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familylawexpert, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 311
Experience:  Substantial experience (14yrs +) in divorce, financial cases, cohabitation, pre-nuptial agreements and civil partnerships.
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Hi,I will try to keep it as brief and to the point as possible,

Customer Question

I will try to keep it as brief and to the point as possible, as well as given you the context of the situation.
In March 2013, I discovered my husband's adultery. The way I found out was extremely traumatic. I hacked his emails and found over 100 emails with pictures (of a very disturbing nature - including 4 of them having sex with his mistress at home in our bed whilst the children and I were away). The affair lasted at least 10 months. I started a divorce procedure straight away and despite the anger, heartbreak and all the other feelings one may feel (as you can imagine in such situation), I tried to keep things as amicable as I could. He kept a relatively easy access to his children. We have a boy who is 5 and 1/2 and a little girl who is 2 1/2,
We worked with a mediator and were able to work out the following arrangements.
Finance: He will continue to pay the mortgage and the loan of the car.
Children: He will have them overnight two days a week (Mondays and Fridays) and once every fortnight will have them for the full weekend (till Sunday 5pm).
We also agreed (between us) that he could call the children everyday.
I worked on Mondays pm & Saturdays till 3pm so this was particularly convenient for me.
Last month, he asked to renegotiate the financial arrangement and reduce his contribution to the car loan, as he has decided to get his own car and we will no longer be sharing the car (which we were sharing so far). We agreed on this.
A couple of weeks ago "our rapports" started to change. This was mainly due to some emails exchange we had, which just seem to add to the hurt and made me realise that "enough is enough" and I needed to put some distance if I am ever to heal properly.
Besides my working hours will soon been changing and following these two things, I asked my ex partner to stop calling everyday (instead once a week) and to renegotiate the childcare arrangement so that we have the children each alternate weekend. This would mean he still has them on a Monday evening (and overnight) and the Friday 5:30 pm till the Sunday 5pm every other weekend + a phone call on a Wednesday.
This is not to punish him, but it seems that currently he wants to be out, but at the same time keep a fit in. I have to rebuild myself and I find it very hard to move on if he is constantly in my face (I hear his voice everyday and see him 3 times a week.
He thinks I am breaching the arrangements that were agreed and I am being unreasonable. He refuses to agree to my above proposals.
So I want to know where I stand.
The financial and childcare arrangements above, although they were discussed and agreed with the mediator are not yet legally binding (as I understand it), not agreed with the court). At this stage and also given the circumstances, is my request really unreasonable?
If he decides to make a request to the court for shared custody. Could the court agree to this or given the circumstances of the split and the above, there would be no chance of this happening.
Could he decides as a result of our "disagreement in terms of arrangements for the children" put in question the financial arrangements and reduce his contributions once more?
Thanks in advance.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  familylawexpert replied 4 years ago.

My name is Mac. I can help you with your question.

You are correct that your financial agreement is not legally binding. The revised agreement is also not binding, so either of you could still seek to change it again in the future. It will only be binding if it is turned into a consent order, which you both ask the court to make - so you'll have no financial security before then. In my experience, ex husbands get progressively less generous as time goes by, so I would recommend getting a financial consent order sooner rather than later, as it will only get harder to get him to sign up to a court order agreement as time goes by.

On the children front, neither your current suggestion nor the original agreement is unreasonable, or outside the range of what a court might order. I can understand why you'd rather reduce the number of times you have to have contact with him. Perhaps you could achieve that by him always having (for example) Thursday and Friday, and then also having every alternate Saturday through to Sunday night (for example, I stress). That way, each week, there would only be one pick-up and one drop-off each week.

The term 'shared custody' is not a legal term anymore, it is shared residence. The courts are moving towards a situation where they are wiling to apply the label 'shared residence' to arrangements that are far from half/half. It is quite possible that the original agreement you described, or the revised proposal, could both be termed shared residence by the court. Courts around the country vary in approach, and it seems that courts in major cities are more likely to apply the label 'shared residence' than other courts - although that is a sweeping generalisation.

That's a lot of information, and I hope it is helpful. If you would like me to clarify anything, please do ask. But if not, I would be grateful if you could rate my answer.