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Reasonable contact (also posted in lone parents)

(12 Posts)
mowmi Wed 28-Nov-12 21:40:57

Hello,
I will try and cut a long story short. Split with dh end of may ( history of aggression, childlike nasty behaviour, spending money we don't have, leaving me to earn most of the money, run the house, finances and do all the care of our DS)
He refuses to move out so we all live unhappily in the house together, he comes and goes has he pleases (sport, friends, online dating!) and i retain all the responsibility for our son etc...
He isn't working at the moment, I won't go in to the details but he's signed off sick and has been since end of August, my problems are:-
- He is now on ssp so earning nothing! He has no savings so no longer contributing to the house or for his son
- he is too ill to work but is ok to get on with the rest of his life (he's driven 300 miles today to go to an event!)
- isn't making any effort to get better (eating food which will have a negative direct result on his recovery and I found a letter today saying he'd missed a hospital appointment he's apparently been waiting for!)
- is being very bullish about having DS (aged 2) the last couple of Sundays despite being off during the week at the moment. which means I'm scared of making plans for the weekend in case he demands DS is available to him ( I was away a couple of weeks ago and demanded DS was back home by 10am Sunday)
- in the last 8 weeks he has picked DS up from nursery once, taken him swimming once (with a woman he met only 3 weeks ago!) and cancelled last Sunday due to a cold!

What is reasonable contact for an almost 3 year old for a very hands off father?
I feel it's unfair for him to now be dictating the weekends to me when that is my free time to spend with DS - DS is in nursery mon - thu so why can't he do his token swimming then?
He doesn't appear to have any intention of going back to work anytime soon but if he does he works every other weekend so this isn't sustainable anyway.

He's a bully and very verbally abusive in front of DS so I find it hard to stand up to him being in the same house!

I know DS has a right to a relationship with his dad but does it really have to be at the expense of my time when it really doesn't need to be?

Thanks for listening I know it's a ramble!

olgaga Wed 28-Nov-12 23:14:59

Do you own or are you renting? You might find this helpful:

Relationship Breakdown and Divorce – Advice and Links (V4 Nov 2012)

It is useful if you can get to grips with the language of family law and procedure, and get an understanding of your rights, BEFORE you see a solicitor. If you are well prepared you will save time and money.

Children

The welfare, needs and interests of children are paramount. Parents have responsibilities, not rights, in this regard. Shared residence means both parties having an equal interest in the upbringing of the children. It does not mean equal (50/50) parenting time - children are not possessions to be “fairly” divided between separating parents.

A divorce will not be granted where children are involved unless there are agreed arrangements for finance, and care of the children (“Statement of Arrangements for Children”). It is obviously quicker and cheaper if this can be agreed but if there is no agreement, the Court will make an Order - “Residence and Contact” regarding children, “Financial Order” or “Ancillary Relief” in the case of Finance. Information and links to these can be found in the Directgov link below. Residence and Contact Orders are likely to be renamed Child Arrangements Orders in future.

Always see a specialist family lawyer!

Get word of mouth recommendations for family lawyers in your area if possible. If you have children at school, ask mums you are friendly with if they know of anyone who can make a recommendation in your area. These days there are few people who don’t know of anyone who has been through a divorce or separation – there’s a lot of knowledge and support out there!

Many family lawyers will offer the first half hour consultation free. Make use of this. Don’t just stick with the first lawyer you find – shop around and find someone you feel comfortable with. You may be in for a long haul, so it helps if you can find a solicitor you’re happy with.

If you can’t find any local recommendations, always see a solicitor who specialises in Family Law.
If you take legal action to protect yourself or your family from domestic violence, you may qualify for legal aid without having to meet the normal financial conditions. The income of an abusive partner will not be taken into account when deciding whether you qualify for legal aid.
You can also find out about Legal Aid and get advice on the Community Legal Advice Helpline on 08345 345 4 345
https://www.gov.uk/community-legal-advice
Or search in your area for Community Legal Advisors:
legaladviserfinder.justice.gov.uk/AdviserSearch.do
Here is the Gov.uk guide to divorce which includes a link to CAB advice at the foot of the first page:
https://www.gov.uk/divorce

Rights of Women have a helpline on 020 7251 6577 and helpful advice on their website.
www.rightsofwomen.org.uk/adviceline.php

Co-operative Legal Services offer DIY/Self-Help Divorce packages, as well as a Managed Divorce service. Their fee structure is more transparent and they have a telephone advice line as well as offering really good advice on their website:
www.co-operative.coop/legalservices/family-and-relationships/

You can read advice and search by area for a family lawyer here:
www.resolution.org.uk/

and here:
www.divorceaid.co.uk/

Some family law solicitors publish online feedback from clients – Google solicitors to see if you can find any recommendations or feedback.

Mediation

You will be encouraged to attend mediation. This can help by encouraging discussion about arrangements for children and finance in a structured way in a neutral setting. However, it only works if both parties are willing to reach agreement.

If there has been violence or emotional abuse, discuss this with your solicitor first. Always get legal advice, or at the very least make sure you are aware of your legal rights, before you begin mediation. This is important because while a Mediator should have knowledge of family law, and will often explain family law, they are not there to give tailored legal advice to either party - so it’s important to have that first.

You can find a Mediator here:
www.familymediationhelpline.co.uk/find-service.php

Married or Living Together?

This is a key question, because if you are married, generally speaking you have greater protection when a relationship breaks down.

Legal Issues around marriage/cohabitation and relationship breakdown are explained here:
www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/relationships_e/relationships_living_together_marriage_and_civil_partnership_e/living_together_and_marriage_legal_differences.htm#Ending_a_relationship

www.advicenow.org.uk/living-together/

Gov.uk advice on divorce, separation and relationship breakdown:
https://www.gov.uk/browse/births-deaths-marriages/marriage-divorce

Issues around contact are further explored here:
https://www.gov.uk/parental-rights-responsibilities
www.rightsofwomen.org.uk/legal.php#children_relationship_breakdown
www.maypole.org.uk/
www.cafcass.gov.uk/media/2909/TimeforChildren.pdf

I found these guides from law firms quite informative and easy to read – there are others of course:
www.family-lawfirm.co.uk/uploaded/documents/Surviving-Family-Conflict-and-Divorce---2nd-edition.pdf

www.terry.co.uk/hindex.html

Finance

Before you see a family law solicitor, get hold of every single piece of financial information you have access to, and take copies or make notes. Wage slips, P60s, tax returns, employment contracts, pensions and other statements – savings, current account and mortgages, deeds, rental leases, utility bills, council tax bills, credit statements. Are there joint assets such as a home, pensions, savings, shares?
There is a useful divorce and separation calculator here:
https://www.gov.uk/money-property-when-relationship-ends

If you cannot access financial information, or you are aware that assets are being hidden from you, then obviously you will not be able to reach agreement on finances. Again you will be encouraged to go to mediation (link as above).

If there are children, as you cannot divorce without adequate arrangements being agreed on finance and children, you will have to apply for a financial order anyway.
If there are no children, and you are unable to agree on finances, you will also have to apply for a financial order.
During this process, parties have to declare financial information going back 12 months. So it is in your interests to act quickly once you have made the decision to divorce.

If you are married, the main considerations of the Family Courts where parties are unable to agree a settlement are (in no particular order of priority):

1.The welfare of any minor children from the marriage.
2.The value of jointly and individually owned property and other assets and the financial needs, obligation and responsibilities of each party.
3.Any debts or liabilities of the parties.
4.Pension arrangements for each of the parties, including future pension values and any value to each of the parties of any benefit they may lose as a result of the divorce.
5.The earnings and earning potential of each of the parties.
6.Standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.
7.The age of the parties and duration of the marriage.
8.Any physical or mental disability of either of the parties.
9.Contributions that each party may have made to the marriage, either financially or by looking after the house and/or caring for the family.

CSA maintenance calculator:
www.csacalculator.dsdni.gov.uk/calc.asp

Handy tax credits calculator:
www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits/payments-entitlement/entitlement/question-how-much.htm#7

Handy 5 Minute benefit check, tax and housing benefit calculators:
www.moneysavingexpert.com/family/

CAB Benefits Check:
www.citizensadvice.co.uk/getadvice/benefit-calculator/A2B-Benefit-Calculator/#730

Parenting issues:
www.familylives.org.uk
www.theparentconnection.org.uk

Other Support – Children, Housing, Domestic Violence
www.womensaid.org.uk/ and refuge.org.uk/ - Helpline 0808 2000 247
www.ncdv.org.uk/ - Helpline 0844 8044 999
www.gingerbread.org.uk/ - Helpline 0808 802 0925
Housing www.england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/families_and_relationships/relationship_breakdown
(Note that on many advice websites there is usually an appropriate link for England, Wales and Scotland where the law, advice and contact information may differ).
Sometimes links change or break – if there is a problem or any of the above needs updating, please let me know.

STIDW Thu 29-Nov-12 01:33:40

Sounds as though you need to press on with divorce so that the finances can be separated and you can become autonomous.

There is no one particular arrangement for children that suits all families. A good starting point is sharing the quality time at weekends and during the school/nursery holidays 50:50. Above all arrangements should be practical. If you are still living in the family home you could try 3 days alternate weekends Fri -Sun. That way there isn't a lot of chopping and changing and it gives your ex some hands on experience. Once you are no longer living in the house you can review the situation if your son finds more than one overnight at a time is difficult.

mowmi Thu 29-Nov-12 06:27:14

Thanks, divorce is progressing... First appointmentre re finances is mid feb.
Sick of living like thissad

RooneyMara Thu 29-Nov-12 06:31:54

Whose name is the house in? He sounds intolerable sad

I think it might be easiest if one of you leaves the house, really - it will make things far, far more straightforward, and better boundaries because atm it sounds like he has none whatsoever, and no sense of shared responsibility.

He's acting like you're the only parent and he is a spoilt teenager.

mowmi Thu 29-Nov-12 10:03:01

It really is. But it's been like this since May and I at least feel like the end is faintly in sight a bit re the divorce and getting him out.
Judge ruled my way on deemed served last week (he tore up the papers and threw them down the stairs at me when I was holding DS) so just waiting for the papers to come through then I will be marching round to court to apply for DN.
If I leave the house it will get reposessed. I live there but I try and be out as much as possible all weekend and I live in my bedroom once little one is in bed (we also spend a lot of time in my room so I can shut the door on the atmosphere).
I know it's not ideal but I've come so far...
I just need help on what is fair so I have confidence to stand up to him.
Oh he has no legal help at all so he doesn't have anyone telling him how it is or to reign him in.

Please tell me it will come to an end?!

mowmi Thu 29-Nov-12 10:03:48

House is in both names....here lies the problem!

mowmi Thu 29-Nov-12 21:04:02

Can some answer me what is the process if STBXH decided to just ignore timetable to resolve finances? What is he doesn't fill in his forms and doesn't turn up... how long will he be able to drag it out for?

STIDW Thu 29-Nov-12 21:18:25

Unfortunately lots of separating couples have to stay in the former matrimonial home until the finances are settled because one moving out would tip them into levels of unacceptable debt. It isn't pleasant but it's something they have to live with unless the behaviour of one of them amounts to harassment or pestering.

In court proceedings there is no option, your husband needs to follow the rules and procedures otherwise there are penalties and sanctions ie ultimately he can be ordered to pay your legal costs or committed to prison.

mowmi Thu 29-Nov-12 21:23:19

Thank you. He had the money to move out when we split he chose not to. He's now swinging the leg with his illness so hasn't the money to... he's just riding the gravy train whilst I work, do all the childcare, the house stuff.... I'm just so worn out with it all.
Tired of paying a massive mortgage and living in my bedroom sad

cestlavielife Sat 01-Dec-12 23:44:22

Yes there are penalties and sanctions but it all takes time eg my ex refused to turn up for a court hearing but was given the chance to attend the next one three months later or face penalty. So that was another three months wasted.

You going to need to think of a plan b so you don't have to spend longer than you have to lviing in your bedroom.....

mowmi Mon 03-Dec-12 14:42:49

thanks for taking your time, there isn't really a plan b... I am a bit stuck.

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