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Ex trying to reduce contact despite existing court order
Hi all,
Back for some more advice unfortunately!

I fought a long battle with an extremely difficult ex to get a contact order in place, as without it I was just treated like a babysitter and just had the kids at random times when she wanted me to.
Anyway the court agreed to the order I suggested, which was every other weekend, one night during the week and half of school holidays.
Fortunately she generally sticks to the order.
I have moved on have a new relationship and have a 4 Yr and 6 month old.
Last few months she has been pushing the line of 'you can't cope with 4 kids, the kids are upset and won't want to come anymore, they are too scared to tell you.'
This week I've gone away with my 2 young children to give them a break before my 4 year old starts school. So I had to ask her to have the kids this week on my usual night, just one night and morning school drop off. My older kids understood this fine.
This has now kicked off completely ridiculous threats that she is going to file a court order by the end of this week suggesting the children only come at weekends now. She is attempting to brainwash and manipulate the children into saying things, so she can control them and get them to eventually agree to her plan.
I've spoken to the children and they have clearly told me they want to keep coming as they current routine.
They are 10 and 12 so assume their views are now taken into account - which is why she's doing her best to manipulate them.
Honestly I'm extremely worried about her control and manipulation of the children, I'd be happiest if they spent more time with me really.
Still it worries me that she would go back to court and they would not see through her lies and manipulation of the children. She clearly been planning this for a while and she keeps saying 'soon the kids will be able to make their own mind up' and to go with this she introduces them to clubs, skateboarding, guides etc that is on the nights they are with me, but an hour away, so she's knows I can't take them.
If your children enjoy coming during the week then the the family courts will make no changes to your court order. i wouldnt rise to her threats and constant moaning cause she cant get her own way .
Thanks. I guess I just worry they will believe her lies
It’s difficult. Correct any lies without dissing her. Eg - Mum is mistaken about that because that isn’t the case. It’s pressure on them though. I think I would be more concerned that she will use their age (especially the 12 year old) to unilaterally change the order and say child wants to do this instead. The kids have no control if she does that.

If she does go to court then she probably will say - the kids want xyz and get them to say what she wants. I can’t see why a court would agree they come less but you do hear stories of then adding a clause saying kids can decide when to come - when of course the kids have no say.

What you could do maybe is pre empt it - you say you would like them there more. So rather than wait for her to start using their age as a reason to change things and reduce time, put in your own application to vary for more time with a slightly different schedule to meet their growing ages. Eg two midweek nights instead of one. Or even week on week off on an 8-6 basis. Orders do need updating sometimes. You’d have to have mediation first but she isn’t likely to agree anything so it may be just one session.

She can bring up all her arguments in court and you can respond with - they can still have activities whichever parent they are with. How do school holidays work? You might want to vary that to splitting the summer into two clear halves now they’re older. Then they still get good time with you even if they have a school trip over the summer or something.

She clearly went ballistic over you not having them one night. These things do happen- I got snowed up once. They just don’t like their plans being messed with if not expecting kids to be there. But a bit over the top. Next time it might be better to ask to swap nights if there is a clash. Then if she says no then say you can’t have them that night.
Yeah unfortunately I've tried the approach of asking to swap days, but she's never going to do anything that helps me out in anyway. Different of course when she wants to swap for some reason.
I'm happy to discuss changing routine, but not less time with the children, which I don't see would benefit them in any way.
Back to this one and it seems my lovely ex has really convinced herself that the children would be better not coming to mine during the week (one night) and only the wkds.
I have 2 normal, happy kids who I when I have discussed this with them have told me clearly they don't want to change anything and want to keep the midweek. Trouble is she is putting ideas out into kids heads, eg you could do this club on a weds, you could just get the bus back to mums, and apparently they are too scared to tell me they don't want to come to mine. What I see is 2 happy kids and a very manipulative and persuasive mum, that also stresses the children with her constant questioning them about everything they do.
She has now requested mediation, which I can't see being anything but an expensive waste of time as it was before, because she does not want to negotiate or be flexible, she just wants to dictate. However I don't want to come across as uncooperative, so not sure what's best to do.
3 years ago before I went to court to get the order I tried everything before court such as counselling, mediation etc but she was just so impossible. Even in court she was incredibly difficult for my solicitor to deal with.
To be honest I am worried about the affect she is having on my children, and if a court was to change the order to allow the children to decide when they came, it would of course be abused be her to then find various ways to stop the children coming to me.
As an example last week, when England football was on during my evening with the children, she told me son he could watch the game with her instead of coming to mine, with his cousins. Instead of us discussing that, I get a message from him saying 'I'd rather stay at mums and watch the game' this was at 9pm when he's going to bed, so no chance for me reply. Then of course I'm going against his wishes by saying no. Turns out my son had been told he'd be watching the game on his own I'd not be back in time for it. Just an example of how she persuades them to say what she wants!
Anyway not sure exactly what I should do here..if anything..
hi bud
i think your overthinking this. its very simple put it in writing to her if she wants anything changed that she needs to apply to the courts for a variation to what has already been agreed. your their dad and your time is your time dont over think it. i fully appreciate shes going to be filling the childrens heads in but reality is your their dad and you have to go against what your children "may" want sometimes. if she is suggesting mediation you have every right to refuse on the grounds that you have already spent so much money previously to get the order which is currently in place that any variation to this order will need to be granted by court application only as you want it to remain as it is. i would personally sit the children down and keep it about you and them. dont get their mother into it at any point and just be straight with them that you want to spend time with them and that these are the days you have together. speak to them and tell them if they want to spend time with their cousins thats not a problem but their mum needs to arrange it during her time with them because its unfair that its in your time with them. see how that goes buddy.
Thanks for the advice and reply.
She has now requested mediators and I spoke to their office today who told me that if we both wanted to do mediation it would mean speaking to the children because they are 9 and 12.
Worries me that they get dragged into this.
Also genuinely concerned that her constant discussions with them is what unsettles them and causes stress.
As always I am happy to discuss anything that benefits my children and don't want to come across obstructive, but at the same her goal is to reduce contact and I don't think that benefits them at all.
Surely mediators, court etc will see its not fair to introduce the children to activities, new clubs etc on my contact days and then say I am not listening to their wishes by not letting them go. I already do take them to football and swimming clubs anyway.
Also surely the fact they get home 15 mins later from school, when coming to mine, is not a reason to drop the contact on a school night!
Your ex is trying it on because of their ages. No you don't have to have the kids involved with mediators. Just tell them - you don't think it's appropriate because they are being influenced. I would find another MIAM and get that mediator to invite your ex. She may insist on her own choice of mediator though. Tricky as it looks better if you say you've tried mediation. So maybe contact the mediator she has chosen and arrange a MIAM - for yourself. At that you can explain what you feel the issues are and say you feel it would put the children under too much pressure. And only want to have mediation with parents initially.

I had one mediator try to persuade getting son involved and she wouldn't listen when I said - he will say what his Mother tells him. She said oh no we ask them carefully. But she then said - but some parents just won't listen when the child says - I want to stay with Mum. I got signed off (after a struggle - the woman didn't want me to leave the room without committing!) And went to another mediator the next time - who was much better and got what was what.

Kids activities are seen as a priority over parenting time. However, if the activities are on your court ordered nights, then you should be taking them to and/or collecting them from the activities and them coming home with you. Is that feasible? How far do you live from the school.

Maybe email your ex and say you are happy to attend mediation with both parents initially but you feel no reason to change midweek nights because of activities and you can bring them home to you after their activities as usual.

At least then you've got in writing that you're happy to have mediation and stated something reasonable and logical - in case you need it for evidence.

If she is going to try and use the kids to manipulate mediation, then have a MIAM on your own first. Tell the mediator your concerns and if there is any suggestion that the kids will then be involved, ask to be signed off and apply to court.

Her argument will be - kids want to choose for themselves, there needs to be more flexibility, they are older blah blah (especially the 12 year old). Yours needs to be - she is not supporting healthy relationships with both parents, and there is no reason to change anything. The children need regular and significant time with both parents, can have friends over at either house, and it's your responsibility to collect them from clubs after school when they're scheduled to be with you.

It depends whether you want to enforce or apply to vary. I think maybe apply to vary as there maybe isn't anything strong enough for enforcement, plus if you apply to vary you can ask for an additional night - or a different night, and might end up with the same as now, but at least no less.

Eg you could say that as the kids are getting older they could benefit from a longer week-end and ask for every Thursday night, so the week-ends they're with you are from Thursday night through to Monday morning school drop off. Do you have Sunday nights at the moment?
Thanks some good points there.
Currently I have weds nights and every other weekend Friday to Monday morning.
I do take daughter to swimming lessons on a weds eve and both to different football clubs at the weekend. However my daughter now has guides on a Friday night which I have said no to, I did it once and I had to leave work early before 5pm,and wasn't home until 8pm so consequently didn't spend any time with my other children. Plus it's a very long day for my daughter, so she is just going on the weekends not with me at the moment. But obviously I am a bad parent for that!
Trouble with other nights like Thursday is they have other clubs like football training at 5pm, which it wouldn't become possible for me to take them to as 40 mins away from me.
Between them they have clubs every night of the week apart from Monday, if she packs their life so full of clubs it makes it impossible to actually spend any time with them I don't see how they can always be given priority over anytime with me and their other siblings here.
I am happy to discuss any variation of the order but ultimately what my ex is pushing for is to stop any midweek contact and she is constantly making up new reasons, eg you live to far from the school, they don't like getting the train, the miss out on clubs. None of which are really true. All of this is generated from her anger, jealously etc but very hard to make anyone neutral see that and very hard for the kids who are being influenced without them realising.

Also just another important point, if I were to lose the official court ordered midweek contact, what would happen is that I would then be at her beck and call during the week, ie she would say 'i have to work Tues this week, can you have the kids', the kids would like to stay Thursday this week, or can you pick up and drop kids to mine on Monday this week. We would go back to the chaotic routine we had before the court order where I end up running around when she needs me to, otherwise I don't get to see the children.

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