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Clare
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 35214
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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I am a divorced father of two children. Have a court order

Customer Question

Good morning,
I am a divorced father of two children. Have a court order to see my daughters every other weekend. The court order also states that I will not prevent the girls to continue their already existing activities on the weekend (swimming, etc). A few month after the order my ex-wife asked if our younger daughter can attend a gymnastic squad, which would take up her Saturdays, I agreed to this as I know how much she enjoys gymnastics. This means that instead of Friday evening I only see her from Saturday afternoon to Sunday evening. While it was hard and wanted to spend more time with my younger daughter I based my decision around her interest. However, my ex-wife is now telling me that our daughter has to attend various competitions on Saturdays which will cut my already limited time spent with her. Instead of Saturday afternoon now I can only see her from Saturday evening. As this activity was taken on after the court order and I only agreed because I wanted my daughter to participate in something she has interest in it is now causing difficulties.
It's a hard decision, but do I have the right as a father to say no to stop her from her activity and spend more time with me? I don't mean to be selfish, but worried that if this escalates further I will not be able to spend time with my younger daughter.
Please advise on what are my options. Do I need to go to court to change the order again?Thank you.
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Clare replied 4 months ago.

Thank you for your question

My name is Clare

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

Have you considered taking her to the events yourself?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
this option was considered but the situation is the following: I pick up my older daughter on Friday night after her Guides then drive home; the journey one way is approx 1 hour or more depends on traffic. There was no point of collecting my younger one on Friday because I have to get her up very early to take her to gym, which is about 5 mins away from the mother's place. Gym is on from 9.30am to 2.30pm on Saturdays. If I drive my younger one to gym in the morning and pick her up in the afternoon I have to take my older daughter with me, that's 4 hours of driving on each Saturday when I have the girls. I don't particularly see this time as quality time and certainly not fair on my older daughter.
I support my daughters and want them to try as many activities as they like but I feel this really cuts into my time with her. She does almost 6 hours of gymnastics and by the time she is with me she just wants to eat and go to bed. The next day she gets up at around 10 as she is exhausted so this only gives me 6 hours every 2 weeks to spend with her before I have to return her.
I do not try to sound selfish but surely there is something to do.
It's worth mentioning that my ex-wife took me to court twice in 3 years time and she does everything to stop me from seeing our children. The court granted me bi-weekly visits and half the school holidays.
Expert:  Clare replied 4 months ago.
How old are the children?
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
The girls are 13 and 8 years old
Expert:  Clare replied 4 months ago.

How good is she?

How much does she want to do this?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Hello Clare,
While she likes her gym sessions it is very difficult to say how good she is. There were a few local completions but nothing major. She missed the last competition because she had a broken arm (gym practice injury). I initially agreed to the Saturday sessions as I don't want to stop her but these additional competitions, extra sessions really cut into our father-daughter time.
Over the Christmas period I tried taking the children to France, where they were born and raised and their grandfather still lives. There are limited flights and we could not go because my ex-wife said our daughter has gym and she cannot miss it and she will be kicked out of the squad if she does not attend. I called the teacher and she said it's ok if she misses the session but my ex still did not let her go. Their 84 year old grandfather had to drive over to London, taking him 2 days to see the children.
I also asked my ex-wife if I could have 'make up time' with my daughter for instance I drop her off one hour later on a Sunday but she is not being flexible and refuses every time.
Previously, I refused the extra sessions in an email but she signed her up anyways.
Simply put, my ex-wife is trying her best to isolate me from my children, chipping off time here and there to ensure I spend as little time with them as possible.
I asked my younger one if she likes her gym sessions and she said yes, but also stated that she is upset because she cannot spend time with me.
My question is, if I go to court, is the law on my side to give me the 48 hours every two weeks to spend with my children or from now on the mother can sign them up for anything over the weekend and stopping me from seeing the children because of these activities.
According to the law which one has priority: spending time with the father or weekend activities?
Many thanks for your reply.
Expert:  Clare replied 4 months ago.

When was the order actually made?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
The court order is from July 2016.
My ex-wife asked about the extra activity at the end of August/early September so this is in addition to the existing ones.
The order states that I will take the girls to their activities, however, the gymnastic was added after the order.
Expert:  Clare replied 4 months ago.

Do you already get extra time in the school holidays?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Besides every other weekend I have them for 13 night over the summer holiday, 6.5 days over Christmas and half of the Easter holiday. I do not get extra time with them in the February break or May break, neither in October. If I ask for any additional day, even extra hours the request is simply refused.
Expert:  Clare replied 4 months ago.

Ok

You can refuse to agree to the gymnastic competitions - that is not a breach of the order

Alternatively you can apply to the court for a new Order rearranging and extending the time you have with the children

Obviously if your daughter is exceptionally talented then it is possible that the Court will support that activity but in general terms her relationship with you will be seen as of more importance than her gymnastics

I hope that this is of assistance please ask if you need further details