I have been separated from my ex for 4 years and a decree nici was issued last week.
I have always had issues with contact with our daughter (since we separated it has been 10 hours at the weekend and 3 hours in the week), as my partner will not allow overnight visits. For the past few years my ex has always lead me to believe that she would agree when our daughter was 4 or 5, so with her 5th birthday approaching I requested that we start planning for overnight stays in the summer holidays. She has now said that it’s not going to happen and has no plans to increase access. I contacted a mediation centre and she has refused mediation also.
My question relates to the divorce proceedings. On the divorce paperwork we had to state what the current contact arrangements were, which she stated as “3 hours on a weekday, 10 hours at the weekend and then additional time when requested”. Would I be wise to let this divorce proceed with that wording or should I contest the access at this point?
I had assumed that overnight stays were going to commence this summer and then holidays and Christmas etc would be the next progression, but from her communication she has stated that she will not allow that to happen and will go against any court order. This makes me think that she has been stringing me along with her intention to allow overnight stays until the divorce was finalised with the wording already on it.
Any advice will be really appreciated, I believe I only have a week or so to stop the divorce going through now. It all seemed so amicable up until this point (apart from the inflexibility regarding access)!
When you say that you stated what contact there was on the ''divorce paperwork'' are you referring to the statement of arrangments for children?
If so, this is not an order of the Court or really approval even of the court as to what the arrangements are or should be. If you received the Decree Nisi last week, you will still have another 5 weeks to wait before you apply for a Decree Absolute. There is no reason why you shouldnt apply for this.
Based on the limited facts that you have given there appears to be no reason why you should not have overnight staying contact. If your ex does not agree to mediation your only other option may be to file a c100 form with the court requesting a contact order. CAFCASS will more than likely be asked to compile a report and it will be a lengthy process and can be very expensive if you use solicitors, in addition it probably wont do much for your relationship with your ex but if this is the only way you can get overnight staying contact it may well be your only option.
Has your ex provided any reasons for her refusal for you to have overnight staying contact? Has there been any issues with the contact you are having with your child already or is progressing well?
It was the arrangements for children I was referring to. My ex seems to think that if I raise court proceedings in the next 5 weeks then the court will not assume suitable arrangements are in place and not process the divorce. Is this correct?
My relationship with my daughter is fantastic and there are is no reasoning behind her refusing contact. She states that when the little one asks then she will allow it, and the LO mentions it all the time to me but understandably is not exactly of an age where she can have a reasonable conversation with her mother about it. It appears the LO has mentioned it to her also but my ex says she just doesn’t want to upset me (I genuinely have never given the LO any indication that it would be the case and have only ever said that she is welcome whenever she chooses). I understand completely why a child who co-sleeps with her mother and bf would find it daunting when contemplating staying away from home, but see that when she is at our house she then feels safe and wants to stay over. I’m sure all can appreciate that if a mother lets a child know that they don’t want the child to stay at their dad’s then the child is not going to stand up for themselves at 5 years old and say that’s what they want anyway!
It appears now that this is my ex’s stance, that she only wants what the LO wants and everything is in her best interest, and if I pursue things then I obviously only have my own interests at heart and don’t care about the LO. This is very difficult to hear as all I want is to be able to spend proper family time with my daughter and enhance what is already a fantastic relationship. I want arrangements for holidays and xmas etc, and there is no way that my ex is going to agree to that if an overnight visit at the weekend is out of the question.
My ex genuinely does not believe I have any rights at all and should be grateful for the access I already have. She has actually said to my that I wont ever understand the mystical bond that they have which unfortunately seems to be a mystical bond that will be broken by a night apart!
I feel like I’m airing my dirty laundry now so sorry about that, just trying to give more information.
You are not airing your dirty laundry! You do have rights and perhaps it is time that you gently remind LO''s mum of this.
There is absolutely no reason why you shouldnt get overnight staying contact with your daughter. Her having a relationship with her caring father is in her best interests and the fact that mum is failing to promote an active and positive relationship with you could in fact be seen as not to be in LO''s interests. I apprecitate that as mum she wants to protect LO and is scared to let go of her or to entrust her to anyone else even if it is you but I am afraid that is one of the realities of divorce or separation and so you should proceed with your divorce in the normal way. Tell wife that if she does not agree to progressing contact to overnight staying contact or to mediation you will be left with no option but to refer the matter to the court. You may want to get a solicitors letter before then inviting her to mediation one last time as really you want to avoid the courts if you can.
Just to repeat - the Court will process the divorce regardless of children''s proceedings.
If you already have your decree Nisi than the point at which you commented on the tstatement of rrangements and the judge considered whether to allow the divorce to go through have both already passed, so ignore the divorce completely.
if/when your ex seeks to raise the SofA when you ask for more contact, I think you simply say that at the time, it was correct - that *was* the contact you were having and it *was* agreed that you would have additional contact on request, aand you are making those requests.
The statement of information is a snap shot of what was happening at the time it was completed.
Moving to increased contact is not unreasonable. When you go to cout, I would suggest that you have some suggestions - perhaps this might be to start with just one night, and gradually build up to longer periods 9e.g. a few weeks of staying over atuday night, then a few with both Friday and Daturday before looking at longer periods. The timescale to move forward is very dependent on your daughter and how she adapts.
It is also useful to ask specifically for details of her normal bed time routine, for any toy or ''blankie'' she has, and to reassure mum that f she really can''t settle, you wuld take her home.
having her phone her mum to say god night might not work very well as it could unsettle her (especially if mum is likely tobe emotional) but you could offer to call or text mum to let her know once your daughter has gone to sleep, the first couple of vists, as rassurance.
It isn''t appropriate to ''wait until she asks'' - she is a child, you and her mum are her parents. It''s appropriate for youas parents to tell her what will happen. Is mum proposing to ''wait until she asks'' before sending her to school, too?
Thanks again for all of the feedback, I''m expecting to hear from the mediators at some point this afternoon so will ask for them to send a formal request.
I assumed that was the case regarding the statement of arrangements, thanks for the clarification. I also have so much corespondance with my ex regading request for more access which goes back to the initial separation so it''s obvious this isn''t "out of the blue".
I will do everything possible to ensure both the LO and ex cope in the best way possible when it comes to overnight stays and have suggested 100''s of times that she get in her PJ''s before going home, has a bath etc but this has all been refused as it''s sets us on the path she doesn''t want to go down. I''m hoping that this is all one final attempt to stop the inevitable but i will fight for this and am actually getting quite motivated to represent myself if it has to go to court but don''t want to jeopardise anything so plenty of reading required there, lets hope it doesn''t come to that.
What a great example about school, especially as LO kicked up such a fuss for months. I''ll be using that one for sure! The rational arguments seem to get ignored though unfortunately and she''ll think of some insult to fill the void with!
I think I''ll be glued to this resource in the coming months. It offers fantastic advice and support when people are really going through tough times, thank you all for your contributions.