Irregular contact and what to do about it?

Question:

I am looking for some advice concerning my 17 month old daughter, her father has regular access but has become increasingly difficult since I have announced I have a new partner.

He will swop and change days all the time and he just turns up at nursery and collects her whenever he feels like, its like I have no control.

He has emotionally tortured me for many years and will not stop now. Telling me I am a bad mother and I don't want my child because I may go out once in a blue moon. In turn this has made me severely depressed.

What I would like to know is there a way we can get some boundaries in place, such as set days or set times. I do not wish to stop contact but just to take some control over my life.

Answer:

For a child of your daughter’s age regularity and stability would generally considered to be important and you as her primary carer need to be able to plan your and her life around a regular arrangement. There is nothing wrong with insisting on having set times for reasonable periods of contact to take place. A court is unlikely to think it is a good idea for any parent to just ‘turn up’ and collect a child whenever it suits and if the matter went to court it would set a regular arrangement for contact. It is not uncommon that one or other parent entering a new relationship leads to problems over contact arrangements as all sorts of emotions are stirred up, including jealousy and a feeling of losing control.

I would recommend being assertive with her father about sitting down and preparing a Parenting Plan or Agreement which sets out regular times for your daughter to spend with him and with you. You can download an example which has been prepared by the
Centre for Separated Families by clicking here.

It might also be worth you having a look at and giving him a copy of the CAFCASS Separated Parents Information Programme handbook, which you can download
here.

If you cannot reach an agreement you might like to think about mediation, take a look at the Mediation page on this website
here.

If all else fails, you could apply to the Court for a Residence and Contact Order. If your daughter has primarily lived with you, it is very unlikely that the Court would change her residence with you and it would want to set down specific times for contact with her father. Take a look at the
Residence and Contact pages on this website. If you feel you have no other choice or he simply will not negotiate a regular arrangement with you, I set out how to make an application to the Court here.




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Question sent in by JM.

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