I hope somebody can advise me, I can''t afford a solicitor any more and my kids and I are trapped in a very difficult situation.
I have a shared residence agreement with my ex, and have had for the past 6 months - we split the week equally (I wanted more, but as ex doesn''t work solicitor advised me to go for this).
Ex is extremely bitter and has never allowed me to visit the flat where he lives with the boys, plus he pressurises our elder son not to talk to me about what happens when he is with him. Ex constantly asks for money, although I pay him child maintenance, and tells our boys that I am his ''enemy''.
We are supposed to share school holidays ''by agreement'', and even though I begged him not to, Ex has booked 3 weeks abroad with the boys at the end of the 6 week break, which lead into his half of the week, meaning I won''t see them for almost a month (our youngest is only 4).
Today was one of ex''s days to have the boys and our son was taking part in a play in town. When ex realised I planned to go he brought both boys back to me and said I could take them to the play and keep them till Monday as he wouldn''t be in the hall with me. I was happy to have them but my son was upset - I feel so helpless, and I''m afraid of the court process, but I want to try and get full residence, so my ex can''t carry on doing this to us.
Can anyone advise me about how to go about changing residency arrangements? My ex will never agree so I will have to go to court.
The problems are that the outcome of a good proportion of residence applications is shared residence and there is a risk that the time you have the children is decreased. That is perhaps why your solicitor advised 50:50 shared care.
If you make an application the court must give regard to the welfare checklist in s1 Children Act 1989. Factors include the background such as the existing patterns of work and child care and the effects any change may have on the children. Generally it is agreed that children''s sense of security and established bonds shouldn''t be disrupted and it''s an uphill struggle changing the status quo.
Not being allowed to visit the flat is par for the course I''m afraid, separated parents need to establish autonomy.
3 or 4 weeks is a long time for a 4 year old not to see a parent and if it would things better for the children you could apply for a specific issue order to sort out the holiday arrangements. Alternatively you could apply for a shared residence order so that the holiday and living arrangements are defined. Conditions can be attached for both parents not to denigrate each other or quiz children about what they do at each others house. It might also be worth considering renegotiating arrangements. Week about might be a more settled arrangement than changing midweek. If your youngest is only just four she might still find this difficult but if she is nearly five it could work fine.
The application form for all s8 orders (Contact, Residence, Specific Issues and Prohibited Steps) is C100 which you can download from somewhere on this site or the Ministry of Justice website and there are also guides CB1 and CB3.
Thank you Fiona, I really appreciate your advice. How do I go about applying for a specific issue order?
Also, can I deal with more than one specific issue at once? My ex is not dropping our son at his nursery on changeover day as agreed in our order, but leaving him at preschool which finishes at 12, so I''m having to leave work in the middle of the day once a week to collect him and drop him at nursery. Work are being ok about it but I can''t keep asking. Could that be dealt with as part of the same specific issue order as the holiday?