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DTMark

Child Visit Arrangements

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I'm trying to assist someone I know who has a bit of a problem with access to their children.

This really isn't about me pretending to be someone else, but I have anonymised the details. There's a lot more "under the surface" but I'll just stick to the salient facts:

Children (twins) lived/live with mother. Accidental pregnancy, mother did not want abortion. Mother lives on benefits and legal aid (the latter has ended for such benefit recipients, I'm told). Both parents live in Stevenage.

Parents separated shortly after birth of children. Lots of issues. Father managed to gain access to see the children only by going via the court route which granted access initially via a "contact centre" and later, says something along the lines of "for four hours once a week at Tesco in Stevenage". Father has always wanted and maintained as much contact as possible with kids but is not in a position to bring them up himself neither financially nor in terms of living arrangements and available time as he has to work. Has always paid maintenance.

Mother has decided, without notification, to move to Newcastle and has written to father to say that the contact can continue except that instead of it being at Tesco in Stevenage, it will be at Tesco in Newcastle.

I'm doing some reading up on this but is my initial inclincation correct, which is that the mother could choose to live anywhere in England as she sees fit as long as she turns up at Tesco in Stevenage every Monday with the kids, and that she's breaching the arrangements stipulated by the court - in which case, this does not involve solicitors visits and so forth, it is simply a criminal matter because it is a breach of a Court order? Is the next step to call the Police who then simply pop round and arrest her because this is a straightforward case not open to subjectivity?

I'm trying to get a copy of said court order to see the exact wording and make sure it doesn't simply say "Tesco", in which case it would appear to have been badly drafted and the mother wins here.

What should the father do, and what would the next steps be?

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I'm trying to assist someone I know who has a bit of a problem with access to their children.

This really isn't about me pretending to be someone else, but I have anonymised the details. There's a lot more "under the surface" but I'll just stick to the salient facts:

Children (twins) lived/live with mother. Accidental pregnancy, mother did not want abortion. Mother lives on benefits and legal aid (the latter has ended for such benefit recipients, I'm told). Both parents live in Stevenage.

Parents separated shortly after birth of children. Lots of issues. Father managed to gain access to see the children only by going via the court route which granted access initially via a "contact centre" and later, says something along the lines of "for four hours once a week at Tesco in Stevenage". Father has always wanted and maintained as much contact as possible with kids but is not in a position to bring them up himself neither financially nor in terms of living arrangements and available time as he has to work. Has always paid maintenance.

Mother has decided, without notification, to move to Newcastle and has written to father to say that the contact can continue except that instead of it being at Tesco in Stevenage, it will be at Tesco in Newcastle.

I'm doing some reading up on this but is my initial inclincation correct, which is that the mother could choose to live anywhere in England as she sees fit as long as she turns up at Tesco in Stevenage every Monday with the kids, and that she's breaching the arrangements stipulated by the court - in which case, this does not involve solicitors visits and so forth, it is simply a criminal matter because it is a breach of a Court order? Is the next step to call the Police who then simply pop round and arrest her because this is a straightforward case not open to subjectivity?

I'm trying to get a copy of said court order to see the exact wording and make sure it doesn't simply say "Tesco", in which case it would appear to have been badly drafted and the mother wins here.

What should the father do, and what would the next steps be?

Doesn't your friend have a copy of the Order?

If it says 'Tesco's at Stevenage', then yes, the mother would surely be breaching the Court Order. I am not sure that would be a criminal matter though.

One thought - though it might be satisfying to force the mother to bring the kids from, say, Newcastle to Stevenage every Monday, the ordeal of such a journey might be unfair on the children, who are the ones that really matter in this case.

I wouldn't let the mother off the hook though. She wcould be effectively forced to move back near Stevenage, I imagine.

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Doesn't your friend have a copy of the Order?

Yes, digging it out now. This has only just happened.

This is a ****fest of some proportions which appears to have no "ideal" answers.

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Tell your mate to contact his local Families Need Fathers branch (I help out with our local FNF branch) - it's NOT fathers 4 justice (although we have the same aims).

There's bound to be an FNF branch local to both areas.

Unfortunately the law on such 'internal re-locations' is pretty poor. The system is a female-biases institutional nightmare. After being through the family court system twice myself (and having to self-represent due to lack of money and also finding out that most lawyers are utter sh1te) I'm aware of the limitations and the realistic ways forward.

Pass my sympathies onto your mate. There IS help and support out there.

Ask your mate to join FNF too - there is a really good forum, he'll get practical advice and support and also he should consider using a McKenzie friend if he's going to go down the legal route again.

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Tell your mate to contact his local Families Need Fathers branch (I help out with our local FNF branch) - it's NOT fathers 4 justice (although we have the same aims).

..

Ask your mate to join FNF too - there is a really good forum, he'll get practical advice and support and also he should consider using a McKenzie friend if he's going to go down the legal route again.

Just wanted to thank you for the post - that FNF website looks really useful, have passed on the URL and will take a look through that.

All has gone quiet for now so I'll probably hear more from him tomorrow.

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Your friend's guiding light: the well being of the children is all that matters.

Parents who lose sight of that are put straight by the court. But it's tricky.

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Your friend's guiding light: the well being of the children is all that matters.

Parents who lose sight of that are put straight by the court. But it's tricky.

That is largely what this is all about.

Of course, I have only heard one side of the story.

However the woman in question has undisputable "issues".

Mckenzie friend.

Why is she moving?

A bloke?

He doesn't know, but suspects not. Believes that the woman's parents/grandparents live there so she may have moved back in with them.

The rest of the family, which would be her natural support group, lives in Stevenage so she's leaving them behind.

It could just be lack of money. It could be some sort of addiction. Could be that she's terminally depressed. The entire family seems to have some sort of issues which are inter-generational. That said, mate isn't perfect, but accepts his responsibilities and wants to discharge them.

I have seen some of the history of communications and she appears to be a rather unhinged, nasty, spiteful, seriously messed-up individual. Mate was prepared to give it the best possible shot, but she frankly made it impossible. The suspicion is that she "just wanted the kids".

There are a few clues in those lines above which link back to the reply to okaycuckoo's post.

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The sad reality is that the parent who is responsible for the children can basically mind-feck the other parent - it takes time and money for the courts to do anything and, of course, results in a lot of stress for the parent fighting to see his/her children... and also for the kids.

Parents who do this kind of thing are basically using their children as weapons in a never-ending war against the former spouse.

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The sad reality is that the parent who is responsible for the children can basically mind-feck the other parent - it takes time and money for the courts to do anything and, of course, results in a lot of stress for the parent fighting to see his/her children... and also for the kids.

Parents who do this kind of thing are basically using their children as weapons in a never-ending war against the former spouse.

From what I have read about what has happened, this is indeed what has gone on. One of the aspects that hurts the most is that while he accepts he doesn't have the nice three bed semi to welcome them to and enough money to lay off work for 18 years and bring them up, this is far from ideal all round, if he does not see them then apart from not knowing how they are, they will be poisoned against him and he will lose all contact with them. Add in the "issues" she had and has, and I really do feel for him.

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Sadly, the fact is that the father has little or no rights in practice.

The world sees the children as belonging to the Mother.

Always.

Just look at those cases where a foreign father takes his children abroad, the UK Press goes beserk in trying to get them back, regardless of the issues involved.

There is always horror when a foreign court supports the father.

Best thing that he can do is keep full records and give them to the children when they are 16.

My friend did this, his ex-wife was devastated when her two sons went to live with their father. As the first one was over 16, there was nothing that she could do. The fourteen year old then just turned up on his father's doorstep and refused to go home.

My friend contacted his lawyer and the case was in court the following day.

As soon as the Judge heard the 14 year old say that he wanted to be with his father and brother, he granted the order.

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Hope things go OK for your mate, feel free to PM me and I can pass any advice on.

There used to be a stevenage branch meeting, but according to the FNF branch list they are on hold for now. There is a very good Newcastle FNF branch, I know John Painter personally, he's a good bloke. Worthwhile your mate contacting them directly - they will know the layout of the land regarding local court practice and should he need to use a McKenzie friend in the area better to go via the local branch.

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Hope things go OK for your mate, feel free to PM me and I can pass any advice on.

There used to be a stevenage branch meeting, but according to the FNF branch list they are on hold for now. There is a very good Newcastle FNF branch, I know John Painter personally, he's a good bloke. Worthwhile your mate contacting them directly - they will know the layout of the land regarding local court practice and should he need to use a McKenzie friend in the area better to go via the local branch.

Thanks so much jfk.

I haven't caught up with him yet, he'll only just have finished work, so I'll give him a call and catch up later on this evening.

The issues surrounding legal aid - that the woman always managed to get the State to pay for that since she's on benefits, but he could not and paid (I think) over £1000 for representation last time - have been a problem but the link you gave gives some really good ideas and it's really positive to know there's a support channel/group.

The locations in question are not, actually, Stevenage and Newcastle (though the distance between them is representative), the details have been anonymised slightly. I'll drop you a PM... and, again, thanks for your interest and posts.Really appreciated.

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Glad to help. FNF is the biggest charity for shared parenting. By all means have a look at fathers4justice ... they get a bad press but they are mainly just blokes who are getting shafted by the system.

Legal aid is being cut for family cases - and not surprsingly as most solicitors provide a crap service for £150-200 per hour, the system has been abused for too long and for too much expense. I know of people who have spent THOUSANDS on their cases and got nowhere. I know personally of one person who stopped counting at £60k - they remortgaged their house. They went all the way to the Court of Appeal (before the 'great' Lord Justice Thorpe himself) ... and lost. Horrendous.

Anyway, legal aid will be granted in cases where there is domestic violence ... so expect dirty tricks to be played and false accusations to be the norm. We don't know how DV is to evidenced, apparently it is to be evidenced fairly rigorously (rather than now where mum just says she's scared and so gets lots of dosh) requiring medical and police evidence, rather than a letter from, say, a refuge. We wait and see.

Anyway, hope your mate gets the help he needs. He needs to prepare himself for war - because that is what it is. The biased adversarial system we have sets parents up against each other. His arguments will need to be child-focused and not about his 'rights' because he has none. The kids have rights - to have a long term meaningful relationship with BOTH parents. If she's moved ... that may be a problem. He may have to consider long term if he can re-locate....

First things first though.

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This should be required reading too:

How Personality Disorders Drive Family Court Litigation

Also look up Amy Baker - she's a psychologist who's done some really really interesting longitudinal studies on children who have experienced Parental Alienation Syndrome (e.g. bad mouthing of the other parent), and is very interested in the long-term effects on children of parental separation and conflict.

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I can't see a judge putting something like "at Tesco" in it, not without Tesco's permission, which would not be given,

liability issues, etc. The judge would be aware of that.

Probably says mutually agreeable "public place" or something.

It's not right to just up sticks and leave without going via the court first or getting the other parent to agree, although

the woman could say she was being threatened etc....

How about suggesting he agree to meet half way somewhere on the main train line route, at least he might get to see them

then and not be dragging his kids all over the country.

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Sorry to hear about your friends access problems.

Is he named as the father on the birth certificates?

Is there any history of domestic violence which would preclude him having more regular access and sometimes overnight stays?

I think he may need a prohibitive steps order if he wants to stop the move.

Hope is he able to sort things out.

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jfk - thanks for the reading tips.

I can't see a judge putting something like "at Tesco" in it, not without Tesco's permission, which would not be given,

liability issues, etc. The judge would be aware of that.

Probably says mutually agreeable "public place" or something.

It's not right to just up sticks and leave without going via the court first or getting the other parent to agree, although

the woman could say she was being threatened etc....

How about suggesting he agree to meet half way somewhere on the main train line route, at least he might get to see them

then and not be dragging his kids all over the country.

"Mutually agreeable" would be the key phrase. It may come to them meeting half-way, but that's a very long train journey for both of them once a week, one that I suspect she (and possibly he) will not be able to afford.

Sorry to hear about your friends access problems.

Is he named as the father on the birth certificates?

Is there any history of domestic violence which would preclude him having more regular access and sometimes overnight stays?

I think he may need a prohibitive steps order if he wants to stop the move.

Hope is he able to sort things out.

Yes, he is named as the father. There is no history of violence (in fact, though I believe she has alleged it) but I don't think staying overnight will be an option for either of them. She's such a nutcase that I don't think he would feel safe (not joking).

I have lots of stuff to pass on to him now and I'll be seeing him this evening - thanks.

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jfk - thanks for the reading tips.

"Mutually agreeable" would be the key phrase. It may come to them meeting half-way, but that's a very long train journey for both of them once a week, one that I suspect she (and possibly he) will not be able to afford.

Yes, he is named as the father. There is no history of violence (in fact, though I believe she has alleged it) but I don't think staying overnight will be an option for either of them. She's such a nutcase that I don't think he would feel safe (not joking).

I have lots of stuff to pass on to him now and I'll be seeing him this evening - thanks.

Wish him well, and let him know that lots of people have been in the same boat and come out the other side with great relationships with their kids.

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I've been through similar with my three kids. Social services got involved and sorted contact arrangements. Eldest daughter (7) lives with me now. It's hard work being a single parent, I'm not sure how many blokes really understand what's involved.

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I've got a friend who's just fessed up he's losing his house cos they reckon he has child support arrears.

:(

There's probably more to it than that.

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  • 238 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

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