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Ask Clare Your Own Question
Clare
Clare, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 34129
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practice since 1985 with a wide general experience.
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I have a daughter who is 4 months old. Myself and the mother

Customer Question

I have a daughter who is 4 months old. Myself and the mother are separated.
I am paying child maintenance.
What is my legal minimum access rights?
Can I have her overnight?
By what age?
Should my visits with the child be supervised by the mother?
What are the restrictions?
Background - so far we have tried to be amicable but there have been 2-3 occasions where the mother has jeopardised my plans and done a last minute U-turn.
I am not doubting that she is the primary carer but I also feel that I should have uninterrupted quality time that I can spend and make plans with my family to have access and this is being unreasonably withdrawn.
I am a first time father with no criminal convictions and a clean DBS record
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: 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 the current pattern of contact?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

It is a little adhoc.

The mother will not allow me to have the baby overnight at this point.

Currently I sleep at the mothers house (she lives with her mum) and I sleep on the sofa. This used to be 3 nights per week but now it is 2 nights.

This mainly started as the mother was on medication for anxiety which has now been resolved.

The mother says that me staying over is just for my benefit and bonding.

I am then allowed to have her for one afternoon each weekend.

However, when we have a disagreement this is then retracted which causes problems for me and my family (Dad, Mum, Sister and Brother)

The baby is also about to go into a cot which is located in the mothers bedroom so me staying on the sofa (next to her moses basket) is likely to discontinue.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
How often do you have the child on your own?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

A normal week right now has been.

I stay at the mothers house on Wednesday night. I arrive in the afternoon and take her for a walk by myself for a few hours.

I pick her up on Saturday at 11am and then have her by myself for 5-6 hours and then take her back to her mums by 6-7pm.

I then stay on the Saturday night and leave on the Sunday morning.

However:

The mother has now said that me staying over will not be viable anymore. Note, this all started where she was ill and on medication after 3 weeks and has been the case for the last 12 weeks.

My access has been quite reasonable so far however when the Mother changes her mind she has the ability to withdraw it at a whim.

Moving forward, if I can not stay there as it no longer suits the mother, I am refusing to have my limited access revoked at short notice through no choice of my own.

Incidentally, the mother has now booked to visit family in Spain from 19th May 2015 and has only brought a one way ticket. She is planning to return on 6th June but has said this is not guaranteed.

From my point it could be 17 days or much longer!

The mother has said that she is the main parent and I have no choices and can not stop her.

I am not trying to stop her or cause conflict but I do want to have some fairness and wish to know my rights.

Also, just as background, I have been paying the monthly maintenance since 1 month before birth (as I thought fair)

I have also verbally agreed (as the mother asked) to pay 50% of the Nursery fees from January 2016 which is a further £375 per month for 24 months. This is separate and in addition to child maintenance.

My objective is to have a 'normal' relationship with my daughter with no animosity with the mother, however, it seems that the mother is controlling things and has the ability to withdraw things when she chooses.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Could you confirm that you are named on the birth certificate.
Do you have a suitable place for the baby to sleep in your house?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I am named as the father on the birth certificate.

I have a house where she could stay although I live with housemates (I am a live in landlord) The mother says this is not acceptable as the housemates are not vetted etc.

However, my Dad and stepmum lives 2 miles from my house and has a large suitable space and said I am welcome to stay they with Pearl whenever. I have my own keys to his house.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
The law says that a child is entitled to regular contact with both parents and the courts will enforce this if necessary.
Since every family and every child is different there are no set patterns of contact.
With a small baby little and often is usually good - but it is clear that you have in fact had the child in your care overnight at least once a week until now - even if it was in the mother's home.
Contact in the mother's home is NOT seen as being particularly useful as it does not allow you to build your own relationship with the child
Since you appear to be more than capable of caring for the child there is no reason why your ocntact should not take place in your how - or that of your father.
You shoudl make an appointment with a Family mediation
www.familymediationhelpline.co.uk
If mediation is not successful then you can apply to the court for a Child Arrangement Order setting out what time the child spends with you - and such an order is enforceable.
Please ask if you need further details
Clare