A well respected, award winning social enterprise
Volunteer run - Government and charity funded
We help 50,000 people a year through divorce

01202 805020

Lines open: Monday to Friday 9am-5pm
Call for FREE expert advice & service info

contact and shared residency

  • EllenD
  • EllenD's Avatar Posted by
  • Junior Member
  • Junior Member
05 May 12 #328525 by EllenD
Topic started by EllenD
I would like to know if there is an advantage to having sole residence with a defined contact order over joint residency with a contact.

I have had to endure and defend a persistent stream of court applications from my ex over the last 11 years under the guise of denied contact. I have suffered constant harrassment including my phone being bugged. He has repeatedly told me that he will continue with litigation and has succeeded in being allowed to do so. He lives 100 miles away. My daughter is 14 and has started studying for GCSE''s.

The CAFCASS report last year listened to my daughter and succeeded in gaining monthly contact with approximately half of holidays, with Christmas being with me and from the end of December with her father.

My ex has a lot of time to plan and execute statements and preparation in order to bring applications, which are often served with short notice.

The latest application has resulted in me having sole residence with a contact order with a penal notice. Contact has yet to be decided by the judge. Her father wants fortnightly contact, my daughter has suggested three weekly as a compromise.

My daughter is very independently minded and if she chooses not to go to her father (I have had to take her to the police station before now, in order to evidence that she refuses to go) then she will not go. It is a long journey and exhausting, especially on a Friday evening and she does not have friends or a social life with her father, so misses home life. She also has a large amoung of homework with her GCSE''s.

I would like to know if there is any advantage to sole residence. It was formerly joint residency and the judge had intimated that contact is not enforceable in those circumstances. Can I object to having sole residency?

What would happen in the event of my daughter outrightedly refusing to go to her father for defined contact? We have always tried to be reasonable with contact, but if something conflicts with arrangements, he will refuse to accommodate any changes. Even if my daughter is ill, he will insist that he has contact.

Advice would be welcome.

  • MrsMathsisfun
  • MrsMathsisfun's Avatar
  • Platinum Member
  • Platinum Member
05 May 12 #328539 by MrsMathsisfun
Reply from MrsMathsisfun
Hi and welcome to wiki.

When did your daughter start saying she didnt want to go was it recently or has it been during the last 11 years.

Sorry but in my opinion your daughter is a child and has to be told that she has no choice in the matter end of.

Explain that CAFCASS listened to her and it has been agreed by court that she should have contact other wise you will be in trouble. Its just like a child refusing to go to school by law the adult is held responsible for the childs actions.

  • sexysadie
  • sexysadie's Avatar
  • Platinum Member
  • Platinum Member
05 May 12 #328547 by sexysadie
Reply from sexysadie
I don''t think it''s as simple as that. She is now fourteen and will need to start to take responsibility for her own decisions. She is also starting GCSEs, which does mean that she will have more work to do at weekends and it will be harder for her to take it all on a train 100 miles every other weekend.

To be honest I think you daughter''s compromise offer of every third weekend is pretty reasonable - she does have the right to a social life with her friends and she does need to study. I would be surprised if a judge would try to force her to go more often given her age now.

I don''t think refusing to have sole residence will help your case. I would just see what happens for now. If your daughter simply refuses to go for more frequent contact I think it is unlikely that you will be penalised. Most judges are not stupid and realise that there is only so much that you can force a fourteen year old to do.

This will all be over anyway in a couple of years. Once she is sixteen contact (or not) will be up to her, and your ex will have to stop using litigation as a way to harrass you.

Best wishes,

  • Fiona
  • Fiona's Avatar
  • Platinum Member
  • Platinum Member
05 May 12 #328556 by Fiona
Reply from Fiona
A child resisting contact is rather like a child resisting school. When a child just doesn''t feel like going to school, can''t be bothered or is worried about getting a row because of something they have done then it would be foolish for a parent not to insist they went. At the other extreme if a child has had traumatic experiences at school, say repeated bullying, forcing children to go to school can have disastrous repercussions.

When a child just doesn''t feel like going to contact, can''t be bothered or has fallen out with a parent or objects to being disciplined not insisting they go means there is no opportunity for them to reconcile their differences and feelings which causes emotional and behavioural problems later on. It would be different if children had experienced abuse, neglect or outbursts of temper by one of their parents or if a child has come to a mature judgement about contact on experiences they can describe.

If a contact parent is unreasonably restrictive, selfish, neglectful or preoccupied or denigrates the other parent a child might reasonably feel contact is boring or unrewarding. In these cases contact is is of little benefit to children unless the parent changes their behaviour and the courts are unlikely to order contact against the wishes of a child, particularly a fourteen year old who would normally be deemed mature enough to understand the implications of their decisions. Generally courts accept that forcing contact against the wishes of a teenager doesn''t work and encourages risky behaviour such as running away.

There are also some children who are found to unreasonably resist any form of contact and express extreme level of hostility and/or fear of a parent with whom they once had a loving relationship. In these cases further investigations and interventions are likely.

Going back to the original post, practically there isn''t a great deal of difference between shared residence and the more traditional residence/contact orders. It may be perceived you have more power and control with sole residence order and automatically you can take children abroad on holiday for up to one month without consent from the other parent.

When there is sole residence and a contact order conditions and Directions can be attached to the order and there are specific measures for enforcing contact, community service or financial compensation. It is also contempt of court not to adhere to the terms of a contact or shared residence order. Sanctions for contempt of court are fines or penal notices and ultimately committal to prison. The other options open to the courts are to order more substantial contact/ shared residence or a change of residence.

  • rugby333
  • rugby333's Avatar
  • Elite Member
  • Elite Member
05 May 12 #328561 by rugby333
Reply from rugby333
I was exactly in your ex husbands position for years. Somehow, no matter what was agreed, it didn''t happen. It was exhausting and completely debilitating. There was always an excuse. Every time I saw them (which was very rare) it was great fun and then followed by hate mail when they got home.

Eventually I asked the children what they wanted and they said to see me occasionally and at their choice.

It was at that point that I finally gave up and said ok whatever you want.

I haven''t seen them since and to be honest its a relief. I don''t miss them as it was just too unpleasant when they didn''t really want to see me.

For them it is a disaster. They have to all extents and purposes lost one of their parents.

So I understand your ex husbands position: he will be driven by guilt in the certain knowledge of what will happen if he stops. I also understand your position although I have not the slightest sympathy with you.

It is you who has allowed this situation to fester. It is you who have had control throughout. It is you who has sort to frustrate him.

You now bleat about the inevitable consequences of your behaviour: those being that your daughter does not respect/want to see her father.

My view is shame on you and sort it out as a matter of priority because your daughter will already pay a terrible price for your fight with your ex husband and you are the only one in a position to resolve this!

  • mumtoboys
  • mumtoboys's Avatar
  • Platinum Member
  • Platinum Member
05 May 12 #328605 by mumtoboys
Reply from mumtoboys
whoa, rugby! Constantly being dragged through court is not necessarily a sign of a parent doing what they can to frustrate contact. It can be very much an attempt to harass and distress and upset the parent with care and consequently, causes problems for the children. In my ex''s case, it was a mixture of not telling his solicitor the truth and therefore getting legal advice which didn''t quite fit the situation, and a desire to make my life as difficult as possible. Possibly somewhere amongst it all, he thought he was doing the right thing and I think he also held a genuine belief that the legal system would support children growing up within a ''family'' (the ex and the ''other woman'') rather than with a ''single mum'' (me). Fortunately, my ex is no longer blessed with a business bank account he can raid when it suits him to pay his legal fees so court action has stopped. For now.

Children are capable of making their own minds up and making value judgments. There is nothing at all in Ellen''s post to suggest she has frustrated contact - rather, she has been accused of frustrating contact by her ex. There''s a significant difference. I would suggest any mum who feels the need to drag a child to the police station to officially record a contact refusal isn''t a mum who is deliberately setting out to cause problems. That is not to say Ellen, or anyone else for that matter, hasn''t said or done things in front of the children that with a bit of hindsight and experience she perhaps realises she shouldn''t have. Any separated parent who says otherwise is probably lying. We''re all human, we all make mistakes or say things we shouldn''t in the heat of the moment. We also generally learn to apologise when necessary, to discuss and debate with our children and ultimately, to give them the space they need to make their own decisions about both their parents.

  • rugby333
  • rugby333's Avatar
  • Elite Member
  • Elite Member
05 May 12 #328617 by rugby333
Reply from rugby333
mumtoboys, you may be right. However there are 2 things which make me think otherwise:

1. It is impossible for a NRP to keep a court battle on contact going for 11 years if the courts orders are being followed by the resident parent. On what grounds could one relentlessly apply? That the orders being followed perhaps????

2. The judge has slapped a penal notice on the order. To get to that stage many many many orders have been broken and the court has had enough of excuses.

Moderators: wikivorce teamrubytuesdaydukeyhadenoughnowTetsSheziLinda SheridanForsetiMitchumWhiteRoseLostboy67WYSPECIALBubblegum11

The modern, convenient and affordable way to divorce.

No-Fault Divorce £179

We provide the UK's lowest cost no-fault divorce service, managed by a well respected firm of solicitors. 

Online Mediation £250

Online mediation is a convenient and inexpensive way to agree on a fair financial settlement.

Consent Order £259

This legally binding agreement defines how assets (e.g. properties and pensions) are to be divided.

Court Support £250

Support for people who have to go to court to get a fair divorce financial settlement without a solicitor.