[Solved] New contact order, same unreasonable EX!
So after months with no contact my husband attended court the beginning of the year and received a new contact order for his son, as he is now 12 order was made so there is good structure, mum can’t refuse time with dad but allows flexibility as long as it is what son wants.
On multiple occasions since then my step son has requested to stay a bit longer with his dad (we were quite surprised but thrilled!), whenever he or my husband has reached out to his mum she refuses, on the grounds that it’s not part of the order, even though there are a number of paragraphs written in that state time with dad should be increased so long as it’s in line with sons wishes.
We are banging our heads against a wall, she is so unreasonable and talking to her is a complete waste of time.
As she is not actually stopping my husband seeing his son is there anything we can do? Or is this something we are just going to have to let go?
It’s heattbreaking my husband having to tell his son that times up and there’s nothing he can do about it, especially as he’s so keen to spend time with his dad.
Keep a diary of all of this. If it's against the order, then you could go for enforcement. However, the alternative is to go back to mediation with a view to getting the order varied for increased contact - it's possible thay when he tells his ex that he's intending to do this, she might reconsider and be a bit more reasonable, in which case you won't need to take it further.
That's the trouble with orders that are vague in their wording, leaving conditions open ended, the obstructive parent will take full advantage of the loophole and it's very difficult to enforce.
I would suggest that when your stepson asks for extra time that the request is made by text or email so that the response can be recorded.
Your husband can try writing to the judge that made the order and explaining that the flexibility written into the order isn't being adhered to, that whenever his son asks to stay longer, the request is always refused, as she states it isn't specified in the order. He could ask if the case may be returned to have the order tightened up. Judges do have the discretion to do this, some will and some will advise that a new application is made.
As said, it would probably be more effective to apply for a variation to the existing order, to have a schedule of defined contact to take into account the child's request for more time. Without knowing what the current schedule is, it's difficult to comment, but full weekends from Friday after school, dropping back to school on Monday would be acceptable I'm sure. Whilst at it, if no conditions have been made in regard to extra time at holidays, I would also think about asking for that to be added too.
With a variation application, mediation would need to be attempted first, as actd has said, this may be all it takes to get her to tow the line.
All the best
Thank you, we thought as much. We’ve kept a diary of all contact since court And every time my step son has asked for extra contact it has been done via text message so we have all that too.
My husband sat and read through the order with his son for him to understand that it is mainly based around his wishes so he knows he is in charge so to speak, upon reading it my step son said ‘Dad, I know the problem, you and mum have different orders, I’ve read hers and it’s nothing like this!’ So we have no idea what she has shown him, or what it says.
It’s hard to know whether to say anything at all, as last time we raised an issue my husband didn’t see his son for months until we finally got to court, not something we want a repeat of.
... Were there any interim orders made that differ from the final order? She may be showing him that.
You could contact her and say that you're wondering if there are two different final orders and suggest that you each photocopy the respective final orders for comparison, to avoid further confusion.... or just send her a copy of yours with a letter to ask her to check if they're the same, to avoid future confusion when your son asks to stay longer, as is specified in the order you have.
Perhaps mediation might sort this out?
No, everything was sorted In one hearing, my husband was completely child’s focused and had room for felxability his ex was rude and irrational so everything they didn’t agree on was ruled in his favour, so there was no need for an interim order this time.
My husband sent a letter with the order we have and suggested that she check hers is the same as son was quite confused over the orders and we’ve received no response, I honestly think she’s just a playing games, maybe still a bit aggravated that we ended up in court.
my husband has since suggested mediation to her but ‘she’s happy with what’s going on now’ so wouldn’t wish to attend.
Thank you again for your advice and support, due to his ex’s complete lack of flexibility and communication it looks like we either just have to get on with it and unfortunately my step son loses out until he’s old enough to make his own choices or it’s going to end up back in court which at this point seems a bit silly as it’s only been 4 months.
i wonder if anybody would mind helping me (my husband) write a brief email to the magistrates in an attempt to get the order tightened up? I understand we will probably be directed to make a new application but as it’s only been 4 months it’s worth a shot.
Amongst other issues I’ve mentioned, Father’s Day is written in to the new order but when my husband reached out to make arrangements with Plenty of notice he was told that ex can’t make plans Father’s Day as she’s making plans with her new partner and instead husband could have a two hours after school during the week to take stepson out for dinner as extra instead. Father’s Day was written into it specifically so my husband could spend time with his son, so frustrating every week feels like a new battle!
Is there anything in writing from her to say he can't have father's day? If so, that could well be classed as a breach of the order, even though it hasn't happened yet. I don't think an email will be sufficient - it might be a matter of either applying for a specific instruction order (though it's already in the order) or waiting until the breach has occurred. However, hopefully someone with better knowledge of this will be on to give more accurate advice.
Yes there are text messages saying that it won’t be happening as she’s making plans with her new partner, its only been a few months and she’s already bent it to suits herself more or less on every contact since court.
We've had to cancel plans more than once as shes moved contact to suit herself and only lets use know a day or two before, the time that’s offered back to compromise is always less than what the order states and during the week where overnight isn’t possible due to the distance from our house to school, but we have no option to refuse as it’s either that or nothing.
That’s why we were hoping that maybe they would re hear the case again and tighten it up as my husband is the only one being flexible, anything my husband requests not matter how reasonable is refused every single time.
I’ll sent you a PM.
You could also write to her and inform her that she will be in breach of the order, that it’s important and in your child’s best interests to adhere to the order, and if she refuses to act in line with it you will not hesitate to return to court. She may back down.
Thank you for your PM, I’ll get on it straight away. Really appreciate all your help and advice.
My husband messaged her informing her she is in breach of order and that if she refuses to follow it and continues to bend/change rules to suit herself then he will take it back to court to which she responded ‘im doing nothing wrong, you’re still seeing him’ exactly the same as she said last time.
We had hoped this would be enough for her to back down especially beens court went so well for us (everything they didn’t agree on was ruled in my husbands favour magistrates told her she was the issue in not so many words and that she needs to make contact happen and increase it where she can) so had hoped she wouldn’t want to make a fool out of herself again but apparently not!
Since we’ve mentioned court again she’s started her tactics that step son doesn’t want to come etc but this only ever arises when court is brought back up and despite what she says when step son is with us he is completely happy and relaxed, a different child than she explains, we keep photos of the things we do to show that he is enjoying himself and isn’t miserable as she makes out.
My fear for my husband if it does return to court (which I think it will!) as step son is now 12 she will ask for his opinion to be taken into account (last time it was refused as they said nothing in their case would warrant his opinion being needed?) and while I can confidently say he is more than happy with the time he spends with us I know she spends a lot of time trying to twist him and I know he wouldn’t want to upset his mum by saying the wrong thing.
I honestly thought as he got older things would get easier but it just seems to be a constant battle, all for my husband to spend time with his son, it’s madness!