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can anyone with experience of family law cast their eye over this please?

(55 Posts)
WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Wed 24-Apr-13 11:18:28

i've posted lots before about EXp.

i am now in a situation where he has dropped maintenance payments down to £100 per month for 2 dcs and is refusing to have them more than 2 nights EOW despite his original suggestion that he would have them at least 1 night midweek every week so that i could start working again. he is now refusing, saying that as he works full time he cant have them. he has texted today furious with me for contacting CSA and says that i have 'shot myself in the foot' and to 'prepare for not much money'. i knew he would do this so this is no great surprise however i am sick sore and tired of just having to accept the decisions he makes about his input (physical and financial) with our dcs. i know no court in the land will force him to have our dcs more and i am not holding my breath that CSA will be any use at all. but i've decided i'm not going to just accept it anymore.

so this is what i want to do.

i want to send him a letter informing him that as of X date he will now be responsible for our dcs between 9am on tuesday mornings til 2pm on thursday afternoons of each week aswell as our current arrangement of 2pm on fridays til 2pm on sundays of EOW. i will inform the school and afterschool club of this arrangement and tell him that they know he will be collecting the dcs on those days. i will tell him that he will be responsible for organising and paying for all childcare he requires on these days and also any clubs or activities the dcs attend on those days. i will provide him with contact details for the school, afterschool club, gp, hv and anyone else necessary and inform him that he can request to have information letters sent to him from the school if he wishes so that he can be aware of any thing he needs to attend or arrange extra childcare for. i will tell him that this arrangement would mean he would not be required to pay any child support to me towards the support of our children.

i have been considering doing this for about a week and his latest texts have helped me make the decision to do so. obviously he can just refuse all of this and carry on paying very little and not seeing them more than he is but i am going to at least try to make things a bit fairer for myself.

as i said, i know none of that will be supported by a court but i was wondering if i should get a free half hour with a family solicitor for some guidance on this.

does anyone have any advice? would i be opening myself to accusations of neglect if he didn't turn up to the school for dcs? (i dont think he would not turn up if i made it absoloutely clear that i would not be collecting them but just incase)

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Wed 24-Apr-13 18:31:35

i know what you say is right spero. i am quite torn about this. i keep thinking it's better not to put myself through it, save my energy and just get on with it but then i look at jobs and i work out the childcare costs and, sorry, but it really fucking grates on me that he has the freedom to work as much as he chooses with no thought to childcare or getting back to the CMers on time or making sure uniforms are ironed. i've done all this before when i was working and i know parents up and down the country do it day in and day out so what makes him so special that he should be exempt? he and i should have the same opportunities to work. at the minute i'm being restricted by him for no reason other than he's sitting sweet and he knows it.

ivykaty that is a point to consider. i'm not sure if it would help with me being available for work though if he was having them thurs- tues every other week. at least if it was the same days every week i know i could arrange childcare for the same days, paying the same amount and be available to work regular days each week. still worth considering though.

Sweetheart. You can't make him. Even if you took it to court and it was all signed off by the court, all that would happen is that you have to make the kids available for him if he chooses to arrive. You can't make him pick them up.

Spero Wed 24-Apr-13 18:45:56

I have had five years of similar. I am the one paying for babysitters or just not going out, sorting out all that needs doing while my daughter's father enjoys a care free existence on the other side of the world, flying in to play Disney dad every now and again.

It isn't fair. It isn't fair to her that she doesn't get her fathers input into her day to day life, it isn't fair to me.

But I have sent all the angry emails, pointed out time and time again how unfair this is, agonised over how could any father chose to be so disengaged from his own child ... And all that happened is that I got angrier.

He never changed. Why would he? That is who he is, that is how he operates. My only remedy is to go back in time and avoid getting pregnant with someone who with hindsight was utterly selfish and self absorbed and who would never have stepped up to be a good dad.

So I made a choice to stop getting angry. I avoid contact with him as much as possible, I certainly don't go out of my way to make his life easy, expect him to travel to her etc.

All I was achieving was bitterness for myself. These men will never change, they are not capable of change. You really are beating your head against a brick wall and all you will get is pain.

Of course, I am not advocating rolling over and taking any crap they dish out but in terms of 'making' them comply with what would be fair, I think it is a doomed hope.

YohedYoshoulderYonisandYotoes Wed 24-Apr-13 18:49:52

Try mediation to help work with both of you to get a good mutual solution..

Spero Wed 24-Apr-13 18:51:38

Mediation is only an option if you both genuinely want a solution. Otherwise it is a waste of time and potentially abusive.

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Wed 24-Apr-13 19:04:42

ok.

i'll think on this some more. i'm really angry with him today over those messages and some crap he pulled at the weekend. probably too angry to be completely rational about this.

i know i cant make him. i know a court wont ever make him. i just dont want to do myself out of the chance if it's there. but as i said i'll think on it some more and wont do anything til i've slept on it, a few times maybe.

i really appreciate the advice and i know it's coming from experience.

on another point. i actually contacted the CSA in november and they only got in touch with him this morning. is that the general speed they deal with things at? will it take them ages to get anything from him?

ivykaty44 Wed 24-Apr-13 21:47:23

I would never ever leave myself at the mercy of an ex like yours doing childcare for work - have done and was left for work once and never put myself in that position again

YohedYoshoulderYonisandYotoes Thu 25-Apr-13 14:55:34

They both DO want a resolution, him his way, her her way. That is fertile mediation territory!

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Thu 25-Apr-13 15:34:32

ok.

i think what i'm going to do is approach him one last time and say 'look we need to come to a fair agreement. i want to talk this out properly with you so that we are both getting our say and we can put this behind us and move on.'

i'm not holding out much hope that he will budge at all but i'll give it a go. if he i dont get anywhere i will reconsider the letter idea.

Spero Thu 25-Apr-13 15:57:28

Good luck!

Yohed - no, its fertile territory for conflict. Both participants to mediation need to consider compromise. It's not about the will of one prevailing over the other.

YohedYoshoulderYonisandYotoes Fri 26-Apr-13 14:58:47

I know you daftie! mediation will help them realise that an adversarial win-lose conflict has more negatives than a conflict with an optimum solution benefitting both parties.. sheesh..

skippedtheripeoldmango Fri 26-Apr-13 16:19:08

He's been unfair for the past seven years....do you really think you telling him what he's going to do is going to work? You've asked him to be fair and he's not interested...because he has no concept of fairness or by the sounds of it decency. He's not going to change. I'd just accept it, leave what you can with the CSA to deal with, and find alternative childcare arrangements with your DC so you can work.

Is it fair? No, it most certainly isn't, but him being a dick is just who he is and the sooner you let that go the better for you.

Spero Fri 26-Apr-13 17:38:41

You have a very rosy view of what mediation can achieve. Perhaps you work for the government? I have a different, less hopeful experience sadly. High conflict, bitter parental separations rarely work well in mediation - at least in my experience.

Worth a try I suppose, court should always be absolute last resort. But the constant flag waving for mediation as this magic cure all is just irritating.

skippedtheripeoldmango Fri 26-Apr-13 17:42:16

I'm with you there, Spero. Mediation is great if there are two reasonable, well-balanced, non-disordered peoples involved...forget it if on party at least is only interested in causing havoc/controlling/manipulating etc. Complete waste of time in that situation.

YohedYoshoulderYonisandYotoes Sat 27-Apr-13 11:53:26

I am a trained mediator! You can deal with controlling, manipulating etc people quite often!

Collaborate Sat 27-Apr-13 13:15:36

My personal view is that mediation is best where the parties are an equal distance away from a reasonable settlement. All too often an attempt is made to find some middle ground. If they both start for equally reasonable or unreasonable positions that's ok, but if one starts off being very fair minded but the other is unreasonable the middle ground isn't fair to both.

Spero Sat 27-Apr-13 18:12:09

I am also a trained mediator, in both civil and family.

There is a real risk that it will be counterproductive or even abusive when there is a real or perceived imbalance of power. A lot of my family cases also involve violence and as a mediator I wouldn't go anywhere near those although I know some who do.

YohedYoshoulderYonisandYotoes Sat 27-Apr-13 18:51:37

sigh..

skippedtheripeoldmango Sat 27-Apr-13 18:59:21

Yohed...you really think mediation can help in a situation here one of the parties is a habitual emotional abuser and manipulator? I personally would completely refuse to step into mediation with my ex husband...he is way too good at pulling the wool over people's eyes.

Spero Sat 27-Apr-13 19:54:32

I would be very wary of any mediator who thought mediation would always be a positive way forward in any and every conflict.

YohedYoshoulderYonisandYotoes Sun 28-Apr-13 11:53:13

Well - 1. If you are a mediator who thinks that there is no hope if there is an imbalance or perceived imbalance of power - then you are not an effective mediator
2. If you are a mediator who thinks that adversarial legal action with one 'winner' and one 'loser' is a more effective solution than mediation would/could bring then you are not a mediator at all.

I would be very wary of a mediator who prejudged both conclusion, outcome, positions of the other party, needs of both parties and likelihood of effective mediation from listening only to one viewpoint that is likely to be exaggerated for the purposes of drawing people to her side.

Mediation is a professional role that requires that you DON'T jump to conclusions based on one party's 'case' - that is adversarial legal-type behaviour (or in fact typical 'bring to a head' behaviour).

Please, readers of this post, don't be drawn into the idea that you can't use mediation unless both parties are already in problem-solving mode - that's not mediation, that's writing up.

YohedYoshoulderYonisandYotoes Sun 28-Apr-13 12:21:51

To be more helpful to the OP, the place you are at the moment is adversarial conflict - no-one is talking about their needs, both of you are going into firing solutions back and forth, which each is rejecting in favour of their solution - in effect you are in a negotiation, and that negotiation has reached stalemate. Probably because even if you see yourself as 'budging' you are intending to hide your compromise position within a list of demands.

From the other party's POV, you have both come to an agreement (one day a week) perhaps in a way that meant he didn't want to, but we shouldn't speculate. We don't know completely why his position has changed, but at least at the moment he feels unable to look after them one day every week.

We also don't know why the payments dropped, but they did. This could be because he resents paying and not seeing children, it could be because it is a drain on his finances he feels he can't afford, it could be because this stretched connection to you is troubling him at the moment and preventing him from moving on.

Whatever it is, that act would be need to be investigated, and the real need understood. Assuming it is a power tactic, then responding with a power tactic will get you into more conflict - as your reporting to CSA demonstrates, this will then result in a reactive power tactic 'you've shot yourself in the foot' etc - Strong power tactics will erode goodwill inthe negotiation and should only really be used if you want no future relationship at all. I suspect if you are honest with yourselves, probably at those times of rage that is what you want and the horrible responsibility of having to remain connected is what is causing all the stress.

Not only that, but staying in conflict mode (as in adversarial conflict mode) will become all consuming - in this case becausee of the children, there will never be an all-out winner on each side. This needs to be understood at depth by all participants, and a good mediator will stress that there needs to be at least some relationship continuing - at the moment that continuing relationships is as damaging as it could be, and you should seek to work towards one that isn't.

If your partner is a real power buffoon, then frame the arguments for his needs in terms of power and money - don't assume this, as you can be surprised what the real reasons are - eg 'If we find a way of managing this that is flexible and agreed then you can forget about it as a problem and just get into a positive routine' or 'neither of us need to be working against each other when we could instead be focussing on our careers, on having the best days with the children and finding ourselves again;.

Its easy to get angry, and a lot of posters here are also projecting their own anger about their relationships on to you. Mediation can work well, but even if you don't use it formally, try to understand where you are in the conflict process - resources such as 'ladder of inferences' (look online) will help you understand what both of you are doing - it is worth also reading some literature on negotiations and what you need to do to prepare if the other party carries on in fight mode when you are in resolution.

Keep aware that you MUST keep a relationship between you and this will necessarily hold one or both of you back from full nuclear actions (hopefully). In a negotiation nuclear options are rarely used, but threatened often - most usually by the party that is feeling weakest.

I would suspect here that he is feeling that you have control over the childen, and therefore he resents paying 'for nothing', but you see his power in the money and other tactics, and so you are waiving the CSA as your 'nuclear' option. All this behaviour is unhelpful to a lasting resolution as each of you will be evaluating 'how much did I take from them' or 'how much did I give away' - and that will lead you to continue being in the conflict after it has seemingly ended.

Worse, if there is a genuine power imbalance, playing your strongest card against one that is stronger, means that normally it would be game over.. but then you are back to the enforced continuation of the relationship.. and back into playing the game. The children don't need their parents locked into a constant power game - they need support and help in making the most of their lives.

Oh Booyhoo. What a dick he sounds.

Heres my two cents.

After 7 years of this areshole giving you the runaround I think it might be time to try to accept that he isnt going to step up. Its frustrating. But relying on him to take them so you can work is a recipe for disaster. I know why you feel this way. But it wont work.

Get a job. If thats what you want. Sort childcare for yourself. You will get help through tax credits. It will be worth it, even with UC. Jobs are thin on the ground I know but thats why you dont need him being another thing in the way.

DD1s dad is reducing payments every month. £60 last month and the same the month before. He has her two nights and is settled in that, but that was a struggle to get to aswell. Its just background noise to me now really. Yes I have DP now, its easier, but I remember how hard it was on my own. I have accepted that I will always have the majority of the burden because not accepting it will hurt me more.

betterthanever Sun 28-Apr-13 14:28:16

It's a crazy family law framework that parents of either sex have to fit into.
Shared care is banded about but only workable if the person requesting it wants it (and it is in the child's best interest of course!). Otherwise one parent just has to do what the other parent isn't willing to do no matter how that impacts the children's best interest (and in almost all cases is happy to do but this does not make it right)... unless they change their mind of course, then children's `best interests' are changed.
`Parental Responsibility' needs to be addressed and changed IMO as you can't have it all ways. Children's best interests needs to be redefined and the welfare check list re done.

OP I feel your pain but agree with what has already been posted. I don't think a letter is a bad thing per se but not with the contents you propose. Maybe put something that concentrates more on the children's needs and highlight your equal responsibility as their parents to address this. I would say that in doing so the CSA route could be altered.
As Spero said you often can't change an irresponsible person but with a responsible approach from you for now you have it in writing and ask he puts his thoughts back to you in writing and you see how you can then take things forward. And post again.

Spero Sun 28-Apr-13 16:20:46

Yohed - so what of couples where violence and harassment is a real issue?

How do you get them into 'problem solving' mode? Do you think the gov is wrongs to exclude famly cases where there is violence from compulsory efforts to mediate?

I quite agree that adversarial conflict in the court system must always be the last resort. It is emotionally draining, expensive and will lead to a solution being imposed upon you that neither of you may like.

But mediators are NOT therapists or counsellors. It is both arrogant and dangerous to assume that in three or four sessions of mediation you can necessarily make any dent in toxic and abusive mindsets.

Effective mediators assess before they start.

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