wife taking children – we've not agreed contact time yet
11 April 2019 at 11:36 pm #23409
so the situation continues to deteriorate ; now the wife is arranging to move out. I’ve been given what she thinks is appropriate contact time (every other weekend) and i’m not sure of my options. I really want 50/50% with my kids and every other weekend isn’t anywhere close … my concern is once she’s moved out and established this as the new routine it will be hard to change.12 April 2019 at 7:51 am #23412
Who is currently the primary caregiver?
How old are the children?
Who normally drops and collects from school?
Do the children attend wraparound care or crèches etc?
Do you and your wife both wirk
you are right that a precedent could well be set if she only permits Eow.12 April 2019 at 7:59 am #23413
There has to be some kind of arrangement initially for consistency. The kids need to know where they stand and the important thing is to get a pattern. When I moved out it was split with her having midweek and me having weekends, I asked her to choose which. This in time evolved to me taking my son two days a week midweek and then every other weekend as this gives her a rest midweek plus gives both of us quality time with him and we are just flexible now so that we cover if there are any changes.
My son is really happy with that as he sees both parents cooperating and both wanting time with him and making sure the other is able to see him without problems. He cones first.
It’s difficult when one parent moves far away though and courts tend to put the onus on the one that moves away to ensure they make every effort to enable the other parent to continue visitation unless there are specific grounds not to.
Visitation when there are no factors such as child protection issues or concerns etc is something matrimonial courts try not to get involved in. Their primary concern is for the welfare of the children in any divorce.
When I was going through mine and naturally you hear horror stories and misinformation and the gloves cone off when separating because of high tension during discussion etc….I’d rather not go into too much detail as it is in the past now but I had a concern about her mental health at the time so wanted to see if I could take him midweek as the primary carer and her have weekends…her response instead of discussion was to immediately suggest I was implying she was an unfit mother and said I was not going to take him away and if I tried that she would apply for sole custody.
On speaking to my solicitor my fears about this irrational behaviour were put to rest when I was told there is no such thing as a custody order in divorce proceedings. It’s to be sorted between the parents and court’s suggestion is that it is healthiest for the child to maintain equal contact with both parents where possible to maintain a healthy relationship with them and that unless there is good cause to intervene where the safety of the child is concerned then it’s up to the parents to sort out.
So that’s something to think about…..is she moving far? With her moving is she making it difficult to maintain visitation?
Would you be able to suggest midweek visitation to try to ease her midweek school runs etc? It’s got to be in the context of not what you want but what will benefit her or the situation. During the first stages of separation how you feel or what you want is at the very bottom of the other partner’s concerns. Solicitors can fan flames and make simple matters complicated and add fuel or potential scenarios that make people think very differently if their partner (just in case) etc, and communication can break down. It did in our case so in the end we binned off mediator and solicitor as we wanted that money to be spent on our son instead. We drew up a consent order and had a good talk about what was best all round and then ran it by a solicitor to check then job done it was all over. I think that was about £500 in total or thereabouts We had already wasted a couple of thousand before that in solicitor and mediation costs and gotten nowhere fast.
While it is important to have council….it’s very important that it is driven by the client and not the solicitor. The solicitor should advise about legal matters or aspects of the present situation not the relationship or what could happen etc. In many cases this is what breaks down communication after initial separation.
Try to encourage mediation with her to discuss the visitation. I’m told it is a prerequisite for divorce now unless there are specific reasons why you are unable to which you have to specify. This would be your opportunity then to discuss what you think was fair and she would need to put her reasons as to why she thought it was unfair etc… and eventually the mediator should be able to help you get to a point where you can agree.12 April 2019 at 11:36 am #23418
I’m super worried about things being established and not being able to unpick them later. I’ve been taking the kids to school two mornings with a view to establishing that
Who is currently the primary caregiver? Shared but mostly my wife.
How old are the children? 5 and 9
Who normally drops and collects from school? My wife as I work … but for the last month I’ve been doing this. I used to do it all the time until I gave up my car some years ago.
Do the children attend wraparound care or crèches etc? Sometimes but not much.
Do you and your wife both work? Wife works one night a week and I work full time … work are on board that I may need to change hours and be flexible.
full time? Yes unfortunately but have been thinking 4 days for a while.13 April 2019 at 8:56 am #23456
You are right that the whole setting a precedent could negatively impact on you.
I would not move out if it’s a family home and am surprised that she is opting to do so, unless she has a partner she’s moving in with or is citing domestic violence. As this would be against the advice any professionals would give.
Presumably she will either be working more to finance herself or be claiming benefits? Moving house and circumstances will mean claiming universal credit so that requires working or proving she’s looking for work for 25 hours at equivalent of minimum wage, or salary equivalent for what she’s working. So she’ll need to earn a minimum of £205 gross a week to claim or be in a work group at the job centre.
So given this, how will she work after the split? The one night and week I presume you facilitated with the childcare. I would be suggesting that you should have at least every other weekend contact, plus say you’ll have two midweek overnights weekly to facilitate her remaining in employment! That way you’re helping her out and it’s in the children’s best interests to be cared for a parent rather than a third party. That would give you 6 out of 14 nights. Which isn’t that far off what you’d like.
If you add in the holidays you’d be able to share those dependent on your allowances etc and what will happen with your wife’s worklife.
The difficulty you have is that she really is the primary caregiver and will quite rightly be reluctant to give up her time with the children when it looks as though on all front she has done the lions share for the years passed! And though you can argue because of a car etc or you were considering cornering hours or going part-time at work, you never did it!
That doesn’t mean tissue shouldn’t be considered however you need to be focusing on what’s in the children’s best interests here and not yours or your wife’s. …..
I would try to discuss her plans for:
Financing said living arrangements in light of UC benefits etc and her work plans
Minimal disruption of the children’s routines – and tbh home arrangements
Parenting plans for the children moving forward, if you cannot agree on day to day maybe work from holiday time, special occasions back to day to day
As a ballpark, majority of non resident parents still do only get eow and maybe a teach visit midweek. Increasingly the nrp is getting more contact but it’s very hit and miss within the legal system at this time.
If she refuses the above, you could try mediation. This is a prelude to court. That would mean if she refuses mediation, or you cannot agree, that you would be able to apply to court for £250 a lot quicker, so have the new pattern as less established.
If she really won’t agree, before the above mentioned, I would email her a copy of your requests re contact, perhaps even outlining why the children should stay with you, amicably! So that your requests for reasonable contact are in black and white. I would also stipulate that you’d be facilitating her to remain working etc. That you’ll be applying for flexible working which work have agreed in principle etc.