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Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: UK Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34105
Experience:  25 years experience of all aspects of family law
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My ex who is father to my 7month old daughter, and not my 2 1/2 year old son has been spe

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My ex who is father to my 7month old daughter, and not my 2 1/2 year old son has been speaking to solicitors about access to both children. He lives and works in Scotland, we live in England. He has never lived with us although myself and my son moved to Scotland with him for two months last year. He visits us in my home for 7 days every fortnight. He stays with family and visits each day for anything from 5-11 hours. One day of his visits, I will also drive the children to see his family for the day. I consider this to be more than reasonable on my part although he disputes this. He is talking about getting a house in England where he can take the children when he is here. He would still like the same level of access plus over night stays too. The children do not spend any time without me and both sleep in my bed too. I fear greatly that he will be taking them away overnight as he has never spent a night with our daughter and hasn't spent a night with my son in over 12 months.
Thank you for your question
I shall do my best to assist you but need some further information first
Has h ever spent time alone with the children?
Are you happy for him to see the older child?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I try to allow him time alone with both children so I will get on with housework, run short errands etc while he's here. I don't mind him having access to my son, I am pleased he wants to. I am just concerned that he will get a place arranged and assume he can take them for days at a time away from me.
My son is hopefully starting nursery in September and my exs family live 100 miles away. I think if he was to get a place, it may be closer to them than to us. Apart from not being convenient to have the children on a nursery day, would the distance my children need to travel make any difference to your answer? I don't see why they should have to travel 4 hours in a car just to spend a few hours with him.
Why does he not take the children out for the day?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Because up until last month, I was exclusively breast feeding my daughter. We have had days out together, to the park and zoo etc but perhaps one occasion each visit, if things are amicable.
He also doesn't have car seats/ pushchairs etc for them and I think also he doesn't have the confidence to take them out on his own and I also share this. My son is very active and very demanding and my daughter can't even sit up unsupported so finding activities to keep them both safe and entertained usually means activities in the house or garden
Are you really happy for contact to take place in the property?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Not really. I don't want to keep having so much contact with him myself. I don't think it's healthy for any of us. But I also don't want him to take them out for a few hours each day because a. I don't think it's fair in the children to be pushed out for a few hours each day (apart from parks and play centres he'd have nowhere to take them, and he can't do those activities alone) and b. he doesn't have the confidence to take them out together and I don't feel comfortable with that either.
These visits are his only experience in parenting and I don't feel like I can trust him with my children without my supervision/assistance.
Have you looked at local Contact Centres as an alternative?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
No I haven't. I was hoping it wouldn't get to that. If he is staying with his family 100 miles away (he usually drives daily from there to us and back) would I be expected to find a centre somewhere in between and do half the drive with the children?
If I was to arrange that, would it reflect badly on me if it was to go to court in the future?
I think I'm doing all things reasonably possible to aid his accessibility and communication with the children (I send emails about the children to his sister, and send pictures and text daily about the general well being of them both) am I being a reasonable parent?
The current arrangements represent a valiant effort on your part to maintain a high level of contact - but it also represents an unrealistic situation.
The children are not being helped to Understand that their parents are no longer together - and your ex is not learning to take responsibility for them as he can simply rely on you to do it.
Obviously if your ex does get a property then it is possible for contact to move on - but unless it is close to you it certainly cannot continue on the current basis as the travelling would be excessive.
However contact does have to move on.
One option is to find a Contact Centre local to you where he can have the children - without you - for a morning and also look for any Dad and baby groups at local Children's Centres where he can take them - again without you - so that he can learn parenting skills in a safe environment
From there it should be possible to build up to his having the children alone for the day once or twice a week when he is down
Overnight contact at this stage is unrealistic - but eventually - assuming that he is able to care for them and has a suitable property then it may happen - but certainly not yet
You can find out more on the website
I hope that this is of assistance - please ask if you need further details
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you so much. This was the answer I was hoping for and expected. Although he is talking about finding a place soon, he will have to completely kit it out for the children with cots, high chairs, toys, toiletries, clothes, bedding etc so I imagine we are still a way off this actually happening, for a few months at least. If it does happen, and he is able to have overnights I still would not be comfortable with the children spending more than two nights/three days away from me at any time as this simply has never happened before. I don't have baby sitters and do not leave the children with people so this is a huge leap for me. Is it at all realistic that he will be allowed or favoured to have the children for longer than this? I know my son would miss me but he'd also really enjoy the time with my ex. My daughter probably wouldn't cope so well. She's a very clingy baby and is extremely bonded to just me. I have concerns that they could both be crying for me in the middle of the night and he wouldn't tell me or ask for help for fear of me cutting contact etc. my thoughts are if the children are behaving that way they're obviously not ready to be away from me and continuing overnights would not be in their best interest. He would imply that this is my way of gaining control over the children and for that reason I don't think he'd tell me.
He is months if not years away from overnight contact for one night a week let alone more
In the next couple of years then holidays are a possibility - but that is a long long way off
Baby steps - let him learn to have them for a few hours first and work on from there!
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you. Another thing I've been hugely concerned about is what would happen if something were to happen to me. I made a will immediately after my son was born, stating that I would like my mum and/or brother to have all parental rights and responsibility to my son as I am the only one on birth certificate. When I asked my ex about this, he said he would take both children back to Scotland with him, and continue to work until he made proper arrangements. This meaning he would put both children into nursery which neither of them have experienced. The children have no family whatsoever in Scotland and the only friends my ex has are through work (the reason he moved there originally) I believe this to be far from what is best for my children and more for his convenience. My children have a great family network here and see my mum and brother virtually daily and we keep in touch with our extended family weekly/fortnightly, as well as interaction with other children of my friends and children in the family and play groups etc. how realistic is it that he could actually take the children and do this? (He is on my daughters birth certificate) I would hate that my children were separated if something were to happen to me. If I updated my will to include custody of my daughter went to my mum or brother would my wishes stand against his views and intentions?
The only option that is available top you is to nominate your person of choice as Testamentary Guardian in your Will.
That person will automatically then be able to take on the care of your son as he or she will be the only person with Parental Responsibility for the child.
This is not the case with your daughter but the person you nominate could apply for a Residence Order in respect of your daughter - it will then be down to the courts to decide the eventual outcome for both children I am afraid
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Is there any way I can express that I do not want them to reside in or be educated in Scotland? Ideally, I wouldn't like him to have the children full time and would much prefer they were with my family in their home country. Can you say from your experience how likely it is that he could a. Take them both to Scotland (I know my mum and brother would strongly work against that happening) b. split them up if my family are granted custody of my son and c. How likely it would be that a court may grant custody rights to my family (for both children) with visitation access to him- similar to the arrangements him and I have in place now? In the interests of what is best for them. i.e not being uprooted from all things familiar in their life after the death of their mother? Surely that would not be perceived as their best interests by anyone? Especially given that he has never lived with the children, nor (at this point at least) played more of a role in their lives that just a visitor every few weeks?
Sadly at this stage there is no way of guessing what the outcome would be - as it would depend on the age of the children how contact has worked out - what his housing and work arrangements would be etc etc
The Criteria will be the best interests of the children and it is unlikely that the children will be separated - unless your son is of an age (say over 12) where his wishes are conclusive and he does not wish to move
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