Mt ex left in Feb 2011. He moved abroad. He then returned to the UK in August 2011 and moved 200 miles away from where the children live. In March 2012 he then moved abroad again and is still there.
There has been no direct contact with the children now ages 7 & 4 since he left in Feb 2011. I made offers of contact, but he refused.
There was indirect contact arrangements in place, weekly telephone calls which were sporadic to say the least, and stopped in Nov 2011. He has never sent any letters or cards, which I asked him to do.
So, he now claims that he is going to apply for a contact order. I have asked for us to attend mediation, as there is a lot to talk about. One of our sons is Autistic, which presents many difficulties. Ex was offered contact on many occasions but refused. He hasn''t seen them for 16 months. The children will need a lot of support if he really does want contact.
Our son who has Autism needs a lot of care and has a mental health team around him as he has an awful lot of issues. I am learning how to deal with him and daily life, and Dad has no idea about him. I have professionals who work within our home as leaving the house is impossible some days. Contact is going to have to be centered around this, and I don''t think dad will accept this.
He says he is not willing to attend mediation, as he cannot afford to travel regularly.
I just doubt his commitment. He is already saying he cannot commit to mediation, and I honestly doubt his commitment to contact.
My first question is, if he applies for a contact order, will he be excused from attending mediation on the grounds that he lives abroad? Will my son''s needs be taken into account?
There is no compulsion to attend mediation. The applicant is expected to arrange a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting. It''s up to the discretion of the judge in the individual case but if there has been no MIAM the risk your ex runs is the court refusing to hear the case and being referred to mediation at the first hearing.
When determining contact the court must give regard to best interests of the child''s welfare. Any special needs have to be taken into account along with the security of your son knowing and seeing his Dad. Children who are insecure about their identity tend to have low self esteem leading to emotional and behavioural problems in later life. Therefore contact is very rarely refused even if it isn''t that often and it''s a case of thinking about how it can managed.
I guess from his attitude to mediation that he is proposing the children visit him abroad for contact? How does he propose thats going to work? You put your kids on a flight at one end and he collects at the other? Surely given your circumstances it would be easier and cheaper for him to visit the children closer to their home given your sons needs.
If he wants a contact order he is going to have to apply to your local court so he''ll still have to travel. I would let him go for it. Then when it gets to court you show them all the paperwork where you have offered contact, everything about your sons condition and say you are not blocking contact but you have asked ex to attend mediation so you can discuss your sons complex needs and come to mutual arrangement.
Have you thought about what level of contact you are willing to agree to?
Fiona - Thanks for the advice I think it is important that the children see their Dad, and trying to sort out how contact would work best, is the reason I really want to attend mediation. My son has to attend school, but because of his condition, the school and health professionals know that it will not be possible on a full time basis. He will go to school 2 hours a day, to be reviewed every 3 months. Its a lot of trial and error, and some schooling is better than none.
Visits abroad are a long long way off. He has in the pas,t threatened to remove the children from the UK jurisdiction so I will not be agreeing to that.
I am not blocking contact, and have in the past offered it. Its of paramount importance that my son''s care needs are met. My son''s medical team has recommended little but often contact. That''s not to happen from abroad is it. My son has no concept of past/present or concept ideas so trying to explain contact to him will be impossible.
I suppose i will just sit and wait and see if just another bullying tactic or whether it actually cones to fruition.
Boysmum you sound like you really are thinking of your child.
Dad says he cant afford to travel to mediation - how will he afford contact then? Or perhaps your child with all his issues is meant to travel to him?
He intends to apply to court - let him - the judge will assess whether he should have accepted mediation, and then will either adjourn it for that or not
If it goes forward and mediation isnt needed, I am certain that a Cafcass or some typ of welfare report would have to be ordered purley on the basis of your childs needs.
At this point then there can be discussions about how contact can be managed etc and I am sure that you will be able to put across your concerns.
Ultimately if dad lives abroad then contacts either going to be indirect, or he is going to have to travel. If he has made the threat to remove them then you should raise that if it gets as far as court.
The affordability is one of my main concerns. Like you say, if he can''t afford mediation, which is just the starting point, how will things progress?
The last thing I want, is for some sort of direct contact to start, and stop within weeks/months because he cannot afford it. It would be unfair of both of the children, but extra care and caution is always needed with my youngest. He doesn''t have the understanding of other children his age. It has taken over a year to work through Separation Anxiety Disorder with him, and I really don''t think I could get through it again.
At the end of the day, he didn''t even have the commitment to call on a weekly basis. No Birthday/Christmas cards, no child maintenance. No nothing. I just do not think he has the commitment. Who would ask for contact, then refuse it? Maybe it''s all hot air again this time.
I have kept dad updated on our son''s condition and he has been offered a place on a programme designed to help parents with Autistic children understand the condition better. It aims to help manage behaviors and helps implement coping techniques. Dad declined the offer saying "He doesn''t need to be told how to look after his son". Well, I jumped at the programme because believe me, it''s not easy getting through everyday.