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He wants mediation but I can't afford to go

(25 Posts)
MishMooshAndMogwai Thu 18-Jun-15 16:28:19

Hi,

This will be long so apologies!

I have a 4 year old dd with my ex partner and am very pregnant with my second (my first with dp). All of a sudden found ourselves financially in the shit with no entitlement to benefits/tax credits and although things are being put in place to deal with debts etc there is no spare money ATM.

Exps involvement in dds life has been sporadic at best. We split when I told him I was pregnant but tried to make it work a few times before eventually calling it a day when she was 6 months old.
DP came into our lives shortly after that.

Several contact arrangements have been mutually agreed but never stuck to for more than a couple of weeks.
2 years ago I made the decision to move 100 miles back to my home town to gain some family support as I had very little where we were and it didn't seem worth staying there being miserable for him when he wasn't making the effort.

2 years on and dd is settled, we have a lovely hectic life and she starts school in September. She hasn't seen or heard from her dad in over a year and rarely mentions him. She has asked if my dp can be her daddy now and I said that it was entirely up to her.

So, a few months ago I recieve a letter in her birthday card (the first contact since her previous birthday) saying that a) his parental rights to contact are not being upheld and b) her rights to parental contact are not being upheld. If I do not reply by suchadate then he will apply for mediation.

I have NEVER stopped him seeing dd and any contact has always been initiated by me.

I wrote back informing him so and gave examples of times and dates where he failed to turn up for contact.

He wrote back with a list of demands and deadlines.

I wrote back and told him to go swivel where I felt he was unreasonable (I offered an alternative to these), where I would comply and what I expected from him (everything he listed was what I had to do for him).

I received no reply. I emailed him a few weeks ago with a copy of dds report and an explanation of the grading (EYFS) and what it all means. Again no reply.

A few days after that I got a letter from the mediation service RE a referral to settle outstanding issues and make arrangements for contact.

They want nearly £300 for this. We do not have it and it will take a good while for us to save it up.
We are not entitled to legal aid.
What do I do now?

The mediation people, the CAB and the child law advice have all been no help.

Do I email him and explain why we won't be going? Do I leave it and see if he takes me to court? What if he does?

Even if I did have the money I don't see why we need to skip to mediation when I am being perfectly civil and offering way more than he deserves/I am comfortable with. Why do I need to pay £300 to hear and say all we've already said?

Any advice is very welcome, I don't really know where to go from here!

worridmum Thu 18-Jun-15 16:54:06

basically he is in the motion of actully taking you to court (you HAVE to go through mediation first before you can go to court)

sadly you will have to go to mediation otherwise you will look as the unreasonable partner (think of people refusing to engauge with the process etc)

I dont think claiming poverity will go down well as a reason to not engauge and when he takes it to court it will make you look bad and could possibly count agaisnt you when the judge makes their final ruling

(and since you moved away you could also be hit with the majorty of the costs assoicated with maintain contact and the judge could be more willing to impose this if you appear to be unreasonable etc) please dont misunderstand I am not saying you are being unreasonable just that it could make you appear to be etc

but is "offering way more than he deserves/I am comfortable with" in the acceptable levels of what a court would impose ? eg every other weekend + 1 night during the week etc or if distance is too fair the majoirty of holiday times (think along the lines of 4 or 5 weeks in the summer holidays plus possibley easter / chirstmas holidays varying each year (1 year you get DD at xmas the next your EX does etc).

But do email the reasons why you are not going (if you really dont want to engauge etc) to speed up the process for court etc as it will provide him the evidence he needs to meet the requirement of reasonable attempts at mediation otherwise it could be lenghty drawn out process and all the asociated stress involved.

justjuanmorebeer Thu 18-Jun-15 17:26:01

I am in a similar situation apart from we do have regular contact in place.

Could you reply amicably saying you are willing to go to mediation but it will take you a while to save up and include a plan and dates when you think it will be achievable by? This way you don't look obstructive to the courts. I think the costs of mediation are obscene.

Collaborate Thu 18-Jun-15 17:53:30

sadly you will have to go to mediation otherwise you will look as the unreasonable partner (think of people refusing to engauge with the process etc)

I dont think claiming poverity will go down well as a reason to not engauge and when he takes it to court it will make you look bad and could possibly count agaisnt you when the judge makes their final ruling

Actually, judges are only too aware that people cannot be expected to dip their hands in their pocket and come up with £300 for mediation. Particularly if offers have been made via correspondence and not replied to (which suggests he's doing mediation to go through the motions prior to applying to court rather then with meaningful intent).

Email the mediation provider (£300 sounds awfully expensive - that's £600 which would cover over 3 hours work at an average rate for mediators) and say that you do not have the funds to pay for mediation, but will attend provided ex will cover the cost. Ask them to contact you to fix the appointment.

MishMooshAndMogwai Thu 18-Jun-15 18:26:37

Thankyou for your replies

collaborate that is exactly what I got from it too, he has no intention of compromising, he just wants his own way.

I have emailed the mediation organisation and will email him too. Once I've figured out what to say.

The £300 is for 2 appointments, 1 for a mediation information and assessment meeting and the other an actual mediation session. We must attend both however if he proceeds without me he only needs to attend the first.

worrid no, it isn't as much as the courts would see reasonable. It was more of a 'start slow and don't pressure her then build up from there'. I can't see how it's reasonable for him to expect a 4 year old to travel 100 miles to stay a weekend with a man who is practically a stranger during the month she starts school.
I can see how it's reasonable to start with a weekly phone call so she at least knows who he is. It's all him him him sad

Thanks again, I will email him tonight and update flowers

babybarrister Thu 18-Jun-15 19:26:30

I do think you need to emphasise that you are happy to negotiate directly with him and happy to attend mediation if he pays

Are you sure that you are not eligible for legal aid mediation as the rules for qualifying are not the same as for legal aid for litigation?

MishMooshAndMogwai Thu 18-Jun-15 19:34:30

I tried the online calculator but could not work it out without knowing the effect a student loan has on my income and whether it is counted or not.

I sent the email to the mediator and they replied with the answer (after previously telling me they couldn't hmm ) so I can try the calculator again.

It won't take into account the fact that I have to pay my own tuition fees though which accounts for £7000 of my income so it won't be an accurate representation. Worth a try though, I'll do it tonight when DP gets home.

Bellemere Thu 18-Jun-15 20:09:23

She has asked if my dp can be her daddy now and I said that it was entirely up to her.

She is four. She is not anywhere near old enough to understand the implications of that decision.

MishMooshAndMogwai Thu 18-Jun-15 21:17:57

bellemere no she isn't but if it keeps her happy in the short term after the upset of being let down by her dad then so be it

worridmum Fri 19-Jun-15 16:50:21

The only problem with that is the judge could consider you are attempting to erase her biological father from her life and I can tell you they take a very very dim view of that.

(I have advised cases where the mother had attempted to say Step father was her real father while blocking access of biological father and the outcome was that custody was granted on a 50/50 basis instead of what she wanted aka 0 contact and was sternly warned that if she ignored this court ruling as she had done in the past she could have residency stripped and her becoming the NRP etc )

While I know this is not what your attempting to do but be warned that your EX could use this fact agaisnt you in any court case

cannotseeanend Fri 19-Jun-15 19:41:29

You sound very unreasonable

morethanpotatoprints Fri 19-Jun-15 19:54:10

I'm sorry this has come as a shock to you and it sounds like your ex has been out of order with the no contact over a year.
You sound just as unreasonable and to tell a 4 year old it's up to her if she wants to call your new dp Dad is absolutely disgusting.

MishMooshAndMogwai Fri 19-Jun-15 20:29:24

What was I supposed to say to her then? No?

Dp has been in her life for over 3 of her 4 years, seen her every day and treated her as one of his own. Her real dad has basically acted as if she doesn't exist for 4 and a half years.

Do I say no and make her feel rejected by another 'dad'? Do I send her off 100 miles away at the drop of a hat for a weekend with her real dad as soon as he clicks his fingers and decides he wants to be involved?

Tbh, I don't see how asking him to form a relationship with her before letting him have her over night is unreasonable?

Neither is not being able to magic £300 out my arse at the drop of a hat when we can't pay the rent and he's not even bothered to acknowledge my replies to his emails.

nagsandovalballs Fri 19-Jun-15 20:34:53

Document all your attempts at contact - historic emails, itemised phone bills, screen shots of messages, Facebook messages etc. this will weigh heavily in your favour. Get reports from nursery and/or preschool about your dds behaviour, demeanour etc.

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Fri 19-Jun-15 20:40:16

You don't sound unreasonable to me op.

worridmum Fri 19-Jun-15 20:57:38

I sorry MishMoo that I appeared to have a go it really was not my intention I was just warning you about how the judge could see it if your EX twists it abit and attempting to help.

RandomMess Fri 19-Jun-15 21:06:50

You could discuss with your dd about having 2 daddies. Have you got any photos of her Dad to show her and remind her about him.

You could email him again and explain that your stance has got misinterpreted a sort of "It's great you want to have DD EOW, how quickly can you do x y z so that she is happy to go and stay with you?". Be enthusiastic (through gritted teeth), ask if he could come up and visit for a weekend and send a recent photo of himself to put up in her room etc.

I really don't know what happens when you can't afford to pay for mediation - if effectively you agree to give him what he says he wants then he may cancel it anyway? Is it possible to pay the fee in instalments?

Why do you think he is suddenly interested? Family pressure, new girlfriend, finally grown up? Is he someone who will want to win the "fight"? If he is being enthusiastic and agreeable will actually unsettle him and make him look really stupid when he won't comply with very reasonable requests by you to move forward in a way appropriate for dds needs.

Sort the financials out via CMS.

MishMooshAndMogwai Fri 19-Jun-15 21:10:36

Don't worry worrid I think real constructive, harsh truths can be useful especially with these kinds of things. He will absolutely twist things, he is very good at winning people round and playing the 'poor old me' card.

nags ive kept a record sice before dd was born of his contact, lack of contact and his (then new) now ex wife's behaviour and the threats she made. All contact between us had been in writing since we moved away and I have access to all of these, I made sure of it 'just in case'.

He has a record of all of a sudden insisting on contact but it's never gone this far before, it's always been that we've made a plan and he's got bored.

I wouldn't mind mediation if Id been a real unreasonable bitch and stopped all contact but I haven't. Ive always made sure he's had my up to date contact details, kept him up to date with her reports and official photos and told him on many occasions that he has an open invitation to my house to see her.

She has even text him emoticons herself and he's ignored them.

I stay at his mums house when we visit ffs and see lots of his family on a fairly regular basis and he's never bothered to see her. It's really not like he's been given the opportunity.

He's given his list of demands, ive given him a reasonable alternative to the ones I think will negatively effect dd and he's spat his dummy out and gone for mediation rather than reply and try and work it out like an adult.

Ive honestly never been horrible or arsey or anything, always civil and done my best to keep contact but it's not good enough for him

RandomMess Fri 19-Jun-15 21:16:22

Yep he's clearly a wanker - give him enough rope and he'll hang himself.

It does seem like he's out to try and impress someone?

TBH apart from the money side of you potentially have to pay if it goes to court it would be as well to have cafcass involved as I'm sure they'll insist he does x y z to build a relationship with dd before he has an EOW type arrangement.

MishMooshAndMogwai Fri 19-Jun-15 21:21:22

He's got a newish girlfriend who might have something to do with it but tbh I think his ex wife would've been more of a driving force as she'd have wanted to get one over on me.

The money needs to be paid upfront with no option for instalments, ive already asked them about that.

I only have 1 photo of them together and that is of the day she was born, that's been up on the wall since day one. He's not a banned topic in the house by any means, she knows she is very free to talk about him but tbh she hasn't got much point of reference.
She knows Dp isn't her real daddy but she also knows that she's been let down in the past a lot by real daddy and not dp. She's desperate to have a daddy in the house like her friends do but knows she doesn't get that or 'daddy things' from her real dad.

MishMooshAndMogwai Fri 19-Jun-15 21:49:43

Thanks random ive just looked up cafcass smile

LotusLight Sat 20-Jun-15 12:40:43

Follow Collaborate's advice which is good.

MishMooshAndMogwai Wed 01-Jul-15 13:05:03

Hi everyone!

Got a bit of an update, like I said I emailed him telling him the situation and maintaining that I was open to compromise but was unable to pay for mediation.
He emailed back this morning with excuses of why he hadnt replied (he had but it must've been a problem with his phone! confused). He regrets to inform me that he is now forced to apply for <insert copy and pasted legal stuff here> from our local court and I would hear from them as I am refusing to compromise.

I replied and maintained once again that I was not refusing to compromise and was infact open to being flexible and discuss it between us, am not refusing contact and still wondering why he has failed to phone or Skype or text dd since it was made very clear to him that he was welcome to.

He is not budging and wants everything he is entitled to from the get go rather than thinking of dd and building up to it slowly. He had no intention of compromise and will not think of her needs first.

What now? When he goes to court will I have to pay too? Will he get everything he's asking for? Will I just have to roll over and say 'ok you are her dad after all!'?

Why can't he just ring her??

kirinm Wed 01-Jul-15 13:25:17

I'm a lawyer but don't know anything about family law so this is purely advice based on my experience with the courts.

Keep a record of every single thing. Screen shut phone calls. Make notes of any verbal communications. If he pushes to Court the court may well order you to attend some form of mediation (I don't know) but when it comes to costs you can produce evidence that you did all you could to prevent it ending up at court.

My son is now 19 but his dad left straight after I'd given birth and has remained a massive but thankfully absent dick since. I think the comments that you suggesting your DD could consider your new DP her father as disgusting as being completely fucking ridiculous. I can't imagine a) how the court would ever find something like that out and b) why it would matter anyway. Any normal reasonable judge will understand why you've responded in such a way.

I'd also collect details of your income / outgoings etc to demonstrate inability to fund just in case.

If your ex is anything like my ex, this new interest will wain. Just stay perfectly reasonable, explain in detail any reason you're giving as to why certain things aren't appropriate and I think you'll be fine.

MishMooshAndMogwai Wed 01-Jul-15 17:36:11

Thankyou kirin that's a really helpful answer smile

I have every bit of contact from the last 2 years logged and a book of contact from my pregnancy and her early days. There is a gap in between of a year or so where I was so consumed with PND I didn't write anything down. Bitterly regretting that now but hey ho!

We've got a financial advisor at the moment who has produced us an incoming and outgoings chart which I can show them. We are in the process of getting our debts written off so it if obvious that we are in some financial trouble. That combined wjth the fact that im 37 weeks pregnant- it's an expensive time!

The interest will absolutely wain, probably very very quickly!

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