Court of Appeal alters contact order

Children|News|November 7th 2012

The Court of Appeal has accepted revised child contact arrangements suggested by a father who has an acrimonious relationship with the mother of his child.

The mother had appealed contact provisions which would have given the father access one weekday evening and every other weekend. The father, meanwhile, asked the court to enforce the contact arrangements, on the basis of various allegations about the mother.

At the initial hearing, the judge said the parents had a fraught relationship in which the mother was prone to becoming emotional and the father knew how to provoke her. The child often witnesses the exchanges. The judge changed the contact provisions so that the father would have weekday contact for three hours only and that the child would be returned from weekend visits to his father on Sunday evenings, so that he had time to settle at home before starting at school the next day.

The father appealed the ruling, and proposed that the weekday contact of three hours be replaced with weekend contact beginning on a Thursday evening. The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and accepted the father’s proposals, on the basis that the contact provisions proposed at the initial hearing would have meant more travel time and additional contact between the former couple, further exposing the child to the difficult relationship between his parents.

Author: Stowe Family Law

Comments(66)

  1. u6c00 says:

    Any idea if, when and where I can find a copy of the judgment?
    I would be very interested to read it!

  2. Laura Guillon says:

    The judgment is not yet available online but it should be published shortly on http://www.bailii.org

  3. Barbara Wiltshire says:

    My daughter in law has taken my son’s baby 300 miles away to scotland and despite a contact order and enforcement order, she is still refusing to allow contact, claiming all sorts of reasons, illness, car break down, etc. They had gone to mediation and although she had no reason to go to scotland, no job, no car etc and agreed it was not a good idea, she still went. She has told the court she will always be able to bring the child to the contact handover point which is half way between our addresses. Now she has gone however, she has made excuse after excuse for not bringing him. She has a very long risk assessment drawn up by social services, detailing her mental issues, physical and mental abuse of her own mother and my son (her husband), issues of self harm, claims of unknown men harming her, abortions, and soliciting men online and having unprotected sex with them. My son’s risk assessment was two sentences long stating no adverse history. Yet social services handed her their child and she has now gone and is continuing this dangerous, immoral behaviour with two children in the house. She has only been gone since late May 2012 and already she has a miscarriage and failed relationship there. My son is petrified the next man she finds online and takes home with her could be a paedophile or child/woman beater. She has filed for divorce and the decree Nisi has been issued. He did sign the statement of arrangements for children at the time saying he was ok with his son living with her, but since then this has all happened and my son is now not happy for his son to be exposed to this risk anymore. we don’t have an address for her so if she moves on, like she always does when she has wrecked her life in a place, we will lose contact with the baby. What can we do? Can my son change his mind about the statement of arrangements? We are desperate to keep the baby safe.

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Barbara
      I can only deal with English law, not Scottish law, but in English law (if the proceedings are able to take place here) he can immediately apply for residence of the child.
      Regards
      Marilyn

  4. jim says:

    i am going through a divorce i have 2 boys aged 13/& 9 i have joint contact but they live with there mother when the boys go to her grandparents the nan his always running me down and when they come to me they are upset about it what action can i take

  5. Felicity says:

    Hi, my child’s father has a contact order in place, every other weekend and a mid week contact from 5pm till 7pm every Wednesday amongst other contact. My sons bedtime is at 7pm and would like to vary the contact by 1 hour so he is collected at 4pm and returned at 6pm… I have faced nothing but abuse from his father for making this suggestion even though he had said that it was unnecessary contact, can I appeal this, or what are the likely consequences of offering this contact only instead of the 5 – 7. I had to represent myself in court whilst he paid a solicitor which is why I believe he gained this level of contact, I feel let down by the justice system and only want the best for my son.

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Hi Felicity
      You both are arguing about such a relatively trivial issue I doubt the judge would be happy about it.
      I don’t think you have been let down because your ex has not got much contact to his son at all. 2hours during the week and every other weekend is by no means excessive.
      So in relation to this issue, I think it’s about give and take. What reason does he give for opposing the change? What work does he do and when does he finish work on that day? Does it put him under too much pressure to agree to a 4-6pm change?
      I suppose a compromise could be 4.30-6.30 but unless he is being returned late or there is a very good reason why your son can’t go to bed at 7.30 and its impacting severely upon him, I think I would leave it alone.
      Regards
      Marilyn

  6. Felicity says:

    Oh no it’s more contact than that, it’s been a 3 year case, very complicated and drawn out, it is not the quantum of time that I have an issue with, (in may it increases to 2 extra over nights a week) it is the small issues like timing, the whole case has been based on small issues like this, we just simply cannot agree on the timings and that is why we have ended up here. My son isn’t a great sleeper, his routine is essential, when he currently has staying contact with his father, he returns home and his routine is completely out of whack, it takes hours to get him to sleep and a few days to get him back in a routine, he’s 3 years old. The reason the contact can increase in may is because he told the courts he has a flexi time contract, he made it very clear that he can leave work whenever he likes, this is why I asked to move it forward, my issue is that even though he confirms he thinks its disruptive contact, he won’t move it forward only by an hour because I think he forgets its about his son rather than trying to upset me.

  7. Felicity says:

    I also have a class to attend on a Wednesday also, so you see if I’m starting my sons bedtime routine at 7pm instead of 6pm I won’t make it there either, I think what I’m asking for is reasonable, I would just like to know the consequence of trying to enforce it. I’m not trying to stop him seeing his son and never have, it all seems too policed, I can’t make this small change for he benefit of our child!
    Thanks

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Hi Felicity
      If you don’t obey a court order you are in breach. The Judge won’t be happy. It will be up to your ex to take you back to court. I wasn’t at the original court hearing and I don’t know what view the Judge took and why he made the specific order he did. So will he be happy to vary it?
      There are sanctions for breach of a contact order including being made to do community service.
      If you have genuine sensible reasons for wanting to change the order, you should apply back to the court to vary it.
      Regards
      Marilyn

  8. JamesB says:

    Community service, lol. Never heard of a judge enforcing a contact order. They hate nrp men dont you know!

  9. sophie says:

    hello my ex partner has a contact order in place he sees my son every other thursday and every other weekend what i was wondering was im going to be moving 300 miles away to live with my partner of 2 years as we’ve just recently had a baby and are expecting again,i do not wish to stop contact just do it for longer periods of time due to travel how can i go about this legally many thanks

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Hi Sophie
      You must apply to the court to vary the order if he wont agree. The court will stop someone relocating within England and Wales only if there are exceptional reasons.
      Regards
      Marilyn

  10. jess says:

    Hi my 8yr olds father took me to court 3years ago for residence and a prohibited steps order stopping me from changing her school and movinv from the area (which isnt too good, motor bike been stolen 3 times, house broken into and car had been attempted to be stolen too) when we went to court I was heavily pregnant and on the verge of getting married to my current partner and now have two children with him. Me and my partner are not wanting to put our youngest two into the same school as their eldest sister as its a welsh school and she is struggling slightly with her english. We are planning to move to a nicer area within the town but I am so affraid that if I wanted to vary the order It wouldnt get looked at let alone approved. I want all three of my children in the same school. I wille going to college in september starting a nursing course and one child will be in a creche another half day school and my eldest in another school. Any advice would be appreciated even if you said I would be fighting a losing battle 🙁

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Jess
      The court will make an order solely based upon the welfare of the child. What is in her best interests? On the face of it if you are moving to a better area, wanting all your children to go to the same school and it will be easier all round to manage them it does make a lot of sense. Presumably she too would want to be at the same school as her siblings?
      Think of the down sides though. Is she old enough to say what she wants? Would you be uprooting her at a difficult time for her studies? Would she have to leave all her friends? Is she doing well at that school? Could arrangements be made to make travel easier?
      Overall what is best for her?
      Answer those questions and then ask your ex to agree your plans. If he won’t you can apply to the court so it can make a decision before September.
      Regards
      Marilyn

  11. Ellie says:

    My ex has contact every four tonight with our son. He should also make contact with me to arrange mid week contact 2xweekly. My ex has been unemployed for almost four years. He never fulfils mid week contact. When I ask he says its not convenient or he’s out of town. I work full time incl every other sat when he has our son for day. My ex lives only 250mtrs from my home . My nursery bills are over £500 pm. I get 2.50 a week from ex. I want to take my son on a weekend break. It means taking my exs ordered weekend.Other family members we haven’t seen will be there. I have offered up so much extra time to my ex to compensate inclu full days and over night stay on our sons return as it will be his half term. My ex refuses …..what can I do. I can’t be more flexible or accommodating

  12. Hayley says:

    My partner gained a Contact Order in respect of his son on 13th May 2013 after a long, difficult 12 months and was granted 2 x over night stays with his son every week to take place during his 4 rest days from work (he works a 4 on/ 4 off shift pattern). Since this time, his ex-partner has breached the order twice and therefore it is going back through the court process, in the meantime, his ex-partner has appealed against the court’s decision regarding contact and her appeal has been accepted although we are unsure on what grounds as no paperwork has been received. After doing some research we have found that she has appealed outside timescales and therefore am uncertain as to why her appeal has been accepted. The Judge has stated that overnight contact is to stop until her appeal has been heard although visiting contact must continue. This is very confusing! Apart from going back through the court process, is there anything else my partner can do to establish why this has been able to happen?

  13. Lee says:

    Hi. I am able to look at things from two different views here. I am myself divorced from my first wife with whom i had two sons. Contact was arranged between ourselves and changed according to mainly my work situation but also if my ex wife needed to make a change. This was to the main all done amicably between ourselves.
    I am now remarried and my wife has a child to someone else and we also have a daughter together. My wife’s ex partner (didn’t marry) has a contact order despite there never being any history of serious dispute between them concerning contact. Obtaining the order my wife’s ex partner actually received far more time than he was asking for from the judge. He asked for alternate weekends and alternate Monday nights, two weeks in the summer hols and one week at Christmas. He received the weekends and Monday nights and half of ALL school holidays. In court it was all me me me even the judge told him it wasn’t about him but about his daughter but he still “won”!!!
    My wife, in court obviously didn’t agree but the order was granted anyway. Since then he has used this order like a weapon!! If we want to make any change it is point blank refused. If he wants to make a change he just does it. My wife will receive a text saying “cannot collect from school tonight you will have to pick her up”!!! The thing that gets me is we are always having to consider him in everything we do. He on the other hand does as he likes. He has his time and doesn’t consider anyone else. Our life sometimes suffers because of this situation. Certainly my wife feels very let down by the courts. She receives perceived threats (or promises) of court action if she dares to go against the contact order in any way.
    I suppose what i am trying to say is the courts should look at things more subjectively and take into consideration extended family, changes in work situations etc. Who is not thinking of their children when changing jobs for an increase in salary or more flexible working time??? We as a family feel trapped by a document that is now outdated and does not allow any flexibility.

  14. Rebekah says:

    Hi my abusive husband has been granted child contact , however it was my mistake I let him as I felt sorry for him and it was our first child together. Husband lives with his mother father and brother. They were very abusive towards me too mentally and emotionally. Short lives marriage when I fell pregnant I had to live his house as I couldn’t take anymore I felt as though they were trying to destro my pregnancy as I was only two months at that time. Now my baby is born etc I feel he will keep taking me back to court to request for more time! I already accepted 3.5hrs a week at my home where it is safe. I do not want my child to be take to his family home ever! How do I go about that? Please advise.

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Rebekah
      You can make an application to the court for a residence order and defined contact to your baby. This may help you.https://www.gov.uk/looking-after-children-divorce/types-of-court-order
      You may also even need some counselling to help you go through divorce after child birth especially if you have been bullied.
      Go and see a solicitor for legal advice or you could download my book on the side bar of this blog for 99p, all proceeds to charity. It contains quite a lot of detail about this subject.
      Regards
      Marilyn

  15. Charles says:

    Hi
    My ex girlfriend has refused to let me have my daughter overnight, for the last 2 years, and the reason being, she says is IM not ready for that. I have to drive up from birmingham to southport every 2 weeks to spend time with my daughter. which I can’t do all the time, because of the nature of my job. I recently got married, and she agreed to letting me have overnight access once weekend a month. which I was fine with, but she went back on her word. My daughter always asks when can I stay a weekend with you, and the mother refuses. also my daughter who is ,9 stays every other weekend at her step fathers house, who in the past used to beat my ex. She also Lied and put another mans name on the birth cert, I already have the dna test to prove, and it was kinda obvious consideringg the step father is white, and Im black and she still has not changed it back. My question is, Im going thru the legal route. i.e sending a letter about wanting once a month weekend contact and over night access in holiday time . My question is that do I have a good case , or chance ?
    Regards
    Charles

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Charles
      The law is straightforward. The test the court applies is that the welfare of the child is paramount. Is it in a child’s best interests to see more of her father? I think a court would say yes unless there was a compelling reason why not.
      You can also apply for rectification of the birth certificate.
      Your solicitors will advise you further.
      Regards
      Marilyn

  16. steph says:

    Hi, I have a shared residence order on my son and in it the handovers for weekend access are set at half way between where we live. I am in massive debt with no way out for the forseeable future and will no longer have a car. I want to know if i will be in breach of my order if I cannot get to the handover any longer. I am in the FMH and my ex moved 300 miles away. Can I apply to have it changed?

  17. Stargazerchris says:

    Hi
    My son went to court and got a contact order saying handover was at a point between the two houses(50 miles away) his ex did it once and said it was too hard, she would bring him on fri and we would have to return him on Sun, this cuts the whole weekend up and means less quality time with his son, do you think the judge may enforce the order or change it when we go back to court? thanks

  18. James says:

    Hi there, I have just returned from getting married with my new partner of 5 years and we are due to pick up my children on Friday to have for the weekend, we have a court order to say we can have the children a minimum of once a fortnight which was granted in December last year. We haven’t seen the children for 4 weeks this Friday but she is now refusing to let me pick up the children on Friday because we have a wedding party to attend with them. I want to pick up my children this week we have missed them so much, can she do this? What can I do about it? Appreciate any help

  19. Jameso says:

    Hello, I have a contact order which allows me to pick up my son (5years old) every forth nights(Friday to Sunday) , half of the school holidays. She has broken the contact order couple of times and now she wants me to travel extra 60miles to her mothers to pick up my son (not where the court stated as point of pick up). What can I do to stop this from happening? Will the court be in favor of extending the contact order to three weekends out of the four weekends? How best to report a breach of order?

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Jameso
      If you cant resolve it between yourselves, you can either try mediation which has no guaranteed outcome or make an application to the court. I don’t know what a court will do, as I don’t know the full facts, but rather than let it fester and become worse, a court can sort it very quickly.
      Regards
      Marilyn

  20. Sarah says:

    Hi,
    My ex partner who hasn’t seen our 3 year old in 3 years due to being abusive to her when she was 17 days old has been granted contact. We went to court where my ex partners lawyer told the sherif in charge to draw an end as no contact centre would allow him in there premises and the social workers had noticed this and were going to put a stop to it if he got contact out with a contact centre. The sheriff agreed and granted no access. Now they have appealed it and we are going to the court of appeal is there anything at all I can do to stop this appeal from going ahead?
    Thanks
    Sarah

  21. Jerry says:

    Hi my husband took me to court to get an order, when all along he had contact with his three children. Now he is trying to change it and says i am not being flexable, i cannot win in this situation as everything i do is wrong to him.
    Can the court order be flexable if we both agree on it?

  22. Anonymous says:

    Jerry, I’m curious about your use of the word contact. Wouldn’t you rather your son had a dad instead of an alien in his life?

  23. Jon says:

    Hi. I was hoping for some advice. I am finally divorced after a very acrimoneous battle.There is a Court order in place enabling me to care for my two lovely girls (aged 13 years and 11 years)every other weekend from after school Friday to Monday morning, and every other Wednesday and Thursday. School holidays are split equally. This was a trial arrangement and my wife is complaining that it is disruptive to the children and wants to reduce their time with me! I believe it is working but would like more time with the children. Is it likely that the Court will vary the order, or if it goes back to court as my wife is threatening would i be able to apply for extra time (ie, 50% access, as my wife thinks odd days are “disruptive”)?
    I love my girls as does my wife,but I hate that she is trying to use them against me!
    Thanks
    Jon

  24. Stitchedup says:

    Why don’t the courts agree splits that may be less disruptive e.g. alternate weeks Sunday – Sunday or Saturday – Saturday?? If both parents live near the children’s schools this shouldn’t be a problem.

  25. Dave says:

    Hi Stitchedup. I agree. I have been suggesting alternate weeks for months from a Monday to Manoday, or Sunday to Sunday etc.!! This is surely less disruptive and more stable for the children than split weeks/days.
    Dave

  26. Paul says:

    Jon, once the ex-wife has made an application the court is wide open for you to make the counter-argument. In fact, if you don’t make the counter-argument she will be more likely to succeed with hers. Google “Welfare Checklist, Children Act” and work out what’s best for you and them and put those arguments to court.
    I hear this stability argument time and again. I don’t swallow it. Children transfer all the time; from home to school, back again to home, or to Nan’s. If you keep your children’s rooms as interesting, if not more interesting, than their bedrooms at “mum’s”, they’ll be just as likely to feel “at home” with you than they do with mum.
    The bigger argument is this. That stability does matter. Not geographical stability though but stability of relationships above all else. Stability of relationships is the one, vital principle that should guide pretty much everything else. How can you maintain the stability of a paternal relationship when that child only sees you as much as he might see an uncle or other relation? You cannot. Bringing children up demands significant time spent with them and “every other weekend” doesn’t hack it any longer. Ask the child psychiatrists or child development experts like Professor Michael Lamb.

  27. mary says:

    Please advise. .. judge has made contact order for my 11yr ild to see their dad. There has been very limited contact for last two years due to physical and emotional abuse. Cafcas spoke will my child. However were not in court I asked judge to consider child view point and cafcas report. She declined.
    Can my child request representation in final court hearing?
    Judge said I would have child taken away or be sent to prison if I did not make child have contact with the dad. Child very stressed. …they spoke about running away to school. Who listed their concerns . Please help. Thank you

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Mary
      If the Judge thinks its appropriate, the court can order a child to be separately represented. The Judge doesn’t appear to think its necessary in your case. However do take your own personal legal advice on this point.
      Regards
      Marilyn

  28. Anon4 says:

    Hi, I split with father of daughter when she was 18months due to emotional/verbal and actual abuse to us both where restraining orders to us both were obtained via police request…aged 4 she began visiting her father every other Saturday/Sunday and joint hols by mutual agreement.At aged 8, father of child goes to court for court order as we were never married and he lied saying I didn’t give him access!! Plus he arranged the court date on the day I was due to give birth with now married partner and father of child 2-I could not attend court due to giving birth in hospital(He had as much contact as he wanted before court order dispite sporadic payment of maintenance-I just wanted her to know her dad and safely know him since he formed a new relationship and had grandparents backing) aged 14…she had a trouble with a boy of same age getting too close-school did nothing about it until I requested a meeting (they admitted this boy was from a bad background and had the scope to groom a girl and keep her close on a sexual level. I felt let down by the school and their promises…I reach out to father of child, tell him what I read on her mobile and suggest she visits his house for a week until I had spoken to school and parents and try to protect her so she can continue her studies without hassle….(he breaks her phone and shouts at her but the visit goes ahead)-in hindsight I wished I hadn’t agreed but was worried for her. I ring up father and ask when he will be bringing her home….he says NEVER! I contacted a CAB member for advice and he said there was nothing I could do and as iv raised her for the last 14 years, seeing as he’s her father, why don’t I let him have a go! (Felt I had nowhere to turn) She is now 15…16 in June…he refuses to let her visit/lets he go on the train to London but he refuses her to visit me four stops away. I am nearly at passing stage of driving test, have three other children but love her dearly. He moved away when she was four. I have no way of picking her up. can only visit if her “NEW” boyfriend visits overnight at mine with her! (I would not allow that-only day visit-plus I want to spend time with HER not with him) Father has lied about daughters relationship with stepfather/my husband to others even police claiming he was a paedo…None of what he’s claimed is true. He is very jealous of husband as he’s successful-ex loses new jobs all the time. Huaband has disaplined her in the past-boundaries ect but typical teenager rebelled. Police apparently told them that it only sounded controlling nothing else. We were never contacted via police. I am presuming that he wanted to cause trouble. He has claimed every single benefit for her and maintainancr from me (I don’t have issue with latter) he treats her as a slave to babysit his 2 young children of 2 and four when stepmother or father need to go out, nights out and when older child goes to brownies…daughter can’t cope as he’s a handful plus she is snowed under with school work and coursework so feels she can’t do both. They are constantly on her case-verbally shouting. She tells me that if Iived there, she would instantly move in with me. My Husband will pick her up in car but after everything won’t go out of his way to pick her up at home. She seems settled at school /boyfriend but her home life is a shambles. Father does not encourage contact with me and also steps in to stop us meeting up. Legally what can I do?

  29. vicky says:

    Hi i only get 1 hour of supervised contact. A month with my two girls and ss refusing me to have longer i wanting it uped by appealing for it in court

  30. Jay says:

    My friend is trying to gain access for his child through the Family Courts. At the last hearing the claim was dismissed due to non fulfilment of a drugs test. He was requesting interim “supervised access” until such time that he could afford the cost of the test.
    The judge did not consider the statements of either party and simply told him to go away and come back when he had the results of the test. Is it possible to appeal this decision? Do you know whether there is a legality as to why the judge would refuse “interim supervised access”?

  31. Jameso says:

    Will the court favour 3weekends out of the four weekends? I currently have “every other weekends” contact order in place. The child is 5 and the mother works part time.

  32. Tristan says:

    Instead of spending money on drugs or wasting money on an appeal, he needs to spend the money on a drugs test as the judge told him. I know plenty of parents unknown to the court system take drugs yet still somehow contrive to bring their children up. However the advice I’d give to your friend is decide at a very basic level whether he wants to be the best father he can be or continue wasting his life on taking drugs. The best parents without a shadow of a doubt are those that eschew drugs completely and have nothing to do with either them or others who take them. There are plenty of clean people around who can lead the way. Sorry to sound patronising but court is a tough school and you normally play by the judge’s rules.

  33. louise says:

    My partner has a nearly 9yr old girl. Her mother has remarried and expecting another child with her new hubby. My partner and I have a 14th month old. His ex wife is stating thats his daughter cant see her half brother or myself and to have no contact with us at all or she will stop my partner seeing his daughter. This is obviously unfair on his daughter as she loves spending time with all of us. The ex wife will not allow over night stays or we taking her on holiday. Is it best for a contact order to be in place? To ensure my partner can see his daughter and can the ex state who their daughter sees or not? Many thanks

  34. Paul says:

    Your ex can do what she likes while she is allowed to remain in charge. Your partner ought to start or threaten court proceedings at which point the ex’s control is removed. The court will ultimately decide who sees who and when which means his daughter having a good relationship with dad as well as mum. He needs to get on with it as time works against a non-resident parent.

  35. Penny says:

    My ex-son in law has a history known to the social services for badly treating his son, since he was under two years old. After many court appearances, the judge ruled the father should attend an anger management course and parenting classes, which he did. A court order is in place determining contact. Over the last three months the father has started to mistreat his son who is now 9 years old. The 9 year old son gave a lengthy video interview and the father was charged last week and given a police caution. Social Services are recommending family mediation, they dont seem to grasp the seriousness of the father’s volotile anger which erupts as he does not cope with the normal childrens misbehaviours. Should we take this matter back to the judge to review the court order to try to keep this child safe.

  36. Gavin Scott says:

    Louise:
    Marilyn has asked me to reply to your question. I am the managing partner at Stowe Family Law’s London office.
    From what you write, it appears that your partner’s contact with his daughter is very limited due to the restrictions being imposed. There must be very good reasons to justify those kinds of restrictions.
    If you wish to take steps to improve the arrangements, you must consider whether these would be better coming from a solicitor in an amicable but firm letter. You may consider attending one of our free legal clinics to obtain further advice.
    Best wishes,
    Gavin

  37. louise says:

    Gavin
    Many thanks for your response. My partner sees his daughter as much as he can. However his ex doesnt like me or my son due to the fact their relationship ended more sudden than she thought and we both got together after they split.
    She is now stating she will go to courst and she will use her pregnancy to her advantage and there is ‘no way she will be letting him have his daughter if im around’ even if that means she will not follow the contact order.
    can you please advise where your clinics are?

  38. Tomas says:

    Hi my ex has decided to move our 2 children 300 miles away back to near her family .after I discovered she had been cheating on me , I even had to prove the youngest was mine as she broke down and confessed there was doubt. They are both mine thankfully.
    She is being very difficult to communicate with and I am naturally concerned about the effect it will have on our children.
    Is there anything I could do to prevent them moving away ? if so how long would that prevent her for?

  39. Luke says:

    I hope she cannot move them Tomas, it would be an absolute scandal if she could unilaterally move them 300 miles away from you, however, knowing how Family Court has worked in the past I would not be confident that they will stop it.

  40. Tristan says:

    Tomas, start Children Act proceedings and get the matter under the control of the court. You also need to immerse yourself in as much childcare as possible so that the court regards you as a fundamental, intrinsic part of your children’s lives and that the children should live with you not her 300 miles away.

  41. Tomas says:

    Thanks , she has moved them and has quickly enrolled the eldest who is 5 into a school up there. just want to know if there is any way of making her move back into the area. she says she can not afford rent down here as where she has gone is much cheaper and she works part time and is heavily reliant on benefits. athough down here we have our own home and taken the children away from their cousins aunts , uncles and grandparents to be near her mum and step dad.

  42. Phoebe Turner says:

    Dear Penny
    Marilyn has asked me to reply to your question. I am a solicitor at Stowe Family Law’s London office.
    I cannot give you advice on this specific case without having further details.
    The Court’s primary concern will be the welfare of your grandson, so if you think that he may suffer harm while in the care of his father you may wish to take the matter back to Court. The Court may want your ex son-in-law to continue to have Contact with his son subject to the child’s safety and welfare issues. If are still wary about your ex son-in-law’s ability to properly care for his son, you could suggest that your ex son-in-law has supervised Contact so that there is a third party present to ensure the safety of your grandson.
    I would advise you to seek legal advise so that you can get advise specifically tailored to your situation.

  43. Gavin Scott says:

    Dear Louise,
    Thank you for your reply. We run our legal clinics daily at our offices in London, Yorkshire and Cheshire so please do give me a call if you would like to arrange an appointment.

  44. Paul says:

    Tomas, you need to start that application. It will be a long slog now she’s moved. Your evidence weighed against hers. She will say the children are better off with her. You will say she has uprooted them needlessly, without discussing it with you and that they were stable and happy in your home.
    The fact she has done this without consulting you ought to count against her but probably won’t, knowing the courts. The passage of time works against you so you need to act pronto if you are serious. I would just get an application in immediately and wait for the court to issue directions. Because she has basically abducted the children (or you can allege she effectively has) you can ask for a hearing straight away without waiting for all that baloney about mediation to pass. You need to get her into a courtroom fast.

  45. Tim says:

    If when my children next visit I refuse to return them enriol them in schools down here and in effect they would then live with me-would I have the right to do so? they still call here home and are distraught when they return.

  46. Mark Christie says:

    Dear Tomas
    Marilyn has asked me to reply to your question. I am a solicitor at Stowe Family Law’s Harrogate office.
    An application can be made to Court for a specific issue order under the Children Act 1989 to prevent a parent removing the child from the Court’s jurisdiction, i.e. outside England and Wales. Whilst the same application can be made where a child is being moved further away within the Court’s jurisdiction as in your case it is generally far more difficult to succeed with such an application unless you can satisfy the Court that such a move would be prejudicial to the best interests of the children. If the children are very young then their wishes and feelings are likely to be irrelevant. However, if they are older i.e. over 10 or 11, then their wishes and feelings will be given consideration and will be a factor taken into account by the Court when deciding whether or not the move is in their best interests. Another important factor in the Court’s decision making process will be what effect the move will have upon your contact with the children. If it reduces it significantly then this might be favourable to your application. If the move does proceed then in any event you should try and discuss with the children’s mother how best your contact can be rescheduled, perhaps on the basis that you meet halfway and share the travelling.
    Kind regards
    Mark Christie

  47. Gem says:

    Hello, my husband has just attended his final contact hearing in regards to his 8 year old daughter. The magistrates granted a contact order that changes weekly over a 7 week period. The reason for this is because his ex is a firefighter and works on a 4 on 4 off basis which rolls over said 7 weeks. We live approx 0.6 of a mile away from her house with my step daughter’s school in between. My husband is self employed in the film industry and 99% of the time works a Monday to a Friday. Before this started we had my step daughter every weekend, but mum decided to change things, understandably as she was not getting any quality time with her. My husband was appreciative of this and so asked to have alternative weekends and mid week overnight contact in the alternate weeks. That way my step daughter had a balance of quality time with both parents and maintained the same level of time with us as she has previously enjoyed. Initially Mum didn’t agree to over night contact mid week on the grounds that it was not in the child’s best interests and disrupted her routine. Which is silly, since We have 2 other school aged children living with us, so I have a routine here for them. I feel that what he asked for was reasonable and accommodated both parents. At the first hearing in the interim they granted her a 7 week rota, set around her work. Then for no reason she first cut the days from 2 nights and 1 day, to 1 night and 1 day a week. Then 1 night and 1 day a fortnight. She stopped allowing my husband to collect his daughter from school and insisted he went to her house, and insisted he was the only person allowed to collect her. I had no idea why, as previously she was very happy to rely on me as extra childcare as I work nights and am always available to collect the children from school. For 3 months she restricted and reduced contact, stopped members of his family seeing my step daughter and messed us around. However, despite this at the final hearing the magistrates granted her contact over this 7 weeks. So my husband now gets 2 consecutive full weekends, followed by a Sunday 7am to Tuesday to school. Then over the next 4 weeks he has no contact on a weekend and instead 2 or 3 nights midweek, with each week contact starting a day later (I.e week1: Monday from school to Thursday to school. Week 2: Tuesday from school to Friday to school and so on so forth) this would be fairly great if not for the fact that we live in wales and he works predominantly in London. So during those 4 weeks if he is working on a film, he gets no time with his daughter. She still gets to come to me and have time with the rest of the family, which mum did her utmost to prevent. My question is how can any of this be in an 8 year olds best interests? Do we have grounds to appeal and get a judge to look at the case perhaps in a different court? This is an extremely confusing order for us adults to get our heads around, let alone a young child. It literally took both barristers 5 hours to work it out. I feel they have penalised my husband for having a good job, for which he pays over £300 promptly a month in child support. He feels at a crossroads as he is now faced with the prospect of either not seeing his daughter for such a prolonged period to earn the money the ex enjoys or not taking on any more work in order to see his daughter. There are no welfare issues involved in this case and CAFCASS had no concerns with care from either parents. Or am I too involved to see the benefits of this contact? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Kind regards.

  48. Rosie guy says:

    Hi my childs father has threatened me with court to get access. Our relationship breakdown towards the end of the pregnancy which was difficult. I have not denied him access to the baby I only asked that he notify me before turning up at my house. He refused to discuss any sort of arrangement and he has refused to do mediation even though I agreed to mediation. My baby is one month old. What are my options.

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Rosie,
      If he wants contact to the baby he might need also to apply for parental responsibility which is only automatic if you’re unmarried if he signed the birth certificate. He will also need to attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting before he will be allowed to issue his application for court. You might like to attend too if he does and go onto mediate.
      He will only get such appropriate contact which is in the paramount interests of the baby and which if he’s a good father should be built up. No court is going to remove a tiny baby from the mum, and certainly not for any long period of time assuming he can demonstrate parenting skills or at all until he can demonstrate parenting skills. He might need to go on a parenting course to show he’s willing to learn. Then he will have short visiting I imagine because the baby is so young. And he’s going to have to demonstrate respect for you by arranging agreed visits and respecting your privacy.
      You can claim Child Support and also a claim if appropriate under Schedule 1 Children Act if you need help with housing lump sum etc and if he can afford it.
      Regards
      Marilyn

      • Name says:

        We have already both attended a MIAM separately. I agreed to proceed with mediation as I have never prohibited access however he refused to proceed with any form of mediation and was issued with the forms to make an application to the court. All this was done when the baby was 1 week old following my discharge from hospital. I am worried as he has another son from a previous relationship who live exclusively with him and only sees his mother for 4 weeks over the summer.

  49. Sarah says:

    Hi Marilyn
    I have contact order which allows contact with my daughter every other weekend as I lived 100 miles away from her. 12 months ago I moved back to be near her and have had her 2 nights during the week on top of the every other weekend.
    Father has residence and is a terrible bully. He has now decided to stop th midweek contact because I didn’t ask his permission on our daughter going to her friends for tea!!
    Can he do this as the additional contact has been in situ for 12 months albeit it is not part of the contact order?
    Also, how easy is it to change from sole residency to joint residency please?
    Many thanks

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Sarah
      Your ex doesnt “own” your child and must do everything on the basis it is for her welfare only. So he cant make unilateral decisions that will cause her welfare to be harmed and not seeing her mum during the week sounds like a bad decision.
      If you cant get him to agree, including to alter residency, consider mediation and if that fails or he wont engage then you could go to court.
      Regards
      Marilyn

  50. Michael Cope says:

    The Mother of my 14 month old boy only allows me 5 hours of contact on a Saturday, 2 of which he sleeps. We split due to the way she treated my daughter and now blames my daughter for the lack of contact. What can I do, can I keep him for additional hours or overnight? I have been a single Dad for 8 years prior to my Son being born, my Sons mum says that my daughter is violent and mental without proof as this is not the case. What can I do?

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Michael
      No contact order is ever set in tablets of stone and it can always be varied. If she wont agree to do so by consent, then you must try mediation or at least attend a MIAM to consider the suitability of this case for mediation and thereafter go to court.
      Regards
      Marilyn

  51. rory says:

    Hi , the judge recently ordered every other weekend contact with my daughter and a full week in the summer. My ex has made contact difficult because she fell out with my family and does not like it because my daughter now sees them. She is saying she is appealing the full week as it’s too long for our daughter(3yrs) not to see her mother and doesn’t want my family around her for that length of time.
    Would the courts go with this as she’s not willing to give me anymore contact other that what was ordered?
    Also she is making out contact is effecting our child since it started but she has a great time with us and shows no signs of distress. Now my ex is saying she thinks our daughter is autistic because apparently she’s saying I take her places I havent and sees people that she hasn’t. I fear my ex is making all this up to keep the contact as minimal as possible. What can I do as I want contact to progress as much as possible in the future but won’t if she has her way. Please help as I just want to spend time with my girl.

  52. Sophie says:

    I would be extremely grateful for any advice. I have a shared residency agreement in place with my ex-partner. Our child is 7 years old. We live in Suffolk and I wish to move to Essex. The approximate distance will be about 50-60 mins drive. My ex partner does have our child overnight every other weekend and one night in the week. I will propose he has our son on the Sunday night following his weekend and he can still pick him up from school as he is self employed. All I want to do is move this distance away as I want to set up a business in Essex. We do not have anything in our current residency order which states I cannot move but I am aware I will have to inform my ex once I know my plans. I’m really worried he will take me to court and request that our son lives with him because he can go to the same school. Please advise me if this is a possibility.
    Kind regards Sophie

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