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Flexible roster causing child contact issues

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Flexible roster causing child contact issues

Old 25th Mar 2018, 22:31
  #1 (permalink)  
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Liverpool
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Flexible roster causing child contact issues

Hi,

I am not sure whether I have got the right forum, so apologies in advance.

I am currently going through a protracted court process where I am seeking regular contact with my child. I have previously been to court where I was successful in obtaining a minimum contact level. However, our child’s mother continues to interpret the court order in a manner which seeks to minimise my contact further.

As a result I am having to return to court to apply for enforcement, however this has been unsuccessful due to the mother now claiming it is unworkable, whilst refusing all offers of using a third party to act in the best interests of our child (communication is non exist between us).

We now have to go through the whole process again to fight for my right to see my child. One of her biggest arguments is my flexible roster and how she is now using this against me claiming it is inconsistent and I am unable to provide a consistent and regular fixed days each week (she had been previously aware of my roster pattern even before our child was born). My current roster is part time where a min of 12 nights off.

I wish to seek any help or advice from colleagues who have had to fight for contact for their children and what you found the best way to gain understanding and support from judge/magistrate. Otherwise I feel I am getting penalised for not having a min-fri 9-5 working pattern! Any help/advice would be much appreciated. Thank you in advance.
JJBFLY is offline  
Old 26th Mar 2018, 14:00
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Join Date: May 2017
Location: The rock
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You can't request fixed roster pattern providing to employer your reasons?
matt283 is offline  
Old 26th Mar 2018, 14:24
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Join Date: Aug 2015
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Not a lawyer by any way shape or form. But been through the process myself but in a significantly more amicable way.

One thing my solicitor banged in to my head from day 1 is I do not have the automatic right to see my children. End of.

However my children do have the automatic right to see me if they so wished. No one could deny then that right (unless they were at risk from harm by coming to me, which in most cases they are not).

That frame of mind helped me a lot when dealing with my ex. Your situation is clearly more complex and I never ended up physically in court as everything was agreed mutually.

But perhaps you could explore the angle that the mother is denying your child THEIR right to see you.
back to Boeing is offline  
Old 26th Mar 2018, 20:59
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Join Date: Dec 2014
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I’m not a legal eagle so can’t help, but I’m sorry to hear of your situation. There is still a massive bias towards mothers here.

Hope you find a solution
Meester proach is offline  
Old 27th Mar 2018, 12:50
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Join Date: Jan 2007
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JJBFLY

I'm a former divorce lawyer undergoing a divorce with child contact issues, and I am a loco Captain, so I completely understand your difficulties.

However, like Back to Boeing, I've managed to keep things amicable with my ex and therefore my personal experience won't help much.

The sad fact is that where things have reached the court phase, you are fighting a rearguard action.

However my children do have the automatic right to see me if they so wished
is not entirely accurate. The presumption is that it is in the childrens' best interests to have contact with the absent parent. Luckily my ex wholehearedly agrees. But it's not a 'right' as far as I recall.

Conversely, where the parent with residence is making contact difficult, your best bet is to take what you can get and hope that over time you can increase trust and flexibility with your ex. Once the children are old enough to voice their desires, the pendulum will start to swing back your way. Children have a habit of rebelling at certain ages. The absent parent then becomes an attractive refuge.

Good luck. I feel for you.
Mikehotel152 is offline  
Old 27th Mar 2018, 15:20
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Join Date: Nov 2017
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JBFLY....... I'm sorry to hear of your problems, I have heard all of this before. Much of the above is good advice, the only thing I will say Mikehotel152 might not be completely up to date, with appologies.

He is still correct that if it is deemed to be in the best interests of the children you will get contact to work around your work. One of the things North American pilots will tell you that English Family Law is about twenty years behind the USA and Canada.

But things are changing as follows:

(a) Parental Alienation has now being recognised by the CEO of CAFCASS after twenty years, so the court will now start to punishing mothers and fathers who hold the residence order, if they will not facilitate. They can also make the parent do community service now as it is abuse. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/201...rtners-guilty/

(b) Residence orders no longer exist, the court now issue Child Arrangement Orders.
https://www.gov.uk/looking-after-chi...of-court-order

(c) Courts now require an attempt at mediation before the case can go forward. From my experience family lawyers are probably the last people who should be mediation.

(d) Courts now encourage parents to draw up a Parenting Plan which will form part of a Child Arrangement Order.

(e) If you already have a court order, if the other side agrees, you can ask for a variation of the order, and a child arrangement order based on the Parenting Plan.

(f) CAFCASS have a booklet on Parenting Plans, but it is crap. Google Justice Canada Parent Plan, they have a great template. This includes things like 'the father will spend days that are special to him on birthdays, fathers day, etc. Again if you can not agree who the children will spend Chistmas with, then you would have to say you will alternate Christmas' with your children. The mother will probably not agree to this point. http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/fl-df/parent/plan.html

(g) Consider attending your local Families Need Fathers meeting, they are about once a month and you will meeting fathers, mothers and granparents who are having issues with contact. The next meeting is on 5th April 2018. http://www.liverpool.fnf.org.uk/

(h) Going back to points a and d, if you can agree, attend court both in person, infact the worse thing is when one person is respresent and the other isn't. In fact recently a couple of very senior judges have suggested that an inquisatorial hearings would make life alot easier. By that the judge asks questions of you both, you can make requestions or suggestions through the judge, but he can not advise.

(i) If you take this matter back on the basis of a parenting plan and Child Arrangement Order, as it has previously been in court, I have a feeling there is no further fees, just make reference to the previous hearing. Again if you sort this via a Child Arrangement Order, it usually fairly informal in the judges chambers sitting around a conference table. You should be able to take a friend with you they are good for note taking.

(j) If there is a breach of the order, as the courts are very slow, you can apply for a without notice order (injunction), if you ask for the hearing lets say at 1000 on a Monday morning, serve the papers at the latest moment on the previous Friday before the hearing, so at or before 10.00. This way you ex probably will not find a solicitor in time.

(k) On the subject of solicitors fees, if you ex is on a low income, then she will not get legal.

(l) Court clerks at you family court tend to be helpful.


I wish you all the best, I will post some links, if you have any further questions post them here of PM me.

The above applies to England and Wales only.

Last edited by anchorhold; 27th Mar 2018 at 15:40.
anchorhold is offline  
Old 28th Mar 2018, 09:25
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That's a good summary of the (mine)field from anchorhold.

Indeed, I am out of date! Thankfully. it was a horrible field in which to spend one's working life. However, I would add that all the procedural steps and factors mentioned in your summary were present in one form or another when I was practising.

With one exception: The idea of community service for uncooperate resident parents is a great step forward because unlike fining or jailing, it does not have a negative effect on the child.
Mikehotel152 is offline  
Old 28th Mar 2018, 10:58
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Thanks Mikehotel152, I agree unfortunately it is a horrible field and the impression I get is that more young childless women are entering into family law as barristers or solicitors, I think lot of 'hands on' fathers these days do not want to practice in family law.

Back to JBBFLY just a couple more points:

(a) Further a recent development if you are represented, and if you need a barrister, you can now find 'direct access' barristers, this means you can cut out the middle man in terms of the solicitor. The only down side is you might need to be good at paperwork and be able to put together the bundles (evidence), however the barrister would probably write the skeleton argument.

(b) If you go down the Litigant in person (LIP) route there is a free guide which you can download to you PC in PDF format. It is quite lengthy, but an up to date guide and good for reference and it is wrtten by five circuit judges. Here is the link:
https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/publica...-civil-221013/

(c) If you are a LIP, while historically you can bring a litigation friend, often called a McKenzie friend, some charge expenses, but to warn you that there is a move in law to ban them, firstly attending court and secondly charging expenses. But if you want a friend to attend with you, it is normally couteous to ask the judge's permission through a court clerk, even though the judge I doubt can refuse. It is just that a hearing in private is not open to the general public which is why you should ask.

(d) Finally, if you win your case you can claim expenses against the other party. So £17.00/hr for your time, photocopies at £10.00 for the first 10, thereafter 50p per sheet, so a 300 page bundle you can charge around £155 a bundle, you may need up to five. Also remember to keep a log of your calls, emails, travelling expenses, etc.. One final thing there was a recent case in the high court where two parents were wrongly prevented from seeing their children by social services for one year, the local authority had to compensate the parents for £12,000. I know of a father who is attempting to apply to same to a mother who will not let him see his children, despite a contact order. It might be worth considering, on the other hand perhapps that might make things more adversarial, which might not be the best way forward.
anchorhold is offline  
Old 28th Mar 2018, 23:17
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Join Date: Oct 2005
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Guys,

Many thanks for your ongoing advice and taking the time to provide such detailed insight and additional research - thank you. I am beginning to realise that no matter how good a court order will be, it will always rely on the premise that two professional adults can communicate, within a framework that has your child’s needs paramount. You cannot have a court order which instructs the two parents to communicate positively. Unfortunately, I fear that when this is not possible, Cafcass needs to get involved. I will be continuing the fight to ensure my child is able to have a relationship with his father and your help and advice have steered me in new directions to be able to pursue this. Thank you
JJBFLY is offline  
Old 29th Mar 2018, 13:16
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Join Date: Nov 2017
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JBBFLY... I need to say CAFCASS are completely useless, but it is your right to ask the judge to get them involved. I should also point out that a CAFCASS officer can refer you to a separated parenting course, also equally useless.

Your best course is to agree a parenting plan and variation of the court order if ex Mrs JBBFLY will agree.
anchorhold is offline  

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