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Specific Issues Application and Enforcement
#1
Just posting about my recent hearing.  Specific Issues Application for a holiday I had booked.  I have a shared care order "lives with both parents".  My court order has defined holiday weeks.  Ex announced she had booked a holiday over my weeks and saying son would be able to choose what he wanted to do (ie choose a great holiday or go and stay with your Dad!).  I wanted to avoid court, and avoid son being in that position, so, after some negotiating I agreed to formally vary the dates for the summer holidays, in writing (under the clause "such further and other times as agreed in writing").

We then had new, formally agreed summer holiday dates and I booked a holiday.  Ex then announced she had booked son onto an event during his holiday time with me.  I politely replied that we would be away that week on holiday.  Her response was to say son didn't want to go on holiday with me, she was keeping son with her that week and taking him to this week long event, and I could go on holiday without him.

As such the whole summer dates varied by agreement were unreliable.  Normally this would then revert to the ordered dates, but I already had a holiday booked.

So I applied for a specific issues order for the holiday and asked for all the dates son was supposed to be in my care that summer, to be ordered, if possible, and an undertaking for ex not to book events during son's time with me, without prior consultation.

Wrote a 2 page summary with the application, explaining the background to the changed holiday dates and attaching the email correspondence regarding the agreed dates and her rather rude unilateral change at the last minute.

I did not apply ex parte (not appropriate for these circumstances) but asked for an urgent 48 hour hearing. Took the application into court, waited.   Initially the clerk said it may not be a 48 hour hearing as my holiday wasn't for another 3 weeks, but I stressed that there was a child in the middle who was uncertain as to when and where he was going to be over the summer.  I was granted a hearing in 48 hours.  Then had to put ex on notice via email so she had the 48 hours notice and the court served the papers by post.

I was self representing.  However.  Ex then got nasty and I received a hostile text message, supposedly from my son, telling me not to collect him that week as he wasn't coming because I was taking his Mum to court.

I contacted the school to let them know son was in my care on x day and should come with me and not be allowed to go with anyone else.  School said ex had told them not to let him come with me.

At this point decided I needed a barrister.  Because the whole strategy was to prevent my son coming to me over the summer before he started at secondary school and then probably never again (claiming he didn't want to come and he could be quite alienated after a long absence).

Got a Barrister I had used before at one day's notice.  Sent the application and details to him.  He wrote a brilliant position statement and sent it to me the night before the hearing and to the court the next morning.  Lambasting ex's behaviour and asking for her conduct to be judged and talked about costs and penal notices and not to accommodate the Mother who had no respect for my PR or the court order.

Ex's solicitor then counter applied to vary the Child Arrangements order, on the day of the hearing, piggy-backing their application onto mine.  Their argument was son's wishes were for less time with me and I was inflexible.

Judge was great, read through the emails in court and ripped apart their counter application saying they referred to "defined contact" when it was a "lives with" order and then read out the order to ex saying it says you have equal shared care despite the difference in the number of nights.  Laughed at the "inflexible" comment pointing out I had agreed to change all my holiday dates.  Told her she must stick to the court order.

I got all the dates ordered, as a variation to the order for that summer.  And the Judge made a very heavy judgement saying her behaviour was reprehensible and ordered she pay costs.

I wasn't able to address the issue of her trying to stop son coming home with me that week because it wasn't within the remit of the specific issues application.  However Barrister did tell the Judge what had happened and the Judge told her she shouldn't be there to collect son and must stick to the order. So my son did come home with me that day - but was quite alienated, strange and hostile - no idea what kind of stuff he had been told about me.  This wore off within a few days.

Barrister was very happy because he said it is rare for costs to be ordered in family cases - the behaviour has to be very bad for that to happen.  Whether I get much of the costs is another matter as that is quite a long complicated process apparently which could lead to a further hearing.  But was advised to send for a transcription of the judgement in case I needed it in future.  Quoted about £100 for that and it will be worth it.

Barrister said it had basically been treated as an enforcement hearing.

Judge typed out the order for the summer holiday dates on the day so I took it home with me.

Ex complained to Judge that I had been on holiday to the same place 3 times before.  And then asked if that meant I was able to take son on holiday.  Judge said - it is his care time and none of your business what he decides to do.

So a successful hearing after a nerve-wracking and stressful couple of weeks thinking I may not see my son for a long time as she would keep claiming he didn't want to come.  But have more confidence this order will be kept to now.

Ex is still tinkering with school collections for when son goes to secondary school but ready to jump on that and enforce if necessary.

A final tip. What helped me massively in this case was, I could show I had always been beyond reasonable, polite in all communications, and flexible. It is a tip I was given a long time ago to always show you are the reasonable, civilised polite one. Ex's communications were vile, manipulative and, as described by barrister "high handed". And that is what helped with the judgement. The moral here is - it could get very expensive in a family court if you ever let rip at your ex - so don't!
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#2
Good result Charlie! From reading your various threads your ex clearly has no regard whatsoever for your court order and clearly thinks she can do what she wants. Keep enforcing the breaches, eventually the courts will run out of patience and it's bound to end badly for her. What strikes me is how she is blatantly alienating your son. One thing to remember is when son gets older he will see her for what she is and resent her for it, doesn't make you feel any better at the moment but children work things out for themselves.
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#3
Cheers! I just added a final paragraph above. General advice on here is - always be the polite reasonable one, especially in writing, and never criticize the ex (leave that to legal people!). And it is true - it can have long lasting effects and provide you with evidence.
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#4
That final paragraph is exactly what I'm doing at present. "play the game" is how I view it, let them be the ones to come across as unreasonable and they will just show themselves up.
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