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Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 35071
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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Dear Children Lawyers, In parallel with divorce proceedings

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Dear Children Lawyers,In parallel with divorce proceedings I cant ignore the fact ex refuses me indirect contact (phone calls) when child on access stays - including 10 days + which is heart wrenching for mum and child (under 5). Ex has also ignored all requests for health updates on child when sick child dropped off for access.I'm organising MIAMs because ex ignores all requests and suggested dates/times for calls. It will take time to go through court so I don't want to delay.My ex threatens custody in woolly ways from time to time, despite that being farcical because he never showed interest in the child before and works long hours in an isolated rural spot that would deplete the child's education. Child is thriving in his current city location with me his mum.Ex ha never paid child support since liability date for nearly a year but I am confident the Agency will ultimately get this from wage garnishing.So my questions -
- When do I need to provide a statement it with C100 or before FDA (it takes me weeks to prepare these things!) so roughly to what timescale?
- My application would be for telephone contact - given my ex wants 'custody' can I reinforce living with me by also asking for a residence order in my favour to put the issue to bed?
- if I have no scope for that, can my ex put in his 'custody' claim in response to my C100?

Thank you for your question

My name is Clare

I shall do my best to help you but I need some further information first

How old is the child and what is the pattern of contact?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Clare[A short deviation - well done Clare! - the Court absolutely agreed with you MPS hearing should be brought forward swiftly (instead of 6 months), which was a relief. All it took was a letter.]Child is 5yro and I have full care 230 miles away from ex, ex has child living with him every school holiday (for all the holiday except the Summer where he has half the holiday ie 3 weeks). I contribute to travel costs in proportion to our incomes. Dad's phone contact is by Skype 2 hours a week on Weds and Saturday. Ex has not reached 52 days access therefore child support still payable (phew).I should have also said ex changes the access dates without asking me, and informs child, which means I am left changing plans at my end with wasted childcare costs, cancelling my own holiday with child etc. Basically I am ignored.

So your child is away for at least a week each time - is that correct?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Its been a mixture. Initially the scope was half every holiday and an overnight stay every 3 weeks in between.
But, ex dropped the 3 week contact leaving us with long gaps, but bigger holiday stays - at least a week at each time.
That new scenario means actually more than 52 nights total so actually that means I stand to lose a fair amount of child support which I can ill afford.
And I am ignored on those visits which are now 7 - 12 days duration, no phone calls or communication just out of spite.
So I'd like an order restoring the usual access -more regularity for my child not those long waits - more holiday time for me with my child which currently I do not have, and phone calls for me when child away.
Ex would chuck in an entire custody application because he's lonely/spiteful and been threatening to.
Would a court hear 'all of' my and his requests in one hit?
I'd like to get it formally resolved (in a nearby court too) before too long.

How old is the child exactly - and how does the child cope with this pattern?

How was it actually agreed - or was it ever actually agreed?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Child is 5.
Due to a vacuum myself mum wrote a yearly schedule but not immutable - for half holidays and 3 week overnight in between - following the legal advice I had at the time of the "usual" pattern (no longer with advisors due to cost). Child liked that due to not having longer than 3 weeks to wait.
Ex followed it initially but now just informs the child (ignoring me) that there are 6/7 week waits and slightly longer holiday stays 7-12 days. Same overall number of days I guess 56+
So for child I'd like more frequency with shorter holiday stints- and phone calls with me on those 7-12 day stints.- Can I ask for "Contact" visits "3-4 weekly for weekend/+/- overnight and half holidays"
- Can I ask for indirect "Contact" on phone for me
- expecting the backlash (custody claim) can I pre-empt with Residency request?There ain't a lot of room on C100 !
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ooh I should have said that a big beef my ex has is who does what travel.
I currently do 25% but he'd like me to do 50%. I can't afford 50% but you said previously cost is no factor.

Your ex cannot simply dictate when he sees the child and inform the child and not you.

Please ignore the "custody" comments

There has been no concept of "Custody" full or otherwise since 1989.

Indeed even the term "residence" is now a thing of the past

As Parents you are expected to agree a pattern of visits that reflect the needs of the child - and take account of distance and work demands.

If you cannot agree using Family Mediation then you can apply to the court for a Child Arrangement Order and the court will decide the matter if need be.

If the child is away for ten days then it is not unreasonable for there to be a phone call in that time - and he cannot simply tell the child when he will see him again.

If the cost of travel is a problem then he can of course offer to pay your petrol/fares!

There will be no statements requires until the final hearing - and yes when the time comes you can ask for confirmation that the child lives with you.

Please ask if you need further details

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
That all sounds really positive.
I'm more than happy for the court to decide - I think they're awesome, even when rife with administrative mistakes.
I'm confident in them seeing the utter dedication to my child. "Custody" did seem antiquated...
It comes down to strategy - CAO application doubles our workload with MPS/FDA coming up in a matter of weeks. There's only so much one can handle but I get so sad without phone contact for extended periods.
My mediator tells me MIAMs good for 4 months. On balance, would you have the MIAMs and apply fairly rapidly thereafter (if not resolved) for these reasons
- Financial and Child might wrap up at the same time (Spring 2017)
- I could get phone calls from Spring next year!
- I'd need to say Form E there are other proceedings but it looks better if it applied for by me, than him?
- (the downside> a school change 100m down the road could happen any day, better school, but it could weaken the residency case in terms of providing a natural pause?)

You shoudl take action sooner rather than later for the sale of your child

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Indeed. The idea of two legal actions is almost more than I can bear, only because I've not got a lawyer as such, so its loads of work nightly these 8 months but I say I'll therefore have no regrets.
I asked mediator for MIAMs, its good for 4 months, if mediation went really well and ex agreed to phone calls and more regular visits with me (no doubt) doing more travel runs for him, what would be the point of C100 - would it irritate a court. For example I'd personally see value in 'bedding down' my home as the residency but would a court think that a waste of time.
Allied to my question is - when do court orders wear off - are they only good for a limited time - can the other partner pop in a challenge at a later date. .
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Oh sorry I've just read your comments better and you already answered, by saying if mediation does not work properly can go to court and ask for residency to be confirmed. (ignored my unnecessary question above)
I remain interested in "longevity" of orders- largely because I 'fear' kidnap of the child by my ex. For example, I find it 'interesting' that my ex has extended the access visits and threatens custody - risk of 'not returning the child' I think (apparently quite common).
Apparently when this happens there is no police or court power to intervene unless a residency order is in place, hence my interest in a court officially confirming residency.
But that begs the question, when does the order 'wear off'. For example, another natural point of 'kidnap' or 'non-return' is start of secondary school (in this case, in 6 years). That may be when return is not facilitated - would an order 6years old 'hold any water'? (The only saving grace is that a 12 year old child hopefully could cope with the confusion better while the emergency was dealt with...)Apologies for the quotation marks everywhere.

The Order stays valid until a further Order is made or the child reaches the age of 16

Clare and other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
That's heartening.
Its got to be done. Child says dad is silly for not catching the National Express and I've promised to do all I can to get the best pattern for him. If I run into technical questions I'll start a new thread.
Thankyou for making sense of it.