My partner and I are after a bit of advice as mother has scheduled swimming lessons for the children during my partners contact time.
Just to clarify more before people wonder what the problem is, my partner taking the children to swimming lessons is not the issue as it allows him to partake in extra curricular activities with the children.
The problem is that the swimming lessons are 2 minutes down the road from mums house and are scheduled in the middle of the day.
When the lessons first started my partner only had day contact so when the children were collected at 9.30am it wasn''t feasible for him to drive them back to our home because by that time he would then have to leave the house to return them to where they had just came from.
Instead what we used to do was try and stay local to mums area by doing something in the morning, taking them swimming then entertaining them again before returning them at 4.30am. Although this saved on fuel & doing 6 trips in one day and the girls spending over 2 hours in the back of the car it still proved expensive trying to keep them entertained in the area for that day.
My partner has now started having them on alternate weekends for 1 night, however as he he is still expected to take them swimming in the morning it is still proving problematic as he has to drive past mums house to take them swimming then again to save fuel and travelling time in the car he either has to pass time in the area or do the additional travelling back to our home to then after a few hours do the repeated journey back to mums house again.
He doesn''t have a problem taking them swimming and is thinking of suggesting to the ex that instead of taking them to the one by her house, he''ll take them to our local swimming baths instead. However we are not sure she''ll agree to this as the courses are prepaid.
He is also concerned as his time with the children is already limited and he feels resticted in what he can do with with the girls on a Sunday as the swimming lessons are in the middle of the day by mums house. It means that if we wanted to go out for the day or just do our own thing with the girls we can''t do it.
My partner is also thinking about just dropping them back to mum after swimming and cutting the Sunday contact short and instead asking for him to be able to collect the girls from school on Friday just so he can make up his contact time else where. Again though we know mum won''t agree to this.
If she will not agree to changing his staying day to the Friday then make it very clear to her that you will go along with this until the end of this block of lessons but after that you will not be taking them on the alternate week. Suggest she could book them into a mid week after school lesson instead.
They are 10 week block sessions and we were under the pretense that they would be finished at the beginning of March but what mum did was enrol them again on another 10 week course straight after without consulting my partner, which is due to finish mid May.
Mum even told my partner that he is expected to take them swimming on father''s day in June, which leads us to believe she intends to enrol after the May one too despite the children telling us that that didn''t have to go swimming when it was mothers day.
Whilst extra curricular activities are important, particularly swimming lessons, contact time with dad is also important, if not more so. As it is he doesn''t get to see them much, and a lot of his time with them is, as you say, cut short by the swimming lessons, and not good quality time because of all the travelling to take them to these lessons.
It is therefore reasonable that mum should accept a compromise in this situation. I think your partner collecting the girls on a Friday evening and returning them on the Sunday evening every other weekend is perfectly acceptable, and is in fact considered to be very normal contact, and what most NRP''s enjoy, along with half of all holidays and alternate Christmases etc.
If all your partner is getting in terms of contact is 1 night per fortnight, then this isn''t enough, and add to that the swimming lessons, and it''s less than satisfactory.
I think he has two options here. He could write to mum formally, saying he doesn''t wish for the girls to give up their swimming lessons, but as it is, and as he is expected to take them to these lessons, his contact time is cut short and so he therefore wants to have them from Friday to Sunday to have more quality time with them (he could add that he wishes to take them out for the day, or visit their extended family). Or, if he hasn''t got a Contact Order and mum doesn''t agree to any changes to the current regime, he asks her to attend mediation to try and sort this out and then, if unresolved, applies to the Court for a contact order. As it goes, the Courts take a very dim view of activities being arranged, seemingly deliberately, during the NRP''s contact time.
ell her you will not be taking them. If she then wants to waste her money when the kids are going to miss every other week then so be it. As for fathers day its your choice what you do with them when its youryou want to d if ay, do something else then do it, she shouldnt be allowed to control your contact time, blooming cheek!!!
Just to give you a bit of background information, my partner has just had his 7th court hearing as the past 2 contact orders were broken by mum and a 3rd one is being sorted at the moment - 8th hearing is scheduled for October with my partner looking to work towards shared residence in the near future.
My partner currently has them for 1 night per fortnight and 2 nights (Fri-Sun) commences in July. He''s then looking to increase this to 3 nights (Fri-Mon with drops off/pick ups to take place at school) but mum is stalling on this.
Between then and the next hearing in Oct he has them on 3 separate occasions for 3 nights, however he is looking to share the holidays as much as he can when this is next sorted at court.
He also has a similar problem with regard to birthday parties. Mum asked him to take the girls to 2 birthday parties - one was on the saturday just gone and the other is on 21st Apr, which again both are on the Saturday afternoon over mums way but even further than her house so with the party and travelling it would have taken over 4 hours.
He told mum that he hasn''t got a problem with taking the girls to parties in the future when his contact increases but as it stands when he''s expected to spend the whole afternoon taking them to a parties then driving them to swimming every Sunday his time is even more restricted.
It''s great this is going through Court, as it sounds like he has his hands full with a mother who just wants to control his time with his girls! That is not acceptable. Regarding the birthday parties, well they will just have to miss out, which won''t do them any harm and happens to lots of kids in this situation. There will be other parties to attend. However, if mum is insistent they attend, she can take them and give your partner alternative contact!
Make sure your partner keeps copies of all correspondence between him and his ex regarding all the things she wants him to do during his contact time to produce at the next hearing. It''s important that the Court get to see how she is trying to manipulate and control his time with the girls. It is generally considered that during contact time, the contact parent can do whatever they wish with this children, and the RP has no right to interfere with that whatsoever.
I remember when my husband took his ex to Court for Enforcement, she tried to argue with the Judge that she had blocked contact for a good reason (relatives coming to tea) ... the Judge said, very forcefully ''I don''t care if you had the Queen coming to tea!! You do NOT, ever, organise things within his contact time''.