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Clare
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: UK Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 33283
Experience:  25 years experience of all aspects of family law
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Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: UK Family Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Hi
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
-Could you explain your situation a little more?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

My ex and I have been through the family courts and the court have ruled that I should get to the see the children every three weeks for at least 4 supervised contacts between the court hearing in February and the dispute resolution hearing in late July.

4 contacts have taken place and the 2 of those were supervised by a social worker, who took over from the original social worker who did the initial child assessment submitted at the first court hearing.

The social worker has verbally fed back to me that in his opinion the mother has gone out of her way to difficult and create hurdles in each of the contact sessions, arriving late, last minute cancellation of transport arrangements, not turning up with one of the children for a couple of the contact sessions etc etc.

His overall perception has been that she is not pro-active in allowing the children to see me and has shown him that if she had her own way there would NO contact at all. He also notes and feels that I am an integral part of their life and being part of their life moving forward is essential.

My ex met a multi-millionaire after we broke up last year and does not want me to be part of their lives moving forward.

She has now confirmed she is moving from the west counties up to suffolk to live with her new partner and the children will move school.

My ex partner has no direct contact with me and uses her new partners solicitors as her 'mouth piece'

I am representing myself as an LIP and communicate with her lawyers directly.

I have today received another email about school fees. Which I have copied and pasted but redacted for data privacy etc.

My personal circumstances are that I am a declared bankrupt as of 23 March 2015 and will remain so until March 2016. I have not told my ex about this but I suspect she knows.

I am registered as self-employed and earn a small amount per month and rely on my new partner and friends to assist in things such as accommodation.

I have recently contacted child maintenance support and registered with them and applied to adopt the 'collect and pay' system they provide, primarily due the acrimonious relationship with my ex.

She has now been contact by them and asked if she will subscribe to this, i.e. I will pay what the department evaluate I am due to pay per month plus a 20% service fee and they will send the funds to her minus a 4% fee.

My ex turned up at one of the contact sessions 'sporting' a new engagement ring as she is to be married soon. The ring is approx 5 carats and looks to be worth about £40-60k, depending on the clarity etc.

I believe the ultimate objective of my ex is to somehow discredit me as a 'responsible father' and apply to the court for Joint PR with her new husband, siting examples such as refusing to pay school fees and support the children's education etc.

I recently responded to an earlier email about school fees and I said, 'In principle I agree to the proposal of paying 1/3 of the children's school fees' - knowing of course that in principle doesn't equate to financial ability, but it shows I am more willing to comply but it will later been seen that I am just not financially able.

I am also still awaiting an answer to my questions of 8 days ago in regards ***** ***** next contact visit is to be scheduled, and will the new home address of my children be, and also an update on he health of my son and access to medical reports for his condition of 'Tics'.

So

My question?

Is the tone and language within the email below, almost threatening and/or a form of emotional blackmail?

Given the multi-millionaire status my ex's new partner, it seems they are playing games with me and there might me a hidden agenda.

What is the best way to answer this type of email and protect my PR with my children.

I was thinking of answering that ''my position in my previous email has not changed and once again I confirm that in principle I am willing to pay 1/3 of the children's school fees'

I really do feel however that her lawyer who was originally tasked to deal with the matter surrounding contact visits is now mixing financial matters and in fact, on three previous occasions mentioned financial matters within the same letter as contact visits.

I feel that I am being taken advantage of because I am an LIP and therefore I need some legal advice as to how to best to deal with this pressure and almost emotional blackmail.

The child maintenance support staff stated to me that if she does not accept the offer to agree to collect and pay, then I have covered myself legally in terms of child maintenance in the eyes of the law and that I should put to one side every month the amount determined by them as the monthly maintenance payment she is due.

COPY OF RECENT EMAIL - REDACTED

Ms. XXXX has discussed with us further the issue of school fees for the children. MsXXXX must ask you to confirm in writing that you are willing to pay the children’s school fees for each term in advance. This is clearly because Ms XXXX wants to be certain that the school fees money is in place at the beginning of each term so that the children can be funded at their respectivie places of education.

Also it is because the offer of funding from Mr XXX (new partner) to pay 1/3rd the children’s school fees is conditional upon your agreement to make these payments in advance of the start of each school term.

You will appreciate that if the school fees are not in place in advance of the beginning of each term Mr XXXX will, should your payments fail to be made, withdraw his own funding and therefore the plans for the children's education would have to be reconsidered.

Ms xxxx wants to be able to rely on your promise to pay a 1/3 of the children's school fees and she hopes that a promise to pay those school fees in advance at the beginning of each term will clarify matters. If these payments cannot be provided for you should be aware that there will be consequences in respect of the children’s education which Ms xxx would much prefer did not arise.

Can you kindly give consideration to this matter and let us know whether that is acceptable as a way forward on the issue of the school fees.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Not my area then but I will pass this onto somebody who can help.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi

Thanks for your response. I have used the site's services many times over the last 12 months and this is the first time I have had to wait this long for a reply.

Given the unusual amount of time that has lapsed - I thought it prudent to double check that my question has been successfully passed on - and to qualify whether that means passed on to a general pool of colleagues or to someone specifically - such as Clare with whom I have dealt with many times before?

Thanks

Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
Hi
Thank you for your question.
My name is Clare
I will do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
For clarity - how would you pay the school fees?
Clare
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi

I am willing to pay them - in principle - but for the time being I am not able.

I do feel however that the way the letter has been written borders on emotional blackmail and much more importantly, my ex and her new partner have embarked (without any consultation) on sourcing anew school, sending the children for entrance interviews, sent them to open days and now are threatening to pull them out of that if I don't pay my 1/3rd

Regardless of my ability to pay, this seems like a very cruel way to potentially treat children from a psychological point of view.

Whilst it's easy for me to answer, sorry would love to pay but I ain't got no money and my maintenance contributions are now in the hands of child maintenance services, I do feel that at the forthcoming Dispute resolution hearing this and other emotional blackmail issues need to brought to the courts attention.

I guess I'm looking for a legal professional's take on this. I told the social worker about this and he just sighed with despair disbelief and frustration.

Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
Hi
You write back a simple and honest letter.
Whilst you have no objection to private education for the children, and when you are in a financial position to do so you will contribute, at preset you do not have the funds to do so
You should also add
"as a matter of good practise please send separate letters regarding the financial issue sand those relating to the care of the children"
Clare
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

OK

What about the matter of good practice in regards ***** ***** blackmail and essentially threatening to upset the kids?

Should I just simply bring this up at the dispute resolution hearing?

Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
Hi
You can certainly refer to the fact that it appears that they are using emotional blackmail - but do not labour the point
Clare
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Clare - part update and another question please.

The section 7 report surfaced - and I've spoken to Social Services yesterday - the head of the region child care division and her case officer

The following was discussed;

I brought to their attention that;

On my last visit with the kids, the both asked if I was going to be paying school fees. My son was particularly upset and said his mother had suggested there might be a problem

That since the section 7 report came out which was overall favourable, my ex's lawyers had been bombarding me with ultimatum emails demanding my payment of 1/3 school fees or the kids would be pulled out of the school they had been told they were going to

I explained that yesterday I had the last contact visit with them before the Dispute Resolution Hearing next week and the mother turned up with the kids in the car for handover and stated the kids didnt want to see me and then drove off.

Reaction

Social services, confirmed the following;

The section 7 report basically observes that there is little or no safe-guarding issues of concern to them

That the issue moving forward seems to be that of contact and how that manifests itself

They noted in the report in a balanced way that there was risk to the children emotionally if both parents did not adopt a more sensitive approach in terms of what information they were sharing with the children that could be emotionally upsetting

They noted that both children very much wanted to see me again

They noted that I was an integral part of their life and continued contact was essential to maintain and preserve their identity as they got older

In the meeting they verbally acknowledged that during the last 3 months since the initial court hearing they had observed that my ex had clearly been 'difficult and challenging' and not pro-active in encouraging contact. Despite the Judge specifying in the court order that both parents had to show how and why encouraging contact with father was important.

The also acknowledged that given I was not consulted in any shape or form as to whcih schools the kids were going to, that any proposal for payments structures etc should have been discussed and agreed BEFORE the kids were exposed to the new schools and sat entrance exams

The also agreed that it was too much of a coincidence that one minute the kids were keen and happy to see me and all of a sudden they didnt want to be with me and in parallel my ex and I were 'arguing' about school fees

The head of social services has stated that she will endeavour to be at the court hearing next week to support her case officer who is ordered to be present

The also advised that my ex had lodged a complaint about the standard of service provided by the social worker and the social services department as whole. The head of social services advised that this was most likely due to her not liking the positive outcome of the Section 7 report

The also advised that most DC Judges are very used to a parent hiding behind the excuse that it's the children's decision whether they want to see the other parent and that the section 7 report showed that there were no hazard or potential safety risks attached to them not wanting to see me and to the contrary both expressed their happiness to see me and were observed and thoroughly enjoying my company

Social services acknowledged that moving forward the kids were in danger of being manipulated mentally/emotionally against me.

However they advised that as this was a private law case, I needed to next week alert the Judge to my concerns and ask him to consider Social Services get involved to establish why the sudden 'switch off' in regards ***** ***** wanting to see me. Only if the judge directs them can they then intervene

Question(s)

1. Is it better to wait until the court hearing to bring all this up in front of the judge, or is there something I can write to the court before the hearing to express my and social services concerns about the behaviour of the mother and her new partner in terms of the emotional stress they are placing on the kids

2. The other side has sent me an email advising they will create the bundle - can I send you what they sent me for you to comment if I should add anything to it and what procedures I need/ought to undertake as an LIP

3. Is there anything else I should consider in preparation for the hearing next week in terms of any 'fast moves' the other side my try and pull?

Cheers

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