I have tried trawling through lots of other posts and searches but as every situation is different I hope people don’t mind responding to my questions which have probably been asked 100’s of times before!
I have been separated from my ex for nearly 4 years and have a daughter who is nearly 5. Contact has always been informally agreed and in general has been one day at the weekend with an evening in the week. This seemed reasonable when the little one was tiny etc but there was always an understanding that it would progress to overnight stays and holidays when she grew older.
Well older she is and I have since been told that overnight stays are not going to happen so I applied for mediation which she has refused. I have received the FM1 form and filled out the C100 form which seemed quite straight forward. I have also come to the realisation that a contact order was always inevitable so am feeling pleased that this should all come to an end soon enough (it’s probably missed placed optimism but you need hope)!
Ideally I want what seems to be “standard” and that is alternate weekends, alternate xmas’s and birthdays plus half of the school holidays. Is it reasonable to ask for an overnight stay in the week too? Her school is not far from my house and I can easily drop her off.
I am planning on self-representing as I hope this is all fairly straight forward. We have absolutely no abuse or drug problems etc and I don’t see that I’m asking for anything unreasonable. Am I likely to get torn apart in court? I am a confident, articulate and educated person but may be like a rabbit in the headlights if some nasty solicitor see’s a weakness! Am I jeopardising access if I self-represent?
I will keep the questions at that as this is where I am at the moment. I certainly foresee a load more issues if a contact order is put in place as my ex has already said that she will not stand by it! Is it worth mentioning that in court? I have the text messages!
I have kept the C100 brief. Any comments on what I have put on the form?:
“We have had informal arrangements for contact since separating with an understanding that contact would be increased with overnight stays as ****** grew up. Requests for overnight visits have always been refused so I requested mediation to come to a formal arrangement and this has also been refused.
I would like the court to put in place a contact order which granted overnight visits at weekends and a share of school holidays which would allow me to plan activities and holidays in order to have a normal relationship with my daughter which isn’t restricted to 10 hours in duration.
The respondent gives very little reasoning to refusing or working towards overnight stays or refusing mediation.”
As always, great resource and thanks in advance to anyone who responds, I REALLY do appreciate it.
Dont think you are asking for anything unreasonable.
The only think i would suggest re mid week contact is that some judges think its disruptive, so maybe ask for longer weekends rather than actual mid week eg alternate weekends starting thursday collect from school to monday return to school.
Also have a plan on how to gradually increase contact rather than asking for loads straight away. so this year 4 weeks holiday leading up to 6 eventually.
If I was you I would self rep to begin with and if you find you lack confidence then bring in a barrister.
What you are asking for isn''t unreasonable.Whether or not you get it depends on the Judge.Some are good some are bad.
It may take 2/3 hearings to get where you want to be so don''t expect it all to be over at the first hearing.The judge will take more notice of your ex rather than you so that slows up the process.
Self repping is easy enough if you are confident and have the time to prepare stuff. I did it years ago and found it ok. You can get loads of help from various organisations. Have you looked at Families Need Fathers?
Like others say come up with a plan to build it up over a few months rather than goung straight from A to B.
Regarding mid week contact how far from the school are you? If its not going to mean travelling miles then it doesn''t need to be disruptive. Make it the same night every week maybe with an activity that you always take her to such as Rainbows or swimming lesson.
Ex wont comply with a court order? Thats her look out but her threat not to comply is hardly reason not to go ahead. Courts have a lot of powers to deal with people that don''t comply.
I''ll put together a comprehensive plan for easing the transition to more contact. I have been trying to start this process already by suggesting getting ready for bed at my house before going home, bath etc but it is obviously a path which my ex doesn''t want to walk.
I wondered if there is likely to be any tricks that I''m going to come up against in court? The only reason my ex has ever given for not allowing overnight stays has been that she doesn''t think the little one wants to, whereas when we''ve spent the day together she talks about staying all the time. This is completely understandable, especially considering that she co-sleeps with my ex and has never spent a night apart, not even at grand parents etc. Now I see this as a way she can control the situation and on occassion has caused problems for the little one. My ex''s father was critically ill in hospital and the little one spent a week staying in the hospital when I believe she would have been far better off visiting yet staying at my house. It caused months of problems with separation anxiety with school (thankfully not when coming to me), and she doesn''t even have her own bed at her mums.
There are many things like this which will make it more difficult than it need be to transition to staying over, but if she has the option once a contact order has been put in place it will make it much easier as I can at least tell her she can stay when she wants, get ready for bed etc.
I assume that if I make it clear she is welcome to sllep in my bed or a separate bed in my room, or her bed in her room (whatever she likes) then that would be acceptable and the fact that she co-sleeps with her mum wont be a reason to stop staying contact? It''s really the only defense I see my ex as having.
Thanks again for the time you all have taken to reply.
I''ve read your message and you seem very caring. I hope it all goes well for you.
I would advise that you don''t give her the option of sleeping in your bed or room. At some point this will be unsustainable (a 5 year old really shouldn''t be doing this anyway). My advice is if you are able to arrange overnight stays that you make all the changes at once. She will very quickly learn that at daddy''s house she sleeps in her own room.
I did this with my son when we moved. We changed him from a cot to a bed at the same time so it was like new bedroom, new bed, new rules. We had one night with a bit of crying and he never looked back after that. He was only 12 months old at the time so hadn''t had the chance to get settled into bad habits. You may have some difficulty in getting her out of her parents'' beds but it has to be done eventually, might as well do it as soon as you can.
A 5 year old child co-sleeping with mum probably won''t earn her any ''points'' in blocking overnight contact, likely the opposite.
Hi, I''m new to the site and can''t advise but just wanted to say really good luck to you. You sound totally reasonable in your request to have an ''as normal as possible'' relationship with your daughter.