If an order is made with which you disagree or feel unable to comply you should appeal it. If circumstances change and you want to alter the order you should apply for a variation.
If you simply disobey the order you will be in breach and the other parent can apply for enforcement. You must show the court what has changed, why it means you cannot obey the order and why it must be changed. Until there is a new order in place the original stands.
You can also apply for a variation if the other parent is failing to comply with the order so that it better reflects the reality on the ground.
Once contact is up and running it is important to increase it periodically – say, every 3 months – to the point where you have a reasonable level. You can either have these periodic increments written into the original order, which means you don’t have to return to court and it is cheaper and easier for everyone, or you can apply to the court for a variation of the original order. Of course, your ex may also be applying for variations to reduce the level of contact.
If the contact has been working well for, say three months return to court with an application for a more realistic level of contact, or even for a shared residence order (SRO). It is worthwhile indulging in some horse-trading: be prepared to lose a Sunday if it means getting some mid-week contact, for example, or accept some loss of overall time if you can win an SRO instead. The more you ask for, within reason, the more the courts are likely to award.
You should apply to the court for a ‘variation’ of the contact order. Do this using Form C2 if the original order is less than 12 months old, or C100 if it is older than 12 months. Tell the judge how pleased you are that you were granted the order and that it fits with the best interests of the children. Then ask for a variation so that you can pick up the children from their school; say that it will ‘assist the other parent’. Remove them from the equation.
Be cautious, though; the basic CAFCASS policy on responding to applications for increased contact was established by two staff members, Bruce Clark and Brian Kirby: the application triggers an investigation by CAFCASS and a risk assessment,
· Where the quality of contact is deemed to be satisfactory there is no need to increase it;
· Where the quality of contact is considered to be poor the recommendation is for no more contact;
· Where the quality of contact is indeterminate the recommendation is for a cessation of contact while the case is deferred.
Ask to be allowed to pick your children up from school and to drop them off at the custodial parent’s home. Get a copy of the order and send it – with the court’s consent – to the school explaining that you have a Court Order, signed by the judge, and that you will be picking up the children on the following dates. Explain that anyone in breach of the order is liable for contempt; explain that you don’t expect any difficulty and that you are considering the best interests of the children; perhaps you could have a meeting with the headmaster/mistress to discuss these issues.