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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 11:22:57

btw, i am willing to negotiate on the days he has them, i have specifically chosen those days as they are the days the dcs have fewest activities on after school and EXp's mum already collects them on wednesday afternoons EOW. but i will negotiate, i just thought it better to offer specific days to work from rather than ask for days that suited as he wont give a straight answer then.

Collaborate Wed 24-Apr-13 12:49:00

I know it must be frustrating, but I don't see how you acting unilaterally helps. Won't the children feel abandoned, with each of you washing your hands of them?

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Wed 24-Apr-13 12:57:37

washing my hands of my children? i dont think you have understood what i'm suggesting. i will have my children with me 50% of the time. they will spend the other 50% of their time with their father who they know well and are used to staying with EOW. they ask to go to his house during the week and when i contact him he either ignores me or will agree to get back to me to make an arrangement but he never does. they want to see more of him. there is no abandoning happening at all. it wont be a case of me just leaving them at his door if he refuses to have them, i will of course have them as i always have done so my children will not be abandoned.

what i am trying to do is force him to be fair. i have asked and asked and asked and he is pretty much laughing at me with the arrangement he has decided. i am done with asking to be treated fairly. i am now telling him to treat me fairly, i will not ask his permission for me to do that. he of course can refuse and i will be in the same situation i am now, i will not leave my dcs uncared for if he refuses so he still has choice to do as he pleases. i can do none of this without his agreement. the ball is still in his court. all i am doing is putting this to him and hoping he will step up. he may decide to continue with the current arrangement.

AlbertaCampion Wed 24-Apr-13 13:08:34

Having the kids: you sound as bad as one another, tbh.

Maintenance: yes, I would seek professional advice. Pronouncing that he is about to drop the payment simply isn't on. He can't reduce the time he spends with them and reduce his maintenance payments at the same time - it doesn't work like that! Mind you, if you have now applied to the CSA, it may be out of a lawyer's hands...?

Good luck!

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Wed 24-Apr-13 13:16:22

"Having the kids: you sound as bad as one another, tbh."

can you explain what you mean by this please? i've been raising my dcs alone for most of the last 7 years, sometimes without any financial help at all from him. he had them over night for the first time less than a year ago and the EOW arrangement started a couple of months ago. i'm struggling to see how i am anywhere near as negectful as my EXP when it comes to time spent with my dcs. i've been doing his share of the work for all this time and i think i should be entitled to be treated fairly by him. i am not looking to palm my dcs off on just anyone for a break. i am asking their father to step up to his share of the work so that i might be able to make a living for myself and not be restricted by when he decides to have them.

AlbertaCampion Wed 24-Apr-13 13:27:59

Because you are both dictating to one another re. contact. He says NO, THESE DAYS, you say NO, THOSE DAYS and neither of you sound like rollovers!

It might be worth pointing out to him that if he reduces contact time, then the CSA may make him pay even more maintenance per month. wink

Like I said though, if it was me I would be seeing a solicitor to get this sorted: he sounds like the pair of you are at stalemate, and he is being an eejit re. maintenance.

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Wed 24-Apr-13 13:37:33

that's my point though. up until now i haven't dictated anything. i have always asked "can you have" or "when can you have" and he either ignores completely or says he will get back to me and doesn't and then will text on a random day asking what the dc are up to at that very moment in time. that's why i have decided to put forward set days and times and give him the opportunity to negotiate from that point. asking him for anything just leaves me in exactly the same situation every time. if i every expect fairness i cannot wait around for him to decide to be fair. he wont, i have to tell him what is fair and work from there. asking gets me nowhere with him and he's taking the piss tbh.

NatashaBee Wed 24-Apr-13 13:39:31

You can't force him to have them. Would you really want to go back to work based on those very shaky childcare arrangements that you know (from his previous behaviour) he is likely to let you down on?

Is he employed, PAYE? If so, I would let the CSA get on with it. They will go to his employer and have the money deducted directly from his pay if he messes around. As a previous poster pointed out, the less nights he has them, the more he will have to pay the CSA.

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Wed 24-Apr-13 13:43:03

contact has always been on his terms when it suits him and he expects alot of flexibility which i accomodate pretty much every time because my dcs want to see him. teh only times i dont acommodate is if there is something we have paid to attend or like a family birthday party or something. but he is not prepared at all to be flexible if it is at my request and he is enjoying all the benefits of working, building a career, with free childcare (me) and now he's not even paying the minimum child support.

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Wed 24-Apr-13 13:49:02

he says he is working full time for his partner's father and that it is temporary until he starts his proper job. i dont know if he is 'offically' employed and paying tax and NI though. he is paying me £100 per month which if that is 20% of his income then he is only earning £500 a month which doesn't sound right for a full time job at NMW which makes me think he isn't 'on the books'. he is so vague about it because he knows he will have to pay more if he admits to earning more.

i know i cant force him to have the dcs. i am not yet working so i was thinking that if i start this now then i will have a pretty good idea by the time i get a job whether i need to arrange my own childcare for those days based on how he has been up til then.

annh Wed 24-Apr-13 13:50:57

I am sympathetic but I don't think telling him in a letter that he has to pick the children up from school on a Tuesday and look after them until Thurs is really going to work, is it? What will happen when he doesn't turn up on the first Tuesday? if school calls and he doesn't pick up, are they going to call you? Will you also refuse to pick them up? The only losers here are the children.

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Wed 24-Apr-13 13:53:56

no i wont refuse to pick them up. however i dont believe he would leave them if i made it clear that i was not available and would not be doing it. i was thinking of giving him one month's notice before starting so that he has a chance to approach me, talk about it, negotiate and arrange any childcare he needs.

familylawyerlouise Wed 24-Apr-13 15:43:07

I think you are in difficulties here as you could be opening yourself up for problems if he doesn't turn up to collect them. You can propose those arrangements to him but I think it's probably counter productive to unilaterally dictate the arrangements. If he refuses to stick to a routine you can give him dates when they will be available (for example every other Sunday) and insist that he confirms whether or not he will be attending for contact by close of play on Friday for example. This puts the emphasis on him to organise himself.

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Wed 24-Apr-13 16:07:41

i really dont think he would fail to collect them, or at least arrange for his mum to if he couldn't, if i made it clear i wouldn't be available.

however i would of course be available in reality and i'm the first contact for the school to call if he doesn't turn up. the dcs would not be just left in school.

he currently has them EOW friday pm to sunday pm and so far has been sticking to that arrangement. what i am wanting him to do is take them during the week as he originally suggested and was agreed bewteen both of us.

he doesn't confirm that he will or will not be collecting the dcs. i have tried that in the past based on lots of advice on MN and he just didn't bother with contacting to say whether he would or wouldn't be turning up meaning i could plan nothing and i couldn't even tell the dcs they might be seeing him. i told them the first time and he didn't show up. they were devastated and i realised i couldn't tell them in future. i just had to pack their bags in secret and tell them to have their coats and shoes ready without telling them why. at 7 my eldest has worked out that it means his dad might be coming and he gets excited and then gutted when there is a no show.

we have definitely made progress with the EOW arrangement but it was all on his terms and i had to actually let him 'come up' with the idea. his idea was to have them EOW and then at least 1 night midweek aswell (his words). he has stuck to the EOW part but not the midweek part, he says because he works he cant do it.

i'm not prepared to sit around and wait for him to 'come up' with the idea that he'd like to have them midweek because it may never happen and i dont think he should be the only one getting to decide what happens just to suit him.

this is why i am considering putting this too him and hopefully using that as a starting point for us to work something out that will suit us both. i dont expect him to be over the moon about it, he wont like to give up his evenings and have to sort childcare etc but i'm not over the moon about the deal he's given me and it needs to be fairer.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Wed 24-Apr-13 16:14:33

I think people have been MOST unfair to the OP here...she's not doing anything bad...the children's Father DOES and SHOULD have responsibility for them. Why is it all the OPs job?

OP I do hope someone gives you good advice...in an ideal world ALL Fathers and ALL MOthers would work towards an equal share of childcare.

Spero Wed 24-Apr-13 16:17:35

The key here is the phrase 'forcing him to be fair'.

I am afraid you can't. There is no mechanism in the family law system to 'force' a parent to spend time with children - just one of the many examples of why these problems are so difficult to deal with in a legal framework.

All the court can realistically do is order a child to be made available to see a parent if that parent requests it and contact is deemed in child's best interests.

I totally get your frustration and annoyance - been there, got the T shirt.

But one thing I finally learned is that you have to deal with the reality of the person in front of you. If they are going to be a knob, they will be a knob no matter how you eloquently point this out to them.

If you really cannot communicate to sort this out then I think you need to deal with money through the CSA and arrange some contact deal that he will stick with. If he won't then I am really sorry but the court can do very little to help you - the only remedy I can see is for a court to make a no contact order if a parent is repeatedly unreliable and chops and changes for no good reason. But they would be reluctant.

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Wed 24-Apr-13 16:23:10

thank you neo

i do appreciate the comments from all the posters. i have been trhough court and solicitors before and i know thsi will not have a perfect outcome for either of us. we will both have to compromise on what we feel is fair but i think if i start by putting 50/50 care and no money changing hands as the starting point that gives us the best chance of a fairer arrangement even with both of us compromising.

if i carry on as i have done for the last 7 years i will forever be resentful of teh fact that he gets off so light. i have to try, for myself i have to be able to tell myself that i didn't just 'let' it happen and that i tried to be fair to myself. i have done the years of biting my tongue and people telling me "it's different for men, they can just get up and go if they like" well i'm not accepting it anymore. i'm going to at least try. and at least if he refuses, well i've coped on my own for this long and without his money, i can do it again and i will if that's what happens.

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Wed 24-Apr-13 16:26:08

yes spero, i absoloutely know i would have no court support with this. this is just me writing a letter with what i expect of him, he can take it or leave it. he might even just ignore it and i'll be no worse off but i have to try.

force was probably teh wrong word as i know that forcing him isn't possible. maybe, jumpstart him into at least discussing it is more along the lines of what i want to do.

Spero Wed 24-Apr-13 16:31:21

It's worth a try. You seem realistic about prospects of success. But I wouldn't want to put children in a position where they might not get picked up by anyone.

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Wed 24-Apr-13 16:42:19

they will be picked up. the most they would be waiting would be 5 minutes. i have been late twice in the past due to traffic and the school phoned me 5 minutes after pick up time both times. i live right beside the school. i could even make sure i'm in the school for pick up and handover at the gate when he arrived or keep myself out of sight and disappear when he arrived/ go over and collect dcs if it appeared he hadn't showed.

STIDW Wed 24-Apr-13 16:59:36

Hope I'm wrong in this case but human nature is such that trying to impose something on an expartner/spouse or issuing ultimatums tends to result in the opposite of the desired effect.

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Wed 24-Apr-13 17:09:11

i know STIDW and this guy stays true that nature. but what is my alternative? just accept that this is my lot? i've asked outright, many times, i've dropped hints, i've left it alone hoping he would decide himself he wanted it, i'm ashamed to say it even crossed my mind to tell him he couldn't have the dcs apart from EOW to try and make him want what he cant have sort of thing but i couldn't do that. if i dont try this, what else can i do?

Spero Wed 24-Apr-13 17:58:26

Sorry. It is a shit situation and it isn't fair. I think the only thing you can do is try and deal with the reality of who he is and what he will realistically do. And you are left holding the fort I know. It is crap but I think you risk burning a lot of emotional energy trying to fight it. He will be the long term loser if he isn't willing to put in the work to make a relationship with his own children.

ivykaty44 Wed 24-Apr-13 18:08:10

I would force the contact midweek but tag it on to a every other weekend contact

therefore making him pick up on a Thursday after school and pick up on a monday after school and have over night and take back to school Tuesday morning - he will likely find it more difficult to ignore his extended weekend time than an add hoc time every other week - iyswim

Also it keeps a very simple pattern Thursday through to Tuesday every other week and then Tuesday through 10 days till the following Thursday when he needs to pick them up again and start being daddy to his children.

Just my thought on the matter - and you go for it girl make this man stand up and be a dad to his children

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.

sicutlilium Sun 28-Apr-13 16:29:42

I'm quite entertained by two trained mediators having a ding-dong.

Spero Sun 28-Apr-13 16:30:58

Surely you mean robust exchange of views

sicutlilium Sun 28-Apr-13 16:33:41

I'm sure that you will find a mutually acceptable middle ground...

Spero Sun 28-Apr-13 16:38:23

Doubtful. As I am still heavily wedded to my power tactics.

But seriously now, mediation can be great, definitely can be better than court in many cases... But I would touch with a ten foot pole cases where violence and serious intimidation had played a part. Maybe that is just me admitting my limitations as a mediator. But I still think if you are trying to resolve a dispute, both participants must come to the table willing to try. I just don't think that is true in some cases.

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Sun 28-Apr-13 21:46:52

wow. lots more posts.

thank you all for posting. i do really appreciate an outsiders and also some professional perspective as i said before i'm still pretty angry about the whole situation.

i haven't made any decisions yet, other than i'm definitely going to proceed with the CSA application. i just dont trust him to stick to any informal agreement. past behaviour has proven i cant trust him in that regard so i will be going ahead with that.

i'm still really torn on the other thing. i have calmed somewhat and after reading through some later posts here i feel it might just be better for my own state of mind to finally accept that this is my lot wrt him 'helping' me out and just make plans/work etc without expecting anything. this is holding me back.

to answer some questions

the reason he gives for not having the dcs one day a week is that he works and says he cant have them and work.

the reasons given for the amount of child support dropping were

1st time: he said he and his DP were buying a house and needed to save

2nd time: he said he and his DP were getting married and needed to save for the wedding.

every time since then that it's dropped has been a variation on his employer messing up with his wages, his wages being cut, or him just not having enough to give me.

until feb he was employed by HM armed forces. since then he has been employed by his DP's father in what he says is full time work.

he wouldn't attend mediation. firstly because when he knows he's in the wrong he runs and hides as opposed to fronting it out (he didn't even collect dcs this friday- he sent his mum) and secondly he wouldn't pay for it if it was something I suggested.

as i said. i haven't decided on anything yet. i'm still too angry and i'd say he is too about me contacting CSA.

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