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Contact help again
I have a 3 year old boy with my ex, we split up well before he was born. There has been issues on and off since he was born as she does not like me or my partner, and now doesn't like the fact we have had our own child. 

I previously wrote on here for advice as she stopped my contact to try to bully me into only seeing him at the times she wanted, not as per my work rota which we had always gone on. It went to mediation in july where, along with the help of my work, I was able to offer and agree set times with her. There has been no issue about times of contact since. We use a book to record all contact and communication down, which I provided as my ex constantly lies about things we have discussed and agreed or tries to twist whats said. Therefore if it's all in writing in one place it makes it harder for her to do this.

My son is in preschool and one of my set days means we have to pick him up from there at lunchtime. Every other day for contact is from 10am. Every half term/school holiday we collect him at 10am, even on his normal preschool day. We have done this for every one since he started a year ago. When we went to pick him up at the last half term last week, we arrived at 10am to be told that as we had not confirmed with her she was not expecting us until lunchtime. She had her mum at the door with us who immediately became aggressive when we stated we alwaya collect at 10am on half terms. Things got heated onboth sides quite quickly, however my partner then noticed a phone poking round the corner, as she had her step dad recording us. Clearly had planned the whole thing as a trap on me, im only gutted I played into it. We managed to still have my son but the next day upon dropping him off, she had her friend there who also was agressive but my partner ignored and walked away without giving them the reaction they wanted. This is not the first time that we have received aggressive and intimidating behaviour at her house ar handovers. So the next time I had him, I put in the book that future handovers need to be in a mutual public setting, or we will only attend her property when forced to(so to pick him up) and she would then have to collect him from us if she would not agree to meeting on mutual ground. She has since stopped contact until I go back to mediation or court to resolve it. She has said if I want to see him I would either do what she wants and keep it all at her house or agree to different contact times so that all handovers would be at preschool so therefore mutual (even though it wouldnt be as it is her friends preschool who has repeatedly tried to intimidate us and my ex works there). The times she has suggested aren't doable with my work rota which I wouldn't be able to change bwcause we had to bend over backwards to give her the set days she previously wanted. It is also a major cut in the contact time I have had pretty much since birth. 

I have now missed 2 days with my son, with the next contact time due tomorrow. I know that she has no reasonable excuse to take away my contact, but if I was to give her what she wants and carry on all handovers at hers JUST until we go to mediation/court just so that I can see my son, am I making it less likely to get mutual handovers from a court? Im aware that it is my responsibility to cover the handovers, but me and my partner are at a point that we are extremely uncomfortable attending her property. The amount of conflict and confrontations that have happened are causing so much anxiety and distress. But I also can not go without seeing my son. She has done handovers at mine occasionally and there has never been any incidents there, there has only ever been at hers.
I think this is difficult. Maybe email her with a biff email (brief, informative, friendly, formal). They are good for evidence if needed, keep the personal element out of it, and sometimes the formal tone actually gets a better response than usual. If you do end up having to go to court it can be helpful evidence to have polite, reasonable emails from you and stroppy ones from her.

It does look like she is out to stop or reduce contact, hence the set up and they recording it.

How about

Dear Ex name

I am writing with regard to the ongoing arrangements for our son to see if we can resolve the issue of location for pickups and drop offs. As you know, for the past x years I have always picked sin up from nursery at 10am. I understand you now wish this to be 12 noon from your house. While I have no problem with collecting and dropping son off at your house, I am concerned that it is not in his interests unless we can maintain amicable relationships in his presence.

I will agree to 12 noon at your house if we can both resolve to do the changeover quietly and without discussion, and meanwhile we can discuss the matter at mediation. The mediation service will contact you shortly to arrange an appointment. Regards, you.

If you go next time and there is any aggression then think again. Hard to have someone dictating these things but for now go along with it to see your son and get the ball rolling with mediation. Google mediators in the area, ring round them and say you need an urgent appointment. Go with the one you like the sound of who can fit you in soonest. I can usually get an appointment within 24 hours. First one you go to alone but can take partner. This is the MIAM. It’s a legal requirement to have had one in the last 3 months if you ever apply to court. Explain the situation. Mediator will then invite ex. The next appointment will just be you and ex. Ex might not go. In which case you ask mediator to sign you off and apply to court.

Because it sounds like you’ll need a clearly defined order that says sin lives with you both 50/50 and all collections and drop offs to be to and from nursery at x time. Courts often like this arrangement to avoid conflict for child if handovers are difficult.

If you’ve been having him every other day for a long time that is 50/50 and a court order will formalise it - and it makes clear that she is not the superior parent who can tell you what to do. You are both expected to try and coparent civilly though. So any emails you have that show you trying to resolve things and put child’s interests first will help.

Just to add my ex did this a number of time’s when son was 2 or 3. Very nasty.

Only communicate by text or email from now on as that can be used as evidence. For arrangements anyway. No phone call arrangements. Also take someone with you as a witness when you go to pick him up in case they make allegations or to witness any aggression.
Thanks. Yes all contact goes in writing, even though she often would try to discuss things over the phone or in person so there is no evidence to what is said.

The problem I have is that my set contact times do not facilitate having handovers at his preschool. Contact we agreed in mediation and I have been having is:
Week 1: weds 12.15 from preschool - thurs 7pm & sat 10-7
Week 2: weds 12.15 from preschool - thurs 7pm & sun 10 - mon 8.30am.
All handovers, barring weds preschool, take place at hers. I can not agree to different times for contact because I had to change and cut work hours to be able to provide her with these set times because she stopped my contact last year to bully me into giving set days. This is why I requested we make them mutual but of course she won't agree because she needs to have control. Ive not even made it all one sided, im suggesting making it fair to both sides. Im just concerned that if I was to give in and continue handovers at hers, eventhough it is so difficult for me and my partner, that a court would deem it as not that big an issue because I have decided to go along with it.
Also am I right in thinking that if it goes to court an order would be worded as he lives with her, as apposed to 'lives with both' which then allows her to still be more difficult in the future?
good evening I have read your posts. at the moment if you are on birth certificate you effectively have same rights technically.
If you go to court its highly likely a order would state lives with mum spends time with father generally.

At the moment I would actually continue to go to hers for weekend drop offs as your child is due to start school this year so things will change anyway. however what you need to do now is record everything handwritten every contact handover and email it to yourself , this is evidence for future reference if u ever need to refer to it (hopefully not).

The contact arrangements you have now wont be able to continue and will need to be adjusted after summer holidays anyway.

as example :

week 1 maybe: wed pick up from school ( around 3) drop off to school Friday morning (845 am ish)
week 2 maybe wed pick up from school drop to mums 6pm sunday for example

You need to look at your work rota etc and avoid court if possible. how many nights do u want to have your child a month. some dads want 1/2 14 some happy with 4/6 nights a month every other weekend
My son does not start school until next year, september 2021, so my contact times do not need to change until then, by which time I would have a different position in my job which would allow me to change times.

If goes to court and an order states lives with her but soends time with me, does this then give her more rights than me?

I have always had my son 1-2 nights a week, since he was a couple months old, so I do not intend for that to change.
sadly mums generally have more rights than us dads generally. If you had an order lives with mum , spends time with father yes its gives her more rights . she has more rights now anyway so wouldn't make a difference . you could use it in family court as bargaining power to agree an order if she gives you what u want 2/3 nights a week for example however.
I would for now avoid family court until your child is at school and try as best as you can work with mum to obtain access. if it gets really bad you could try mediation to see if that helps. before any court application you would need to use mediation 1st anyway. try from now onwards to keep a diary of when you have your child and what you do and log it . if anything arises ie false allegations u can refer back to your diary. hopefully this doesn't happen
A court will normally reinstate what you have had historically. While there are no court orders then there is nothing to say who is the resident parent. It will be assumed that she is because he spends more time with her. If you don’t ask for “lives with both parents “ (what used to be called shared residency) then they will almost certainly write the order that the child lives with the Mother and spends time with the Father. You are still both equal as parents but unfortunately some Mothers behave as if they are the only important parent and can make life difficult playing the “parent with care” card. The resident parent is also the parent with care. Meaning they provide most of the day to day care. However with lives with both it is “shared care” and it takes that level of power away from her if she tends to misuse it.

My order is “lives with both parents” shared care, even though son is only with me 4 nights a fortnight and half the holidays. It doesn’t have to be 50/50 time to be shared care.

It sounds like you have him 3 nights a week- we’d, thurs and Sunday to Monday. Unless we’d and thurs are just daytime. Even so - it is regular time 3 times a week and I think warrants an application for “lives with both parents” shared care. Particularly as your ex has abused her power by stopping contact. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Also the order can be progressive to allow for when your son starts school next year. So it can have one schedule until September 2021 and then say from September 2021 as follows ....

Unless you agreed in mediation that he lives with her as part of your agreement. Even then you can say that as she stopped contact you think it should be lives with both.

Courts don’t like Mothers using children in this way - stopping contact for no good reason with no welfare issues.

I am wondering what has set this off recently. If she’s anything like my ex she is thinking a year ahead and not wanting you picking up from school or involved with school so changing things now.

Unless she agrees something reasonable at mediation then I think you will need to go to court. Ex’s can then sometimes make some allegations but if there’s nothing in it the court and Cafcass will see through tgat’s. Especially with your history of regular care of your son.

If she goes to mediation I would go with a bottom line and if she won’t agree to that then apply to court.

The standard is every other weekend and one midweek overnight. For 50/50 it would be every other week end and two midweek overnights. Often as a 2-2-5-5 pattern. So one week you have two consecutive nights. The following week you have the same two consecutive nights followed by the weekend through to Monday morning (5 nights). Chikd is never away from either of you for more than 5 nights.

It is better if you can talk and sort things amicably - and then see if she will agree to have it in a consent order. She probably wouldn’t want to agree to that though.

Sometimes they just see you as a convenient babysitter when the child is this age and to give her every Saturday night free and then when they start school try and get rid of you ....The fact that there has been this aggression out if the blue and making excuses to stop contact dies sound suspicious. Sometimes it can be when ex gets remarried and wants to move on or if you have a partner they feel threatened by or something.

If it comes to applying to court I would apply for a shared care order “lives with both parents” on a 60/40 basis. Ie two midweek nights and every other week end through to Sunday evening. If you can do that. That’s 6 nights out of 14 and fits with the 3 times a week you currently have. You want the regular every few days with your son to continue. Focus on how you have cared for son part time since babyhood.

When she sees your application she may be more inclined to come to an agreement at first hearing. I wouldn’t do that if you’re self repping but if you have a solicitor they can sometimes thrash out agreement at first hearing.
He has 6 nights a month Charlie every 4 weeks

my suggestion worked out as 10 nights every 4 weeks
From my own experience I would absolutely apply for lives with both parents. I cared for my son almost half of the time from birth. No court orders. She regularly stopped contact if I didn’t do what she wanted and chopped and changed things as it suited her. All the while he still came regularly I avoided court. When he was 8 she made an outrageous allegation and stopped contact (her other son with her H was about to start school and she wanted me out of the picture). I knew nothing about court applications and learned the hard way and when the order finally came through it was just a “reasonable contact order”. Saying Child lives with Mother” it wasn’t even enforceable. Effectively it gave my ex a residence order and she got much worse (megalomaniac). Took term time holidays for three weeks at a time and claimed son didn’t want to come. When I found the order wasn’t enforceable I had to go back to court again , asked for lives with both parents to reinstate the historic shared care. In the end it was done by consent at final hearing. Not willingly by ex but good negotiating by lawyer. She still tries to get round it even now.

In a way it makes no difference if it is lives with or spends time with except to curb ex’s delusions of grandeur. A hostile resident parent can prevent schools dealing with you and all sorts. I do find it helps when dealing with authorities - to be able to say son legally lives with me part of the time.

What I learned was - we Dads feel secondary so behave secondary. Lack confidence because of pro Mother attitudes. So I took the stance of writing confidently in my application as if it was perfectly normal to be a parent with care and shared residency and focused on son’s best interests with his two established families.
My order is lives with mum spends time with father. I find it doesn't make a difference what order says. if says lives with both parents probably would make her more hostile.
I think the best way is to get as many nights as you can get or manage with your children.
sometimes by agreeing a lives with both parents by consent results in you getting less nights as well. how many nights do you getting during term time Charlie every 4 weeks at moment?

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