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Clare
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 33326
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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I would like advice on varying a contact order. BACKGROUND The

Customer Question

I would like advice on varying a contact order.

BACKGROUND

The current contact order was put in place in November 2013 and has been running for 6 months. It relates to my 9 year old daughter who now lives with me in Leeds (she moved in December) and the contact she has with her Father who lives in Swindon.

Both myself and my daughter's father are in new relationships and live with our respective partners, both of whom have children of their own.

The contact order states that my daughter shall reside with me but have the following contact with her father.

* Every third weekend (him to collect her from school in Yorkshire at 3:30pm on the Friday and me to collect from Swindon on the Sunday at 5pm)

* Every half term

* A week at Easter & Christmas

* 4 weeks in the Summer Holidays

PROPOSED CHANGES

Fortnightly visits instead of every 3 weeks

Split of all school holidays 50/50

Return to Yorkshire on Sunday no later than 7pm

REASONS FOR CHANGE

* My daughter would like the visits to Swindon to be in line with the other children in both families (she has specifically requested this)

* She is struggling with the 3 weeks between visit.

* She would like to be able to spend more holiday time in Yorkshire. I believe this would also help her in establishing new friendships in Yorkshire.

* When I agreed to the contact order in November, my daughter's father's partner was a childminder and I was willing to compromise her not being in his direct care but in the family home. Since then she has given up childminding which means that when my daughter is there she goes either to a childminder, a friend or a grandparent. Whilst this is ok for the odd day I am not comfortable with this being the case for 4 weeks of the Summer Holidays.

* My daughter does not want to be away from either parent for more than 3 weeks in the Summer.

FINANCES

Since January I have reduced the amount of hours I work to enable me to spend more time with my daughter and also to enable her to attend after school clubs and activities which has been key in helping her form new friendships.

As a result my monthly income has reduced & my daughters father is 6 months in arrears with the CSA. The latter has caused me significant financial hardship as my partner and I have had to supplement this money.

Whilst I am more than happy for my daughters father to see her more often (fortnightly rather than every 3 weeks) I am now unable to afford to the travel costs associated with the return journey.

We are currently arriving back in Yorkshire on a Sunday at 9pm. My daughter has a history of not settling well at bedtime and this is too late for her.

FINALLY

Due to my personal financial positition I am unable to afford the return trips with immediate affect but am concerned that I will be breaching the court order if I do not collect my daughter on the Sunday as arranged.

My daughter is next due to go on 20/6.

Kind regards

Claire
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Thank you for your question.
My name is Clare
I will do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
What is her father's view on the matter?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Father refuses to discuss.

In the past he has said that he will never deviate from the schedule for any reason (I have tried to swap weekends so our daughter can attend key events such as her brothers 18th Birthday and so she can take part in the village carnival) with just a 'no' response and normally he never replies to any correspondence.

However 2 weeks ago and 48 hrs before pick-up out of the blue he said "I've been meaning to say I don't think I can pick her up on Friday, I may be able to come on Saturday"

He would not say why but I suspected that this was partly because my partner and I were going away on our first holiday without the children and partly because he didn't want to drive on a Friday before Bank Holiday but I just replied saying no problem and that I had arranged for her to stay with close friends who live approx 20 mins away in the Friday and who could keep her safely with them until such time that he could come and collect her"

He said he did not want her staying with anyone else (this is a contradiction to what he does) and said he would pick her up on the Thursday evening. He collected her at 9pm which meant they wouldn't have got there till 1pm and she missed a day of school. He did not ring the school to arrange the absence or arrange for them to send holiday homework (he refuses to do homework from new school merely saying he does not want to spend what little time he has with her doing homework)

The relationship is very very acrimonious. I still try for it not to be but he is very negative about me to my daughter, calls me names etc. He seems unable to get over his hatred of me which has an impact on both of our children.

The relationship with my partners ex is great, we all get on well so my daughter can see how it is when it works well.

There has been involvement by CAFCASS, child protection and social services in the past (due to my ex's 'overly aggressive handling' of my daughter).

My view is that this new order was a big change for my daughter and it just needs adjusting to better suit her needs.

I keep all my ex's emails and whilst they do not threaten me they are never polite (mine always are). There is no degree of flexibility at all.

I believe he has started working abroad 1-2 week a month but I only know this from the children and he is also moving house next week but again I only know this from the children, he will not tell me where he is moving to until the day I have to collect my daughter.

My daughter is struggling emotionally and is having help from CAHMS for her anger and emotional issues.

Lots of history with this case but it is my belief that we should work together to make this a better situation for our daughter.

I think mediation would be a great idea with maybe the approach that I appreciate he is reluctant to change but can we go to mediation to work on reaching a compromise that better suits our daughter and is workable for us. However this is not the opinion of my ex.

Sorry if that's information overload!

Claire

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
In addition ....... My daughter stayed with Father during last half term (last week). She has said that on one occasion his partners Mother was babysitting her and 3 other children in the family (all younger than my daughter) because Father and his partner had gone out.

My daughter has said that at one point the partners Mother became angry and hurt my daughters arm, slapped another child round the face and screamed at a further child because they would not behave.

I would like to address this ASAP with my ex, so it is logged but have not done so as yet.

Thanks

Claire
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Has the CAHMS worker made any comments on the current schedule?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

We are due to see her on 13th June

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Just to check - does your daughter actually want to spend more or less time in Swindon?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

She struggles with the three week gap between visits (Father does not call despite court order saying at least weekly) and wants more school


holiday time in Yorkshire with her new friends. She would also prefer to be there when the other children are there as she doesn't like them doing things without her or being there on her own




Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Could you manage the financial side of the return trips if you had to?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
It would be all my monthly earnings, I could commit to half which would still leave me a bit for my daughters clubs and I also pay for a tutor for her as she is struggling in school (Father refused to share costs)
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you, I do really appreciate your help, my ex is very controlling and I need to know exactly where I stand before I communicate.
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Do not worry - we will try and find away through together
What are the CSA doing about enforcement?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.


He has now agreed to pay back the £550 owing over 50 weeks .... So I won't get the lump sum I was expecting.
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Yes I feared as much.
How much is he meant to pay each week?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

It was £80 a month but since 24/12/13 it went up to £160. He has not paid the difference sine.

His annual earnings are approx £40K
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
If he starts [paying the £170 a month will the travelling be affordable?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

It would cost me £170 in petrol.


 


How about if agreed to half the travelling for all school holidays and hald the travel on the every other visit.


 


Week 1 - Yorkshire


Week 2 - Swindon (Father to do both journeys)


Week 3 - Yorkshire


Week 4 - Swindon (share travel)

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Your starting point is to offer to discuss matters with your ex using Family mediation (www.familymediationhelpline.co.uk) to explain the needs of the child.
If he refuses or it fails then you can apply to the court to amend the existing order.
You are fortunate that he has stopped paying the CSA as it is a reason for you to be struggling with the travel that is totally his fault
I assume that you know how to go about this - but please ask if you need details
Clare

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