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Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34885
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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hello my ex and i have parental responsibility for our 2 sons

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my ex and i have parental responsibility for our 2 sons aged 10 and 4, i have had a contact order in place since september 2013, however she continually tries to tell me what to do with the children during my contact time and also makes plans for them during my contact time with other people then says i shouldnt have a problem as its "what they want to do"
she has now informed me if i dont do what she says during my contact time with the children she will stop my contact altogether ??? she also refuses to let me take them on holiday although she just takes them herself as and when she wants without asking or discussing it with me first. Please could you advise what i should do next, i was thinking of applying for joint custody as this contact order i have doesnt appear to be worth the 3 grand it cost me to get or the paper its written on
Many Thanks
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 does the Court Order say about contact - and has she taken the children abroad ?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

there is no residence order in place, it is a contact order only, stating the times and days i pick up and return my sons, she took them abroad last year but this year has only taken them away in the uk, i have to beg for contact outside of my court order and she reckons she will not give permission for me to take them abroad unless she has every single detail and has checked it all, even then she has said she still may not agree ?? however she just took them abroad, i dont know who went or anything as it wasnt discussed with me.

Does the Order not allow for any holiday contact for you?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I have already answered this, i said it is a contact order only stating the times and days i pick up and return my sons, although it does say there shall be any other agreed contact, however she very rarely agrees to me seeing them outside of contact order, so no it does not allow for any holidays per se.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

just because she is the resident parent and i am the non resident parent, we still both have parental responsibility, i am being treated like a second class citizen by her and not my childrens father. she does as she likes, justifying it by saying "as i am their main carer" she undermines my parenting skills and refuses to stop interfering in my time with my children, i asked originally if you could advise how to move forward with this, if applying for joint custody would help, you keep giving one line answers and asking questions which have already been discussed.

Yes you did say that it was a contact Order - but many such orders also make a provision for holiday contact in vague terms
"half of all school holidays" being a popular one
The first point to make is that your ex is incorrect - she has no extra power and when the children are with you you are exercising your Parental Responsibility and are free to take them where you wish (provided they remain safe)
Equally she is NOT entitled to make any arrangements for the period they are with you unless she consults you.
Making such arrangements are in fact breaching the Court Order and you could go back to enforce it.
I am afraid that the order could and should have been tighter when it came to holiday contact - with the words used above.
With regard to holidays your ex can holiday in the Uk (provided your contact is not effected) but she has no right to take the children out of the country without your agreement, or a Residence Order
With regard to the way forward the starting point is to try and discuss matters with her using family mediation where the mediator may help her understand the actual legal position.
If not you may need to spend £215 of a Court fee to apply for a new Child Arrangement Order that includes set holiday times (Joint residence is a phrase that is now no longer used.
I hope that this is of assistance - please ask if you need further details
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So can i clarify... by joint residence is that the new terminology for joint custody ? Would you advise me to apply for this or not ? Would it be more advisable to just apply for another contact order where holidays are included, and if so how do i word what i need ? Thanks

The words "joint custody" disappeared in 1989 to be replaced by "joint residence"
In its turn that was replaced by "Child Arrangement Order" in April this year - a phrase which also replaces the word "contact"
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So ... to answer my question, in your opinion, if you were representing me what would you advise me to do ?

I already have a contact order which needs adjusting we have established that, bot***** *****ne is what needs to happen next, how do i proceed ?

The answer is
" the starting point is to try and discuss matters with her using family mediation where the mediator may help her understand the actual legal position.
If not you may need to spend £215 of a Court fee to apply for a new Child Arrangement Order that includes set holiday times"
You have to try mediation again as it is a pre-requisite before you start the Court process - details here
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Ok i have contacted my solicitor and we are now working on a new contact order to include holidays, he can only see me for an hour here and there as he is busy ?? But anyway conversations are in place. However i am still having her tell me what i am to do during my contact time, the latest being this weekend coming, it is my sons birthday on saturday, my contact this week is fri/sat so i have made plans for me and my children, only to be told that her plans for him and a party she has planned will overide anything i have already arranged, and if i do not comply she will not hand them over !

Why do i have no say or come back here ????? What did i pay 3000 pounds for ????

Birthdays are special days and it is reasonable to make alternative arrangements on that day.
However you are fully entitled to say yes you will bring them back early and then refuse to do so if you wish.
however you do need to consider your child's wishes and needs in such circumstances.
I am not sure what your solicitor is intending to do.
You can arrange Family mediation yourself - and that is where you have to start
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

My son asked me to take him to a special restaurant he really likes for a meal so i have arranged this, except now he has told his mother we are doing this in our time she has made these other plans, im only asking these questions as i cant get my head round where i stand, i had a barrister sort this arrangement order for me it cost alot of money, but im no better off am i ??

The order is enforceable - so whenever she breaches it you can take her back to court.
In this case simply collect them at the correct time - then speak to your son and if he still prefers your plans let him mother know and carry on with them.
Clare and other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Its not your fault but i just feel like im going round in circles, i think i may need to change solicitors as i need faster results, all i want is to have my children each weekend and spend time with them, i pay her money every week for them and the house, which is mine, and it just seems so unfair, thanks for your advice though, i dont think you can do anymore.

I have a feeling that your major problem is that you are clearly a nice chap who puts the needs of his children first and therefore grits his teeth when dealing with his ex.
This is actually good - except when it means that your ex walks all over you.
The Court has set out when you see the children - and when they are with you then it is up to you what you do and where you go.
If she makes other arrangements then politely cancel them once the children are with you.
If she refuses to let you have the children then ENFORCE YOUR ORDER so that she learns that she no longer has any control over you
Make an appointment with mediation as soon as possible to discuss more time in the holidays - and stop doing what your ex tells you to when it comes to your time with the children. Please.