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Clare, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 35086
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practice since 1985 with a wide general experience.
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My question relates to child access arrangements, I hope you

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Hello there. My question relates to child access arrangements, I hope you can help. Its a bit convoluted but I'll explain as best I can. I have been separated from my ex wife for several years, we have 2 young children of primary school age. I do 12 hour shift work, five days/nights working, five days off. Since we separated I have had the children on my days off, when I am working they return to their mother, giving them a fair amount of time with us both. It equates on average to 3 nights a week with me, 4 with their mother and I pay the required child maintenance every month. This has always been an informal arrangement between us and has worked well thus far. My ex partner is now insisting that we change this arrangement so that we have them set days every week. Sun-Wed with her, Thurs-Sat with me. With my job I am unable to do this, I live alone so would need to arrange childcare for 15 hours+ a day (starting at 5am) and overnight. Clearly not good for the children's welfare in my eyes. She is trying to force this change but my question is basically can she? Our arrangement is informal, we have never had the need of courts or legal advice as it has been mostly amicable until now.

Thank you for your question

My name is Clare

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

What has made her decide she wants this?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It began when she started working saturdays recently. I found out that she had jeft the chidren at home alone for a few hours on a Saturday whilst she went to work and I objected to this. Her response was that In that case I would need to have them every Saturday. I work 2 out of 4 saturdays but I arranged to be able to have them an additional saturday leaving just one saturday a month that she would need to arrange care for. She then decided that it was too difficult working around my shifts all the time so wants to change it to suit her needs more. I should add that I have since made arrangements with work to only work night shifts on saturdays so I can care for the children while she works during the day but she still will not back down.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I dont think I have been unreasonable, I even collect the children from school on days they should be with her, when I am on night shifts and she is working 9-5, sometimes she will drop them to me on her way to work before school and I will take them in, to save her paying money to drop them at breakfast club. It has been a very amicable and flexible arrangement.

How old are the children?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
8 and 10
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I'm just about to go and collect the children from school as under our existing agreement its my day to have them. I fully expect that she will be there too. I'm just hoping to avoid a playground confrontation.

My apologies for the delay

Neither of you can simply unilaterally change the arrangements - it is something that has to be negotiated and agreed - or for a court to decide if the pair of you cannot do so.

It is not reasonable for her to try and impose a pattern that does not match your work responsibilities and if the matter did go to court this would not be ordered - not least because it means that you would never get a full weekend with the children.

You should try and discuss matters with her using Family mediation

but if mediation fails then you should apply to the court for a Child arrangement Order.

Hopefully once your ex realises that she cannot succeed then it will be possible to revert to the flexible arrangements you have had until now.

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

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you very much, that is most helpful. I'm not sure how useful mediation will be as she shows no signs of compromise. I think we may just need to go through the courts.

YOU must attend a Mediation Information and Assessment meeting before you can apply to the court - so it is worth a try

Clare and other Law Specialists are ready to help you