Jackie Norton
Family Mediator

Jackie Norton is a family mediator, supervisor and trainer based in the north of England. For two days each week, she helps families negotiate their own agreements. With eleven years experience, she finds this method helps parents feel in control of their own decisions and empowered to help their children through a difficult time. Jackie has been training new mediators for National Family Mediation for the last five years.

Mediation is a low-cost alternative to Court battles and helps families resolve disputes arising from their separation or divorce. Children often get caught in their parents’ conflict and a family mediator can help parents avoid getting into this situation. Mediation can deal with issues around the children (contact, residence, maintenance) as well as the property and financial aspects of separation and divorce.

Jackie says that sometimes parents get fed up with fighting and want a better solution – mediation can help them find it.

Question
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Q.

My two children are under 16. My husband I am separated from for 2 months makes arrangments with our daughter to see her without as much as contacting me on it. I in hindsight would not ever say no but out of principle shouldnt he make these arrangments with me not our daughter

A.

Hi there. It sounds like communication has broken down and it's difficult for you to talk to each other which is very common in the circumstances. I recommend mediation for you as it would hopefully get some communication going again. Have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk for more information and a mediation service near you. 

Hope that helps. 

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

Since the separation my children have largely divided their time between me and their father equally. They are aged 17,10 and 6. He is in full time employment and me part time. He insists we are equally financially responsible although I am often the one who pays for uniforms, school trips etc. am I entitled to insist the children live with me and he has regular visitation? I cannot afford to keep subsidising his end of the bargain and as I work part time this would also mean my children do not have to go through the constant change over of people who do their school run as he does not use a registered childminder but relies on various friends. Thank you for your help.

A.

Hi there. It sounds like your original arrangement no longer works. You could try mediation so you can discuss the issues properly. Have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk for more information and to find a mediator near to you.

Hope that helps. 

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

Hi im going thro divorce .we have been split up 4& half years.we have an unusual thing he come to see my sons a tues&thurs nght around 7pm leaves 8.30 when oldest goes to bed & has them every other weekend.hes done me a draft letter saying wants all to stay the same re boys & has a right to come to house weekdays to do so.i feelv seen a solictor she said its usualy one day mid week & recommends to suggest pick up earlier & have some time with them then drop them back so say 4-7pm &he would have more time in one night.do you think that is possible if he agrues the matter through court if it gets to that stage as know he wont be happy with that.very worried .your thoughts please.

A.

Hi there. It sounds like you have already been to a Solicitor for advice so perhaps you could try mediation. Have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk for more information. It could be helpful to try to talk it through in a controlled environment. He is not entitled to be in your house if you don't want him there but I imagine that the Solicitor already told you that. 

Hope that helps. 

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

hi there I split with my childrens father 9 years ago and there has always been problems with contact and his parenting , he decided to move away to another town which is an hour away with his g-friend of 7 months , I do not drive and have not passed my test , but he says in order for him to see the kids I have to get them to him half way somehow as he cant afford to drive down , is it me or is this ridiculous ???? surely isn't it his responsibilite to collect and drop off when he has them , last time he had them he refused to bring them home coz I wouldn't go half way and they missed a day of school which he said was down to me , ,he says coz of this im stopping him seeing them but I have said by all means he can see the children whenever he wishes provided he picks/drops-off the children , now hes telling my 12 year old daughter that he cant see them because im being selfish ?????PLEASE HELP

A.

Hi there. It sounds like things have got worse. I don't know if mediation would help. It might depend on how your ex sees it. Have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk for more information. Otherwise you might ask a Solicitor where you stand legally or what would happen if it went to Court.

Hope that helps. 

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

My eldest child of nine doesn't want anything to do with her dad and is getting help dealing with her issues at school. He has just become aggressive and has said he is not giving me long to sort it or he will just walk in to her.

A.

Hi there. It sounds like a difficult situation. You don't say why your daughter doesn't want to see her dad. I wonder if mediation may help. You and your ex would talk together with the help of a mediator to find a way to sort this out. It sounds like it needs careful handling. Have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk for more information. 

Hope that helps

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

Hi I have a son of five years I have been separated from his dad for three years and for three years he has come to my house and had time with my son but I've been present as I fear that he is too heavy handed with my son. He now wants to have my son Friday to Sunday but he works weekends and lives with his parents who have not had any contact with my son since he was a year old what can I do?? I don't think the routine that had worked to be disturbed unless my son asks for visits and his dad has his own place and doesn't work weekends

A.

Hi there. It's hard to advise you without knowing what you mean by your ex being heavy handed. If you think your child is at risk you need to get in touch with Children's services. Otherwise you could try mediation where you and your ex sit together with a mediator to try to sort an arrangement which works for everyone. Have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk for more information. Hope that helps

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

I want to split up with my partner but he wont come to mediation with me to sort out the house. At the moment he is refusing to leave the family house. I feel desperate the situation is awful for my daughter .

A.

Hi there. It sounds like a difficult situation. If your ex won't leave and won't try mediation,  then it sounds like you need legal advice from a Solicitor to find out what your rights are. You have very few other options so I'm not sure what else to suggest. 

Hope that helps

Kind regards 

Jackie

Q.

 Hi. My partner and I are trying to have my partners son half and half with his mother like it always has been until in September we had our little girl and my partners son started school. His ex said he wasn't allowed to sleep in the week when it was school even though we have always had him 3 days (Friday Saturday Sunday) one weekend (then Monday Tuesday Wednesday) the following week and this was how it was for 18months while he was at nursery before we announced we was expecting and he started school. The child now is asking why can't he sleep at ours on a school night and why we don't take him too school. My partner has tried to sort it with ex but it ends up in arguments, he has had a solictors letter sent  to her but she won't agree. So we thinking next state is mediation? But do you think it can be solved or it will have to be solved at court. She rang the police when my partner was texting her about taking his son away in oct saying he was harassing her but the texts show she was sending one text.

A.

Hi there. It sounds like you have tried talking and that doesn't work so yes I do think the next stage is mediation. You cant issue an application to Court without trying mediation first anyway. Have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk for more information and a mediation service near you.

Hope that helps. 

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

My ex has a on/off partner, for the last year or so. They have broken up previously, and my daughter has been caught up in this. He has asked if he can take my daughter (3) to stay at his girlfriends on the nights he has her. I've asked that he waits until he moves in (he hasn't and isn't sure when/if he will)- he has refused and text me saying that he is just going to do it and he doesn't need to respect my opinion. Is there anything I can do? I just want my little girl to have a routine and only two homes, not lots.

A.

Hi there. I suspect you feel very frustrated about this. Because it's not a legal issue, your options are all about trying to talk it through. Mediation can be helpful with that and probably would be worth a try. Have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk for more information and a mediation service near you. 

Hope that helps. 

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

hi, me and my partner split up 4 month ago due to personal reasons, we agreed he would have him saturday night one weekend and then saturday and sunday the next then he got a girlfriend and wanted to change his days i didnt agree at first but decided my little needs his father so we agreed he has him wednesday for tea and saturday for tea then he stops at his nanas every saturday (his mums) then he wanted to introduce his new gf to our son after two months of being together an personally i think thats to soon so i kept saying no but gave him the optimatem that he could meet her after 6 months but he disagreed then refused to see our son and threatened me with court, so he didnt see him for a week but then because i thought my little boy was missing out on seeing his father i then agreed for him to meet his gf for his sake now everything was fine until they recently split up and now he wants to change the days again and has stopped seeing our son and threatened me with court again, could you give me some advice?

A.

Hi there, it sounds like you are saying your ex prioritises everyone else over your son and you have to change arrangements dependent on what is happening in his life. This can be very frustrating and you indicate that you give in for the sake of your son each time. I wonder if mediation could help you. In a mediation session, you are both treated equally so you would get your say and your ex would have to listen and vice versa. I suggest you have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk for more information and to find a mediator near to you. You could meet the mediator by yourself to start with so that you can talk this through and then decide if you want to go ahead with a joint session. It also depends on whether your ex will try it but the mediation service will sort that out.

I hope this is helpful.

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

My 13 year old daughter has recently been allowed to drink alcohol by her dad for the second time. The first time i discussed it with him and now it has happened AGAIN! I do not deem this as acceptable parenting! He has her one weekend every 2 weeks and seems to just leave her to it with older children. A im allowed to stop him from seeing her legally or at least do something about this before it escalates into god knows what?

A.

Hi there. As separated parents this kind of issue can be difficult to manage especially once children get into teenage years. You don't mention how your ex responded last time - did he agree with you not to do it again? In terms of stopping contact, you might want to get some legal advice. Because your daughter is 13, she will have a say in it so it might not be the best route to try. You could try mediation where you sit down with your ex and a mediator helps you to negotiate how you manage situations like this between you. Of course, you would both need to be willing to give it a go. But you could contact the mediation service yourself and discuss it further with a mediator. Have a look on the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk to find more information and a service near you. There are other advice agencies out there who deal with young people and drug/alcohol issues and they might be able to give you some advice. Look on the internet for what is available in your area. Try Family Lives or Young Minds.

Hope that helps.

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

My ex wants to take our daughter who is 3 years old and lives with me, One day a week he wants to drive 2 hours to pick her up then 2 hours to take her back to his flat, then in the afternoon drive 2 hours to bring her back then he drives another 2 hours to go home. So my daughteris going to be in his car for 4 hours! She is 3 years old in November and is already car sick!! Can I do anything to stop him? He has visitation through contact centre but they want to progress. We left my ex when my daughter was 3 months old and she has not lived with him since.

A.

Hi there. It sounds like you are worried about how this will work if your daughter doesn't travel well. I also assume you have not been able to communicate with your ex. This is the kind of problem mediators deal with so you could try that. Have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk for more information and to find a mediation service near you. 

Hope that helps. 

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

My boyfriend and I separated when I was pregnant. I give access and it is every Saturday,I am breastfeeding and baby is 7months old. Now my ex wants a mediator to discuss his long term access. He has been for assessment and now expects me to go. He already has mentioned going to court but will not tell me what he is after. He also has said with the access each saturday he has checked with a solicitor and does not have to give me a time on babe's return. I left him because of his controlling behaviour which got worse when I was pregnant and suffered with hyperemesis which meant 5 hospital stays on drip etc.,

A.

Hi there. It sounds like you are worried about what he's after. Just remember that whatever your ex says, any Judge is only going to grant reasonable access and will most likely put in a time for pick up and return so I don't know where the 'not giving you a time for your child's return'

has come from. Before any court proceedings can be issued, there has to be a referral to mediation so you are both expected to give this a try first and only if you can't sort it in mediation would you go to Court. This is why you have been asked to go. Have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk and see what it's about - you might find it really helpful. At least you will both be given equal treatment, the chance to speak and be listened to and you are in charge of what you agree to. The mediator is impartial so only guides the conversation - they don't tell you what you should do. You could also contact a Solicitor but I suspect they would advise you to go along.

Hope that helps

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

 i am quite unwell and my ex husband is due to pick up our children tomorrow as arranged via court order i have asked him to collect the children from my house instead of the normal half an hour away, he has completely refused and has told me that if i dont show up he will cancel the csa payements,he started to get like this after i told him our 7 year old didnt want to see him because he was worried that his dad would shout at him again and told me this morning that he is scared of his dad, am i being unreasonable to ask my ex to collect the children from my house due to me being unwell?

A.

Hi there. It sounds as though there isn't much communication between you at the moment. It would probably be best to try to improve it to make things like this a bit more flexible. Have you thought about mediation? You can both put forward your concerns/proposals and have a mediator help you to talk things through. You could discuss the child maintenance too if that is an issue. You could speak to a Solicitor to see what your rights are but there is no harm in trying mediation. It might be that you could get him to understand why his son is scared of him. Have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk to find out more about it and see if there is a mediator near to where you live.

Hope that help

Kind regards

Jackie

 

Q.

Hi My ex husband has had residency of my two girls since 2011, and due to where he and i were living I was am only able to see my children 3 out of 4 weekends per month in Manchester with a supervised adult (namely my own parents). I am now moiving to the manchester area and i want this ridiculous order changed so I dont have o rely on my parents making the journey from norfolk ever time I see my children. I would also like overnight contact with the children. Does this need go to court or can this be resolved via mediation?

A.

Hi there, without knowing much about your case such as why the contact had to be supervised, I'm not sure if you can resolve this without Court.

However, I do know that you would be expected to talk it through with a mediator before applying to Court anyway so there is certainly no harm in going along. There is a good mediation service in Manchester called 'Children First Family Mediation'. You could have a look on the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk to find out more about mediation first but I think it would be helpful for you to talk it through.

Hope that helps

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

Hello, My xhusband is trying to force me to pay for costly mediation (he gets legal aid) regarding his strained relationship with our daughter Ive rung round to find cheeper but in my area the cost would  be about £700 all in. I just don't have the money to do this! So do I have to attend? His solicitor said it was for child counselling but the mediator advised they don't counsel they will just relate what my daughter said to the mediator? Contact dates have been agreed with the solicitor (although I have never stopped him seeing her) and my xhusband doesn't work so I never get maintenance anyway and all property and divorce details where finalised about two years ago. So why am I being threatened with court action if I don't attend?

A.

Hi there. You sound very stressed out about this and it sounds like you have been to meet a mediator to find out about it. I cannot say why your ex is threatening you with court action - you would have to ask him - but I suspect it is because he wants something he is not currently getting. You don't mention how old your daughter is and this is important. If it went to Court and she is of an age (approx. 10 years) where she can say what she wants, she is likely to be asked in that process. You could probably do with finding out how much Court will cost (if anything) and then you can make a decision as to which is better. If you use a Solicitor, obviously that will cost you. Your ex husband isn't likely to get legal aid for court, just for mediation. Have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk to check if you have contacted an nfm service - I say this because they are charity based so likely to be cheaper than the others.

Hope that helps

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

My ex boyfriend started to look after our child whose 3 nearly 4 when we split as i work 39 hours he made it difficult for me to see her for a while then we started mediation i then moved to my oen property and had my daughter for 3 nights a week his mum had 1 he had 3 when i ramg csa to tell them this he started being awkward daying all the days i arranged to see her he had plans on he cant tell me what though i work on a rota basis and send 4-5weeks notice of when i can have her she was in a great routine with this and settled down nicely. He had a social services report of dirty house and cannabis smell no proof when police came of cannabis though he had a re visit and was all clean insuspect he is smoking drugs what can i do? Also how do i get the contact preferebly avoiding court as its so expensive and time consuming i miss heralready! Also finding it hard to get him to agree to a mediation date

A.

Hi there. It sounds like you have already found out about mediation which is the better option for sorting out these kind of concerns. The mediation service should be sorting a date with him, not you. The idea is that you each have a separate meeting with the mediator then the mediation service organises a date for both of you to come along and talk through your concerns. Have a look at the National Family Mediation website at www.nfm.org.uk for more information about how it works. It seems that the issues you describe could easily be sorted in a mediation without the need for going to Court.

Hope that helps

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

Hi. My ex and i agreed that he would see our son every other sunday and every wednesday. He sometimes cannot do the wednesdays because of work and i have no objection to him arranging another day if this is the case but he seems to have an issue with making arrangements with me and instead tries to make arrangements with my son instead. My son is 6 years old and i do not feel that my ex should be arranging with him without checking with me first that we are not busy. I wrote out an agreement recently to try to avoid any more arguments as we cannot seem tocommunicate. He said he agreed to it but so far has not stuck to it. Am i wrong to ask him to arrange with me and not my son? Or at least ask if we are busy first if it is not an arranged day. I feel like i am trying to communicate but hitting a brick wall and wondering if we should involve mediators to help fix arrangements. Not sure how that would work though as when i mentioned mediation before to my ex he has said he will not do it

A.

Hi there. There is research which shows it can be really stressful for a child to be involved in the arrangements when the parents cannot communicate and it is certainly recommended that this is kept away from a child as young as 6. Trying mediation would be my recommendation as it is a chance to put forward your ideas whilst keeping the conflict out of it. A mediator could also help with the level of co-operation between you as it is quite stressful to be trying to sort things out when the other party won't try.

Have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk to see more information about what happens and if there is a service near to you.

If you get in touch with them, they will sort out contacting your ex and trying to get him to see a mediator so that problem will then be out of your hands. If he won't try mediation, then you could always make an application to Court for a Child Arrangements Order where the amount of contact is then defined and he would have to respond to that. 

Hope that helps

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

My daughter father has PR but is abusing it by not taking her to appointments, even school (one occasion so far), he doesnt bring her home when he is supposed to, and basically the negative influence that he has on her towards me and now got the the point where i just dont know where to go next, I am just the bad parent all the time.I've been to see my solicitor as we have set up times and days between our solicitor's but since his has got PR he just does as he pleases. He doesnt respond to the letters that my solicitor sends him

A.

Hi there, it sounds like you have tried to communicate but you are not getting anywhere. Have you tried mediation? You can contact them yourself and talk it through before they contact him if you want. It might be will respond to a mediation service as this would not be as costly as Solicitors and might even be free if either of you qualify for legal aid. Have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk to find out more and to see if there is a service near to you.

Hope that helps

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

Hello I attended mediation with my ex wife in 2012 where we agreed to all access arrangements for our son and finances. we have a memorandum of understanding in place of which is meaningless. The problem I have is I have only seen my son a few times since this memorandum of understanding was drawn up as my ex wife continually breaks arrangements and ignores my texts and phone calls. What I need to know is - as I have already attended mediation and have a memorandum of understanding in place can I apply directly to the court for a legally binding contact order? further mediation wont work for us and im not prepared to spend anymore time trying to negotiate with someone whos not interested in whats best for our 5 year old son.

A.

Hi , it sounds like you've had a very frustrating experience. The short answer is yes you can make an application to Court for what is now called a Child Arrangements Order and you need to download a C100 form from the Court website to do this. Alternatively you can go to the Court to pick one up in hard copy. Or you can get a Solicitor to do it for you. Since last year, you are obliged to have a meeting with a mediator before you submit this form (the mediator signs page 19 to confirm you've been). This meeting is called a MIAM (mediation information and assessment meeting) and is the Courts attempt to try to get matters resolved without the need for Court. Although your situation is slightly different because you've already tried mediation and it hasn't worked, you still need to attend this meeting - just you not your ex. I suspect this will feel frustrating as you are just jumping through hoops to get through the system but I'm afraid there is no way around it. As you say, the Memorandum of Understanding is not a legally binding document, so the only way to make it legal is to apply for an order.

I hope this is helpful.

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

My partner stopped having his child overnight due to health problems. Now he wants to restart his overnight access again. Previously he had his daughter overnight at his mothers house but we have now moved into a home of our own and his ex refuses to allow her daughter to stay unless we allow her to come and see her daughters bedroom in our home. I dont think this is fair and it makes me uncomfortable to think that she will be assessing if she deems it fit. Their daughter spends her days with my partner in our home and she doesn't mind that so how is spending the night any different? Am I being unreasonable to not allow her access?

A.

Hi there, I can understand how you feel under scrutiny and it doesn't make a lot of sense to you. Without talking to the mother of the child, its hard to guess what her motives are but it could just be that she wants to know what kind of bed her daughter will be sleeping in etc. You don't say how old the little girl is. I have known some mums in this situation to be reassured when their ex has shown them a photo of the room so they can see the set up.

This is usually where some trust has gone and verbal reassurance isn't enough. That doesn't mean you have to invite her to look round your house though! This kind of issue is ideal for mediation where parents can be helped to have the conversation with the help of a qualified mediator. That way, your partner can find out what this is about and the mother of the child can have her concerns addressed too - it could be solved very easily.

Have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk for more information and to find a service near to you.

I hope that helps.

Kind regards

Jackie

 

Q.

 hi hope you can just point me in the right direction. i have been split up with my husband for 4 years; we have a son who is now 10 years old. when we first split up i had to get a residency order. as he failed to tell me where my son was for 3 days. during the 3 years he has had regular contact every week and alot more than the order stated. as i wanted to maintain a good relationship with his father. however in doing so he became more bonded to his father. who had more time and money to spend on him. that i could never compete with. my son always came home withdrawn and wanted to go back to his father. and constantly requested to live with him. he wasnt doing well in school. i felt id lost control over him. i spoke to his father about this and we decided to have a formal agreement that i let him live with him. but have equal responsabilty and contact with me. Since this he has changed his school which i agreed. and has put condition on my contact. he wont let me collect him from school.

A.

Hi there. You sound concerned you are going to lose contact with your son and this can be very worrying. It sounds like there has been communication between you and his dad in the past which makes me quite hopeful that a mediation would help. A qualified mediator would help you both talk about this and plan for the future. You can talk it through with a mediator on your own first to see if mediation would be a good way forward. Most family mediation services have a child consultation service - this is where your son would be able to talk to the mediator privately (with permission from both parents) to see if there is anything he wants taken into account.

Sometimes, really useful information comes out of that and most children like to be asked what their views are - he would not be asked to make any decision and it would be up to him what information would be shared with his mum and dad. Have a look on the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk to find out more information about how it works and also to find a service near to you.

I hope that helps.

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

My ex husband left mediation because he did not get his own way 4 years ago and I have been battling since. He sees the children once a month and although I drop the children to a local train station when he is passing through, I then also have to drive a 4 hour return trip to pick them up on the Sunday. My question is, am I legally required to drive either to drop off or pick up the children on his access weekend?

A.

Hi there. There are no laws about who should have to provide transport in order for child contact to take place. However, if there has ever been an order from the Court which covers who should be transporting the children, then you are legally bound to comply with this. If not, it is all up for negotiation. I would normally recommend mediation as a way of sorting this out but it sounds like you think he wouldn't do it. 4 years is a long time - it might be worth a try? Otherwise, it's between the two of you. Or you could ask your Solicitor to write him a letter proposing a solution.

I hope that helps

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

What happens if my ex does not turn up for mediation does it go against her in court?

A.

Hi there. If your ex has met the mediator and it has been classed as not suitable for mediation then it shouldn't go against anyone in Court. If she hasn't responded or refuses to attend mediation then it all depends on what the Judge thinks about that. The point of Court is that you are in the Judges hands so if the Judge thinks she should have tried mediation, he may well refer it back to mediation. Sorry there isn't a yes/no answer to that one!

Jackie

Q.

 Hi I have never refused access to my son's dad but as I believe ever since he had to pay CSA he has now gone down the legal path claiming that I am refusing him access. On receipt of asolicitors letter I responded giving him more than enough access bearing in mind that I never stopped him and also stated that if I had to attend mediation or court that I didn't see why I would have to pay costs considering I'm not stopping access. I have recently received a letter from the mediator and have been told that I would have to pay a fee. Can I refuse mediation?? Oh and he has now stopped working!!

A.

Hi there. I can see its becoming quite a difficult situation. Mediation is voluntary so you don't have to go. However, Courts will not let anyone issue proceedings without having tried it first so I suspect that is why you have had a letter. Ask yourself whether there is any harm in going - if it is all down to the cost then there are mediation services out there who offer legal aid to those people who have a low income. If your ex is planning to take this to Court, the only fees due to you would be the cost of hiring a Solicitor. You could represent yourself.

As a mediator, I am bound to say that mediation would be a good way forward, but why don't you contact them and ask about the fees. If your ex is not working and therefore qualifies for free mediation, the legal aid rules would allow you to also get your first session for free, so its worth asking about. If you want to know more about mediation, have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk I hope that helps Kind regards Jackie

Q.

My daughter and partner have split up, they were not married. He has gone back to his parents house. Their son is 3. He wants to have our son 3 nights but 2 of them being through the week, ie: Tue &Thurs, and to have him one night every other weekend, my daughter feels this isn't a good routine and would rather he had him once through the week and every other weekend or once through the week and a one day/night over the weekend. Or 2 consecutive days through the week. How does she stand with this as she wants to keep things amicable

A.

Hi there, I can see you are all trying to do the right thing and don't want to fall out. I am going to recommend you try mediation. The mediator would meet each parent separately first to check out that the mediation process would be a good way forward then both parents would attend maybe one or maybe two sessions depending on how it goes. Each person is given time to say what they want and why and would be encouraged to be prepared to negotiate. The mediator won't tell them what to do or make any decisions - it is up to the parents. But the mediator can keep the focus of the discussion on what's best for the child, acknowledging how both feel and getting them to think it all through.  The reason I think this would help in your situation is that it really does help to keep everyone amicable and talking. Have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk for more information and how to get a referral to be seen in your area.

I hope that helps

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

My son who is 4 now lives with his mother. She has not allowed me  to talk with or see him for 3 days. What is the best way to handle this so that can make sure he's OK

A.

Hi there. I'm assuming you are his dad and therefore your son has a right to a good relationship with both his parents unless it is not in his best interests. So as long as there are no reasons why he would not be safe or cared for, then you should be seeing him. You have a couple of options. You can try talking directly to his mum to see if you can sort out an arrangement to suit you all. You can apply to Court - if you go along to the court, they will give you an application form (or you may wish to go through a Solicitor but this will cost you). Before you can submit a Court application, you will have to prove you have looked into mediation as another option. Mediation might be useful for you anyway so its worth looking into. If you look on the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk you will be able to access lots of information and find a mediation service near you. Also, if you are on a low income, legal aid is still available for mediation so it might not cost you anything. A mediator is an impartial professional who can guide a conversation between two parties and steer them towards an agreement.

Hope that helps

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

Hi My son is five and every time he comes bk from his dads he as anger out bursts bad attitude kicking toys hitting people being really disrespectful i know this is a normal thing during transition for children but it seems to b getting worse ... I feel his dad isn't looking after him properly he picks him up every other Friday and he always looks hungover this Friday my son hit his head off a car barrier in city centre and ended up in a & e with a cut on his head .. He lives with his mom so when he has my son he goes out and parties and sleeps in the day then spends time with him in the afternoon till my son goes sleep then goes out drinking and taking drugs ... when my son is at his dad's he let's him do what he wants and there is no ground rules this as been happening for over two years ... my son's dad mom always sticks up for him and cover for him .. what do I do as I don't want to stop contact but it's really stressing me at and the school .

A.

Hi there. It sounds like you don't believe your son is safe in which case you really ought to talk to Children's Services in your area. If you are not concerned enough to do that, maybe mediation can help. You can talk through concerns with a mediator first and decide whether or not to proceed through mediation so there is no harm in contacting them. Have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk to find out more information and find a mediation service near to where you live.

Hope that helps

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

Hello can you help....I've been to mediaction...with my ex....we sorted out our daughter..but when it came down to the house, he saiid if I can get the mortgage sorted with my eldest daughter he would sign..this was in mediaction ...I got the paper work sort and all ok....took it to mediaction..and he said he would no sign..it....it was my council house before I meet him....I got a £30,000 discount for being with the council....now he wants half the equity ....when our daughter is 18....she is 11...now...I don't want to sale and he won't take a offer....he wants half...he pays csa..but he hasn't payed the mortgage for 5 years...I'm paying it...I've gone on to interest only as I'm only part time....what can I do....I'm so stressed..he won't help even either school uniforms or school trips...I'm not bothered about that I just want him of my mortgage ...please what can I do....

A.

Hi there. I suspect your ex also wants to be off the mortgage as he will not be able to apply for a new mortgage for himself until this is done, so its in both your interests to get this sorted. You said you had an agreement in mediation which he then backed out of, so why don't you go back to mediation to re-negotiate? If that is not an option, I suggest you get some legal advice. If you cant afford a Solicitor, the Citizens Advice Bureau may have someone who can advise you on the housing angle because it was a council property originally. If the discount originally came to you, that should be taken into account in any settlement made so I suspect you have a strong case.

Hope that helps.

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

I wont bore with the history but have a very manipulative and threatening ex, separated for 4 years but still trying to exert control. I have never refused access despite extended periods where he simply failed to see our daughter for months because he wouldn't call. Contact was agreed and three months ago he refused to knock at my door or text ( unless it was abuse)and has driven off without her on several occasions, unless my daughter was waiting for him at the door. He now refuses to collect her and insists I drop her off and collect her. He has transport and lives two miles from us. I've tolerated his erratic nonsense for so long. I've asked to go to mediation he has refused.. I'm aware this sounds petty but I now refuse to engage with him as the foul abuse and threats I've tolerated over the past few years has simply worn me down. Can I insist he collects her?

A.

Hi there. It sounds like you have had enough. If he won't negotiate transport arrangements with you and you have now got to the point where you don't communicate then the next step is really up to him. If he wants contact with his daughter, he has 3 options - talk properly to you direct, try mediation, go to Court. As the first two don't seem to be attractive to him, then he might try going to Court. If he does, they will tell him he has to try mediation first (this means he has to meet a mediator and talk through his options). So you could simply do nothing and wait to see what he does.

Hope that helps

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

Hi my daughter ex partner has regular weekend contact with there 3 year old boy but wants to keep him overnight,this is something my daughter is not comfortable with as my grandson has only just got into a good bedtime routine after a long period of time where he was waking. My daughter has always allowed regular access on sat from 10am to 6.30pm and also on Sundays if her ex partner wasnt working. He is now saying that he is taking her to court in order to keep my grandson overnight..My daughter is very upset and worried and i have no idea what she should do .. any advice would help. Can he take her court for this ???

A.

Hi there. It sounds like this has upset you all greatly. The short answer is yes he can take this to Court but before he is allowed to issue proceedings, he will need to meet a mediator and consider mediation as an alternative first. This might actually be a much better way of sorting this out so that your daughter can have her say too. A mediator is an impartial professional who guides conversations, keeping the conflict out and helping parties reach a mutually acceptable arrangement. Have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk for more information. You can refer yourselves rather than wait for him to do anything.

I hope that helps

Kind regards

Jackie

 

Q.

Hello I finding it hard to come to some arrangement with my daughters dad as he is always saying that he feels like a baby sitter not a dad due to me asking him to have her while I work baring in mind he doesn't, I also don't let him take her out of my house to his due to him lovinge in 3 different places and not having anything for my daughter available ie toys highchair cot ect. I'm wonder where I stand when I say to only have her at home and what hours a week is he entitled to as I'm unsure and want to do it the right way as all he does is let me down by not showing or cancelling so I had to take my daughter to work for my mum to collect 2 hours later at the age of 7 month at the time and that was due to been out drinking which of course annoyed me! What rights do I have?

 

> and what rights does he have??? Thanks deanna

A.

Hi there. It sounds like you are quite frustrated about this and are trying to juggle work and family too. In terms of rights, this is a legal question and probably best asked of a Lawyer. However, I do know that the Courts consider the child's rights first, rather than any rights the parents have.

For instance, they would say that a child has a right to a good relationship with both their parents unless this is not in their best interests, e.g. not safe. I suspect that unless there is evidence (eg a history with the Police) of your ex not being able to look after a child on his own, the Court would not stop him from taking your daughter out by himself. Rather than let it get as far as Court, I would suggest you try mediation where a mediator would help you to sit down with him and talk through concerns as there may be a mutually acceptable way of resolving this. Have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk for more information and to find a service near to you.

I hope that helps

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

My daughter is 6 weeks old. I offered ex a number of contact arrangements all of which he refused. We finally agreed upon 3 daysa week for 2 hours, with a view to gradually increasing. However he is yet to stick to the agreememt and has seen her for a total of 13.5 hrs in 6 weeks. He is now taking me to mediation and possibily court as i refuse to increase contacf to full days until he has shown a willingness in meeting her basic needs and turning up to contact. Iv offered he can keep contact whilst we wait to go through mediation. But he has refused to see her until mediation/court has made a contact agreement. This is a man with a history of mental health problems resulting in sectioning and a long history of drug abuse. Am i offering adequate contact or not? I believe she is far too young for all day contact unsupervised with someone she does not know regardless of his relation to her?

A.

Hi there. It sounds like it's become a matter of principle and you are clearly concerned for your daughter's welfare so being able to discuss it in a calmer environment should help. You don't have to agree to anything you don't want to and the mediator will give you both time to explain how you feel and why it's important. Often dad's feel powerless in these situations so it helps them to air their frustrations too and often this gets the negotiation started on a better footing. If it does end up going to Court, it will impress the Judge that you have tried to sort things out in mediation. If you have a look on the National Family Mediation website, www.nfm.org.uk for more information about how it works.

Hope this helps

Jackie

Q.

I have a two bedroom council house and I live here with my 7 year old son, the problem I have is that my 19 year old brother has had to move  in with me due to circumstances at home and his mental state being affected (he is currently in counciling) the problem I have is my  local council is saying I'm intentially overcrowding, am I? And can they do anything about it? I have informed them that he is currently staying/visiting but I'm concerned as I think he may need to stay with me long term.

A.

Sadly they are correct. Your brother did not need to move in with you. If he was homeless he should have applied as homeless to his local authority. Just because you have another adult in your flat does not make you overcrowded but may impact on your housing benefits which might be reduced. One matter to think about is whether you could become your brothers carer in which case you may be eligible for certain benefits. I do hope this turns out for the best.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

hMy daughter is 2 and spends 2 nights a week with her dad. He moved into a one bedroom flat and wants to still have her 2 nights a week.  I don't think its fair for my daughter to be in a small place without her own things and bed so often. We have always dealt with this on our own so now im unsure what to do next.

A.

Hi there. As you've managed to sort things out yourselves in the past, this must feel a bit different. I would suggest you look into mediation where a professional mediator can help you to talk this through and hopefully reach an agreement. Have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk to find out more about it and where there might be a service near to you.

Best of luck

Jackie

Q.

Hi, my daughter is nearly 3, she has always had contact with her dad, arrangements keep being changed as his situation keeps changing without letting me know. He has recently got a new partner of 3 months and they are now engaged, he hasn't been to see his daughter as I said he needed to make a commitment to his daughter alone before introducing anyone else. This is the 4th partner he has introduced her to so far and is now not happy to have contact unless his partner comes with him, I don't see the need to rush for the sake of our daughter. I currently don't allow overnight contact unless supervised by his nan as he has previously
 threatened suicide in front of our daughter! Would mediation help?

A.

Hi there. It sounds like you have had a tough time for a while now and it doesn't appear to be getting better. Often with time it settles down so I think mediation would be a good idea for this situation. It may help to have structured conversations to focus on your little girl and work out a staged plan. Have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk for more information and to find a mediator in your area. 

All the best

Jackie

Q.

My daughter has agreed to wavering the every weekend access with her x partner to him having every third weekend off to fit in with his new girlfriends free time from her children. During this discussion which was done through letters he was insistent that she agreed to him taking the children aged 2 and 5 out of the north east to Inverness to visit his parents. My daughter explained that at the present time she was not in agreement as she felt the journey some six hours in a car too long, but would be willing to rethink the matter in a year or so. After he did not reply to her texts etc on the first evening of his access she eventually has been told he has taken the children to Scotland anyway, can she do anything about this. She is naturally distraught.

A.

This is a difficult situation - on the one hand it would be difficult to deny a father the right to take his children to see their grandparents and on the other hand the welfare of the children and a long journey should be taken into account. The problem here is lack of negotiation. Often those who have the primary care of the children feel they have the right to make the ultimate decision whereas the law sees each parent having equal rights and moreso the children have a right to a good relationship with both their parents. So, in short, there isn't much your daughter can do about this but she is more likely to prevent this kind of problem re-occurring if she can get a better parenting relationship with her ex. This is where mediation comes in. Have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk for more information on how it could help. Have a look on this website for a mediation provider in your area and talk it through with them. Legal aid is still available for mediation too so if your daughter's income is low, she might qualify for a free meeting with a mediator to look into this possibility a bit more.

Hope that helps

Jackie

Q.

Hi my ex partner has a court order in place, he works away so is home for 3 weeks and away for 3 weeks. My 6 year old has staring saying she isn't going to his, when she does go, claims to be feeling unwell so that he will bring her home. I have explained to him that he needs to build a relationship with her but him working away so much doesn't help and he can't see that. Where do I stand I she keeps insisting she doesn't want to go ?? We are in Scotland if that makes any difference to the laws etc Thanks

A.

You would have to ask a Scottish lawyer about the law in Scotland. It sounds like you can see what needs to happen but your ex isn't listening. If for whatever reason, contact stops then your ex would be entitled to apply to court to get contact and unless there is a reason why it would not be safe for your daughter, a Court is likely to grant him contact. This means she has to go. Rather than it get to that stage (where it would be even harder to make her go) I would recommend you try mediation and see if a mediator can help you and your ex discuss things before it becomes impossible.

Good luck

Jackie

Q.

Hi my ex partner got refused legal aid but moved hur school 40 mils away can he do that

A.

You are asking a legal question which is best answered by a lawyer.

Important factors will be whether he has a Residence Order or Parental Responsibility. You may be able to make an application under Specific Issues to ask for her to be returned to the old school if you have a solid case.

Once you sort out the legal position, you might want to consider mediation to improve the parental co-operation and communication so that this stuff doesn't keep happening. Have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk for more information.

All the best

Jackie

Q.

Hi, myself and my son's father have recently split. He was not living with us from the time my son was 2 weeks old but he has seen him regularly as he was always at my home. However, he has never been a hands on father and doesn't even know the difference between my son's cries or
when he is tired or hungry. For these reasons and more I don't feel he is  ready to have my son every other weekend. I had previously said he could start staying with him every other weekend from 6 months but now as mentioned, I don't think he is ready yet. My son goes to his house
 sometimes. He's had about 5 visits to his house to spend time with his dad and his dad's family. But my ex keeps saying his parents aren't seeing him enough. He wants to make me go to mediation. But I don't want to go if I will be made to let him have him every other weekend. Can they make me let him have him every other weekend? And do I have to go to mediation and
 also as he would be making me go would I have to pay anything? Thank you

A.

Hi there. Clearly you are concerned about your baby. Let me make it very clear that mediators do not have the authority to tell you what to do. They are simply there to facilitate your conversation. You will be assessed for legal aid individually and if not eligible will be asked to pay a fee. This is a cheaper less stressful option than going to court and should give you the opportunity to feel heard. If you try mediation it shows you are trying to be reasonable. 

Good luck

Jackie

Q.

Hi, I split from my partner 5weeks ago. We have an 18 month old son together and I am currently 4months pregnant. The reason for the split was because my partner didnt enjoy family life. He didnt like doing things as a family, didnt participate in family holidays/outings so we both decided it was for the best. Before we split, he rarely had our 18month old son on his own and if he did he didnt manage very well (would text me and tell me my son needed me). Since we have split, I have asked that we have set days/times in place for him to see our son to keep a routine for him but my ex partner refuses to do this. He demands to see our son when he doesn't have plans. If I say he can see him on a certain day, most of the time he will say he already have plans and isnt willing to change them to see our son. For the last 5weeks I have changed mine and my sons plans so he can see our son, but it is getting to a point now where he is seeing him when ever it suits him and it just doesn't seem fair. Would mediation help?

A.

Hi there. This is exactly the kind of thing mediators deal with every day so yes I think you should try it. The idea is that you would both need to negotiate so that it suits you both and is not just on one person's terms. Have a look at the website for National Family Mediation at www.nfm.org.uk for more information on how mediation works.

All the best

Jackie

Q.

I have 2 children by the same person he sees them 2 days a week when he has them an hour after hes bringing them home saying they want to come home but yet they cry for him when he leave when i tell he they want  him he haa no intrested in coming to calme/settle the girls when i ask him to have them more so they dont do this he says i cant cope and he will take me for full custady he does buy anything for them doesnt take them out he once told my children i had died in a car crash i have had this for 4 years and i do t like the idea of him treatin the girls like this what can i do

A.

Hi there. It sounds like you are having a tough time. This situation could be dealt with in mediation so that you can talk it through and have a plan for contact.  It sounds like the children are confused at the moment so it would be good to calm things down a bit. Have a look on the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk for more information and to find a mediator in your area. 

Good luck

Jackie

Q.

My child's father threatens me constantly with he will not pick our child up that he has to get his mother to pick him up, but I have said I do not want her to pick him up as it is every time fall out. He now threatens me with that I have to look after our son from now on and then takes it back, I told him that if he said it again then I wouldn't allow him to see him as this could affect our son. He said it again so I've told him he can't see him because he can't threaten me with that as it will
affect my son in the future, I don't care what happens between us as long as it would not affect him, which this would if I kept happening. He is making me seriously ill and depressed and can not deal with him at all. Am I doing the right thing?

A.

Hi there. It sounds like you are fed up with this now. I would recommend you try mediation. If he applies to court,  he will be sent to see a mediator anyway. Have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk for more information. 

Good luck

Jackie

Q.

Would a mediator or an initial interview to see if mediation was right pick up on any mental health issues ? I fear that my ex has NPD

A.

Hi, the mediator will talk to each of you separately and may not pick up on a mental health issue unless it is very obvious. If you have a concern, you need to let the mediator know when you have your individual session with them. It also does not mean that mediation cannot go ahead. The mediator would make an assessment as to whether the person is fully able to mediate.

I hope this helps

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

I haVe tryed tirelessly to see my son who is 8 weeks if i upset her she wont let me see him at all ive contacted a lawyer what will the letter say to her thanks

A.

You will need to ask your solicitor what he is going to put in a letter. He will tell you that if you plan to issue court proceedings you need to meet a mediator first and consider going through mediation. Have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk for more information about mediation. This could be a good way for you and the baby's mum to work out a contact plan. I hope that's helpful. 

Jackie

Q.

Me and my ex partner are talking about going to a mediator because our 4 year old going onto 5 in December says she wants to live  with me (her mum) more and this has been a constant thing for quite some time now. We both have our daughter the same amount of time which has
worked for 4 years but it is no longer working now I am not trying to take our daughter away from her dad but she is to start school in September and I am worried this is going to affect her She doesn't understand why she can't see me more and cries so bad when I drop her to her dad. But is a mediator going. To say she is too young to understand

A.

Hi there. It sounds like you and your ex are wanting to at least talk about this so that's always a good start. Mediators will tell you the same as the Court. A five year old child is too young to make a decision about where she lives so it's up to you as parents to take into account how she feels but decide between you what is in her best interests. Mediation is a good way of doing this and the mediator will help you to have a constructive conversation. Have a look on the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk to find your nearest mediator.  There's lots of other information on there too. 

Good luck

Jackie

Q.

Me and my ex partner are talking about going to a mediator because our 4 year old going onto 5 in December says she wants to live  with me (her mum) more and this has been a constant thing for quite some time now. We both have our daughter the same amount of time which has
worked for 4 years but it is no longer working now I am not trying to take our daughter away from her dad but she is to start school in September and I am worried this is going to affect her She doesn't understand why she can't see me more and cries so bad when I drop her to her dad. But is a mediator going. To say she is too young to understand

A.

Hi there. It sounds like you and your ex are wanting to at least talk about this so that's always a good start. Mediators will tell you the same as the Court. A five year old child is too young to make a decision about where she lives so it's up to you as parents to take into account how she feels but decide between you what is in her best interests. Mediation is a good way of doing this and the mediator will help you to have a constructive conversation. Have a look on the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk to find your nearest mediator.  There's lots of other information on there too. 

Good luck

Jackie

Q.

hi i don't know if you can help. my ex and i agreed that he would  visit our son on a Sunday at my home as i don't trust him and he doesn't live in a suitable place for our son to visit also he would call our son on a Wednesday and i would call him if our 3 year old wanted to talk to him. however my ex keeps letting our son down. was wondering if mediation was likely to help us? If he was continually to break what we had agreed what would happen then? also can mediation help with contact centre or something similar. thank you in advance

A.

Hi there. I can see the situation has become difficult and I do think mediation would be a good idea for your situation. Its an opportunity to discuss anything with your ex partner which can  be very helpful. Have a look at our website www.nfm.org.uk for more information. 

Hope that helps. 

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

My son is having problems with seeing his daughter of 19 months old whom he loves very much, he moved way for work, ad made sure he would be near her. Every time he ask can u skype her for 10 mins she sys i am busy, its getting harder and barder making him so depressed and ill d us as granparnts also. They are up north we are in london, he hs always paid child support every since they split, but he is so arrognt and making our lives hell. what would u suggest its anout contact mainly. seeing her

A.

Hi there. These situations can be very stressful. I think mediation could help. If you look on the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk there's lots of information and your son could arrange to meet a mediator to talk through his options. If he decides to use the service they will help him to improve the practical arrangements as well as the communication. Otherwise he could go for some legal advice to see a lawyer. 

Hope that helps

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

Hi my daughter is suffering. Not coping well with her dad keep letting her down. She has been telling her grandma her dads dad one thing and me another. Bless her I feel she is trying to please everyone. She tells me she tells her dad how she feels he tells me she dosnt and that she is lying. And blames her for a lot of things. I am really worried. She is 11 and going through transition atent for secondary. And hormones etc. I have been calm and sometimes got upset. Her dad used to have a lot of affairs. He keeps seeing different woman. Which to be honest is confusing kids. He promises to see them then let's them down. I'm in a stable relTionship now well been together 6 months. Taking it slow. I see him couple some times once a week. He stops over now and again. His daughter sometimes stop over. I know Sophie gets jeolous of my boyfriends relationship with his daughter. Cos she says that's what she wants with her dad. She takes her frustration out on me. My son 7 seems to cope ok.

A.

Hi. It's obviously a difficult time for you and your daughter. It is very common for children to take on responsibility for keeping their parents happy in this kind of situation and I wonder whether you have thought about children's counseling for her. You could see if you school offers it, although with it coming up for the summer holidays, they might not.

Otherwise, you could talk to your GP. The other thing you could look at is family mediation where you and her dad are helped by a mediator to discuss whats happening and see if you can agree a way forward to take the pressure off your daughter. Have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk to find out more and see where your nearest service is. You can contact them and see a mediator on your own to start with so that you can discuss  the situation and decide whether to take it any further.

Hope that helps

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

Hi, my wife and I are being pestered by her ex husband to go to mediation regarding their daughter. He has a number of issues he wants sorted including financial support (he feels he pays too much and complains he is skint), school holidays (he never helps out with childcare over the hols without being hassled into it), and his daughter going to see a specialist - she has borderline Aspergers and has some behavioual issues that he struggles with. He feels she needs help and is just not  dealing with her well at all. My wife refuses for her daughter to see a specialist as she is only 12 and has already stated she doesnt want to go, plus my wife is a Therapist herself and knows that seeing a specialist could do more harm than good. My question is - my wife is refusing to go to mediation and I dont know whether she is right or wrong. We cant afford our half of the cost (whatever it may be) and neither of us have jobs that allow time off to go to these things during 9-5 hours. Are we in our right to refuse.

A.

Hi there. You don't have to go to mediation but you would be wise to look at the options for the children's dad if you refuse. His only other alternative is to put an application into court. Another option is for you to sit down with him and try to sort it out without any outside intervention. If this is impossible, a mediator would help your wife and the children's father discuss concerns on both sides so in your situation,  it really would be worth looking into. Have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk. There is information on there about mediation and other sources of help. Hope that's okay. 

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

hello, i have recently began legal proceedings to get access to my son i have never been allowed to see, i have mediation next, is this free for single mothers and i thought there not entitled to legal aid anymore? im confused to be honest seems like a easy ride yet again

A.

Hi, it sounds like you are already in the system so you should be hearing from the mediation service who can explain all about who gets legal aid and who doesn't. The new system is that you cant get legal aid for court proceedings or Solicitors unless there are very special circumstances. Legal aid is still available for mediation if you qualify on a means tested basis.

Your income has to be fairly low to qualify and the mediator will do a calculation to check for you. It has nothing to do with whether you are a single mum or not, its all based on household income. Talk to your mediator about this. If you do not qualify for legal aid, mediation will be a lot cheaper than going through Court, so it would be a good idea to give it a go. If it doesn't work, you can still apply to Court. I hope you can get something sorted.

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

hi I don't know if you can help I have a friend who is a single mother and she has twin boys who now live with there dad he has no court order or pr as she let them go and stay with him when her mother passed away and now he wont let her have them back or even see  them. I am trying to help her find out her options as she is on a very low income and cannot  pay for solicitors is there any advice you could please give her many  thanks

A.

Whilst I can't give you legal advice, there is a clear situation here. If the father does not have PR or any Court order, then he is not allowed to keep the children away from the mother. She could try to get the Police involved to see if they will return the children to her. She could also contact Children's Services to see if they can offer any help even though the children are not in any known danger, they should be allowed contact with their mother.  I really recommend she goes to the Court to find out what application she needs to put in. She can try mediation and is likely to get it free but it sounds like he will probably not respond. She does need to meet a mediator before putting an application in - they won't allow proceedings if she has not done this, unless she can get an emergency application. If you have a look on the NFM website there is information which will be helpful. www.nfm.org.uk and you can find your nearest service from there. Good luck Kind regards Jackie

 

Q.

Just needing some help as I can't rest for worrying so much!  I have a lg with my ex and he usually comes to see her at my house as  I don't trust him alone with her as he is a drug user, suicidal and he also lives with people who smoke, sell and grow drugs! Obviously I wouldn't want my daughter anywhere near that! Now he's saying that he is going to take me to court for access and to let him have we on the weekends alone without supervision! I've got all the texts to prove he  is a drug user and suicidal but if this went to court would the judge seriously let her alone with him? He also hadn't seen her for over 3 months! Please help in stressing so much I can't enjoy the time with my daughter!!!

A.

Hi, I can understand why you are worried. As far as I can see, there are a few options open to you. If you want legal advice about what to do regarding a Court process or what your rights are, you really need to speak to a Solicitor. Whether or not the Court would take your concerns seriously often depends on how well documented your evidence is and by someone other than you. For instance if Children's Services had a record or your concerns and had advised you not to allow contact without supervision, that would be evidence. If the Police had records regarding his drug use and any related offences, again that would be evidence. Often in these sorts of cases, if your ex did put in a Court application, and you had responded with your concerns then they might ask for drug tests. So, you could give Children's Services a call. I would also recommend you have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk as there is a lot of information on there for people in a variety of circumstances. You could see where your nearest mediation service is and go along to meet a mediator and discuss your situation if you think there is any chance of getting your ex to a mediation too. Talking it through in mediation and coming to an agreement yourselves that way is a lot cheaper and a lot less stressful than Court.

Hope this helps.

All the best.

Jackie

Q.

I would like to know how I set up an arrangement for my Daughter to see her Father. At the moment there is no structure and any arrangements that are set up he does not keep to, so I would like something in writing which makes the agreement more formal.

A.

Hi, yes that's exactly the sort of thing that is organised via mediation. If you have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk you will be able to see what happens in mediation - you will stay in control of decisions and it will be formally recorded - it isn't legally binding though - the only way you can get that is via a Court order. A court would expect you to have tried mediation first, so it really is the next step. There is a great service in Manchester called Children First Family Mediation on Fairfax Road, Prestwich. They work in central Manchester and other areas too so you could try them. Their website is www.childrenfirstfamilymediation.org.uk or phone number 0161 341 0257.

Hope that helps

Jackie

Q.

My ex partner left me when I was 13 weeks pregnant last year he never contributed to anything but I allowed him access once baby was born first once a week then twice a week. We recently tried to make ago of things again but it went very wrong. He was violent towards me (don't want to go into too much detail online) I told him to stop but he wouldn't and made his grip tighter hurting me. I said he could see him but only if it was supervised because I don't trust him with the baby alone. He didn't show up today to see his son now he's threatening mediation on me. I'm scared of what he would do because he was violent infront of our 4 month old in the room. (He was asleep). What I'm asking is what do you think would happen?

A.

It sounds like you have had a difficult separation let alone the concerns about keeping your baby safe. I hope I can reassure you that mediation is not a process to be frightened of. It is voluntary, which means if you decide you don't want to go or its not appropriate in your case, you don't have to. Having said that, everyone is being encouraged nowadays to meet the mediator (by themselves - not with the other party present). This is so that if the case ends up in court, you can show you have been reasonable and considered different options. If you meet the mediator and tell the

m about these concerns you have, they can help you work out whether or not mediation might work. If you do this now, it might help to avoid court proceedings so I do think it's a good idea for you to go to that first meeting with a mediator on your own and talk it through. The other thing to do if you are worried about your baby's safety is to talk to a Duty Social Worker by ringing Children's Services and see if they have any advice. If you think you might need some legal advice, then please visit a Solicitor - this may have a cost attached although some Solicitors offer free drop-ins or half hour sessions. I hope this helps.

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

Hello, My wife and I have now separated and living apart. We have two children aged 5 an 7. Access to them is very limited for me at this time, I would like to have some thing more set in stone and regular access to them. My wife and I can't seem to agree on it. We have a joint mortgage on our home and have done for seven years. There's is equity in the property. I am now renting another property so my out goings are a little over the top paying my rent, as much as I can for the mortgage and child maintenance. My ex is refusing to part from the house. Ideally I need it sold an fir her to get another property. This way I can come off the mortgage which is a huge burden. Mortgage company will not give her the mortgage in her own name as it's too big. My wife wants to stay in the house, she says I don't need to pay. Not sure how she can afford this. But I'm in fear if I don't pay I will loose my share of the equity over time. I need to sell the house so I can have some sort of set up for my children.

A.

Hi, you are obviously worried about the future, both as far as contact with the children is concerned and also the finances. I think mediation could be very helpful to you and possibly to your ex as well. Have a look at the website for National Family Mediation www.nfm.org.uk which has lots of information about the different aspects of separation and parenting in difficult circumstances. If you did manage to get to mediation, you would both be encouraged to look at different options as well as looking at things from the children's point of view. This often helps parents to find some common ground. See if there is a service near you and give them a call.

Hope that helps

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

Hi me and my ex cant seem to communicate anymore regarding our daughter. We were getting on really well and then i went on hoiday with my boyfriend and then moved in together. My ex stopped maintenance and stopped paying school dinners etc. We ended up arguing about the time he has our daughter etc so I said we needed some structure he used to have her every Wednesday and Friday night before we started being flexible which led to the arguing. He takes her to school most days and picks her up then he has her till i finish work as well as her staying Wed and Fri. He has started not telling me things from school i.e trips and parents evening etc and when i try talk i get accused of only been interested in money because we went through CSA. It is now to a point where he is saying things to our daughter and other people, that i am taking her away from him and our daughter is getting very upset by all of this. There is a constant game playing.He has been threatening court.

A.

Oh dear it seems like a downward spiral and I know it's not very comforting but it is very common to experience a phase like this. The fact that you have communicated very well in the past for your daughter is really promising and I think with the help of a mediator, you could get to the bottom of why its different now and what needs to happen to get things back on track. Whilst there may be game playing going on right now, people eventually get fed up of fighting and kids get fed up of being in the middle. It interesting that your ex is thinking about Court because nowadays people have to meet a mediator to discuss their case before they can make a Court application. So either you could wait for this to happen or you could have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk and make contact with your local service to find out a bit more. I do think mediation could be very helpful for you.

I hope that helps.

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

Hi jackie I'm asking for some advice for my son. He and his ex partner split up a few months ago they have a daughter together who is 8 months old. At first he was seeing a lot of her and spending time with his daughter at his ex's house. They have recently fallen out and she is making it difficult for him to see his daughter. His ex has got servere mental health problems which has also affected my son. On minute she says he can see the baby then she says he can't but every time she says he can it is only on her terms. She has said he can't pick her up it either has to be myself or my sons father but because of my work commitments and the fact I also have a family to look after this isn't always possible but because of this he misses out on seeing his little girl this is destroying

 

> him. I know he would start legal proceedings but he's only on an

> apprentices wage as he's only 19 so will not be able to afford the

> costs any advice on this matter will be greatly appreciated

A.

Hi Sarah, this is obviously affecting the whole family but must be very upsetting for your son. I am going to recommend mediation as a way of resolving this and I shall explain why. If your son decides to apply to Court, he will be told he has to come to meet a mediator first, so he might as well start there. The mediator can give him information about whether or not he is entitled to free mediation under legal aid because he is on a low income. You might have heard that the legal aid for Solicitors fees has now been abolished, which means there is no free advice available unless you can find a Community Legal Advice Centre close to you or a CAB which has advisors who are aware of this area of the law. If the mediator and your son decide that mediation is not the way forward and your son should apply to Court, the mediator will sign a form for him to confirm he has already met that requirement, therefore speeding up the process. You mention the baby's mum having some mental health problems. If there are diagnosed conditions, the mediator can assess whether mediation is suitable in this instance. If there is nothing diagnosed and your concerns are based on her behaviour, the mediator will be able to explain to both parties that the Court is likely to make an order for contact. If you have a look on the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk, there is a lot of information about what kind of issues can be dealt with - this is not an unusual scenario and can be dealt with in mediation but only if both parties are willing. If not, your son can at least make an application to Court being able to show he has tried to be reasonable. If it gets that far, ask at the Court about the possibility of waiving the Court fees due to his low income as this might be possible too. He can represent himself if it's just a straightforward contact application - this sounds as though it is, so don't give up!

I hope that helps

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

I was wondering if I could get some assistance please.

There is an Access Order in place between myself and my ex husband for our 5 year old daughter.  It states that 'the mother shall make the child available for contact as follows....'.  He has already denied extra contact that i have always offered as he says he is too busy, he has recently dropped his contact for every other Wednesday because he says he is too busy, he is now refusing to bring our daughter back at the specified time and demands that I collect her from his home.

At the time of divorce I ensured to keep life as close to normality as possible and also to keep in mind that my ex husband needed to see our daughter regularly that I moved just 1 mile away from the former matrimonial home.  My ex husband moved 3 miles away and we shared drop off and collecting our daughter which I was happy with.  2 years ago my ex husband decided to move 20 miles away and it was agreed that because he moved and it was his choice to move that he would take responsibility of collection and drop offs. 

Following the Court date nearly two years ago from the day after I have received continuous persistant requests to change the order.  I have agreed to some like agreeing to him collecting her earlier to the time specified in the order and I have refused others like his unreasonable requests to have her overnight on a school night and then drop her off after dropping off 3 other children first to two different schools to my daughters in a different town to where my daughter goes when I live 3 mins away.

When I do not agree to a suggestion, I explain my reasons however he never understands and persistently goes on and on.  I feel like he is using bullyish mannerisms and I am personally getting very run down by his constant requests, this considering he was the one who made the application to the court in the first place.

I have two questions, 1 should I be expected to drive 20 miles away to collect my daughter considering this was his choice to move and I kept my agreement with him that I would not move out of town.  2 Is there anything that can be suggested in relation to his constent reqeusts and bullyish tactics to get me to do things.  I cannot get through 2 months of my life without a barrage of messages from him if I do not agree to something!

I look forward to your help in anticipation.

 

 

A.

Hi Caroline, this is obviously getting you down so something needs to change. You asked if you are expected to travel 20 miles - the answer is that there are no set rules. Normally, when parents live a distance apart, they share the travel but you clearly feel as it was his choice to move, he should stick to his assurance that he would do the transport. I don't know what a Court would say about that, the risk is they might say you should share the travel. on your second question (and possibly as a way of dealing with the transport issues) I would recommend mediation to you. This is the only opportunity you get to put your points to each other with an independent 3rd party there to stop any bad behaviour and help you to be heard. It seems as though something has changed over time for this deterioration in a contact arrangement which sounds like it worked okay at the beginning. A mediator would talk things through with each of you separately then see if you both wanted to attend a joint meeting. I can only see matters getting worse if you don't try some sort of communication/negotiation. Have a look at the National Family Mediation website http://www.nfm.org.uk/ to see if there is a service near you - if you cant find one, ring them on 0300 4000 636. I would advise you to talk through your situation with a mediator before making any other decisions. You could pass this information on to your ex too if you think he will be able to hear it, otherwise let the mediation service contact him. There may be a charge for mediation unless you are eligible under the legal aid scheme so ask about this when you make an appointment.

I hope it helps

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

Hi I split up with my partner before and he had our 2 year old daughter half the time and she was so unsettled for a long time. We then got together again and she was back to her normal self but we recently split again and I dont want her getting unsettled again. Am I allowed to say to him that I only want him to have her one or two nights a week and see how that goes or not? He works aswell so he leaves my daughter with other people all time thats why I think she got so unsettled. I just wanna know am I allowed to do that?

A.

You've obviously had a hard time working things out for your family and you don't want to make the same mistakes if you feel its not right for your child. The harder bit is getting your ex-partner to see it the same way. There are no rules about what you can and cant do - the idea is that you both make the decisions as parents - sounds easy but clearly isn't! You can check out your legal rights by consulting a Solicitor but if you want to try to talk to your ex, you might find mediation helpful. Have a look at the national website NFM and see if there is a service local to you. There is lots of helpful information on the website too.

Hope that's helpful

Jackie

Q.

My x wife has stopped access to my 2 year old and I looking to sort mediation but in mean time I want to try and get my access back I just want him in my life I would like to know what are the legal rights I have to go get him and have him the set days I had been sticking to if you can help with this many thanks

A.

Hi, you would have to speak to a Solicitor to get legal advice on your rights. It will all depend on whether you were married, whether your name is on the child's birth certificate etc. A mediator will be able to answer most of these questions for you but they cannot give you advice. If you are simply wanting to get something sorted before the mediation gets going, you might consider sending a text, email or phoning your ex to ask her if she would be willing to go along with a temporary arrangement until you can get to mediation. Perhaps there is a third party who can facilitate the contact if you and your ex don't want to meet up in person. Have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk for lots of information about this.

Hope that's helpful.

Jackie

Q.

My partner left me when I was 5 months pregnant and contacted me 2 weeks before the baby was due to ask about access etc. He had been coming to see the baby regularly since his birth and I have just extended these visits to twice a week and will be extending then to 3 times a week in a few weeks time. I have also offered his family to come and see the baby but they want me to go to his house and sit in a separate room while they have the baby. I am breastfeeding so have told him he cannot have the baby on his own to the moment. He has now gone to mediation and I have been asked to attend a meeting. My question is really about what to expectas he has access to his son and we have agreed his together so I don't know why he has gone down this path. Thanks

A.

It sounds like you have done really well so far to make contact work and I'm sure it hasn't been easy. Even where contact has been taking place, many people still come to mediation to work out details or plans for the future.

Unfortunately, you probably wont know exactly what your ex wants until you get to a joint mediation session where he can say what he wants. You would each have an individual meeting with the mediator first without your ex being there so this is your chance to talk it through and work out if there is anything you would like to discuss. Remember you don't have to agree to anything you don't want to - mediation is all about each party being able to air their views without getting into conflict so you can discuss whatever you want about your child. There is a lot of information on the National Family Mediation website - if you look on there, it might give you some ideas. Otherwise, I would just go along to meet the mediator and find out a bit more. Hope that helps.

Jackie

Q.

My son is 6, his father and I have never been together and rarely see eye to eye but muddle through for the sake of our son. He's always been a drinker, when I was pregnant he would drink a bottle of wine before going to bed each morning (we worked night shift) his drinking did improve though and it got less and less. My problem is over the years it has gone
back up and each and every night he has my son overnight he gets drunk  (luckily he still lives with his parents) although 1 of those nights his mum drinks also and his dad is over 70 and can't cope with an active 6 year old. I just want to know my rights on the whole drinking aspect. I know he's drove drunk but to my knowledge not with my son in the car with him. Still the thought terrifies me that he could. What can I do to ensure my sons safety? I'm not looking to cut contact in any way - a boy needs his father, but I need my son to be safe.

A.

You are obviously aware of your ex's habits and when your son is likely to be at risk. Your main sign of safety sounds like his mum apart from when she is also drinking. You have a duty to keep your son safe. So you could contact children's services to see what advice they will give you. If you are seriously concerned, they will probably tell you to stop contact. Alternatively you could try to engage him in a conversation if he would go to mediation.  Look on the NFM website www.nfm.org.uk for other advice or to find your nearest service.  

Hope that helps. 

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

My partner left when I was 30 weeks pregnant and had nothing to do with the rest of my pregnancy nor was he at the birth. since our son was born (6 months ago) he has been having him for a few hours a week during the daytime, this then moved on to 2 nights a week at his flat. he has now moved in with his girlfriend and her teenage children and will, if he stays overnight there be in a travel cot in his/his girlfriends bedroom which is something I don't feel comfortable with and would prefer for him to be at home with me at night in his own cot/room and just see his father during the day.....do I have to agree for him to stay overnight or can I say no? Thank you

A.

"It sounds like you have both done very well to get significant contact going for your son and the overnights with his dad are a real positive in the eyes of the law as long as he is safe and well. Whilst I realise it's really difficult to trust your ex and his new partner (+family) because you probably don't know them, I wonder if this could be sorted by simply having a conversation with a mediator present? You mentioned your baby son would be in a carry cot in their bedroom - was he in something different at your ex's flat? I wonder if your ex has had this conversation with his girlfriend already, i.e. that he will be having his baby son stay over and whether she is okay with this? Its very hard to give you advice in this situation - you appear very reasonable and I suspect there is a way to make this work. Have a look at the National Family Mediation website to find your nearest service or ring NFM on 0300 4000 636 to find out. You can have a meeting with a mediator first before they contact your ex if that helps. Good luck.

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

Hi Jackie...my husband and I have recently separated. We have 2 wonderful children and I can only hope that for their sake we can reach some sensible solutions amicably. If we do mange to agree things between ourselves regarding property/maintenance etc how do we make this legal or can't we unless we go through the courts? I look forward to your reply!!

A.

Hi, it certainly sounds like you want to do the right thing and that's half the battle! As you are married, the only way to make a financial settlement legally binding and final is to have it ratified by the Court. Often, solicitors suggest you should coincide this with the final date of your divorce - I don't know if you have decided you want a divorce yet but it usually takes around 6 months. The child maintenance can be a separate thing in that you can agree it between yourselves as soon as you like. If you come to an agreement about the rest of the finance and property issues, you can have this made legal by the Court without too much expense. You can download all the forms from the HMCTS (Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunal Service) yourself at no cost. If you want a Solicitor to represent you, they will do all this for you but will charge you. A cheaper alternative is to go through mediation - they will take you both through the process, helping you to resolve any differences of opinion, then write up your agreement which then needs a Solicitor to put it into a consent order ready for the Court to approve. Have a look on the National Family Mediation website - www.nfm.org.uk . There is a service in Derby who you could ring and talk it through with. Also, if there is any chance your income is low enough, you may be able to get legal aid for the mediation (making it free) but you can't get this for Solicitors any more so its worth investigating. Mediators are also trained in children's issues and can give you information and help you sort out arrangements so it might suit you all round. It might depend how willing your husband is to consider this option. Good luck.

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

hi my ex has initiated mediation for our son. I'm concerned who pays as I cannot afford to being single mum on benefits

A.

If you are already registered with a mediation service you need to ask them if they offer legally aided mediation. They will assess if you qualify for legal aid. If so,  it won't cost you anything. If they don't offer legal aid, you need to find a service that does. If you are not sure,  go to the NFM website to find your nearest one. www.nfm.org.uk

It might be nfm themselves who cover that area. Or ring them on 0300 4000 636

Hope that helps. 

Jackie

Q.

How would I know if my ex partner has seen a solicitor? How long
does it take to recieve a letter

A.

Unfortunately there is now way until they make contact with you.

Jackie Norton

Q.

We are parents and grandparents wanting some guidance for our son.About nine years ago he started a relationship which resulted in three beautiful grandchildren.They didn't get married and sadly about two years ago our son decided to walk away from the relationship. There were many
reasons(struggling financially, too much too soon, they are both freelance workers) but he got to the point that he couldn't cope with the continuous arguments and did not want the children growing up in this kind of environment.Although both parents decided on a living apart period it
didn't achieve any reconciliation.Our son loves his children very much and wants to stay close by so that he can see them on a regular basis.He is anartist and earns money to live and support when and where he can with the children.A while ago they did attend meetings with a mediator and out of that came an agreement for our son to pay a weekly amount(this is not much but it is all he can afford) and also have them to stay mainly at the weekends. He also pays for weekly out of schoollessons and manages presents on birthdays and Christmas.He does his best to ensure that the children have a great time with him when they stay and sleep over at his flat.They have had periods of managing to sustain an amicable realtionship around the children and we thought things were reaching a satisfactory point where they were both putting their personal greavances to one side and concentrating on the children's well being. You should also know that
we support our son financially all the time. Everything we give him is accounted for and he returns the money as soon as he receives some.We do this mainly so that he can continue to stay close to his children and look after them when he does. He will also stay with the children in his ex partners house while she is away working on a job.Just recently both parents have found themselves another partner. Our son was absolutely delighted for his ex partner and told her so hoping that it would mean that they could move on to the next phase but unfortunately our sons new relationship has caused the opposite effect. His ex partner has always suffered terribly with PMT which turned her in to a very irrational person for about three weeks of the month.Fortunately it was never the children that felt this wrath but our son suffered terribly. These outbursts of
temper have continued and during these time she is very insulting and abusive towards our son, telling friends and family that he is a rubbish father, and selfish. He has tried his best to ignore but more often than not it really affects him and he starts to question his self worth.So now  that our son is in this new relationship the abuse has started again and she is threatening and demanding all kinds of things.His ex partner is also struggling financially so this is something else that tends to make her become agressive towards our son. A strange contradiction to this is
that when ever she has a problem our son is the first one she turns to for comfort. He really is at the point of not knowing what to do or where to turn. He really can't face the idea of this continuing for goodness knows how long living like this. Ideally I feel that they should go back to mediation but when our son has asked to do this in the past his ex partner has refused. Is there somewhere he could go to talk all this through? We know that it may have to be paid for but if someone was able to give him guidance or advice it might make life more bearable.

A.

You have all clearly done very well so far maintaining contact in difficult circumstances and with variable pressures. It is often the case that new relationships throw up unexpected reactions. I think you are wise to try to get them back in to mediation but if she refuses you can't force it. I am wondering from what you say whether both could benefit from some individual counselling so each get some support.  She might then be more receptive to mediation if they cant sort arrangements themselves. They could access this through their GPs.

Hope that helps

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

Hi I am having abit of a hard time from my ex partner and his partner we have mediation booked through the courts re them having contact with my son as it stopped just after christmas there have been alot of false accusations made againest me and I would prefer the mediation be just me the mediator and my sons father will his partner or anyome else be

A.

'It sounds like you are feeling under a lot of pressure. I hope I can reassure you that mediation should give you more of a voice. Importantly for your situation, it should only include you and your son's father. It is certainly not usual practice to invite new partners in unless both of the actual parents feel it would be helpful. If you are meeting the mediator on your own first, then make sure you ask this question. The other thing is the allegations made against you. If you have been convicted of anything, then the mediator would know from talking to the relevant authorities but if it's just one person's word against another and no action taken by the authorities, then you have no need to worry. The mediator's job is not to judge you, either as a person or as a parent. They are there to see if they can get the two of you to negotiate some sensible arrangements so that your son is safe and supported. If they feel mediation is not suitable, they will say so. Tell the mediator about your concerns - they should be able to explain how it will be handled. Hope that helps.'

Jackie Norton

Q.

Can the outcome of mediation be an official access agreement being made or is it purely for advice and 3rd party input in disagreements?

A.

'The outcome of mediation should be recorded in either an Outcome Statement or a Memorandum of Understanding, depending on whether or not it contains financial issues. Either document is not in itself legally binding but if you have already started Court proceedings, and both of you would like your mediated agreement made into an Order (which is legally binding) then the Judge may agree to do it. Generally though, Judges follow the 'no order principle' where they try not to make orders. The reason for this is that children's needs change as they grow so its often not helpful to have arrangements set in stone. Mediation is a way of starting the communication so that you can put the adult disputes to one side - easier said than done but its brilliant when it works. What the Court really wants is for parents to find a way to negotiate arrangements between themselves as the child grows up. So, the answer to your question is yes it's possible to make it official but quite unlikely. Hope that helps.'

Jackie Norton

Q.

How can I sort out the financial issues such as who gets what from the house, how long I can live in etc., if my ex refuses mediation. I want to stay in the house as long as my children need it, he wants  money and wants to get an equity release.

 

A.

This is a common situation and if you cannot sort it in mediation, it will cost you in legal fees to get it agreed and implemented. There are various ways you can settle it. It could be that you stay in the house and your ex has a share recorded as a chargeback. That means you would pay him back at a later stage. Or if you can afford to, you take out a mortgage to give him a lump sum now. It will also depend on who owns the house and whether or not you were married. You have more rights if you were married. If your ex definitely wont go for mediation as the much cheaper option then you each need to find a Solicitor."

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

Hi, my son is 5 years of age me and his dad split up when he was a few months old, for the first years the dad did not want to know or have him, but his mum did so he did see my son when he was at her house he also never paid any maintenance until recently. The arrangements at the moment are that he has my son Wednesday night after school and one night every weekend to sleep, but his mum (nana) wants to have him the other weekend night meaning that my son is gone all weekend since i have said no to this he is know threatening me with court action to get him more, baring in mind he doesn't want him the extra night it is so my son can sleep at his mum (my sons nana). Does he have a case with this would he be granted more access. thank you for you time

A.

"There are several issues here. First of all, it is impossible to predict what a Judge would award him in terms of the amount of time. However, it is unlikely they would give him all weekend every weekend because it is good for children to have quality time with both of his parents, so you need some too. The maintenance issue is a separate one and you can look up Child Maintenance Options - they are separate to the CSA and will give you advice about what he should be paying, providing you know what his income is. Then you can decide whether you confront him about this or go through the CSA who will charge for their services. Your son's nana is again a separate issue - she has the right to apply for contact herself if she wants. If your ex simply tries to add in contact for her with his application, the Judge is unlikely to award it to her that way. I strongly advise you to think about family mediation. You would have an impartial mediator helping you to negotiate something acceptable to you both and this could include the child maintenance issue too. You can look on the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk for more information and find your nearest service. You can contact them and meet a mediator yourself before saying anything to your ex or the mediation service could contact him to invite him to meet the mediator too. You would only go ahead with a joint mediation session if you both wanted to and the mediator felt it was appropriate, so its worth finding out about. Legal aid is available for mediation if either of you are on low incomes whereas you would have to pay large fees for Solicitors and Court. I hope you can get it sorted."

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

my partners ex is insisting he pays for the mediation for himself and her as its usually priced per person and he can barely afford to pay for it in the first place, is this right? I believe that legal aid was stopped and no longer an option? thanks

A.

"yes it is true that legal aid for solicitors stopped in April 2013 but we can still get legal aid for mediation. Your partner needs to make sure he has been assessed for legal aid for mediation in which case it would be free. You are right, it is done on an individual basis so one might be eligible for free mediation where the other is not. If it turns out that neither your partner nor his ex is eligible for legally aided mediation, she may well have stated that she wants him to pay her fees but that is his choice. He might decide that's better than paying legal fees which will be a lot more. There is more information about this and other aspects of conflict in separation on the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk "

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

Hi me and my wife have separated we have a six year old boy. I work part time she works full time thats how ut worked so i had have him most if the time,we are arguing and appealing over who has child benefit,is there anything i can do to help my situation.

A.

Hi, it sounds like there was an established period of time where you were looking after your little boy for a significant part of the week - this is something which would be taken into account if you ended up fighting in Court. You could get some legal advice about that. Personally, I would not recommend Court for either of you if you can possibly avoid it. What is the issue about the child benefit - is it because whoever claims that is also entitled to claim the tax credits? I can understand this would then be important to both of you and why you are arguing. If you were to try mediation where you could both sit down and talk through the issues which are causing conflict, you might be able to come to some agreement about how you can share the finances more fairly. For instance, if one is able to claim more in tax credits then perhaps they would agree to pay the other more in child benefit so that the overall financial arrangement is fairer.

It will also depend on who has the majority care of your son and whether you have agreed this to be the case for his best interests. I recommend you have a look at the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk . there is lots of information on there but also you can see where your nearest service is. You can meet a mediator and they will contact your wife. If your wife agrees to try it too, it will be considerably cheaper than using Solicitors or fighting through Court and hopefully it would improve your parenting relationship so that its less stressful for all of you. Good luck, I hope you manage to sort it."

Kind regards, Jacqui

Q.

Hello I have been divorced for 5 years. When my wife and I were together, I gave up my job so that she could continue working and I looked after our two children. When she left me she took the children with her and I shared access with them, having them for three days a week. However, since going into partnership with my brother's business things have been difficult and I am not sure what days I will be at home and able to have the children. I still have them on Saturdays and Sundays but the week days vary due to my different work commitments. When I am working from home I would like to see them as often as I can. However, my wife has restricted access giving no reason other than she wants me to have them on the same day/s each week, without any leeway at all. As this is impossible with the nature of my job I am unable to see them as much as I wish. Also money is a big problem as the business is taking off, and whilst she has an well paid job, lives with her mother, who acts as a full time free child minder and receives tax credits and child benefit, the CSA have demanded £200 per month from me. I do not have this amount at the moment, and would like to be able to share the access so that the finances are more equally shared. As it is I pay for their school meals and various clubs they attend. If I were to have them for half the week, would I still be eligible to pay £200? I have tried on countless occasions to come to some arrangement, even going to a mediator (which I could barely afford to do) but it seems that I have absolutely no rights what so ever. If you could give me any advice as I now fear that I will lose my home if I cannot find the CSA payments each month.

A.

"Hi, it sounds as though you were making the contact arrangements work until your work pattern became unpredictable. This is a good sign despite the fact things have gone downhill since because it suggests there has been co-operation between you. You must talk to the CSA about those payments as they are the only ones with the power to reduce any payments. The number of nights the children stay with you will affect the amount you pay the CSA so give them a call for some advice. You mentioned you had been to see a mediator and it sounds as if you had to pay for this and I don't know how far you got. If it was a private mediator who does not deal in legal aid, that will be why. However, if you go to a mediation service who does offer legal aid, you might find your income is low enough to make you eligible - they would have to do a financial assessment. Have a look on the National Family Mediation website for your nearest service (they all offer legal aid) www.nfm.org.uk. There is also lots of information on the website you might find helpful. If you decide you don't want mediation and want to use the legal route, there is no legal aid available for this now, so you would have to pay full Solicitors costs. You could take the matter to Court but this is often expensive and doesn't help your relationship with your ex, so if you can talk to her, that would be the best way to sort this out. I hope you manage to get somewhere with this."

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

Hi, you don't say how long you have been separated and sometimes this is relevant as these kind of difficulties tend to arise in the first few months while feelings are very strong. Sometimes they settle down after a while, sometimes they don't. Unfortunately there is no set guidance on what the rules should be because every family is different and you need to agree how you are going to do things for your children. You have various options open to you. The best would be sitting down with your ex and talking this through but from your description, it sounds very unlikely. You could try mediation - if you look on the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk you will be able to find the nearest mediation provider to you. If you contact them, they will contact your ex and try to engage him in a mediation. You would each meet the mediator first on your own so you have a chance to talk things through without your ex being present. Then, if everyone is willing to give it a try and the mediator thinks it would help, they would arrange a joint meeting to try to thrash these things out. It often works because it is voluntary, parents get the chance to get things off their chest, there is a focus on the children, and the mediator is there to make sure it is controlled and constructive. You are not obliged to agree to anything unless you want to and the meetings are confidential. As a mediator, I am bound to recommend this option to you but I have seen it work in so many similar cases to yours and it is the cheapest. You can still get Legal Aid for mediation too if your income and capital is low enough so its worth finding out about. Your last option is going to Court but there are various difficulties with this option. First of all, you need to decide if you are representing yourself or using a Solicitor which will cost you money. You could try to find a Solicitor who offers a free first consultation to see what they think. The other difficulty with going to Court is that the decision is taken out of your hands and a Judge tells you what to do - they don't like issuing orders in family cases because they often don't work without the parties communicating.

Parents are often tempted to stop contact when communication is really bad - the trouble is this does nothing to improve things and often makes it worse.

Good luck.

Jackie Norton

Mediator

A.

Hi, I need some advice on what is seen reasonable when my children are visiting their father and how much notice I should have for visits and details when they go to stay with him and his family. He refuses to give me flight details (they go to N. Ireland), changes  his mind what time to be at the airport with as little as an hour's notice and doesn't answer his phone to me when they are a way. They stay for more than a week. He gives me as little as a day's notice when he is going to visit for the weekend and I have always agreed as I want them to have a relationship. This is very unsettling for my daughters as he asks them to lie to me, they are only 2 & 4, when do I say enough is enough? He refuses to see what is best for them. Help please.

Q.

I need a bit of advice on how i can see my daughter through mediation coz the babys mothers keep stopping her see me when have her overnights and through the day shes now 8months old.

A.

Hi, the mediation would help you to communicate and negotiate with your child's mum so that you can set up some arrangements which hopefully suit you both. If you have a look on the national website for family mediation www.nfm.org.uk this will enable you to put in your postcode and find your nearest mediation service. When you contact them, they will take details and contact the mother too, hopefully setting up a meeting for you both with a mediator.

I hope this helps

Best wishes

Jackie

Q.

I seperated from my partner 4 years ago and had a good relationship with my daughter until I met my new partner 3 years ago. Since then I have had little contact with my daughter who is 9 years old and since our baby girl has arrived and we are getting married next Aug I have had no contact for over 5 months. I can't afford court and she is refusing mediation and I am at my wits end. What help is there for me out there as my 9 year old daughter is not having a relationship with me and being completely brainwashed. I have contact the school, social services and the police due to being told by her mother she will ring the police and get me done for harassment if I call again and I am getting nowhere please advice me what to do.

A.

Hi Steve, it sounds as though you need some legal advice but that will cost you. When you say she is refusing mediation, is that her saying no to your suggestion? If you haven't tried it yet, I would contact your nearest mediation service and let them contact her, then she knows you are serious and not going to go away. As you need to see a mediator before putting any application into court anyway, I think that's your next move. If the mediation service cant persuade her to try it, then you really have no other option but Court. The Court fees themselves are fairly reasonable, it's the cost of the Solicitor to represent you that pushes the cost up. You could go along to the County Court office yourself and ask how much it is, you could make the application yourself and do the whole thing without a Solicitor. To find your nearest mediation service or more information about the above, have a look at the National Family Mediation website. I hope that helps.

Good luck.

Q.

Hi Me and my partner have split up and she has been very unreasonable about when and when I cant see my little girl who is 4. At present she has stopped all contact and I am not even allowed to phone my little girl. I have done nothing wrong and have never put my daughter at risk. I have not been in trouble with the police nor do i have drink or drug problems. In fact I actually have full custody of my 2 sons from a previous relationship. My little girls mum is very stubburn on will not listen to reason. I got a letter last week to say that she had contacted family mediation and that they could help resolve these issues after my he had contacted them. I was going to call them this week but my ex parter text me to say that she has already advised mediation that all she will
agree to is seeing my little girl in a contact centre. This is really unfair and makes me feel as though i am a criminal. I dont see the point of going to mediation as she has already made her mind up and beleive me she wont change no matter what anyone says. I feel my best option is to apply straight to the courts for a contact order as she has made it clear that all she is prepared to offer is contact centre. Do you have any further advise on this, all I want to do is see my little girl, I got some  legal advise and they told me to record everytime I call my little girl  and there is no answer, would this help me in court ?

A.

Hello, you sound very frustrated and I understand why, especially if you've done nothing wrong. I can't give you legal advice but I can tell you a Court would look at this from your daughter's point of view. She is the one with the right to have a good relationship with both her parents. So currently she is missing out. Yes you could apply to Court for a Contact Order and they might or might not give you what you want. They will expect you to have had a meeting with a mediator by yourself to consider mediation so you would be wise to contact them first. You don't have to agree to mediation with your ex. The Courts want people to try mediation nowadays because it can deal with unfairness and have longer discussions than the Court has time for. Its also much quicker and cheaper. hopefully it won't be too long now before contact is resumed. Good luck

Jackie

Q.

Hi just wondering if you can help I split with my partner few months back and since he won't commit to regular access I offered every other weekend ( witch suited last time we parted) he will not commit to regular visits and its going 3/4 weeks between him seeing my daughter who is 3 there is no stability and its upsetting and unsettling he works 6 days a week so how will this ever be resolved????? Help!!!!!

A.

"It is often very unsettled in the months following separation and I can see you are concerned your daughter is unsettled too. This kind of situation is very commonly dealt with in mediation so I would suggest you have a look at the National Family Mediation website - there is lots of information on there which you might find helpful and you can find out where your nearest mediation service is. If you call the service and asked to be referred, they should be able to tell you if it will cost you anything and what you need to do. If you go ahead with this, you and your ex-partner will be helped to negotiate a plan of contact which you both feel will suit you and your daughter. It is important at her age that there is consistency and the beauty of a mediated agreement is that you can alter it as your daughter grows up. Hopefully this would help the situation to settle down for everyone. If you cannot get on the website, please ring National Family Mediation on 0300 4000 636 and they will be able to refer you to your nearest service. Hope that helps."

Kind regards

Jackie

Q.

hi jackie, can the father of my children go to mediation by himself
10 months after our first mediation was completed and conduct a parent plan
by himself whitch state he has 100% care as the matter is now going to
court. our origonal aggreemnet was i hjave the kids for 2 weeks and he has
them for 1. i was due to pick my kids up on thursday? still withholding my
babies and im not coping? is thee any law or could anything worsen if i pick
the kids up from my mums house when she is having them over for a play this
weekend sometime? i have not beenissued or served any paperwork? no court
order is in place yet

A.

Hi, mediation can only happen with both parties being present so nobody can get a parenting plan without the other. If your arrangements are not working and you have no court orders, perhaps you should suggest both of you going back to mediation. Otherwise you might need some legal advice.


Good luck

Q.

im really confused as to my rights heres the story... me and my ex
(father of my 3 year old son) split 18 months ago and he moved back in with
his mum who lives a 45 min drive away from my home my son was going to stay
there with his dad every fri-sun i now want to stop this because his new
partner whom he met on the net has been having regular contact with my son
and cuddling him etc after we agreed she could have contact with him every
other weekend as to ensure my son can have one on one time with his father i
now know shes been having contact every week the father says it does not
affect his time with my son but his oh has 2 kids herself and i believe my
son should get his own time with his father hes also been taking my son to
stay over at her house which im furious about as my son has come back and
told me and said hes been told hes not allowed to tell me and our
arrangement was that he would just stay at his house (well his mums) when
there, he works mon-fri but sees his oh every night so theres no excuse he
cant just have one on one time, i have now told him im stopping him having
our son overnight as i never know where he is who hes with or where hes
stayng i have not stopped contact though as i have said he can come see his
son anytime and rather than setting up an arrangement with me he is now
taking me through mediation, do i have rights to now stop overnight stays
which have always been a problem for me anyway as he lives so far away and i
do not drive or have transport so if anything happened to my son i wouldnt
be able to get down there anyway.

A.

Hi, it is really hard when a new partner is involved. It appears that there needs to be much better communication between mum and dad otherwise your child will be caught in the middle. A court would not listen to any of this, they will just fix the contact and say get on with it. Mediation will give you the best chance to have your say but you need to listen to each other.
Hope that helps

Jackie

Q. Where can i go to get some help to decide how often my ex should
have his daughter?? He hasn't had her over night in 2 and half years since
we split, He has had her every sunday and most tuesday evenings but he has
now saying he want her overnight which i have no problem with but i want
things in black and white! He only ever pays me £50 every 3-4 months
(whenever he feels like it. I dont want her to stay over at his a couple of
nights a week, I would like him to have her alt weekends, How do i go about
this and where can i go for help as he's very bossy and pushy
A. Hi. Sorry for the delay as I have been away. There are three options open to you here. 1.If you want advice and would like a legally binding agreement, you have to go to Court (either with or without the help of a Solicitor. If this is what you want, I would advise you to see a Solicitor anyway to discuss the process and get some legal advice. 2. You could approach a family mediation service as a way of reaching an agreement with the help of a mediator. To find your nearest one, go to the National Family Mediation website www.nfm.org.uk . 3. You could try sitting down with your ex and discussing it yourselves (your comment about him being bossy and pushy might put you off this idea).
Good luck
Jackie
Q. Where can i go to get some help to decide how often my ex should
have his daughter?? He hasn't had her over night in 2 and half years since
we split, He has had her every sunday and most tuesday evenings but he has
now saying he want her overnight which i have no problem with but i want
things in black and white! He only ever pays me £50 every 3-4 months
(whenever he feels like it. I dont want her to stay over at his a couple of
nights a week, I would like him to have her alt weekends, How do i go about
this and where can i go for help as he's very bossy and pushy
A. This sounds like something which could be brought to mediation provided your ex will go too. To find out more, go to the National Family Mediation website and find your nearest service to talk it through with.
Good luck
Jackie
Q. My ex is stopping me seeing my 6 month old son on grounds of,she says he comes back with cuts and bruises on him (he does not obviously as I have told her to take him to hospital and report me to the social services if she has concerns and she has not done)that he is allergic to my cat as he has bacterial conjunctivitis that he is always unwell and does not sleep when he goes back,even though he only wakes twice when he is with me. The way I am to her when I pick him up,the silly lists go on and on with her and every time I take him back I'm on pins to see what reasons she will give next not to allow me.It even got to the stage of her dictating times and dates.She has a history of this as she has four kids with two different dads and neither of them see their kids and its all her doing as I have actually seen txts on one of her exes phone from 2009 doing exactly what she is doing to me.Her ex kept them to show his son when he is old enough to prove he tried as hard as he could to see him.Shewill not listen to any reasoning whatsoever.
A. I would like to suggest mediation as a way of finding out what is at the root of all this. There may be a very simple solution. If that doesn't work, you can always apply to court for a contact order but legal advice would be a good idea at that point.
Hope you get sorted
Jackie
Q. Hi, I went to mediation following separation. I have two children 5 and 7 year old. I left the house and everything I owned when told I was no longer wanted and moved in a 1 bedroom flat. Mediator thought best to limit visiting times due to changes (I started my transition from male to female after separation). Also agreed financial terms. My ex remarried recently and this man has lived in my house since mid march. However, mediator's report never made it to court to be finalized as I made changes on the solicitor's report by mistake and never received the next form despite my ex wife telling me it was sent. Is the agreement made in mediation seen as a verbal contract? What can I do to get my share of the equity on the house (I am aware I need 2 or 3 bedroom flat but can't afford on my low wage)? My ex wife claims she doesn't have to give me any money until my youngest child is 18! Is this true? I would be grateful if you could help. Many thanks Tia
A. Hi, you would have been given information at the beginning about any agreement made in mediation not being legally binding whether verbal or in writing. If you are now wanting changes, it will depend how far in the legal system it has got. If it has been finalised in a consent order, then you must have signed up agreeing the content. If it hasn't got that far, you can propose changes. Your solicitor should be advising you on this, so I suggest you talk to them as soon as possible.
Good luck
Jackie
Q. my ex hasnt seen my 18 mnth old son for 3 months now and hasnt pais
any csa in over 6 months,after several failed attempts of me trying to
esablish fair and consistent contact visits i have now decided to cease any
contact between my ex and my son as it wasnt fair on my son, my ex isnt on
my sons birth certificate due to him being verbally abusive on the day i
regisered my son he doesnt work or claim benefits but is now threaening to
take me to court where do i go from here? and will he be able to get legal
aid?
A. Hi, this is a legal question so you need to speak to a lawyer. If you want help in coming up with an agreed contact pattern you could ring your nearest family mediation service.
Hope that helps
Q. What do we do when a mother is mentally ill and needs help, but social services can't or won't recognise it? My daughter in law has many mental issues and is continually drawing attention to herself by self
harming, 'crying wolf' in various situations such as she has been attacked and harmed when she clearly hasn't, etc. She needs these dramas in her life as she seems to think life must be like a 'soap opera'. The trouble is my little grandson is caught up in this and she is using him to hurt my son and me. I had to look after my grandson from age 3 mths to 18 mths because one such 'drama' resulted in social services taking the baby off
her. He lived with me and with the help of his 'daddy', my son, has become a lovely, intelligent little boy Now, social services have made him go back to the stranger who is his mother, and she has now moved 300 miles
away from us. My son went to mediation in Jan/Feb this year and my daughter in law told lie after lie to the mediator, saying she agreed the move would harm her child's relationship with his dad, that she had no support whatsoever up there, and finally agreed to moving somewhere within 25 mils of us, all the time she was making arrangements to move to Scotland. She told the court lies saying she would abide by the contact arrangements the judge set in place, but after only 3 contact weekends, she has said she cannot afford the petrol to drive to the drop off point, and she is moaning because it entails her getting up at 5am to get the baby to the drop off point at 8.30am, these arrangements are horrendous and not in the child's best interest at all, but they were my daughter in law's own proposals. Now she wants money from my son for fuel, and the next 'excuse' will be she will have no car as she can't afford to run one! It has become a nightmare, all because Social Services did not act in the child's best interest and allow him to remain with his loving daddy in our comfortable home. How is this right? How can Soc Servs justify placing a child at risk like this when he was safe and happy with us? We cannot trust anything my daughter in law says. She plots and schemes and seems to
have fantasies which she cannot differentiate from reality. She constantly needs attention and doesn't care who she harms in the process. I have tried talking to everyone, social workers, local councillors, MPs, NSPCC,
and all organisations I can find online, but no one can give me any answers. The law seems to be biased against men and dads. We have a phrase "The law seems to prefer a bad mother to a good father" and it is proving true. Why? I spoke to a lawyer last night, she said they all know how social services tell lies, fabricate data to discredit good parents, twist people's words and basically destroy innocent families but no one seems to
be doing anything to stop this. Why? What is the point of mediation, courts etc, when the mother knows how to play the system and knows that no matter how bad she is, she will win and fathers stand no chance. My little
grandson adores his daddy and I was his 'mother' for the first year of his life, he must be wondering why we have apparently abandoned him. It makes me cry every night. From Barbara
A. This sounds like a very desperate situation and one which feels hopeless. As I am sure you will be aware, I don’t have the power to change the law but there are changes afoot with the Family Justice Review. Does dad in this situation realise he is entitled to apply back to the Court, either to have the Contact order enforced or to apply for a Residence Order (maybe shared residence)? Legal advice would be essential here. Also grandparents can apply for contact too. This isn’t something I can advise on and would refer you to a mediator.

Good luck.

Jackie

Q. My child's dad seems to think the courts will work my daughter around his work rota? is this true? as we have tried to work it out ourselves but he is always a let down and the days she see him always changes. He seems to think by going through the courts they will work my daughter around him and his work is this true?
A. Hi, this lady could do with some legal advice as to what a Court would or would not take into consideration. Apart from that, I think there are two issues here. One is where a work rota exists and dad might only be available to have contact outside of this rota, so doesn’t have much choice – I think a Court would be sympathetic to that. The other issue is that mum is saying he lets the child down (I presume by cancelling contact etc) and the Court might not be so sympathetic about that because its not good for the child. If this were discussed in mediation, it would be a chance to properly discuss the effects on the child and look at ways of not letting her down, so that everyone is happy. A court would not be able to do that, so these circumstances seem very suitable to possible mediation. Please look on the National Family Mediation website to find a mediator near you to ring and find out about it.

Hope that helps

Jackie Norton

Q. HI ME & MY EX WENT TO SEE A MEDIATOR LAST YR REGARDING OUR SON, JUST WANTING TO KNOW WITH SOME OF THE POINTS WE DISCUSSED CAN THEY BE CHANGE? SURELY MEETING ARRANGEMENTS & SUCH LIKE CAN BE CHANGED? ONLY ASKING BECAUSE HE'S ALWAYS EXTREMELY LATE MAY SOUND PETTY BUT NOT WHEN MY PARTNER HAS TO GET COVER FOR WORK TILL WE GET BACK.

A. Hi, you can go back to mediation to discuss it with your ex or you can try to have the conversation with him yourself. Either way, you can change whatever you want as long as you agree.

Good luck

Jackie Norton
Q. can i ask the court for supervised visits for my daughter with her father he alrwady has overnight stays with her two days a week bt i do not believe that he spends time with her i believe that my daughters gran deals with her all the time my daughters dad has had contact with her since we split last november i only allowed him overnight stays as i was iin a state of depression and couldnt think straight now he has took me to court for a court order stating times and dates for his contact i have been thinkin about supervised visits for my peace of mind that he is spending time with his daughter for about 5 months now but i dont want to waste my time if it is not worth it
A. Hi unfortunately the court is unlikely to go back to supervised without a really good reason, ie if your daughter is not safe. I suggest you try talking to your ex. Its difficult because you can't make someone be more interested. You could try mediation to improve communication if he would be willing.
Good luck
Jackie Norton
Q. Hello Jackie, I am writing on behalf of my son - through shere desperation really. (As you can see I am writing and sending this at 1 30 AM because I can't sleep). He has parental responsibility by law and he
has been seperated from his ex partner for over a year now. His two children are living with her on a day to day basis but there has been no official recidency order filed or signed by either parties. Here is our
story (albeit VERY abbreviated with many details left out). We have had free advice from a solicitor but it seems to me that his parental responsibility is worthless and he has no rights at all other than he has
the right to take her to court at great expense. His ex partner gave up work and now receives benefits and gets legal aid. My son, on the other hand has to work to (and rightly so)pay CSA but he earns just above the
threshold so he cannot get legal aid and you know, I'm sure how expensive solicitors are - so his hands are tied. He has very little spare money. He has kept his home with his familys help and he has to pay for debts in both their names - that somehow by law she can walk away from! The law is very wrong on so many levels! Solicitor did advise that D start and instigate the mediation process and believed the access he has at present to his children is not enough.He suggested every other weekend plus day / tea time visits inbetween plus shared school holiday times /shared times over Xmas, birthdays etc. My son (refered to as D) has two children. D was recently refused access by ex partner to see his son on his birthday). His ex partner has a history of recorded and serious misdemeanours against her since their separation. Furthermore, Social services are involved due to
issues of neglect centered around the children's day to day care. Presently D sees his children every other weekend fri eve to mon eve. He also has taken the children on short breaks, Christmas periods and short
times on birthdays and has had them on other occasions on a had hoc basis. The situation now leaves us, as a family, at breaking point. Now it is even harder for D to see his children now and he cannot communicate with
heer at all. We are in need of some serious, good advice from someone who has a passion for the injustices served on fathers so that we can help D
get heard, get fair and balanced access to his children and allow him to have back some control over his life. Ultimately,given enough time we hope to have residency of the children. The law seems not to care he would make the better parent in this instance.Please, please if you are serious about helping fathers , advise us of, in your opinion, how we can begin to re address this imbalance and move forward in helping the children and D. There seems so little he is able to do and trying to read about family law is mind blowing. Please help and advice.
A. Hi, you are obviously very worried about your son and yes the system does work against you if you are not entitled to Legal Aid. For your information, the government is planning to abolish legal aid for family matters like these from April next year so your son’s ex-partner would not get access to legal aid either if it all goes through. You already know that a Solicitor would be able to give you legal advice, something I cannot do. As a mediator myself, I would encourage your son to try mediation. Although it does cost, if you go on the National Family Mediation website to find a mediator near you, these are mediators who work for charitable organisations, so would charge a fraction of the cost of a legal case through Court. The advantage of mediation is that it is balanced, so both parties take part in the decisions about their children and are encouraged to communicate, even when things have deteriorated. You also need to keep in touch with Social Services to make sure they know you can offer the children safety and security, should that be needed. I am sure they would be pleased to hear your son would be willing to try mediation. I hope you can all get these matters resolved soon for all your sakes.

Best wishes

Jackie Norton
Q. hi i have been separated from my partner for 3 months now. In this time i have my son 3 times a week including one overnight stay. This is ideal for everyone. However she has recently threatened to stop my access over trivial arguments and so i have asked her to come to a mediator and get our arrangement in writing so she can no longer do this. she has now agreed to let me see my son on the condition we don't put anything in writing. obviously i want our arrangement to be official as she will defiantly try this again. but i don't want to risk not see my son
in the mean time. any advice will be much appreciated. Many thanks kevin
A. I would suggest you try mediation so that you can get an agreement which is understood by both parties and hopefully meets all the family’s needs. That way, she is less likely to go back on it.

Agreements in writing – the only agreement in writing either of you are not allowed to go back on would be a Court Order which is legally binding. Agreements made in mediation or via Solicitors are not legally binding.

As I said at the beginning, if you can resolve differences in mediation, that would be the best opportunity to protect your continuing contact with your son. Your son will be the main focus and it sounds like this is what you want.

Good luck.

Kind regards

Jackie Norton

Q. Hi Jackie, My son's mum and I split up over three years ago. Early in our agreement I was told by his mum that I would have no contact time with him. It started with him staying at my home from a Friday
through to a Sunday evening. But our time together has reduced to less than 24 hours (Friday from school to Saturday afternoon). I feel so closed
off from my son's life because his mum ignores my please that our new partners should be working as a team for our wee one. I have suggested mediation services to his mum several times but she seems to think we don't need it. His mum and I have no relationship and it is difficult to talk. I suggested a few times that we meet for a coffee to talk but she is always too busy. Any advice you have would be to welcome ears. Thanks
A. Hi, it cant do any harm to carry on doing what you’re doing. If you can find some local information about mediation so that you could pass on their leaflet to her, that might work better. If you could get a mediation going, it would not include new partners to start with but it could be a possibility later if everyone is in agreement. You don’t say how old your son is, but could it be possible that he comes to you for tea one night after school so you can build a more regular pattern – I don’t know if that’s practical? Would mum be open to those kind of suggestions? I don’t recommend going to Court because it is a long and difficult process and can make things worse, but it might be wise to get some legal advice if you haven’t already. Your approach so far is the right one but I realise its very frustrating if you are not making progress.

I hope that helps

Kind regards

Jackie
Q. Hi there I am a single mum who has been seperated and divorced for 3 years from my childrens father. In the divorce we arranged a statement of arrangements for the children and had agreed privatley to keep to an agreement of contact. Over the 3 years he has not kept to the agreement and after stopping my children from seeing him after being let down and after bad situations and care I have now been advised by my social worker that he has gone ahead with a solicitor for full custody Please could you help me with some advice on what I can do and my rights with regards to stopping it going forward. I believe after threats to keep the children that mediation and agreeing to him seeing the children again will mean he will not let me have them back and as I understand it by advice from the police unless there is a custody order in place he has the right to keep them and I would need to go to court to get them back. Please help me with some good advice as I am a single mum on low income
A. I would say to this lady that she needs some legal advice. If her income is sufficiently low, she may be entitled to legal aid and can certainly find this out by visiting a Solicitor who offers legal aid and I would recommend she also looks for one who is a member of Resolution. There are some misunderstandings here. Custody does not exist any more. So, if her ex has made an application to Court, it will be either for Contact or for Residence. He will be expected to meet a mediator and consider mediation which is when this mum will also be invited to mediation. Neither is obliged to do it, but it would be a safe way of working out her options. She doesn’t have to meet up with him if she doesn’t want to. Or she can wait for a Court hearing and let a Judge decide. Either way, she can wait to see what happens but I would recommend she obtains some legal advice about what to do if dad tries to keep the kids with him.

This kind of scenario is very common in mediation and can be very quickly resolved – much quicker than Court.

Hope that helps

Jackie Norton


Q. Hi,I am Tony and have been legally divorced now for over 2 years. I have 2 daughters my youngest just turned 17 and I pay maintainance for her to my ex. I haven't had any contact with both daughters for over 2 years, although they are in regular contact with my parents. I have had no contact either with my ex since the decree absolute. As I have no contact with my daughters or their mum and likely to have none in the future although I have tried writing several times, how do I make sure the money
I give my ex is being used properly for the welfare of my youngest, there is now hard evidence my daughters are in poverty, but some of the comments passed to me by my caring parents have raised a concern. I am keen to support my daughters in the rest of their life but feel they have turned against me since the divorce. I was the one to leave the marital home as it was the easiest option to manage somewhere else to live, I feel
completely shut out of both my daughters life.!
A. Hi, here's my reply.

Its very sad u have lost contact. If you have worries about your childrens welfare you should contact your local authority or solicitor. As they are almost adults now you could try to contact them direct. Good luck.

Jackie
Q. Hi, my ex and i have a two year old daughter, and we had a routine where i'd have her at weekends and then a morning or afternoon in the week, and this was quite a friendly agreement, but now i have a new girlfriend my ex is demanding supervised visits and no overnight stays, even though there aren't any threats to my childs welfare and also my ex has a new bloke and i am not demanding this from her. Is she within her
rights to do this and what are my rights?
A. This is a very common problem once new partners come on the scene and is often not based on logic but on an emotional response. If you can talk about it between you so that you can find out what your ex’s concerns are, that would be the easiest solution. Perhaps she would like to meet your new partner and in the interests of fairness, perhaps you would like to meet her new partner too? Perhaps you need an agreement that your daughter will not be left with new partners unless the ex is okay with that on both sides. All of this will depend on how able you are to have a conversation about this. In terms of your rights, you would need to consult a solicitor to establish your legal rights but this can sometimes exacerbate the situation if letters start to go back and forth. Perhaps call your nearest mediation service to get an appointment to see a mediator and see what other options you may have if the attempt to talk doesn’t work.

Kind regards

Jackie Norton


Q. Hello, I have recently split from my partner and it currently is not amicable. Apparently she has been to a solicitor and they have advised to draw up a rota between ourselves. Which she has advised wednesdays and sundays. Should I get this in writing would it stand up in court as I have not signed anyhting to agree this
A. The Solicitor is helpfully advising that you set up a rota so that both parties and the children know when contact is going to take place. That’s usually a good thing, especially whilst communication is difficult or not happening. This is not an agreement which is legally binding so is not set in stone. The only contact agreement which is legally binding is a contact order produced by the Court and decided by the Judge. Whilst its not set in stone, this means there is room for negotiation at a stage where you feel more able to have that conversation. Mediation can help you with that. You could also get some legal advice if you are concerned. Hope that helps.

Kind regards

Jackie


Q. My children and their father have contact time every other weekend for two nights.Recently he has been lying to meet about where he is taking my children.Our children have met his girlfriend 6 times and he has been taking them into london to stay with her and her family. This has unsettled my children although they say they enjoy it when they are there. What are my rights? I just want to be informed.
A. Hi, This is really a legal question in terms of your rights. If there is a contact order which dictates where he can take them, then he is bound by that. I suspect there will not be one, so he can take them anywhere he likes. If you feel the children are in some way at risk of harm, you need to talk it over with children’s services for advice but are unlikely to intervene unless the risk is serious. If you want to try to improve communication with him so that there is no need for lies, of course I would suggest mediation. Then you can tell him that the children are unsettled as he may not know about this. You may want to ask a Solicitor for information on her legal rights.



Hope this helps.


Q. I am going through a divorce and am worried about what is going to happen to my finances.
A. Understanding your finances is a vital part of gaining, or regaining your financial freedom. While everyone's finances are different, the following list is a good place to begin if you find yourself needing to regain financial control.

- Revise your will / trust
Whether you have had a will or trust in place in the past, now is the time to meet with an estate-planning solicitor to draft one. This document allows you to determine who will inherit your hard earned assets, who will care for your children in the event of your death, and how your children will inherit the assets you have left to them.
It is important to establish these guidelines rather than leaving the decision up to the state. In addition, you should ask your solicitor about a medical directive. This important document appoints a trusted love one with the ability to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.

- Update your beneficiary designations
While you have taken the steps to update your Living Will or Trust, certain accounts require you to directly appoint a beneficiary. This includes your life insurance and retirement accounts.
Contact your life insurance company or broker, as well as the companies where your retirement accounts are held and request a change of beneficiary form. This form can usually be faxed in, no questions asked.

- Develop a budget
It is important to put together and follow a budget. Now that you are living off one income, instead of two, understanding what income is coming in, as well as what income is flowing out, will allow you to plan for expenses and ensure you are not overspending.

You may need to cut back or you may have more money to save! Either way, it is important to know for sure. During this process, it is also important to understand how you income is being taxed. For instance, child support is not taxable. Speak to a tax professional to help you determine what is and what is not taxable.

- Manage your credit cards
Have you pulled your credit lately? It is important to review your credit report to ensure that your ex-partner is no longer authorised on your cards. This is an important step for home and car loans as well.

- Develop a retirement plan
During divorce settlements, retirement assets are often split 50/50.This may or may not have worked in your favour. Either way, it is important to understand what you can expect, and what you need to plan for. A Certified Financial Planner can assist you in forecasting your retirement need, developing a savings plan, and determining which investments are right for you.

- Reassess your health insurance needs
It is important to be sure that your health insurance is sufficient to cover your needs, but isn’t too expensive. If it is through your work, don’t forget to remove your ex from the plan.

If you were previously on your spouses / partners plan, you do not need to wait until open enrollment to sign up at your company. Just make sure you act quickly. Most insurance companies consider divorce a "qualifying event" or "life event" and allow thirty days to change your plan accordingly.

- Ensure you have adequate Life Insurance
In order to be sure your children are well provided for and your debts will not affect those you love, having adequate life insurance coverage is important. I recommend using a life insurance calculator or speaking with a Certified Financial Planner to determine how much coverage you should purchase.

- Attend a mediation information session to learn about how mediation can assist you to save money
Solicitor's fees can be very expensive, but there are things that you can do to help keep your overall divorce more affordable. Some common sense and not so common sense things can have a dramatic impact on the amount of billable hours it takes to get your case resolved.

The biggest contributor to an expensive divorce is the extra time spent by your professionals doing what you could have done yourself. The best part is that a well prepared client is usually a lot easier to deal with and makes for a much more favourable outcome. Mediators help clients to reach joint decisions about the issues associated with their separation - children, finance and property. National Family Mediation has well established quality assurance standards. Our mediators are carefully selected and trained to a high standard nationally.

While everyone's situation is different, applying these steps will allow you to begin on the path to financial freedom. Understanding your current financial picture while setting goals for your future are important steps in starting your new life.