Hi I have been divorced for about 6 years I have 2 children aged 16 and 13. There is a court order in place which allows me to have them stay with me for 104 nights per year, I live near High Wycombe they live 135 miles away in Somerset.
My ex's (L) solicitor (also her best friend) has written to me to say that L has written to the csa saying I have not had the children for 104 nights, because i refused to pay for an extra school trip. And that it would be a backdated claim for one year. Her solicitor wrote that if I objected to the increase then they would backdate the claim 3 years, and "that I would cause stress for all those involved including the children who are likely to have to provide statements". I have always helped out with school trip costs, however last Sep I had a seizure and I am being investigated for epilepsy. I have increased transport costs as I am not allowed to drive for 1 year.I pay friends to help me pick up the kids and so far have only missed having them for 1 weekend, I have always been available for my kids when it is my turn to have them and that is the only w/e I have ever missed as I just wasn't able to get anyone to drive. I explained I have to pay for taxis to work and for the next year I would be unable to help more (I have already paid £275 for a trip and passport since December)
My ex keeps them during my time or insists they must come back early the agreed time to be with their friends.
As a non legal person I am aware that the csa does not backdate claims, why would a practising family solicitor not know that? Was it ignorance or a bullying tactic? Is my ex's solicitor too close to this case she is a long term friend of L's and was a friend of mine until the divorce. My 16 yr old daughter works in her office as a receptionist part time in holidays and cleans their office every week. Again she is writing about csa matters that directly affect my daughter - her employee.. I have looked on the Solicitors Regulatory Authority's website at their 7 principles of conduct and I think she breaks about 4 or 5 of them including integrity, independence, honesty and best interest of each client.
Is it worth me pursuing this with the SRA?
Any advice as to how to proceed regarding my Court Order?
Anything else that I have missed?
It certainly isn't an automatic conflict of interests to act for a friend. And the daughter working in the office doesn't cause conflict as the files will be confidential.
You mention the principles of conduct but you've not said anything that would lead me to agree that integrity, honesty or best interests can be called into question. Independence is subjective but as I've said, acting for a friend is not a problem as long a the professional standards are upheld.
As far as I am aware, the CSA used to backdate payments from the date of application. This is different from arrears of payments which, from memory, could be claimed for the previous 2 years.
The solicitor may have misdirected herself, particularly if this is not her usual area of law. If that is the case there may be cause for action as a solicitor cannot threaten legal action if that action is not open to them.
Is there an order for payment of maintenance in place? If so, you would need to seek legal advice on what can and can't be done and your options.
As far as the rest of your post, I commiserate with your position. I hope you can resolve the issue and see your children.