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Child Arrangements Advice
#1
Hi there,
 
I’m looking for a bit of advice regarding Child Arrangements.
 
To give a brief background: My ex-partner and I split up (mutually) last August, there was no malice involved, we’d just drifted apart. This resulted in her moving back to her Mums house 45 miles away, with our 3yr old Son. She doesn’t work, whilst I work all week, so I was unable to look after him during the day.
 
At the start, we split the travel arrangements and I would have him every weekend. She would drop him off on Friday at 6pm, and I would take him back on Sunday evening. This stopped when I started seeing someone else, which resulted in her refusing to do any travelling. This meant a 3hr round trip after work on Friday, and on Sunday evening. There have been instances in the last few months where she has refused to meet me for handovers (at Easter for example) which lead me to wanting something more legally binding.
 
Recently, I suggested mediation to try and iron out the issues. Firstly, she refused to be in the same room (for no reason) and refused to negotiate. She mentioned in the same meeting that she thinks me having my son every weekend is ‘too much travelling’ for him, so is now refusing to let me see him every week. She’s saying every other weekend only.
 
I obviously disagree with this massively, seeing my son once every 2 weeks doesn’t seem like much of a relationship, so court seems the only option. Ideally, I would have him Thursday – Sunday. Can anyone advise on what the likely outcome would be – am I living in a dream world assuming a judge would give me access every weekend? She also lives in Wales, assuming the process is the same?
 
Thanks in advance for any advice.
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#2
I would say a judge would not grant you access every weekend especially if ex don't agree.
If you go to court things will become hostile. it is fairly reasonable for you to have your son every other weekend Thursday - Sunday would be ok though if u can do that. maybe u should try and see if u can get time off work during week so u can spend time with son. I disagree that 45 miles travelling every weekend is too much travelling though but guess that's an excuse. I guess your son will be at nursery soon as well during week
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#3
(06-08-2018, 02:53 PM)herman_blume Wrote: Hi there,
 
I’m looking for a bit of advice regarding Child Arrangements.
 
To give a brief background: My ex-partner and I split up (mutually) last August, there was no malice involved, we’d just drifted apart. This resulted in her moving back to her Mums house 45 miles away, with our 3yr old Son. She doesn’t work, whilst I work all week, so I was unable to look after him during the day.
 
At the start, we split the travel arrangements and I would have him every weekend. She would drop him off on Friday at 6pm, and I would take him back on Sunday evening. This stopped when I started seeing someone else, which resulted in her refusing to do any travelling. This meant a 3hr round trip after work on Friday, and on Sunday evening. There have been instances in the last few months where she has refused to meet me for handovers (at Easter for example) which lead me to wanting something more legally binding.
 
Recently, I suggested mediation to try and iron out the issues. Firstly, she refused to be in the same room (for no reason) and refused to negotiate. She mentioned in the same meeting that she thinks me having my son every weekend is ‘too much travelling’ for him, so is now refusing to let me see him every week. She’s saying every other weekend only.
 
I obviously disagree with this massively, seeing my son once every 2 weeks doesn’t seem like much of a relationship, so court seems the only option. Ideally, I would have him Thursday – Sunday. Can anyone advise on what the likely outcome would be – am I living in a dream world assuming a judge would give me access every weekend? She also lives in Wales, assuming the process is the same?
 
Thanks in advance for any advice.

Given the distance, the best outcome you will get is Friday till Sunday PM, every 2 weeks, and you will also get half school holidays if you ask.

As you work, my suggestion is to have every other weekend, and ask for 1 week at Easter, 1 week at Christmas and a 2 week block on the summer, as well as another weekend (but bear in mind you ex is allowed a 2 week block also, for a holiday, so it might not follow normal timetable.

Significant dates need to be turns each in your case (legally who the child lives with does not come into it), unless there is a way they can be shared.

As the court for leave to take the child out of the UK for holidays. This will be granted unless your ex can show risk of no return, and you will have to provide her with basic info when doing this, for example flight detail, where staying, who is going and an emergancy phone number.

It is the parent having contact who has to arrange transport, unless by agreement.

Child Support takes into account the number of nights, so the above would put you in the 52-104 night bracket so you get a bit of a reduction, as you pay for the childs living costs when with you.  However, you can claim for your travel to contact costs to be considered, what is at the rate of 9p per mile, round trip, their and back. You pay the first £10, the rest will reduce the child support amount.
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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#4
Any time another companion is involved in your life, ex-partners always get jealous and make it that much more difficult to work with. My solicitor advised me if I was to have a partner not to inform my ex about her, or let my child have any contact with new partners. After the court order was in place and things agreed, then it should be easier.
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#5
(06-08-2018, 10:21 PM)parmsg Wrote: Any time another companion is involved in your life, ex-partners always get jealous and make it that much more difficult to work with. My solicitor advised me if I was to have a partner not to inform my ex about her, or let my child have any contact with new partners. After the court order was in place and things agreed, then it should be easier.

My solicitor was really cunning about this. She got me to use my ex's attitude to my new partner to goad her into threatening to breach an interim court order repeatedly in writing during the proceedings, which really helped my case.
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#6
Thanks for the replies everyone. Court sounds a bit pointless to me then, if the max I can hope to get is access every other weekend (status quo)

Is it still worth doing just so I have something legally binding? And would the judge normally suggest we split travel?

Also, regarding holidays, assume 1 week at Easter, 1 week at Christmas and a 2 week block in the summer is fairly standard? Can this be split up, so it's not all at once? Should I get additional access during half terms and school holidays? Should birthday's be rotated like Xmas day/Easter Sunday?

Thanks again
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#7
(06-10-2018, 08:02 PM)herman_blume Wrote: Thanks for the replies everyone. Court sounds a bit pointless to me then, if the max I can hope to get is access every other weekend (status quo)

Is it still worth doing just so I have something legally binding? And would the judge normally suggest we split travel?

Also, regarding holidays, assume 1 week at Easter, 1 week at Christmas and a 2 week block in the summer is fairly standard? Can this be split up, so it's not all at once? Should I get additional access during half terms and school holidays? Should birthday's be rotated like Xmas day/Easter Sunday?

Thanks again

How the Court will look on your case is Shared Care is not workable, due to distance. Both Panrets have the right to Quality Time, that being weekends and school holidays.

Due to the fact the Non Resident Parnet can get a reduction in Child Support to cover costs above £10 for travel to contact, unless by agreement, it is up to them to arrange transport.

Up to half school holiday is standard. However, that is 6.5 weeks a year, what is more than most people can take off work.
With Half Term, if you want half, its normal to have your weekend, with 2.5 days tagged onto it, so contact starts or ends on Wednesday Lunchtime.
Christmas and Easter can be split. Often the school is closed for 2.5 weeks, so 2x4 day blocks are also normal, if not done in 1 block.
It is best to have a 2 week window in the Summer, so you are not restricted on a set start date if going on holiday.  With a flexable start date, you can get better prices and perhaps better avaliablity.

All significant dates need to be shared, or turns each. Who the child lives with has no legal bearing on this.
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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#8
Thanks again all. Quick question on the 2 week window in the summer. Ex is saying as her weekend falls within the time that he's with me, she should have him the weekend before or after he's stayed with me

Technically I'm only having him for 11 extra full days, plus my normal weekends. If she has him on one of my weekends, I won't have him for 2 weekends in a row...

How would you normally deal with this situation?
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#9
I think you should apply to court because she has reduced the amount of time you see your son, which is a big change for him - you've gone from 4 nights a fortnight to two nights a fortnight. Have I got this right that you have actually been to mediation (in separate rooms as in shuttle mediation) and it didn't get anywhere? In which case ask to be signed off from mediation so you can apply to court.

Although a court may not like the idea of every week-end you can argue for the same amount of time to continue as before. I don't know as much as Mark about how the court views things but I would go for as much as possible and write a powerful reasoning for it in your application.

If it was me I would ask for the schedule to be reinstated as it was before she unilaterally changed it - ie the equivalent of 4 nights a fortnight, lives with both parents, with both parents sharing the travelling. Every other week-end from Friday through to Sunday night, but extra holiday weeks. I have seen shared residence orders where a Father had more of the holidays and less term time contact due to the distances. The main thing is to make an argument for it due to the bond with your son who is three and has known you all his life. This is assuming he starts school in reception year when he's four (when does he turn 4 - before or after September?). If he starts school this September then if you apply now the order could work from when he starts school.

You are losing 2 days a week. There are 40 academic weeks in a year, so you are losing 80 days a year which works out at more than 11 weeks. There are 12 weeks school holidays each year. You wouldn't get all the school holidays obviously, but you could ask for all the half term weeks, half of Christmas and Easter and three weeks plus a couple of week-ends of the summer holidays due to having less term time. You may not get it all but ask for more and negotiate back to less possibly.

45 miles is a pig - if it was 30 or 35 miles an overnight midweek would be doable but the travelling time means it would be too early a start on a school day. So I can't see how you could get any more than every other week-end during term time. However you could also ask for phone or skype calls midweek as part of the order. (I know he's only 3 but it's a long term arrangement)

I'd put together something like this

Lives with both parents
Every other week-end from nursery or school finish time on Friday through to 6pm Sunday
Skype call every Wednesday
All half term weeks from school finish time on the last day through to 6pm Sunday the day before school starts again.
Half the Christmas holidays to include 24th to 26th on alternate years.
Half the Easter holidays to include a full week and keeping to regular week-ends
A one week and a two week block in the summer holidays with defined weeks, plus the first week-end of the summer holidays and the last 3 days of the school summer holidays.

Would you have enough holidays to be able to take the time off? For half terms you wouldn't necessarily have to take the whole week off work for all of them - if you have family - ie your Mum to stay - but you see him every morning and every night.

The main thing is going for the principle of having your son living with both parents and being a full-on committed Father - and get that across.

I wrote a strong summary for my application emphasising my role in my son's life since he was born, the amount of care i had put in and the things I did with him and how we had a very strong bond. That he would suffer from not seeing me or hearing me regularly.

When your ex sees your application and what you are asking for she may be more inclined to negotiate. At the moment she is miffed because you're seeing someone else and her attitude is probably - why should I help him out. But she could at least go part way - because you co parent and your son needs both parents.

Or could you move 20 miles closer to her? I guess that would mean further travel to work then.
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#10
Hi Charlie – thanks for the reply & the great advice.

We have already done mediation, and I have the signed form ready to go…I’m just trying to weigh up the pros & cons of a court battle. Most of the advice I’ve been getting suggests I don’t have single hope of being granted every weekend – even though that has been the situation for the past 10 months. However, what you’re saying about possibly getting more than half the holiday’s is interesting, I didn’t think this would be the case. I would be good though to be recognised as a 'co parent' and that my son actually 'lives with me'. Whenever the ex mentions he's just 'visiting me' and 'lives with her' always makes me feel like a second class parent

My son is 3, he doesn’t start school until next September. He will be starting nursery in September however, and will be going 5 days a week….which seems like an awful lot. Apparently this is the norm in Wales?

The suggested schedule you mention sounds good, it’s just so hard not seeing him for 12 days in a row. I’d love to move closer but it’s just not practical in the short/medium term.

Did you see my question above regarding the 2 week block in the summer? – how would you deal with that?
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