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Who should drop and pick up child?
#1
I am divorced to the mother of my daughter. We have been divorced for about 5 years. Our own agreed usual arrangement is for my child to be with me every other weekend and a few extra days in holidays or bank holidays. I'm not quite sure how it started, but it's became the norm for me to do all journeys when picking up and dropping off our child. The journey usually takes about an hour each way and sometimes more if there's traffic. So picking up and dropping off my daughter on a weekend can take upwards of 4 hours of overhead which is very large chunk of my limited time on the weekend.

I guess this has always had a problem but the penny didn't drop until recently when my ex has gotten more and more awkward such as swapping weekends into two single day visits and not seeing the issue about the extra overhead (i.e. the extra journeys) being all on me.

I do not currently have a Child Arrangement Order from the courts as until now it's been mutually agreed but her increasingly more awkward attitude has led me to make this happen.

If it does go to court, can I request (via courts) that dropping and picking is equally shared between both parents? Will the courts approve this as a fair request and what are the chances it would be rejected?

Thanks in advance
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#2
Hi. If the child lives with one parent and spends time with the other parent, then it is the parent they "spend time with" who does the pickups and dropoffs - unless agreed otherwise between you. If there are no court orders currently in place then technically it is not decided who they live with. But I think a court would take it that the live with the Mother as they are there for the majority of the time and this has been established for some time.Your ex is clearly trying to disrupt/prevent your daughter's time with you.

So a few things to think about. How old is your daughter? A court would want to keep a child's regular relationship with both parents, unless there are any welfare issues. There aren't any, this has been established for 5 years. But they wouldn't be impressed at the lack of support for your daughter's relationship with you by ex.

What is the distance of the hour plus drive? This makes it impossible I assume, to have midweek overnights and there is a long time between every other week-end. Are you happy with the previous every other week-end and a few days in the holidays or did you want more? These are things that would be addressed in a court application and it helps to have evidence by way of text or emails if say you had asked for more time in holidays and it had been refused. Otherwise it would be seen that you have been happy with the current arrangement.

I'd suggest the first thing to do is email or text your ex. Keep all communications about child arrangements in writing so you have evidence, and ensure your communications are always polite, courteous etc, no arguments etc. BIFF emails are often recommended on here - Brief, Information, Friendly, Formal - as if writing to a business colleague. So eg

"Dear Ex Name

I am a bit concerned at the recent changes you have made to daughter's every other week-end time with me, which has been an established routine for about 5 years now. As you know, with the distance the journey is about an hour, sometimes longer if the traffic is bad, so returning her one day to collect her again the next day, doesn't allow her to have her usual regular time with me in her home. I am writing to request that we keep to the long standing agreement that daughter comes to me Friday at xpm and returns Sunday at xpm every other week-end."

See what her response is. Before applying to court you would need to have tried mediation. So the first thing is to book a MIAM (the first mediation appointment which is on your own - Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting). This is what you have to have done legally to apply to court. The mediator then invites your ex to attend the next mediation session. If she refuses to go or doesn't turn up you ask to be signed off and can then apply to court for an order.

However anything agreed at mediation, even in writing, is not binding - unless it is put into a consent order. So then you would each have a solicitor who would draw up the agreement, approve it between solicitors,and it would be sent to the court for sealing. This is unlikely to happen as it seems your ex doesn't want to commit to keep to the agreement.

But send the email first so you can show you have tried to sort it out and are looking at child's interests (which are to spend regular time with both parents and not to have unnecessary excessive travelling time).

The usual thing is an ex starts making plans for the child over your week-end without consulting you first. What she should be doing is saying - daughter has a party on Sunday xth, could you return her on Sunday morning x week-end and have an additional Sunday the week after instead? Or - could you take her to the party. Rather than just unilaterally changing the arrangements. And give you the opportunity to say yes ok - or no sorry I already have plans.
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#3
Are you paying child maintenance to her via CMS? If so that will probably explain why she's changing a weekend to 2 days, as the calculation is done on the number of nights you have the child staying over. She will get more money the less overnights you have
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