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Safety of children during contact - what should I do?

(28 Posts)
Llareggub Sat 29-Dec-12 23:27:05

I separated from my alcoholic husband last January. I remained in the family home with our our DC, now aged 6 and 3. My ex went to live with his parents. During this time, our children spent weekends at his parents house, and had only supervised contact with their father with their care being carried out by MIL.

Recently, his drinking has worsened and his parents did not tell me. Our 3 year old shares a bed with his father on these contact weekends, as he does when he is with me. I was happy for this to happen when I thought he was dry and taking Antabuse.

Last week he took an overdose and is now is a psychiatric hospital. I am moving with the children to a town 150 miles away for a job which will allow me financial independence and family support.

Ideally I would like the DCs to have contact with their father and family but have serious concerns about this, given his current mental health and PIL failure to tell me about his return to drinking.

I need to start negotiating contact but really don't know what would be reasonable given the circumstances, as my view it would be better for the children to settle into their new home, make friends and have some stability after a frankly nightmare year. I do recognise that their grandparents have been a significant presence in their lives but as my ex will be living with them I worry about how this will affect them.

Has anyone got any views on how I should handle this?

MrsSham Sat 29-Dec-12 23:34:37

Supervised contact arranged through the courts at a contact centre unless you can be 100% sure the grandparents are able to ensure they come to no harm whilst they supervise all contact.

I would seek solicitor advice.

Llareggub Sat 29-Dec-12 23:46:26

How would I arrange for a contact centre? Is this done through the court? I have no proof he would hurt them but I feel that if he is suicidal then I can't be sure that he won't hurt them. My solicitor has told me to be reasonable but she doesnt know yet about the suicide attempt as it only happened on the night of the 20th. Do his parents have any rights?

MrsSham Sat 29-Dec-12 23:53:12

I would tell her about the sucide attempt and concealed drinking as it would change everything. Some towns have contact centres arranged through the private sector but he would need to agree to that. Your solicitor would give you the best advice but I would suggest a contact centre through the courts. A court adviser would meet with the children and provide a report based on the children's views and if it where thought they where in danger or harm during contact a children's guardian would be appointed to report on their welfare surrounding contact with ex p. in which case I would suspect they would recommend supervised contact at a contact centre, it could be weekly or fortnightly and considering you are 150 miles away, it would probably fall on you to transport them them to the town exp is in to have this contact.

However like I say I would inform your solicitor of the current situation ASAP.

Llareggub Sat 29-Dec-12 23:58:12

I would imagine my children would not feel at risk. If I do nothing I imagine he won't press for contact. Should I do nothing?

I will speak to my solicitor on Monday. Thank you do much for your advice, I really appreciate it.

Why should I make the children travel 150 miles? it will be very disruptive for them I think, as well as costly and I won't be getting any money from him. I would rather use the money to feed and house them.

ProphetOfDoom Sun 30-Dec-12 00:09:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MrsSham Sun 30-Dec-12 00:10:58

If you dont feel they are not safe then you should do something, to make sure they are. unless you stop contact and wait and see what he does, which is an option. but I would imagine your children would want to see him would they? In which case I think having it all ironed out through the courts would be more beneficial for them. The other option is them not seeing him and him and his parents not pursuing contact. Does he have a solicitor and is he likely to chase contact?

I couldn't say for sure that they would make you travel 150 miles, but I would imagine as the more stable parent and the parent who has moved away, the expectation would usually be on you to get them to the place arranged which would usually be closer to the absent parent if he where unable travel, which I suspect would be the case if he is currently unstable.

The situation ahead could be very stressful for you all and his MH and drinking would very very much spark concerns even if dcs not feel at risk, I would imagine they would be perceived by the courts to be at risk if dh is drinking and suicide is a factor.

ProphetOfDoom Sun 30-Dec-12 00:13:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MrsSham Sun 30-Dec-12 00:14:36

That would be better if they are going to agree to it.

Llareggub Sun 30-Dec-12 00:16:45

I suppose I have done something. I packed our bags and drove 150 miles to spend Xmas with family and have no plans to return until the new year. This has given us space and no tricky questions about daddy.

My oldest is very perceptive and knows far too much about alcohol. My youngest latches onto every man he meets for cuddles. It is heartbreaking.

I tried everything to encourage contact over the last year but he did not make the effort unless I took the boys to him. I don't think he would chase contact.

I don't particularly want to drive them to him. I want the boys to settle in their new home, go to football at weekends, make friends and settle here. I don't want them cooped up in a car every weekend because their dad is an alcoholic. It is so unfair on them. I think he should get himself on a train and make a bloody effort. Grrrr.

Llareggub Sun 30-Dec-12 00:19:05

I think his parents would take them out for the day. I really do.

My DCs would want to see him I think but they want to do lots of things that aren't necessarlly in their best interest. And before I found out bout his drinking I was happy for him to have all the contact I could get him to do.

MrsSham Sun 30-Dec-12 00:19:15

I agree, if you don't think he would chase contact then maybe just now talk to GPS and say we have plans to stay here and do as schmaltz has suggested tell them you and exp are welcome to visit the boys but you will be supervising where exp is concerned.

MrsSham Sun 30-Dec-12 00:19:37

Had there been any domestic violence?

MrsSham Sun 30-Dec-12 00:21:44

The problem is if he where to peruse contact the court would most probably view that some contact and supervised contact would be better than no contact, which I struggle with as professionally I would need to advocate, but my personal views are different. It may be better for you to do nothing then and hope he does not push for contact.

ProphetOfDoom Sun 30-Dec-12 00:26:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Llareggub Sun 30-Dec-12 00:27:14

Last Christmas Eve he caused bruising to my arm, tried to run me over in a 4x4 because I tried to stop him driving while drunk and on medication. My jaw clicked for around 6 months but I don't remember what caused it.

He was irrational and unpredictable that day. He was like a man I had never met before. It sparked our separation and there has been nothing since, however his behaviour has been irrational and weird many times. I suspect an underlying MH problem. He has been in rehab twice this year.

Before all of this he was gentle and lovely. He is so different now.

MrsSham Sun 30-Dec-12 00:32:21

So sad for everyone especially your children. If he does push contact make sure all these incidents are recorded. Sounds like he won't though unless his parents are going to be awkward. I would defiantly advocate what schmaltz has just suggested. Good luck.

Llareggub Sun 30-Dec-12 00:40:50

Thank you both. I feel like I have a plan now.

ProphetOfDoom Sun 30-Dec-12 00:45:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cestlavielife Sun 30-Dec-12 19:24:57

If he is currently In psych unit and you have no plans to arrange contact there (is he voluntarily admitted or sectioned?) then you can sit and wait til he gets out and see what he requests while making it clear to PILS they are welcome to visit.

It is v difficult to get psych info on an ex unless he requests his mh team to talk to you so you may find you need to go thru formal court process anyway as they eg cafcass or a judge can more readily ask for psych reports to be presented.

Llareggub Sun 30-Dec-12 20:15:46

His mother tells me he is there voluntarily which ties in with what he has told me. He sends me texts at 3am saying sorry for things which I must admit I ignore.

I am going to call my solicitor in the morning and am going to make plans to move sooner rather than later. I have found it very difficult to cope today.

MrsSham Sun 30-Dec-12 20:19:10

Sensible to ignore the texts there is little point getting emotionally dragged into what is going on for him. You need to focus on the children and building your life without him.

ProphetOfDoom Sun 30-Dec-12 20:44:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Llareggub Sun 30-Dec-12 20:52:41

I think the main problem is that I am currently with my mother, in the town I am moving to. I am due back in my demanding, full time job on Wednesday. I have got my rental to sort out, a big house to pack up, removal to arrange, a car to buy, a school to find and settle the kids into and a new house to unpack. It feels such an enormous task. I start my new job on the 28th and every time I go for a run I am in tears.

I just can't see how I can do it all. I just don't feel up to it. I feel like I did when I was first diagnosed with depression a few months back. My mother thiks I should increase the dose of my ADs and I think she might be right.

MrsSham Sun 30-Dec-12 21:10:37

I wouldn't increase them without the drs say so. however I would maybe not go back to work straight away, you can self cert and then maybe get to see your doctor and get signed off for a week or two, give you some breathing space and maybe just go back to work to tie up any loose ends before your leaving date, that's if its worth going back at all. You are under a lot of pressure, I think it would be understandable if if you took some time to do all the packing up whilst signed off sick. Do you think that's an option?

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