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Child arrangements
#1
Hi all,

I would like to get advice on my ever changing situation.

Brief background...separated 10 July and through discussions and mediation we arranged that i would have our two children (10 & 8) shared as follows: 3 nights a week term time and 50/50 holidays. This has been working fine despite threats from her to cut contact. I prepared a consent order for her to sign but retracted. Now she is adamant i will only have children for 2 nights a week. She has offered no explanation as to why.

I have had enough of the threats and filled out a C100 and applied for shared care but minimum i would like the pre existing 3 nights a week to be made official and turned in to an order.

My greatest concern is the strength of my case for shared care and how likely is the judge to, at a minimum, re-instate the 3 nights a week? There is nothing that i can think of as to why she is adamant for 2 nights except for greater control over the kids.

How should i prepare for this? what kind of evidence should i be gathering? The thing i am relying on most is that we have had this arrangement working fine for 4 months.

All advice appreciated.
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#2
Do you have anything in writing that you agreed the 50/50 holidays and shared care 3 nights a week? That would help a lot when applying to court. Doesn't matter if you don't. Four months isn't very long to claim an established pattern, but it is an established pattern and the argument would need to be that the kids need to have continued stability and consistency.

Court outcomes are uncertain. You may get 50/50 or you may get less but go for it. Evidence gathering - keep any emails you have had to and from the ex. Or text messages - particularly if they show arrangements for when you've had the children. Evidence is for later - for a final hearing, you can't submit any with the application.

What you say in the application is important though, and it can be brief. An opening paragraph saying what you are asking for and why. Eg I wish the court to make a Child Arrangements order for our children to live with both parents on a shared care basis. This has been the situation for some months and has recently been unilaterally changed.

Then a brief background saying you and ex name separated on x date, attended mediaiton and reached agreement that you would share the care of the children, and they weould spend 3 nights a week with you and half the holidays, and this has been the pattern since July. Ex name has now decided to reduce the amount of time the children spend with me and I do not believe this is in their best interests as they have just achieved consistency of time with both parents and need the ongoing stability. Ex name has made a number of threats to stop the children seeing me altogether and has not given a reason for wishing to change the arrangements. I don't agree that this is in the best interests of the children and am concerned at the stress caused when they expect to see me and then don't. I believe that with an order in place they will remain settled in a regular pattern with both parents.
You could add a bit about how you have flexible working hours or whatever and have always been a fully involved parent involved in their care etc.

Then a bit stating what you want them to order and be specific. I would go for 50/50. You could ask for a 2-2-5-5 pattern which means they have the same two nights a week with you each week and every other week-end with you. So one week it would say wed thur night anf the next week it would be wed, thur, fri, sat, sun. through to monday morning return to school. Same for her except Mon Tues nights. And half the school holidays. Again be specific if you want set weeks - eg weeks 3,4 and 6 of the summer holidays, October half term, half of February half term, the last half of the Easter holidays, and so on.

If you ask for exactly what you want in an order, a Judge may just make an order as set out in your application. So for example

"I therefore respectfully request the court to make an order as follows:

That the children live with both parents and that the children live with their Father as follows:
During term-time
Week 1 Wed 3.15pm through to Friday 9am
Week 2 Wed 3.15pm through to Monday 9am
During the school holidays
Weeks 3,4 and 6 of the summer holidays, the whole of October half term commencing the day school finishes through to the morning school recommences, half of February half term keeping to regular week-ends, half of the Easter holidays to include a full week. Half of the Christmas holidays to include Christmas Eve and Christmas day on alternate years.
The Children live with their Mother at all other times.

If it gets to a final hearing you can specify that further (eg the dates for the Christmas holidays exactly). I say if it gets to a final hearing, because there is opportunity for negotiation and a consent order before the first hearing and before any final hearing. And she may agree. If you don't have a solicitor though I wouldnt attempt negotiation and just go ahead with the court process (unless the negotiation involves her agreeing to shared care lives with and 3 nights a week).

The benefit of the 2-2-5-5 is they have less changeovers, all changeovers are to and from school except in the holidays, and they don't go a long time between seeing either parent but have a good period of time with each parent.

You may or may not get it. But if you don't ask you don't get. The standard is four or five nights a fortnight - ie every other week-end and a midweek night. The every other week-end could be through to Monday morning making it a 3 night week-end.
I have the midweek nights as alternate mondays and thursdays so son only goes 3 or 4 days without seeing me - but it's more toing and froing. They get used to it though.

The bit on the application is a small box - the summary box. I put "please see attached sheet" in their and type my application wording on a sheet of A4 - which is fine as long as you put your name at the top and the application details (eg Child Arrangements order to live with both parents) and copy the statement of truth wording (at the end of the application) to the bottom of the sheet and sign and date it.

The main statement and evidence is for a final hearing and that is very important. If you do it on an extra sheet keep it to no more than 2/3 of the A4 sheet. You never know your ex may agree to a consent order of 3 nights a week when she sees it.
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#3
(11-05-2018, 09:53 PM)Charlie7000 Wrote: Do you have anything in writing that you agreed the 50/50 holidays and shared care 3 nights a week?  That would help a lot when applying to court.  Doesn't matter if you don't.  Four months isn't very long to claim an established pattern, but it is an established pattern and the argument would need to be that the kids need to have continued stability and consistency.

Court outcomes are uncertain.  You may get 50/50 or you may get less but go for it.  Evidence gathering - keep any emails you have had to and from the ex.  Or text messages - particularly if they show arrangements for when you've had the children.  Evidence is for later - for a final hearing, you can't submit any with the application.

What you say in the application is important though, and it can be brief.  An opening paragraph saying what you are asking for and why.  Eg I wish the court to make a Child Arrangements order for our children to live with both parents on a shared care basis.  This has been the situation for some months and has recently been unilaterally changed.

Then a brief background saying you and ex name separated on x date, attended mediaiton and reached agreement that you would share the care of the children, and they weould spend 3 nights a week with you and half the holidays, and this has been the pattern since July.  Ex name has now decided to reduce the amount of time the children spend with me and I do not believe this is in their best interests as they have just achieved consistency of time with both parents and need the ongoing stability.  Ex name has made a number of threats to stop the children seeing me altogether and has not given a reason for wishing to change the arrangements.  I don't agree that this is in the best interests of the children and am concerned at the stress caused when they expect to see me and then don't.  I believe that with an order in place they will remain settled in a regular pattern with both parents.
You could add a bit about how you have flexible working hours or whatever and have always been a fully involved parent involved in their care etc.  

Then a bit stating what you want them to order and be specific.  I would go for 50/50.  You could ask for a 2-2-5-5 pattern which means they have the same two nights a week with you each week and every other week-end with you.  So one week it would say wed thur night anf the next week it would be wed, thur, fri, sat, sun. through to monday morning return to school.  Same for her except Mon Tues nights.  And half the school holidays.  Again be specific if you want set weeks - eg weeks 3,4 and 6 of the summer holidays, October half term, half of February half term, the last half of the Easter holidays, and so on.

If you ask for exactly what you want in an order, a Judge may just make an order as set out in your application.  So for example

"I therefore respectfully request the court to make an order as follows:

That the children live with both parents and that the children live with their Father as follows:
During term-time
Week 1 Wed 3.15pm through to Friday 9am
Week 2 Wed 3.15pm through to Monday 9am
During the school holidays
Weeks 3,4 and 6 of the summer holidays, the whole of October half term commencing the day school finishes through to the morning school recommences, half of February half term keeping to regular week-ends, half of the Easter holidays to include a full week.  Half of the Christmas holidays to include Christmas Eve and Christmas day on alternate years.
The Children live with their Mother at all other times.

If it gets to a final hearing you can specify that further (eg the dates for the Christmas holidays exactly).  I say if it gets to a final hearing, because there is opportunity for negotiation and a consent order before the first hearing and before any final hearing.  And she may agree.  If you don't have a solicitor though I wouldnt attempt negotiation and just go ahead with the court process (unless the negotiation involves her agreeing to shared care lives with and 3 nights a week).

The benefit of the 2-2-5-5 is they have less changeovers, all changeovers are to and from school except in the holidays, and they don't go a long time between seeing either parent but have a good period of time with each parent.

You may or may not get it.  But if you don't ask you don't get.  The standard is four or five nights a fortnight - ie every other week-end and a midweek night.  The every other week-end could be through to Monday morning making it a 3 night week-end.
I have the midweek nights as alternate mondays and thursdays so son only goes 3 or 4 days without seeing me - but it's more toing and froing.  They get used to it though.

The bit on the application is a small box - the summary box.  I put "please see attached sheet" in their and type my application wording on a sheet of A4 - which is fine as long as you put your name at the top and the application details (eg Child Arrangements order to live with both parents) and copy the statement of truth wording (at the end of the application) to the bottom of the sheet and sign and date it.

The main statement and evidence is for a final hearing and that is very important.  If you do it on an extra sheet keep it to no more than 2/3 of the A4 sheet.  You never know your ex may agree to a consent order of 3 nights a week when she sees it.

Thanks for that detailed email. Fantastic.

We had a parenting plan drawn up in writing and i have a specific email in which she says she agrees with the parenting plan but it is not signed by her?

I have text messages where she is asking me when and where to pick kids up from and me asking her to pack things for the kids.

How significant is the written parenting plan?
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#4
A parenting plan might be significant as sometimes they ask you to bring one to a first hearing. The written parenting plan is also evidence of what was agreed and no reason why it should change. Could be very helpful.
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#5
(11-05-2018, 10:11 PM)Charlie7000 Wrote: A parenting plan might be significant as sometimes they ask you to bring one to a first hearing.  The written parenting plan is also evidence of what was agreed and no reason why it should change.  Could be very helpful.

Thanks Charlie

I have made the application. Could you please tell me what happens next? I have no idea and it is making me very anxious especially how the ex will react when she sees i'm not bluffing.
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#6
There has been a change since my last post...

So I filed the C100 with the courts and paid the fees. The next day ex decided to sign consent order and sent me a signed copy. So, I went down to courts with a covering letter and a new C100 form filled out for the consent order to ask the judge to consider the consent order in place of the C100.

I called today for an update and the person on the other side of the phone says it has been listed for a hearing but cannot give me anymore details as the files are not back.

What do I do and how do I read this situation? Is the Judge calling us fro a hearing to make sure it is the consent order that we are happy with or is the judge not happy with the consent order?

Really anxious at the moment. All help welcome.
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#7
You have nothing to worry about , you are no better or worse off . Your ex was trying to avoid court , a signed consent order means nothing on paper from your ex. If she is serious about the signed consent order then she will be happy to go to court. On the day they should if u both agree give u an interim order with the times and days on the consent order and then you will come back for a directions hearing where at some point cafcass will need to safeguard checks which is routine. these normally come back fine before if you both agree a court will issue a final order .

Only time you will have problems if ex doesnt agree , you have paid the money now and its best you have consent order stamped by courts etc so if she doesnt comply you can return to court.

Also you need to make sure you are happy what u are asking for as u dont want to keep returning to court. You can also assure your ex partner going to court is very easy and not at all stressful if u are both in agreement. You will be in an out 1st hearing within 30 mins
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#8
It was too good to be true!

Ex now wants to stop me from having children 3 nights a week and wants to reduce it to two nights a week although she initially agreed and signed a consent order. She claims she was forced and pressurized by me and my family to accept 3 nights a week although when we went for mediation she said she was happy with the parenting plan and only wanted to discuss finances.

I have moved back in to the marital home and have a safeguarding interview with cafcass - I know she will claim that I am abusive and she is scared of me etc. But I have no history with police or social services or any other authority and the only incidents that should be on police records are the 3 times I have called police when she has kicked off.

My question is that now I have moved back in what advise do the learned people on here give me to stop her from getting a non-molestation out against me? I am cool and laid back. I do not rise to the bait so I am confident in myself that I have the self control. I have also brought a body cam to be on me whenever I am in the house which will be mainly for sleeping.

All advice is welcome.

First hearing is on 20th December 2018.
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#9
(12-05-2018, 10:13 AM)sandman Wrote: It was too good to be true!

Ex now wants to stop me from having children 3 nights a week and wants to reduce it to two nights a week although she initially agreed and signed a consent order. She claims she was forced and pressurized by me and my family to accept 3 nights a week although when we went for mediation she said she was happy with the parenting plan and only wanted to discuss finances.

I have moved back in to the marital home and have a safeguarding interview with cafcass - I know she will claim that I am abusive and she is scared of me etc. But I have no history with police or social services or any other authority and the only incidents that should be on police records are the 3 times I have called police when she has kicked off.

My question is that now I have moved back in what advise do the learned people on here give me to stop her from getting a non-molestation out against me? I am cool and laid back. I do not rise to the bait so I am confident in myself that I have the self control. I have also brought a body cam to be on me whenever I am in the house which will be mainly for sleeping.

All advice is welcome.

First hearing is on 20th December 2018.

I am in your situation. Still in family home. At the beginning I naturally wanted to speak back to her when she would harass me/bully me etc. However, early on the divorce proceedings, she screamed at me in public "stop harassing me", when all I had done was ask her if I could take our youngest from her to a shop. At that point I realised that I had to change everything about how I 'engaged' with her.

Physically, I sleep separately from STBX, don't make any eye contact, I don't dress/undress in front of her. I make a point of giving her space away from me. If she is sat in one corner, I will sit in the opposite, with my head turned away from her.

1. At a high level, I keep everything transactional. I don't make any small talk. Absolutely ZERO small talk. If there is no talk, then there can be no opportunity to argue about anything.

2. STBX would routinely bully me, screaming at me, throwing rubbish in my cupboards. I ignored all of it. At it's peak, all I said calmly to STBX was "please don't throw rubbish in my cupboard".

3. If I need to communicate, I do so over email/text where I keep it business like, only addressing important things (pick your battles!). This also ensures that I have a paper trail.

4. Separate everything in the house - your washing, your food, your cooking and cleaning etc. Don't give her the opportunity to say that she feels pressurised to support you.

5. Divert your attention on the kids - pure and simple.

What I have written doesn't convey how hard it has been for me to stick to those basic points. It's been the hardest 1.5 years of my life. But I have learnt that I am resilient, controlled, focussed and strategic. Lose a battle, win a war.

Good luck brother.
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