it isn't set in stone.

Go to mediation and say ok lets get on with it, dont tell him you know money etc can all be changed - just like that!!

If his wges change by 5% or more then it will be looked at and if the nights the dc visit changes then the money will be altered - you have to telephone and let them know.

yerblurt · 16/03/2008 22:34

I don't see a problem with a fri-mon and mid-week parenting time (I object to the word "contact") split

Works for plenty of other separated parents out there... give it a try

finance and 'contact' are completely separate legally you do understand this don't you?

shelleylou · 16/03/2008 22:35

I only thought of that as im unsure whether im going to have to go down that route.

SparklePrincess · 16/03/2008 22:38

I think id rather avoid using the CSA if at all possible.
I dont mind if he wants to attempt to have the dc until monday to give it a try, I just dont want my maintenance based on him having them for x amount of nights. Also if he officially has them for that amount of time it will give him an excuse to squeeze me further on my settlement because he will argue he needs a 3 bed place too.
If his heart was in the right place & he had been a trustworthy reliable dad in the past I would have no issue. My issue is he has shown virtually no interest in the dc until now when its going to effect how much he has to pay me. In reality these arrangements couldnt hope to continue. He has always had better things to do than spend time with his children, they have never been his priority, & I have a genuine concern over how he will deal with my ADHD dd on a school day morning.

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SparklePrincess · 16/03/2008 22:41

Finance & access (i dont like contact either) are entirely relevant according to the CSA, & my ex will twist things so he has to pay the minimum amount possible.

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Judy1234 · 17/03/2008 08:49

Say you will let him have the next weekend then if he collects from school on Friday and returns the child to school on Monday and you will do that 2 weeks later too and if those two weekends work and he can keep ti up then you'll see if that can be agreed between you and work out costs etc on that basis. I have my children 365 nights a year and am not paid anything. My ex could have them 50% of the year if he wanted but he chooses not to. Some men are just not very keen to see their children. Mine wouldn't have to pay if he had them either but still chooses not to.

SparklePrincess · 17/03/2008 12:56

Problem is he hasnt officially moved out yet & doesnt have a place of his own to take them to so we cant do a trial run. We are trying to agree terms through mediation so the house can be sold & we can both move on with our lives. (Well, I can, he has already) I think what ill say is im prepared to give it a go, but not have it down on paper in order for him to use it against me. Until I manage to find a job my financial situation will be pretty bleak, so I dont want to allow him to screw me out of anything when im 90% certain its not going to happen long term.

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FAQ · 17/03/2008 13:00

"it will give him an excuse to squeeze me further on my settlement because he will argue he needs a 3 bed place too."

pathetic excuse if he uses it. H and I have just split - he's renting a room in a houseshare. Live in landlord has "ok'd" him to have the DS's to stay as long as he's talked to the other tenants about it. DS's are 7,4 and 9 months........and he's quite happy to share a room with them for a weekend/couple of days/week.......don't see why your ex would need a 3 bedroom house......

SparklePrincess · 17/03/2008 13:13

Hes such a b@st@rd he would do anything to squeeze money out of me. If he had his way Id be out on the streets. He has no real interest in his children, or them having a decent home, all he sees is not wanting to give what he sees as <strong>his</strong> money to me. Hes a very selfish individual im afraid, & he always has been. Hes been mentally abusive towards me for our entire marriage & now hes making out like he`s the injured party. What an @rsehole! I cant wait to get this all over & done with so we can have as little contact with each other as possible.

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gillybean2 · 17/03/2008 13:42

If you're not working I assume you are on IS? On IS you can only keep £10 of whatever maintenance he pays (soon to be £20). So anything he pays over this just goes to the government and your children loose out on it because you don't have it and neither does your ex. Wouldn't you rather he had the money so they can get the possible benefit of it rather than it going to the government?

And if he is to be an active and equal parent in their lives (which it sounds like he is trying to be) he will need a 3 bed place in order to give them an equal home too. I know you're angry and upset, but it's kinda hard to say on the one hard you don't want him to be able to afford to have a place suitable to have them and on the other hand that he never does have them. If you make it impossible for him them he won't be able to. Seems like a self perpetuating situation to me...

Seperation can make people re-evaluate their lives. It's not uncommon for the parent who spend more time working and providing to now want to spend more time with the children, especially if that time is no longer as a 'couple' when one or both parents didn't enjoy spending time together but now the other parent isn't around they are happy to spend more time with the children. I'm just saying try not to be too quick in judging his motives here. Are your motives for not wanting him to have them for the length of time suggested related to money or what is best for the children? It's a very thin line at times. Try and work out what it is you are really worried about here and find solutions.

If money is an issue then ask him if he is prepared to meet you half way with this and only claim for 2 overnights a week regardless of the actual number. If it means you can move on from the financial issues and concentrate on the time issues and what he wants is time with teh children then he may be willing to compromise on that. Also bear in mind that the CSA only take into account the average number of overnights per week and round down to a whole number. So if he had them an average of 2.9 overnights a week he's still only get a reduction of 2 overnights a week. Look at the figures, will the sunday overnight make a big difference to the overall average?

He probably feels much the same as you do about squeezing money from him/you. Try and put the money issue aside or find a compromise. Contact is not meant to be based on financial reasons, but what is best for the children. The minute you start thinking you'll be worse off letting him spend more time with the children and therefore can't allow it is when you stop putting the welfare of your children and their rights to a meaningful relationship with their father above your own financial concerns. That is what others meant when they said contact is not linked financially, because it's not meant to be, although in reality that is why some RP makeit harder for a NRP to see their child (not all just some). It is the the way the CSA calculate it and makes it very difficult to seperate the two, even though they are meant to be totally seperate.

Even if he had them exactly half the time you'd still get half of the maintenance calculation, rather than being able to say we have them equally and therefore have equal costs and noone should be paying anyone anything. It's a crazy system imo.

Give the monday mornings a trial run. Go out of the house and leave him to deal with getting them up and out to school. And if it's too early then try staying at a friends overnight so you are simply not there and he has to get on with it. It will be hard at first because the children are used to you doing it and if you're in the house and they know you are they will call for you no doubt. Once they know you are not there and it's dad getting them ready for school they will get used to it. If you're in the background it will be harder for them to adjust and harder for you all to handle i would imagine.

Keep strong. Try and work out the issues through the mediation and see what compromises you can reach. If it's about money that will come out very quickly, but if it's about time then find soultions to money issues to allow the time to happen. It's important for your children to have two equal parents rather than a part time dad who only does fun things. Lots of dad's walk away for whatever reason, but your ex is saying he wants more time. Don't knock him back, time is worth more than money any day imo.

Best of Luck

gillybean2 · 17/03/2008 13:57

Just done a very quick calculation here.

Assuming 39 week school year and 13 weeks hols plus 5 Non Pupil Days...

If he has them friday after school to mon morning every other weekend, and half the hols and half the Non Pupil Days that is:

(39/2x3) + (13x7/2) + (5/2) = 109 = average of 2.04 overnights a week, CSA round down to 2 overnights.

So you're looking at a 2/7th reduction for this arrangement.

Can you work with that? It means you wouldn't have to worry then about any other additional days he might have them as it's going to be a lot of days extra before he'd get a further reduction.


vixnpips · 17/03/2008 14:03

Just remember that you and he will always have your niggles and disagreements. Your not together and you probably don't like each other.
But you do have to work together as parents.
Chill out a bit, let the children and build their own relationship with him, try not to get angry and remember thing set out aren't set in stone and can be changed if they are not working out.
I say this with 9 years experience of arguments, court oders, csa and everything that goes with it.
I now look back and wonder why I was so uptight about it all.. and see that I was plain angry with him. My feelings past.. but the kids still have a good relationship with their dad.

SparklePrincess · 17/03/2008 14:22

Thanks for that gillybean.
Im not on IS. At the moment he is still paying the bills & will continue to do so until the house is sold. (As advised by his solicitor) Im intending to find myself a job for 16 hours a week so I can claim working tax credits once everything is settled, so the amount of maintenance will be an issue for me.
I am very happy for the dc to spend as much time as possible with their father, & I sincerely hope he wont let them down, its just hard not to be suspicious when he has shown virtually no interest in them until it comes to a separation agreement being drawn up.
Ive just checked the CSA website & do you think it will be ok to add a clause to our agreement that he will have them for a maximum of 103 nights per year, or does that sound petty?

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SparklePrincess · 17/03/2008 14:25

Thanks vixnpips.
What a nightmare that sounds. Thats why I want everything done & dusted now to avoid squabbles in the future. (As much as is humanly possible)

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Judy1234 · 17/03/2008 19:42

And also bear in mind that the more he has them the less child care you have to pay for (thinking of the 9 week school summer holiday my ex has and the 2 nights he has the boys and the 7 weeks I have to pay for all day childcare for here because he refuses to have them.

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