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When divorced parents can't agree

(64 Posts)
jewatson Thu 11-Oct-12 09:19:52

This is the first time I have posted here and hope that someone can help (I am deliberately being vague as I do not want to give too many details and risk outing myself)

My ex and I have been divorced for 4 years and our relationship is difficult (to say the least). I have always tried to be flexible and put the children's interests first (and I am sure that my ex believes the same thing about himself).

We have come to a point where he wants to change the status quo with regard to christmas and birthdays. I fundamentally disagree with his proposals. He wants me to go to mediation. Can he force this on me? If so, how does it work and will any agreement be legally binding?

Spero Sat 13-Oct-12 14:06:29

Google providers in your area and make an appointment. They may do an initial intake meeting to check if is suitable for mediation then you meet for a couple of sessions. Costs vary but budget about £100 an hour. Agreements reached at mediation are not legally binding but can be turned into a consent order if you apply to court.

olgaga Fri 12-Oct-12 22:31:30
Ginda Fri 12-Oct-12 22:11:09

On a logistical level, what does going to mediation mean? How do you arrange it?

Qwertyytrewq Fri 12-Oct-12 22:04:19

As he moved 80 miles away what did he expect to happen?

Bonsoir Fri 12-Oct-12 20:38:11

Yes of course it does: if one parent, the mother, is shouldering all the responsibility and the other parent, the father, is Disney Dad incarnate, that affects how a court will feel about contact.

Spero Fri 12-Oct-12 20:28:34

I agree with collaborate. Try to talk to him, suggest mediation - if he won't budge only option is court I am afraid. I agree this isn't a great arrangement - as they get older time with peers at weekends will get more important, and rightly so. He does need to loosen up a bit.

Ginda Fri 12-Oct-12 18:58:15

No, does that affect contact?

Bonsoir Fri 12-Oct-12 18:46:09

I don't mean buying them toys, I mean buying them educational experiences.

Ginda Fri 12-Oct-12 18:44:43

Yes he is involved with education and does all that. If anything, on the material things front he well outdoes me. He earns a lot more than me and just buys everything for them to have at his - won't let them bring any of it home. So they have £100 iPod docks there, £50 trainers, every games console available... I can't afford those things. No expense spared - so long as it's all at his house, on his terms.

Bonsoir Fri 12-Oct-12 18:16:08

Does he plan their education? Does he do interesting trips with them in the holidays? Does he buy them books and take them to shows and museums? Does he buy their clothes and shoes?

Ginda Fri 12-Oct-12 18:11:17

I'm not sure what you mean, quite, Bonsoir. He pays maintenance for them (at the same rate it was set at 6 years ago). He has them most weekends. At the weekends what he does with them tends to be what he wants, i.e. they go to the shops, have a meal out, otherwise stay at home watching Sky Sports. He ensures they do their homework (well, his wife does).

He has never taken them to a theme park or to "do" anything they like, e.g. To the leisure centre to do a sport of some kind, or a craft place (DD likes this). He likes to stay at home, eat, and watch tv (one of the contributing factors to the end of our marriage!)

I would not tell him what he "should" do on his weekends but I do think that as kids get older they want to pursue more activities and this should be encouraged and not stymied because "it detracts from my time with them".

He comes to parents' evenings and plays at school and things most of the time, not all of the time. He phones them every night, except when he is out for dinner which is about once a week. If he cannot speak to them and thinks it is because I am deliberately preventing it (which I never do), he is very abusive. He does not understand that, if I get home from work at 7pm and the kids go to bed at 8.30, then for him to spend half an hour every night on the phone to them takes a lot of "my" time away. He will not phone earlier, which I have suggested. His response was "don't be silly, Ginda" and then he just carried on calling at 8pm.

He has no real conception of the realities of organising 2 kids every day, as he installed his current wife as soon as he and I separated, whereupon she immediately stopped all employment and devoted herself to him and therefore does most of what I expect him to do, with the DCs. I am grateful for that, though obviously I would prefer it if he showed more understanding of their needs himself.

Bonsoir Fri 12-Oct-12 17:59:38

Ginda - what responsibilities does your exH shoulder for your DCs?

Ginda Fri 12-Oct-12 17:45:22

Thanks bonsoir and longjane. He already has half the hols and could have more but it wouldn't really help him as he - like me - only has a limited about of holiday to take himself.

He has a new baby - does that change anything? I know he is very anxious that the DCs don't feel the new baby has supplanted them in his affections so he I even less likely to agree to any reduction in contact at all.

Bonsoir Fri 12-Oct-12 17:42:57

Honestly and truthfully, Ginda's exH doesn't need a pay off. He needs to shoulder more responsibility, not just fun time.

longjane Fri 12-Oct-12 17:40:30

ginda
could you offer him more time in holidays? as a pay off

Bonsoir Fri 12-Oct-12 17:33:08

Ginda - as it stands currently, you get the DCs every week, when you are working and they are at school and you are all busy, and your exH never takes on weekly responsibility but gets 66% of weekends.

This is grossly unfair and in court you would be looked on sympathetically for shouldering so much responsibility and would be very likely to get every other weekend. You should go to mediation and make sure your exH hears the message that he will lose in court.

Ginda Fri 12-Oct-12 17:20:02

Forgot to say: thanks Collaborate

Ginda Fri 12-Oct-12 17:19:31

So, I tell him this is what I want to do, he says no, I say shall we go to mediation - is that how it works? If he says no to mediation can I impose an every other weekend arrangement then and wait for him to go to court over it?

Collaborate Fri 12-Oct-12 17:07:36

Contact arrangements are never set in stone so worth a go. Mediation first and then court if you can't agree. You could act unilaterally, but that wouldn't be I think the right or proper thing to do.

Ginda Fri 12-Oct-12 16:50:31

Interesting thread and I don't want to crash it but I have a related question.

ExH and I have been divorced 6 years, 2 DCs. No contact order. When we separated, I was not working and he worked full time. The DCs were only 4 and 2 so I agreed to him having 3 weekends out of 4 because I had so much week time with them. I always said that when I went back to work I would want every other weekend. When I did go back to work 2 years later I raised this and he went beserk and in the end I compromised to 2 weekends out of 3.

Now, another 4 years later the DCs are 10 and 8. They love their dad of course but the weekend arrangement means we hardly spend any time together. I work long hours and only have 1 weekend with them every 3 weeks. The things we do together (I play a sport with DS and do another hobby with DD), we can only do once every 3 weeks. Equally, things they want to do at weekends like birthday parties of friends, or when DS wanted to do rugby on Saturdays, are a massive problem. ExH refuses and then makes out as if I am "stealing" his time. We live 80 miles apart so it isn't viable for him to drop the kids off at their friends' or collect them and he makes such a fuss about it whenever one of these requests is made that either the DC in question ends up going "oh ok then Dad", or I have to have world war 3 with him about it. He doesn't see them mid-week so he never sees the subsequent crying about how "everyone else went to X's party and they were all saying how brilliant it was", and if I tell him, he says I'm lying.

I had hoped that as the DCs got older they would be more forceful with him and make it clear that they want to do their stuff, where they live, and not just what their da wants to do where he lives. But he is very overbearing and always says to them (I hear it on the phone) "well you can see your friends any time but you can only see me at the weekend, don't you love me?" Which makes them feel guilty so they give in.

I hate this for them, and of course I also want more time with them myself. What would be the position if I told him we are doing every other weekend now? Would the fact that 2 weekends in 3 with him has been the status quo affect things? Also, if the children were consulted and felt so guilty about their dad's feelings that they said they would keep it how it is, would a CAFCASS officer see through that?

I don't want to have a war about this but it seems so unfair on me and the DCs to be stuck with this arrangement and I would really like to change it. I know however that exH will not only not agree, he will get a lawyer involved and so I'd really like to know where I stand.

Sorry so long.

Well said spero.

Spero Fri 12-Oct-12 14:45:45

fwiw, in my experience it is FAR more likely that children are telling each parent what they think that parent wants to hear than that one parent is brazenly lying about what the children have said.

Very sad case last week - both parents saying in statements they had 'sat down' with their children and had a good long talk and each were convinced they knew what the children wanted... whereas the children told CAFCASS they didn't want to talk about it, it just made them sad and they wanted to be 'fair' to each parent.

Both of you will lose if you treat the children like prizes to be won or lost. Children ought to be able to move happily between parents. I don' think a week is particularly long for children of that age.

But whatever the reality, communication and mediation is much, much better than an adversarial battle in court. Believe me, there really are no winners in that scenario.

olgaga Fri 12-Oct-12 12:15:47

But it is hard to know exactly how children feel, when they are saying one thing to one parent & one thing to the other!

That is the conclusion that everyone has jumped to. It could just as easily be the case that the ex is lying.

Qwertyytrewq I wouldn't be happy with it.

Er - so what? You aren't their dad. It evidently suits the dad in this case. He is not asking for more contact, he is asking to change the children's preferred arrangements at Christmas.

OP has not said she doesn't want them to spend a week with their Dad.

She said My oldest is going to talk to him this weekend to tell him that she doesn't want to spend a week away from me over xmas.

These children will soon be old enough to vote with their feet. If he has half a brain he'll do it the way they want, or risk alienating them further, and faster.

Qwertyytrewq Fri 12-Oct-12 12:00:30

'The children are obviously having plenty of contact with their dad. 5 weeks holiday, every other weekend and one midweek overnight is plenty'

Is it?

I wouldn't be happy with it.

wordfactory Fri 12-Oct-12 11:39:06

OP why don't you want the DC to spend a week with their Dad?

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