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Court order to make dad schedule contact properly?

Posted by: Anonymous
Wed 22, Mar 2017 at 3:42pm
After Separation

Hi, new to this site. Have been separated to my ex for just under a year, we have 3 children together. He works shifts but is able to find out way in advance if he wants to, what his shift pattern is. We have an informal agreement that he sees the children when he has a day off but he will never tell me in advance when this is (deliberately, so I can't plan anything. He was possessive in our relationship). He is currently giving me approx. 2 days notice. He rarely has them overnight, which he justifies by saying he has to put in overtime to make ends meet now he has moved out. However he deliberately puts overtime in on the least convenient days, blocking having overnight contact (i.e. when he has 4 days off, he puts in to work the middle 2 days). He is approx. 45-60 min drive away, so having them after school is a lot of driving and little quality time.

However when we argue about the minimal amount of effort he puts in (e.g. never telephoning his children, even on their birthday) he says things like "don't you dare try and stop me seeing my children!"

I've always said he can have them literally whenever he wants, even if he picks them up for a couple of hours in our local park in the summer months.

I'm going to apply for a Court order to try and make the contact more regular and predictable, with him telling me in advance. I would particularly like for him to have them Friday-Sunday the one week he has Thursday-Sunday off - that's just one weekend a month, which I don't think is unreasonable.

However, from what I've read, it seems an order is more enforceable when it's the resident parent refusing to let the non-resident parent have contact, but you can't "force" a parent to have contact (however he does say he wants to see them, it's about when). He cancelled mediation following the MIAM and has refused to work on a Parenting Plan. The only thing he wishes to discuss is the mortgage.

Has anyone been in this situation? I'm hoping that the potential threat of a court fine if we can get an order in place will stop him acting so immaturely and let us put some stability in the children's lives.

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  • Pc jaybee (moderator) Flag

    Sorry you've had to wait for a response to your post but thank you for sending it in.
    As mediation didn't happen it seems like you've had no option but to go to court. However, that doesn't mean there's no more room for negotiation. So, when you get court, by all means, put your ideas forward but be prepared to be flexible if your ex comes up with something reasonable.
    Much is said about how powerful a resident parent's position is but your situation is certainly the exception to that. You're right, there's no way of enforcing a requirement for a parent to take up contact. This may be less than you would like but I guess it wouldn't work for your kids to have to see their dad if he didn't really want to see them.
    I get what you're saying about him leaving you not able to make plans for yourself. It sounds like you suspect this is deliberate.
    What sort of Dad was he when you were together? Might it also be that he feels a bit out of his depth having all 3 of them on his own? If so, be prepared to 'start small' if this helps your kids to get used to being with him again; and him with them. Things might improve as he gets more confident about looking after them.

    Wed 29, Mar 2017 at 3:40pm