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Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 35087
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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My separated wife and I had an agreement between us that we

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My separated wife and I had an agreement between us that we would have care of our daughter on alternate nights. This was working fine until recently, when she discovered that 50/50 responsibility for our daughter meant that she would not get any maintenance payments for the child, even though I have been picking up all bills and expenditure. She has today sent me an email "dictating" a new agreement whereby she has the child Sunday night to Wednesday morning, and I get the child Wednesday night, she then has the child again Thursday and Friday, and I get the child from 10 am Saturday through to Sunday tea time. The child was meant to be dropped off to me tonight, but my ex says she is not going to bring her. She is a drug user (though has no record or conviction of this, but I have messages sent between her and a friend where she boasts of it, including smoking joints and doing "lines"). I know but cannot prove her main motivation for this is because it will give her money to support her habit. I have expressed that I find her proposed agreement completely unacceptable and I will report to the police tonight if/when she does not turn up at the agreed time. I will speak to my appointed solicitor tomorrow, but is there anything else I can do?

Thank you for your question.
My name is Clare
I will do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
How old is the child?
how long have you been separated?
Who had the day to day care of the child whilst you lived together?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Clare,

We separated in April, the child is 5 years old.

Whilst we lived together we both worked full time, but the bulk of childcare was done by me. From the age of three months old I took responsibility for feeding her every night, I slept in her room for the first two years and did all the night time duties. All bath and bed time routines were done by me, up to the point in late 2012 where I told Kelly (my ex) that I was unhappy with the lack of time she was spending with the child. There was a brief period then when she took alternate nights to do the routine herself, but this did not last and was the start of the end of the relationship, as she took my comments not as a view on her childcare, but as jealousy of the fact she would go out every weekend, to pole dancing classes and the pub on a Saturday, and then she chose to work on Sundays (though she had a normal 9-5 weekday job). While I was doing the bath time routine she would normally use the time to go and smoke a joint. I phoned tonight when she did not turn up at the normal time, and asked to speak to my daughter. I asked how she was, and asked if she was happy about the situation, to which she replied she wanted to see both of us every day, at which point my ex took the phone from her and said I was distressing her. My daughter in the background could be heard shouting "I'm not upset, I'm not upset" but my ex refused to let me talk further with her.

I reported the incident to the police, but all they could do was arrange a welfare visit that has not yet happened to my knowledge.

Parents are expected to reach agreement on how a child shares their time between them - using Family mediation ( to agree a Parenting Plan if necessary.
At five your daughter is too young for her wishes to be binding - and frankly a pattern of alternating nights does not make for a stable and secure pattern for a child.
Having said that from what you have said in fact YOU have in fact been the principal carer of the child during her short life and on that basis a shared care arrangement where the child spends at least half of the week with you is the very least that you could look for were the matter to go to court.
The police have no role to play in the matter unless you have real concerns for the safety of the child - unlikely since you have allowed her mother to have overnight contact.
Your starting point is to seek an Urgent appointment with a Mediator - and if that fails to apply to the court for a Child Arrangement Order - but do NOT ask for alternate days as this would not be seen as a child centered request.
You can read more here
Please ask if you need further details
Clare and other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks Clare,

We attended mediation on Friday, but my ex refused to negotiate as I was looking for 50/50 contact rather than giving control to her, and has then taken this course of action. I will look for a Child Arrangement Order. Thanks again for your advice.

You are most welcome - and act quickly!