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Looking after child when a parent is away
My ex is going away for a while and I agreed to look after my daughter when she's away.

I told my ex that I don't agree with someone else looking after my daughter when she's away as I'm available. She agreed she wouldn't ask anyone else. However I strongly believe she lied and intends that her friend will look after my daughter for 5 days before she is to be with me as I think she's leaving 5 days before she told me.

As dissuasion, I intend to tell my ex that I struggle to believe her on the dates she's going away and will inform school that my daughter is NOT to be collected by anyone else other than my ex as if she's not, it means her mother is away and therefore my child is in my care.

Not sure how to deal with this/how reasonable it would be to ask the school. If my ex isn't away it makes me look like a paranoid parent.

But if I don't, I'll most likely lose 5 days with my daughter who will be told to lie to me and say she was with her mother. It has already happened but lies end up leaking...

What would you suggest with school?

On a maybe lighter note, I could tell her I'll contact the after school club lady only, instead of school?
Do you have any sort of child arrangements order? The issue is if it’s mother’s time she can leave the child with who she wants unless you have any major safeguarding concerns with that person even so you’d have to raise that with social services.

If this sort of thing is happening regularly it might be worth trying mediation first and failing that apply to the courts for a child arrangements order. It’s a bitter pillow to swallow but in “her time” she can leave the child with whoever she sees fit.
Astro man has said it all. It’s a bit worrying if you don’t know the person but your ex can decide who to leave the child with if it’s on her time and hard but you have to assume she trusts this person. She might hide it if she thinks you don’t like it.

I would just send her a friendly text and say you’re a bit worried about who else daughter will be staying with and you are sure she would only choose someone she trusts but it would reassure you to know who it was and to have the contact numbers exchanged with the person in case of any emergencies as you would be in hand.

If you really feel strongly and can take the time off then just offer to have her for the whole time.
My point is:
That I am available the whole time and perfectly able to look after my daughter. I believe that my ex is out of the country 5 days before she asked me to look after my daughter.

My point is that as I have parental right if my ex is away from the country, and she knows I'm available to look after my child, why would my child stay with her friend? Just so that she doesn't stay with me?
Who knows? Are you on good terms with her generally?
We're on terrible terms of course.
My understanding is that any parent with parental right is to look after their child should the other parent be unavailable. We can of course agree otherwise, but in this instance, I don't agree. And as a parent, I get the final say if my ex is not available....?
The difficulty here is there are grey areas if the child arrangements are on an informal basis. Assume you don't have any court orders. In which case there is nothing that says either of you has "residency", you both see the child regularly I assume, so you are equal parents (do you have parental responsibility?). Technically. But does she consider that the child lives with her as the main home?

Either way, as it is all informal, it comes down to agreement. The child has a right to spend significant and regular time with both parents. If you have an agreement that if one of you is away/unavailable then the child is cared for by the other one then that is what should happen. If there is no such agreement then your ex probably considers the child lives with her, except for the times she agrees the child can be with you, and therefore if it is her care time (in her eyes) she can leave the child with whoever she wants.

Mark may know more about this. But if she is going to be out of the country and you are the other parent with PR then yes the child should be living with you. But without a court order it's all by agreement. If you feel really strongly about it you could apply for a short notice specific issues order to say that if one parent is unavailable, then the child remains with the other parent.

I think technically, if she intends to leave the child with someone else she should let you know, give you details or seek your agreement.

Ongoing it would be good to have a written agreement at least - a parenting plan. But if it's not amicable that can be tricky. It would mean starting mediation and asking her to go to draw up a parenting plan you both agree and sign at mediation so it's clear what is agreed. Even then if someone doesn't stick to it, it's not enforceable but it's a marker of what's agreed so things are clear. But mediation costs money. You'd probably only need 2 or 3 sessions but it costs about £120 each for each appointment (depending on location).

So I think yes, technically, as the other parent, you should be having responsibility for your child if your ex is out of the country/away. However it is not that easy to achieve that if she does something else and doesn't tell you. You have a perfect right to know your child is safe if the other parent is away so I would start by sending her a very polite formal email. BIFF emails are usually recommended on here - "Brief, Informative, Friendly, Formal" - as if writing to a business colleague. It is a record of what has been proposed/discussed and can be used as evidence later - any communications in writing by text or email can be used as evidence for or against you so keep anything in writing polite and formal.

So maybe send her something like

"Dear Ex

Re Daughter's care during your holiday

I am just writing to establish that, as parents we both have parental responsibility for "daughter name", and are responsible for her wellbeing. So if either of us is not available to care for daughter, she should be with the other parent. I have already agreed to have daughter with me while you are away on holiday. Please can you let me know the day you depart and I can pick daughter up the night before and return her on the day you return.

For peace of mind, as well as being responsible, I think it would be a good idea if both of us inform the other one if we ever intend to leave daughter with anyone else, such as family members or a registered childminder, and keep each other informed with contact details. I hope you agree.

Please can you let me have an emergency contact number for you while you're away (I assume you will have your mobile phone with you), or in case daughter wishes to speak to you.

Best wishes, You"

I think probably what it is - she doesn't want to leave daughter with you too much in case you later claim she lives with you both 50/50 for a court order or something. ie she is making sure she is seen as the resident parent probably. Which is why I said yes to any contact offered when my son was younger - and often had him for 10 days at a time when ex was on holiday. It helped when I ended up in court, to show how much time he had spent with me.
Thanks for your long answer.

I have parental responsibility.
We already have a court order which says that the child lives with her but we can be flexible. It doesn't say anything about the parents being away.

However I've already informed her that I do not agree with my daughter being in the care of someone else when she is away and she has AGREED it won't happen. I'm just pretty sure that is has happened and will again soon.

We are in the middle of court cases for the child to live with me, so she's obviously trying to reduce my time with her just as you mentioned.

Since she's already agreed that she won't leave my child in anyone else's care then how would I check? Could I ask school not to leave the child with anyone else?

I have no doubt that my daughter will lie. She has in the past but my let a few things out which indicated she had been staying with someone other than her mum (her mum had already confirmed this wouldn't happen).
If the child lives with her at present then you can’t really do anything as it’s up to her to decide who is suitable to leave the child with when it is on her time. Agreements mean nothing unfortunately as people can change their minds and it’s not binding.

I think all you can do is politely email and say you think daughter should be with the other parent if one is away and that you can facilitate this for her upcoming holiday.

If you’re in the middle of court proceedings she is unlikely to be helpful and may even choose someone else deliberately.
Thanks Charlie

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