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Is there ever an end result with a mother who doesn't want to play ball
Hi All,

Been 14 months now since I started this process. Still no overnights and only 11 hours per week. I've got my 2nd final hearing in a few weeks.

I have 3 hours with the kids on Wednesday from school. A few weeks ago my ex told me that on this day I had to take my oldest girl to a dance class which is over half an hour away (70 mins round trip) to drop her off in the middle of the 3 hours. I have 2 younger children who would just be sat in the car for all this time, effectively giving the girls no time with me. I explained to my ex that this wasn't possible due to the limited time and the fact I had to make them their tea. Wednesday comes and I pick my oldest daughter up from school. She has her dance bag and instructions from mum on where to go! I explain to her that we can't go and explain the reasons why. She's upset for an hour but comes round after that...... 2 days later I get a call from SS saying that they've had an 'anonymous' complaint about me that I'd upset my child at school and not comforted her.

Roll on 2 weeks, I offer to swap my day for a Thursday. I also offer to take her on the Wednesday but I want the Thursday as well to spend some quality time together. Both options rejected by mum. I contact the school prior to pick up and inform them that my daughter may be distressed as she may have her dancing bag with her. On pickup, exactly the same thing happens again and my daughter is upset and distressed that I can't take her. She won't get into the car so I have to carry her and sit her down (with the mumsnet crowd tutting and looking at me like an abusive dad!). After an hour she calms down.

Next day I get a e-mail from my solicitor from the ex's stating that I've manhandled my child and been aggressive to other parents. Today I got a text from my ex saying that I couldn't have the kids today because of my behaviour on Wednesday (even though there is a court order in place).

My solicitor advised me to take my daughter originally to look child focused but I explained that this was an impossible task in the allocated time and apart from this I have been child focused throughout.

It proven to me that irrelevant of whether an interim/final court order has been put in place, the resident parent can make up bullsh*t excuses at any time in order to stop access and the non-resident parent then has to spend time and money to go back to court. The whole process is boll*cks and can be manipulated by devious parents and enforcement or penalties are rare. 

Sorry for the rant, but I'm totally frustrated with whole process and it's making me ill. 

Does anybody have a positive story of a similar situation which can give me a bit of hope??
It is not for your ex to decide what you do in your time. What she wants you do is as you say unworkable and seems designed to frustrate and annoy more than anything else.

Keep records of everything.

Say you are prepared to do these things only if you have more time as currently it is not practical within the time limits and having to give them their tea as well.

All this back and forth with solicitors is costly and unnecessary.

Keep calm for the next few weeks and put your case for more time to the court in the strongest possible terms.
Yes if your ex wants you to take daughter dance school you should be allowed to have them overnight so all this can be done. Otherwise no you shouldn't have to take up all your quality time taking one of your children goes to dance class whilst other 2 do nothing during the meantime. its up to you what you do and as its your exs idea to wind u up and keeping sending your daughter into school with dance bag maybe a change of days should be considered. it just isn't fair and what you should say this is a classic example of ex refusing to CO-PARENT .
How old are your children?

The issue here is that the mother can control children....but it won't last forever. So my advice to you:

- focus on quality and quantity. Be the responsible parent and don't engage with your ex, unless it is necessary or the health of your children is the issue

- Document everything (best if you can let her sending you email, where she confirms she refuses to extend your time) as this is a written proof

- During your next court hearing, don't blame her for her attitude (even if it is true), but rather focus on the fact that it is in the best interest of your children to spent sufficient and quality time.

Indeed this is a classical ex refusing to co-parent
Thanks for the replies guys. I'm supposed to see them today and she's just text to say I can't have them. Her texts are very cleverly written with comments like 'it saddens me to say' and 'they need their dad in their life' but she's totally manipulating the situation. Really don't know what to do here. I'm heartbroken.
Remember you got a final hearing in a few weeks. Your children haven't been allowed to see you today for no reason whatsoever and also told you at short notice. another breach of your court order. I am having exactly the same things happen to me at the moment. It might be with final hearing only few weeks away you are just going to get messed about and she is trying to get a reaction out of you which will be used against you in court. I would as hard as it may seem focus on your final hearing luckily not too long to go and its frustrating knowing you cant get them today all because their mum wants to be spiteful
Thanks mate. I just wonder where it all ends. I've no money and I owe on cc and solicitor 1000s. I just don't think that even with a final court order she won't follow it. Really don't know what to do.
The final hearing is where it gets sorted. This interim time is hard and yes she will play up. Ok - I would put something in writing to her now that is blindingly reasonable and polite - and that you can use in your evidence when they try and paint you in a bad light.

Something like

"Dear Ex - I am happy to take daughter to dance classes during her contact time with me on Wednesdays if this is feasible within the time, which at present it isn't. I suggest I have the children overnight on Wednesdays to allow time for daugher to go to her dance class and all the children have their tea and some time to relax and do homework before bedtime.

If you are agreeable to them staying overnight on Wednesdays, with me returning them to school the next morning I think this would be a sensible solution.

If you aren't agreeable to that, then it would be helpful if you explain to daughter that she will need to miss dance class on alternate Wednesdays due to the short tea-time period she is spending with me, rather than telling her she is going when it isn't possible, or alternatively, if I have them for tea on Thursdays instead.

However, preventing them having contact time with me is not the solution and I think it is important we solve these issues sensibly between us and ensure the children aren't caught in the middle. I would be grateful if you could confirm whether you prefer to change the Wednesdays to Thursdays, or whether you are happy for the children to stay overnight on Wednesdays instead.

Regards, SF79

cc her solicitor name

And send a copy to her solicitor. If you have a solicitor - then send that to your solicitor and ask her to write it in a letter and send it.

Yes bills get run up in this interim period. There is a bonus to this happening in that it has given you some evidence for the final hearing (if you have the above in writing and sent), that a) your ex is unreasonable b) she is influencing the children rather than making sensible agreements with you and c) it's important they have overnights.

Her email is also evidence as to her lack of co-operation and decisions to withold contact rather than resolve matters sensibly. It is a stressful time but hang in there - I had this kind of thing too - and all sorts of nasty accusations from ex's solicitors.

What you need to focus on now is the final hearing, being prepared with a good statement and good evidence to go with the statement and what you are trying to achieve for the longer term. It will all be hassle and pear shaped until then.

Once you have a defined, enforceable court order she can't do this, because you can say "no". I just said no to something similar and got a load of abusive accusatory emails in response. But I ignored them. Because she can't stop me collecting son from school or she's in breach as I have an enforceable defined order. And that is what you are going to court for - clear guidelines she has to stick to and boundaries and the ability to say no.

There is a big deterrant if an order is breachable. Don't get despondent about what might happen afterwards, just focus on getting prepared for the hearing and then her power will be curtailed.

I agree it's important to agree to extra curricular activities - if they have been pre-agreed between you because kids have lives as well as time with parents and the important thing is you're taking her, and there to bring her home and can have tea out maybe. If she has booked these classes unilaterally without discussing it with you and it conflicts with a short tea-time contact (and you have already tried swapping nights and said no) then you have done what you can. Important thing is have everything documented in writing and always have a polite reasonable tone in communications. You can't argue with blindingly reasonable logic.

If it actually isn't feasible to take her to the dance class and have tea within the time, and she says no to swapping to Thursday or overnight (which I expect she will) then send another brief polite email requesting returning them an hour later than usual to allow time for the dance class and for them to have tea with you. If she says no to that she is showing inflexibility as well as bad communication and ignoring co parenting.

What you need to be a bit careful about though is - she is using a degree of alienation of elder daugher here - suggesting you won't let her go to dance classes and telling her to go when she is in your care. The bit to be careful with is not reinforcing that so daughter believes the ex is right and you are trying to spoil her life. So with alienation type things it needs a different kind of parenting approach. ie never get angry with the kids - keep a low tone of voice and just repeat that that isn't possible and we need to go home now. Daughter will be worrying that she's not doing what her Mother told her. So then you say - don't worry I'll sort it out with your Mum and really sorry but there isn't time tonight - we'll try and sort something out.

I don't know what I would do if she refused to get in the car. But maybe just start walking away a bit with the other two and then stand and wait. She will follow eventually as she knows she'll just be standing there all night otherwise.

Your ex has manipulated this situation to happen in front of other people at school. The other think you can do in advance is email the school or ring them on Wednesday afternoons and ask them to let daughter know that Dad is picking her up from school and no dance class this week. That way daughter has been informed via professionals, of your decisions, in advance.
Hi Charlie, thanks for this very detailed feedback. It really helps.

I'm really unsure what to do about this Wednesday. I'm supposed to pick up the girls from school. Mum has text me on both Friday and Saturday to state I can't have them but not mentioned any other days. I think she texts me separately on each day to keep me hoping and then dashes my hopes with a last minute text. I'm expecting a text on Wednesday to say I can't have them. Mum is at work on Wednesday so I expect she'll be sending someone else to pick them up. I was going to do the following:

1. Text Mum on Tuesday night explaining that I will be picking the girls up on Wednesday as per the court order.
2. Ask her to not pack her dance kit as this will upset our daughter when she can't go.
3. Contact the school and ask them to let me daughter know about dancing (obviously confirming she has her dance bag).
3. Go to school to collect the kids

What do you think to this?

Also, what do I do if she turns up again with her dance bag? She was really distressed last week and it took me an hour to calm her down.

My advice is and I am having to do the same by the way. Don't do anything as you are in court in less than 3 weeks. once u have a proper order drawn up you can then cancel dance lesson as they are not feasible. You know when you go to court to definitely ask for overnights so your daughter can still go dance lessons but also enables you to spend quality time and have tea with the rest of your children . you know dance kit will come to school on Wednesday but just remember in 3 weeks final decisions will be made by court and u can explain politely why it should be overnight stay or day changed so you don't have to do it etc.

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