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Ex-wife refusing to share travel arrangements - who is right?
#1
Obviously this is an enormously abridged version of my situation, but here goes...

My ex-wife moved with the children 200 miles away a year after our separation.  During separation, we lived an hour from each other so I was able to have a residential visit from the children every other weekend with us sharing the driving equally. On the whole, this worked well.
 
In the run up to our divorce settlement, we had a series of difficult mediation sessions during which it became apparent that my Ex-wife had no real plans or ideas about how contact with the children would be facilitated once she moved 200 miles away.  We agreed in mediation a plan based on the shortest, most efficient journey for the children (half by train, some by car), but overall this arrangement shared the travel time and cost equally.  I agreed to this, in lieu of pursuing a PSO to formalise it before she moved.
 
After my ex-wife moved away, contact was arranged in accordance with the plan agreed at mediation. It became quickly apparent that she resented the agreed logistics and the inconvenience it was having on her “new” life and she has gone through a process of eroding this agreement at every opportunity to reduce her travel time and costs.  The latest chapter has been to insist that the mediated agreement actually isn't binding in any way and that she has reviewed it, presenting me with a new “take it or leave it” plan.  This now sees me accountable for at least three quarters of the travel and the costs.  She also insists I have the children on a particular day that I simply cannot do for work reasons.  I haven’t agreed to her plan, and as a consequence she has on several occasions flatly refused to facilitate contact.  

We are now at deadlock where unless I abide by her new travel logistics without question, I don't get to see the children.
 
Her solicitor has apparently told her that because she carries the burden of care for the children after our divorce, I should therefore be responsible for most of the cost and travel to facilitate contact.  I am struggling to believe this is credible, but she insists the “law is on her side.”

Is this right?  Is it reasonable for me to expect the travel and costs to be shared 50/50?  Will I get this if I apply for a Child Arrangements Order?  And if I do, to what level of granularity can the Order go – for example, can it specify precise locations and times for handovers?
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#2
(07-02-2016, 09:47 AM)William Wrote: Obviously this is an enormously abridged version of my situation, but here goes...

My ex-wife moved with the children 200 miles away a year after our separation.  During separation, we lived an hour from each other so I was able to have a residential visit from the children every other weekend with us sharing the driving equally. On the whole, this worked well.
 
In the run up to our divorce settlement, we had a series of difficult mediation sessions during which it became apparent that my Ex-wife had no real plans or ideas about how contact with the children would be facilitated once she moved 200 miles away.  We agreed in mediation a plan based on the shortest, most efficient journey for the children (half by train, some by car), but overall this arrangement shared the travel time and cost equally.  I agreed to this, in lieu of pursuing a PSO to formalise it before she moved.
 
After my ex-wife moved away, contact was arranged in accordance with the plan agreed at mediation. It became quickly apparent that she resented the agreed logistics and the inconvenience it was having on her “new” life and she has gone through a process of eroding this agreement at every opportunity to reduce her travel time and costs.  The latest chapter has been to insist that the mediated agreement actually isn't binding in any way and that she has reviewed it, presenting me with a new “take it or leave it” plan.  This now sees me accountable for at least three quarters of the travel and the costs.  She also insists I have the children on a particular day that I simply cannot do for work reasons.  I haven’t agreed to her plan, and as a consequence she has on several occasions flatly refused to facilitate contact.  

We are now at deadlock where unless I abide by her new travel logistics without question, I don't get to see the children.
 
Her solicitor has apparently told her that because she carries the burden of care for the children after our divorce, I should therefore be responsible for most of the cost and travel to facilitate contact.  I am struggling to believe this is credible, but she insists the “law is on her side.”

Is this right?  Is it reasonable for me to expect the travel and costs to be shared 50/50?  Will I get this if I apply for a Child Arrangements Order?  And if I do, to what level of granularity can the Order go – for example, can it specify precise locations and times for handovers?
Your ex is correct when she says the Mediation Agreement is not enforceable. However, it can be used in evidence of what was agreed, and she would have to prove to a court in a Child Arrangements Application process, that there is "significant" reason to change it, and it has to be events only since the agreement was done.

Her Solicitor is giving her information based on only hearing one side of things, and on this is then advising and taking instruction.

Courts take into account the work situation of the none resident parent and make contact orders only at times that that parent agrees with. Child Care Arrangements at times the none resident parent has not agreed to, are down to the Resident Parent. If they are working at least 16 hours and if they have a new partner they are working at least 16 hours, then 70% of approved child care costs (Ofstead Registered or Registered Child Minder) are paid via Working Tax Credit.

The fact that she created this travel situation will not go well for her. The Order can include details on handover locations but will not cover the cost side of it. It will just make your ex responsible under the order to get the child to a set location for a set time, and also to be in a set location at a set time, to collect the child.

The order could also include things like telephone/skype or contact via Social Media

You can ask for up  to half school holidays, and as part of that, you can ask for a 2 week window in the summer so you have flexible dates to book a holiday.
Event dates like Christmas, Easter, Birthday can have Ordered Arrangements.

You can also ask that dates are agreed 2 months in advance.

Now the part you will like, how are your Child Support arrangements in place?

If in a Formal way between yourselves, is there any review clause on it? Check the wording (or ask a Solicitor to), to make sure that you have not created a contract to pay what could be enforced under civil law in a small claims court.  Assuming you have not, then if she will not renegotiate it, then if you stop paying, the only redress she has is to instruct CMS. Here is the calculator, http://www.gov.uk/calculate-your-child-maintenance . Keep to money aside, so that soon as she instructs them, you can make good the arrears, (but see below regarding the travel costs).

If CMS or you  have an old CSA case, you need to contact them.

The case you can put to them, is due to your ex relocating 200 miles away, you was fine with the calculation and paying part of the transport for contact costs. However, now that your ex is trying to change things and as a result it is going up, you want to claim a reduction to Child Support, based on the "excessive travel for contact costs", that came about by her relocation of 200 miles, with the children since separation.

I am not saying to let the child go short, just the law can not force you to pay over the revised calculation. I always encurage people to do so if they can afford it, but it can be on your terms, and you can provide items instead of cash for any additional support your providing.
Posts made by me are my opinion and any factual information should be checked out. If you do not have a Solicitor, often your local CAB can get you some initial advice.
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#3
Mark - thank you for your reply. I very much appreciate it.

If I can demonstrate that a particular way of doing the journey will be substantively quicker for the children overall, will the court accept and require this even if she prefers a different way?

All I actually want is for the journey to be split fairly. I can't see why a judge wouldn't see this as fair, but getting to a final stage Child Arrangements Order is tens of thousands of pounds and in many ways is a very expensive way of getting back to our original position.

I currently don't want half the school holidays - I prefer to have a few weeks, because I only get so much leave and frankly I have spent the last two years using up my leave on getting separated, divorced, moving house, job and so forth and want to actually have some time out for myself this year.

The child maintenance arrangements are via the usual financial order, but a family based arrangement - not paid via the CMS. But the amount I pay is the "CMS amount" (there's no point bothering to argue for less when ex-wives can just trigger the CMS route at any time to trouser the CMS calculated amount as a basic minimum). I earn a decent salary and in actual terms this is a substantive payment each month.

If she instructs CMS, I am entirely in their hands when it comes to their assessment of what is fair to reclaim as travel costs. I have actually spent several hours talking to them about what the formula is for calculating travel costs, and the upshot is that it appears to be quite opaque - amusingly so, given how completely rule based the CMS maintenance calculation is.

The only actual written guidance at all on the the matter is here . . .

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/sy...paying.pdf

. . . where it talks about "the cost of fuel to travel between your home and the child’s home (must be at least £10 a week)"

They completely refuse to get into a definitive position on what I could claim beyond this cost of fuel - for example:

- is it the actual cost of fuel (I drive a thirsty car), or is it some prescribed mileage? It appears to be the HMRC rate (which would be 13p per mile), but the only information on this anywhere is this FOI answer: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c..._rate_used
- Can I claim back the cost of hiring a car?
- Can I claim back the actual cost of buying and owning a car, given that it is cheaper and much more convenient than hiring one?
- Can I claim back the cost of train travel?

There is no published information anywhere. They refuse to provide me with any guidelines or any advice beyond that they will "consider it". I find this absolutely infuriating. Child maintenance is calculated with military precision, but whether travel expenses are claimable and what is or is not allowable appears to be entirely arbitrary and down to the personal discretion of the individual CMS manager.
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#4
(07-02-2016, 05:30 PM)William Wrote: Mark - thank you for your reply.  I very much appreciate it.

If I can demonstrate that a particular way of doing the journey will be substantively quicker for the children overall, will the court accept and require this even if she prefers a different way?

All I actually want is for the journey to be split fairly.  I can't see why a judge wouldn't see this as fair, but getting to a final stage Child Arrangements Order is tens of thousands of pounds and in many ways is a very expensive way of getting back to our original position.

I currently don't want half the school holidays - I prefer to have a few weeks, because I only get so much leave and frankly I have spent the last two years using up my leave on getting separated, divorced, moving house, job and so forth and want to actually have some time out for myself this year.

The child maintenance arrangements are via the usual financial order, but a family based arrangement - not paid via the CMS.  But the amount I pay is the "CMS amount" (there's no point bothering to argue for less when ex-wives can just trigger the CMS route at any time to trouser the CMS calculated amount as a basic minimum).  I earn a decent salary and in actual terms this is a substantive payment each month.

If she instructs CMS, I am entirely in their hands when it comes to their assessment of what is fair to reclaim as travel costs.  I have actually spent several hours talking to them about what the formula is for calculating travel costs, and the upshot is that it appears to be quite opaque - amusingly so, given how completely rule based the CMS maintenance calculation is.

The only actual written guidance at all on the the matter is here . . .

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/sy...paying.pdf

. . . where it talks about "the cost of fuel to travel between your home and the child’s home (must be at least £10 a week)"

They completely refuse to get into a definitive position on what I could claim beyond this cost of fuel - for example:

- is it the actual cost of fuel (I drive a thirsty car), or is it some prescribed mileage?  It appears to be the HMRC rate (which would be 13p per mile), but the only information on this anywhere is this FOI answer:  https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c..._rate_used
- Can I claim back the cost of hiring a car?
- Can I claim back the actual cost of buying and owning a car, given that it is cheaper and much more convenient than hiring one?
- Can I claim back the cost of train travel?

There is no published information anywhere.  They refuse to provide me with any guidelines or any advice beyond that they will "consider it".  I find this absolutely infuriating.  Child maintenance is calculated with military precision, but whether travel expenses are claimable and what is or is not allowable appears to be entirely arbitrary and down to the personal discretion of the individual CMS manager.

Proving the best way for the children would help your case, but the order will name a location, not how the children travel.

It only going to cost that if you use a Solicitor. There is no need to, you can represent yourself and this appers to be a straightforward case you can make yourself.

It is up to if you ask for time in school holidays, in a normal situation you would get up to half of it, it comes down to what you ask for.

In terms of travel for contact costs, most cases go to appeal before being allowed.

You could only claim the cost by either public transport or for petrol cost. As HMRC allow Self Employed VAT Registerd people to clain VAT at 18p per Mile, that is the cost I would put in.

A lot of the probem is that they do not publish the rights on travel costs anywhere, but in law they have to be considered in some cases. In yours, the fact your ex moved after seperation, and the children have rights to see you, it comes into it.
Posts made by me are my opinion and any factual information should be checked out. If you do not have a Solicitor, often your local CAB can get you some initial advice.
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#5
So - after about six months of agonising messing about we have now reached a kind of agreement that the children will be dropped off and collected from a location about 50% of the total journey. This worked fine for a couple of months.

But now the next problem has arisen. My ex-wife has decided that she is no longer doing the journey herself. She is getting her father to do the journey and manage the handover. I cannot stand her father, and he contributed significantly to the collapse of our marriage (a story so long and bizarre I'm considering writing a book on it).

I've forcefully made the point that I don't find this acceptable to my ex-wife, but the response is "either he does it, or you don't have the children - your choice". He, of course, relishes this brief opportunity to further rub salt in the wound every single time the handover happens, to the extent that I have to exercise superhuman levels of restraint. There is no reason why my ex-wife cannot do the journey at all.

Is there any way I can require my ex-wife to do her half of the journey, rather than my former father-in-law? After having argued furiously for a year about the precise contact arrangements, the fact that my ex-wife isn't now actually doing the journey is totally ridiculous.
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#6
(12-04-2016, 12:33 PM)William Wrote: So - after about six months of agonising messing about we have now reached a kind of agreement that the children will be dropped off and collected from a location about 50% of the total journey.  This worked fine for a couple of months.

But now the next problem has arisen.  My ex-wife has decided that she is no longer doing the journey herself.  She is getting her father to do the journey and manage the handover.  I cannot stand her father, and he contributed significantly to the collapse of our marriage (a story so long and bizarre I'm considering writing a book on it).  

I've forcefully made the point that I don't find this acceptable to my ex-wife, but the response is "either he does it, or you don't have the children - your choice".  He, of course, relishes this brief opportunity to further rub salt in the wound every single time the handover happens, to the extent that I have to exercise superhuman levels of restraint. There is no reason why my ex-wife cannot do the journey at all.

Is there any way I can require my ex-wife to do her half of the journey, rather than my former father-in-law?  After having argued furiously for a year about the precise contact arrangements, the fact that my ex-wife isn't now actually doing the journey is totally ridiculous.

If you can prove intent by him to harass or intimidate you, then apply for a None Molestation Order against him.

With regard to the handover arrangements, is this on a Formal Agreement or Court Order, and does any such document say who has to take the child to the handover point?
Posts made by me are my opinion and any factual information should be checked out. If you do not have a Solicitor, often your local CAB can get you some initial advice.
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#7
There's nowhere near any intent to harass or intimidate. It's just a series of deliberate patronising behaviours designed to wind me up, of which he has a long, long history. For example, I arrived for the handover this weekend about 15 minutes late after a 100 mile drive. My daughter had noticed the oil warning light on my car, so I had to stop pretty much straight away, find out the right oil for it, buy two litres, put it in carefully etc. When I arrive he's going through the motions of staring at and theatrically pointing at his watch.

I don't have any kind of formal agreement or court order for the handover arrangements. We had what I thought were entirely agreed arrangements in mediation, but once my ex-wife moved away with the children, she ripped those up. We've spent the best part of this year in rows and mexican standoffs while I plead with her to stick to what was agreed, but she refuses. In practical terms, right now, it's either the arrangements that we have (which includes her parents doing at least 50% of the handovers) or she refuses to facilitate contact. She cannot accept that I find handing over to my former father-in-law to be a massive piss take.
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