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Ask Clare Your Own Question

Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 33013
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practise since 1985 and have specialised in Family Law for the last 10 years
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HelloIve got a few queries about access to see my children,

Customer Question


I've got a few queries about access to see my children, but more importantly access for my children to see me. My background is as follows:

- my ex wife and I have 2 children. Ella is 12 in August and Ethan 8 next week.
- we finally got divorced in February of this year after a 3 year "battle" and maintenance and financial settlements were finalised.
- Access to the kids was not formalised as it was agreed that the situation suited both of us and there was no arguments over the arrangements with the kids
- I see the children every other weekend (including fridays) and a Tuesday of 1 week and a Wednesday / Thursday of the next. On average, it amounts to about 10 nights a month.
- There is a 2 week gap where I don't see the kids. This was based on my rota for work - it didn't allow me the time as I'm in the fire service and being on call and on my own wasn't workable to have the kids.
- I've always wanted the 2 week gap reduced and the kids hate the 2 week gap!

My situation has recently changed. I'm now living with someone else who has 2 children and who my 2 get on with very well ( they've known each other for years). As a result I asked my ex wife if we could change the access to include 2 days in each of the 2 weeks that the kids don't see me. This would pretty much mean we would be with the kids 50% each, although still slightly balanced in her favour. She has said no sighting that they're settled and change isn't good. I however know this is not the case and have asked to seek their views. She has categorically said no and that it " saddens" her to think we should talk to the kids. I 'have' sought their views and they both want to see me within those 2 weeks as discussed above. They still get upset on the Sunday before the 2 week stretch.

I am also receiving texts from her using language such as " restricting telephone calls to them" etc which is causing not only frustration but anger as to how she sees herself as the sole parent able to make decisions that affect the kids but without the kids involvement and "allowing" me some time with them.

The truth is, is that I'm concerned that the children are not being put first in this and are being affected by the situation. I'm pretty sure this is more about me getting on with my life and her jealously of the whole situation. Another example is that I've booked a holiday with my new partner and all 4 kids, only my two's passports have run out. I'm trying to renew them only she won't give me her passport number to do so ( a requirement) in order to sabotage the holiday.

For the sake of the kids, I need to know what support is out there. Can I go to court to formalise arrangements with the kids and put to bed the worry of the informal arrangement being controlled (and possibly reduced) by her? Would I be able to increase the access to the kids if I thought it was in their best interests?

I'm clutching at straws and don't want to do anything that has a negative emotional impact on the kids but I truly believe that this is not only what I want, but what they want too, only their mother will not talk to them about it and as a result of them knowing her reaction, they won't ask.
Look forward to your response

Many thanks

Jon Butlin
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your question
I shall do my best to assist you but I need some further information first.
Do you mean that you are now able to spend more time at home with the children yourself now?
I am a little confused - do you not see the children on wither a Tuesday or a Wednesday every week?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
In answer to your questions:

1. I'm now in a relationship and have moved in with my partner and the kids live here now when they are with me. The reason I couldn't have the children in that 2 week stretch was because of work. I work a 4 week rota system and that 2 week stretch consists of being on call to respond to fire calls. This hasn't changed but with my new partner at home this does not present a problem anymore. So although I would still be on call, if I did get called out to an emergency, the kids would be still looked after.

2. I only have the kids for a Tuesday of one week and a Wednesday and Thursday the following week - these are my days off within the 4 week rota system as well as the Fridays of every other weekend when I have the kids

To me, this is a battle against my ex wife's jealousy of my new life and does not want the kids being looked after by my new partner anymore than she has to. Even with the days I have them now, they are still live in the new home with me and my partner and me.

Hope this helps

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Forgive me I am still a little confused - I thought you said there was a fortnight when you do not see them?
How often are you called out on average?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
There is. I'll explain as below of when I see the kids in a month. These are all days that I have off from work. You will notice that I don't see the kids from when I drop them off at school on the Monday of week 3 until the Friday of week 4 - pretty much a fortnight.

Weekk1. Wednesday, Thursday
Week 2. Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
Week3. -
Week 4. Friday Saturday Sunday

My proposal to my ex wife was to have 2 nights in week 3 and 2 further nights in week 4. Although I would be at work during the day, my partner would be picking my son up from school and my daughter would walk back as she does on the days listed above. I would then return from work around 6. Of those 4 days proposed, I would be on call for one of them.

On average, my rota means I'm on call for a 24hr period for 2 nights a week. None of the days I have them are affected by this. Only 1 would be if the proposal was agreed.

Hope that helps
Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for that - now it makes sense to me - and yes that is clearly a large gap in an otherwise very regular pattern and I can fully understand why you wish to bridge it.
The starting point is to try and discuss matters with your ex using Family mediation ( - possible using a mediator trained to work with young people as well so that their views can be brought to the table as well
I can certainly see your rationale for requesting two nights in week three - and if the matter does go to court I think a Court is likely to agree to it - and I can see that one extra night in week four would certainly set a clear "pattern".
In terms of what the children actually want your daughter is just old enough for her wishes to be seen as being of importance - but your son is still at the age when his views are likely to be coloured by the wish to please the parent he is talking to so it is not sensible to rely to highly on their views - this is a matter for the adults to resolve - either through mediation or through your applying to the court for a Defined contact/shared residence order
(shared residence does not mean equal shares - it is simple a way of recognising that when the children are with you they are living with you - not just visiting)
I hope that this is of assistance to you - please ask if you need further information

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