whcih is better; difficult contact or totally absent dad?

(55 Posts)
mopsera Tue 11-Sep-12 06:33:56

my ex and i have had a very fraught 4 year relationship, we seperated a year ago and he moved out. my daughter is 2.1/2 He is a drinker off/on, impulsive, inconsistent, erratic, feiry, abusive, mysogynist! who resents me having any control has changed his mind over and over re; how to deal with the contact.he hasnt offered me any long term financial commitment.i manage on benefits at present.

mainly we bumbled along with alterating between his place/ mine , to enable contact as daughter still bf . got to point of 'almost' her staying overnight with him which im ready for, for him to change it /cancel. then a week ago it was 'shared care; then an over night ( he cancelled) then he was staying here; now he says he doesnt want to be around as he needs to 'be a real man' not a doormat. And my daughter can see him 'when she's older' and he might be moving away ( to where he always wanted to get back to in cotswolds). ???? no contact better than another 18 years of stress/ control/ arguments? !! its a releif but also very daunting.

also should i seek court order to ensure legally i have rights of residency just to be legit.? im not pursuing csa for money as he's on benefits and i would only get a fiver as week, i would rather no-hassle /break contact

OptimisticPessimist Tue 11-Sep-12 08:02:54

Honestly? It sounds like he is trying to regain control over both you and the situation - I suspect his desired result is for you to panic that he will move away as he says and to agree to have contact on his terms to prevent it. Don't, because then you will have set a precedent and it will continue like this. If he moves away at this stage it will be far easier than if he does it in 4 or 5 years time.

My ex moved away 16 months ago, the kids were 7, almost 4 and 20 months at the time. He does call and speak to them once a week but that's the only contact they have. DS2 and DD are, frankly, unbothered. DS2 only has very vague memories, DD doesn't remember him at all and doesn't recognise his picture. They know they have a daddy and that he lives far away. For them it's the best result. DS1 is understandably more deeply affected.

I was angry at him for a long time, and angry that he could effectively do whatever he liked with no legal redress while still maintaining all his parental rights and the ability to gain contact with them at any time regardless of how he's behaved. I'm not angry any more - the period of time when we were split and he was still living locally was incredibly stressful for both me and DS1 because of XP's behaviour, and all 4 of us are now happier and more settled. I am sad that he obviously wasn't able to put the children first and behave reasonably and that has caused DS1 a lot of upset, but incredibly relieved that we no longer have to deal with his behaviour day-to-day. They have a great life, and a strong extended family on my side and also my FIL, more contact with XP would add nothing to their lives at all.

WRT residency, afaik you will be unable to get a residency order - the family courts operate a "no-order" principle meaning they will only make an order if it will change something. If you already have residency with no opposition from him they won't make a court order for it. Was he on the birth certificate?

I take it there is nothing legal already drawn up? I would speak to a solicitor about what to do. I was surprised at mine, they offer a drop in 10 minute session but when I said I needed longer than that they told me the first hour was free!

Obviously, in an ideal world, we would all like the father to be involved but it doesn't look like he is committed to that at all. It is sad and daunting but you can do it. My ex-h has messed me around for nearly 5 years now. Seeing the children then falling off the radar for months, erratic behaviour, etc. I've called a halt to it (that's the reason I saw a solicitor).

Good luck.

x-post with Optimistic (I am typing slow today!)

balia Tue 11-Sep-12 21:11:05

As a general question, I would always answer that difficult contact is better than totally absent - because I have seen my own daughter work through issues with her Dad, finding her peace with it, fully informed of what he was like through contact with him. The danger of no contact is that children can fantasise about the absent parent, or feel rejected.

In your case I'd say you need to draw very clear boundaries. Make it clear that an ongoing relationship with her Dad is what you think is best for your DD, you are happy to facilitate this, but be clear that it needs to be planned, organised and consistant. Mediation might be a way forward, suggest it. Think about what you would be happy with and what you think is in DD's best interest, and firmly and politely stick to it (within reason, obvs).

Seems to me he is trying to get a reaction out of you, don't give him one. Don't engage.

And go to the CSA. £5 a week for the next 18 years is over 4 and a half grand. That money is rightfully your DD's and I don't think it is OK for you to choose not to get it for her! Might come in handy one day.

queenofthepirates Tue 11-Sep-12 22:07:12

I'm going to go out on a limb here a bit and say, just how much can you cope with? Quite a lot I imagine (us single parents are a tough bunch) but if you are frequently finding yourself rearranging plans at the last minute because he's let you down, I think that the stress will do you no good.

He's a big boy, if he doesn't want contact, that's his decision, colossally wrong as it may be but nevertheless. It does give you the chance to meet 'a real man' as he stylises it and enjoy parenting with an equal partner. Or on your own.

Happylander Tue 11-Sep-12 22:30:52

I have a residency order granted this year and got it with no problem what so ever. It means I feel safe knowing he can't just take my child if he chooses. My ex has also said the same things your has and a residency order means I am free to take my child on holiday abroad without having to get his permission very important if going to the states etc and also rather important if he intends to move away as you might not be able to get written permission from him.

NicknameTaken Wed 12-Sep-12 11:39:09

> As a general question, I would always answer that difficult contact is better than totally absent - because I have seen my own daughter work through issues with her Dad, finding her peace with it, fully informed of what he was like through contact with him. The danger of no contact is that children can fantasise about the absent parent, or feel rejected.

Thanks for that, balia. I'm pondering the same question, as we're heading back to court and my solicitor is asking me to clarify whether I want to oppose all contact. I don't really think my ex is bad enough, although he is emotionally manipulative. Plus, I would be anxious about the situation of him have nothing left to lose. Short of us going into hiding, we pretty much have to find a way to co-exist. But I want to be absolutely sure that I am protecting my dd in the best way possible, and not be exposing her to harm of any kind.

Sorry for sidetrack, OP. There's no point opposing him moving away, if that's what he chooses to do. Frankly, you can't stop him. As Optimistic says, it sounds like it might be a manipulative tactic - he wants to see if you'll bend over backwards and give him everything his way just to keep him around. If you give in to that tactic, he'll keep threatening the same thing forever. Might as well call his bluff now. And if it's not a bluff - well, sadly, there's not much you can do about it.

mopsera Sun 16-Sep-12 21:26:58

Hi sori for delay in reply. All very useful responses. He just turned up and walked in a few days ago ( yes I know I must take the keys off him ) literally 30 mins after my mum left after a stay ( they do not get on ). We are staying at his mums again, so we all get a break. However he is still bringing up this stuff ' I will have j living with me one day..the child always goes to the parent with more resources..' etc etc semi threatening and putting some fear in my head.his contact is so erratic I'm tired of it and all the anti women crap / fear stuff, and also him trying to offset my daughter against me by encouraging her to oppose or resist me..i think I will see a c.a.b advisor. He has a past investigation by child protection- unfounded but maybe I could use that in court?

STIDW Mon 17-Sep-12 11:36:42

Based on evidence from psychiatrists and psychologists in courts the harm children suffer from losing a relationship with one of their natural parents is in most circumstances greater than the harm they suffer from inconsistent and irregular contact. However, you can't make a parent see a child and you shouldn't allow yourself to be bullied. It's your ex's decision if he doesn't want to see your child and if he doesn't you can do a lot to limit the harm.

It isn't possible to appease, negotiate or mediate with someone who is unreasonable. All you can do is look to your own behaviour such as establishing autonomy by setting emotional and physical boundaries. In these circumstances it may be better to negotiate through an independent third party (ie a solicitor) and at the moment you might qualify for legal aid.

As said above there is a no order principle and the courts will usually only make a residence order if it makes things better for children. A residence order won't stop someone determined from taking a child and conditions about travel arrangements can be attached to other court orders. The outcome of many residence order applications is shared residence which may not be what you intend. Either party can apply for a contact order and that might be a better way of setting boundaries than a residence order when contact is inconsistent and irregular.

Judges are well used to separated parents making allegations and counter-allegations against each other and unless independent professional evidence that children are suffering significant harm or are at risk of harm a judge will have difficulty in choosing between two versions of the same story. Therefore it's normally better to focus on the child and their welfare rather than raise spurious allegations which can't be substantiated.

lizzieoak Mon 17-Sep-12 15:01:14

For us it's certainly easier if they bugger off permanently! For the kids I think it's so difficult to say. Depends on the child's personality, on the absentee parent's personality, etc. My kids' dad is so very difficult (had to call the police this weekend as he would not get off my steps when asked) and all I can hope for is that he can serve as an example of how not to be.

Mumfortoddler Tue 18-Sep-12 00:27:01

Going through the same thing although my DS' father has had contact for past 2.7 years. He has spent whole time alternating between threats/aggression and abuse and begging me to come back with little regard for DS. DS has now started saying father is hitting him. I've spoken to social services and they won't even visit him!! Grrrr.... angry they say its civil courts. DS' father also not really kept up to speed with childs dev (stuff like he carried on feeding Raph for almost two years after he started solids). Anyone else out there in my situation? What did you do? Hes also started not turning up now with no explanation.

mopsera Mon 01-Oct-12 23:32:30

oh blimey thats heavy.im surprised social services arent intersted.sounds very like my ex; alternates between wanting us back and then aggression/ intimidation. if the child is being hit can you abstain all contact with a court order/ restraint order? i would stop all contact from here on unless via a 3rd party.

thedogsrolex Tue 02-Oct-12 21:18:40

Tough one, ds's dad has been on/off with him over the years and i've seen the damage that has caused. Dd's dad wasn't in her life for long and she hasn't seen him since. Both display signs of anger in different ways, and they are both driving me insane at the moment in different ways. My dad was an on/off bloke, got himself a new family, one adopted, one biological and has rarely seen me since. I love him to bits but sometimes I wish i'd never known him. Because if i'd never known him I wouldn't love him, and then he couldn't hurt me....as he still does. He sees me when he needs an alibi for his affairs, or to have his "secret" mail sent to my house. He's not a bad bloke as such, never hit me, never nasty to me...he's a liar and a user I know that. I have great memories of the stuff we did together on the odd occasion/s I saw him though and somehow that makes it worse. When I see him now (for him to collect his secret mail) he always tells me he loves me and gives me a hug.

Actually op, maybe you've just answered something i've been pondering on, the reason I can't tolerate on/off people.

What I cant advise on is a completely absent father...maybe if he had been one i'd have put him on a pedestal and felt even more hurt! Maybe i'd have grown up more secure and not cared. I don't know.

whatthewhatthebleep Wed 03-Oct-12 17:30:00

my DS is 12yrs old now...not had any contact from his DF for a year now...my DS now says if my dad doesn't care, why should I?

My DS has gone through long gaps of no contact at all, always hard and difficult between them both and just a really negative situ....I let it continue and allowed whatever contact DF wanted for the sake of my DS as I never wanted my son to blame me for not letting him see his dad....it's now his own decision and if his DF ever does bother to make contact or want to see him...I'm not sure he will get a positive response now....my DS barely mentions his DF and is happier and settled without his DF turning up, etc anymore...
It remains to be seen if they will have any kind of relationship as my DS gets older....I won't influence it either way.
I keep my opinions to myself but take no crap....DS knows his choices about his DF are his own to make and I'll support whatever he wants to do.

Having said this...we have suffered a lot of emotional abuse but never violence...violence is very different and I'd have called a halt long ago if there ever had been

girliefriend Wed 03-Oct-12 22:02:01

My dd has an absent father, she has never met him (she is 6yo). Yet I agree that to keep some contact generally is better than none.

My dd has been very distressed at various times about not having a dad and it really is heartbreaking. However I am sometimes glad that I don't have to worry about my dd being mucked about or let down.

mopsera Sun 07-Oct-12 07:32:55

thats all really helpful. now im nudging things towards clearer boundaries as i was really feeling invaded and vulnerable as he had had keys and used to just drive over and walk in ( luckily we are an hours drive away).now i have his keys, and he actually texted to say he was coming over last time,instead of just turning up -!as ever though, no discussion ! now im pushing for my dd to stay with him, as i want to start a new relation ship. as i realised the only way the ex would move on and stop trying it on with me would be when i was dating other men.i think he finally has got the message, and is taking daughter back for the day to his next time, with a view to her staying overnight eventually. i agree with 'whatthewhatthebleep' post; above, i will put up with the crap that he brings with him, so dd can have contact.just hope he doesnt start mind games, as she gets older, turning her against me, so she will want to live with him one day.

InTheNightGarden Sun 07-Oct-12 07:49:35

absent dad is far better!

tbh I couldn't care less who disagrees.... my dd is 17months, I split with her father when she was just 6months old because he was nasty, seeing other woman and became physically abusive aswell as emotionally. I'm now with a lovely man who treats dd and I wonderfully smile we're now expecting a lil boy of our own smile my ex didn't turn up on dds first Christmas, birthday, hospital appointments, when he has turned up he's been in a drunken/drugged up mess!!! he stalked me everywhere I went (he was arrested.. not charged!!!) he hadn't seen dd till yday for 5months and it was bliss!!! I stupidly put him on the birth certificate and so he has parental responsibility and has gained access though a contact centre... obviously supervised!! this started yday, dd didnt even know who he was!!!! I'm gutted.... I'd rather him totally walk away than keep walking in and out of my lil girls like some sort of hurricane!!!! so yea, if the mans useless and causing nothing more than drama... FUCK HIM!!!!! angry now.

SeveredEdMcDunnough Sun 07-Oct-12 08:00:12

I don't know. I am struggling with this at the moment - ds's father came back into his life after many years and when he's with ds, he is usually great. (except the time he turned up very drunk - we stopped him coming round or a few months after that)

This contact is very very controlled though, by him - it tends to be about once every month, at the most. And when I said I'd given ds a phone, he looked really worried that he might ring him up in between. He is seriously afraid of commitment.

Ds thinks he is great and gets very excited about seeing him but then I have to explain in the interim that no, he can't ring up daddy, daddy doesn't like to be bothered, and also that daddy will not be around if/when ds needs him in the future, because that's exactly what he did to his other children and he rarely sees them.

It's horriblewatching ds get so excited knowing he's likely to be let down thoroughly by this man at some point. Ex also has a drinking problem, and so is never very reliable or honest.

I wish sometimes I had never encouraged them to have contact again. I won't be encouraging it with my other child's father as he really doesn't seem to want to know, anyway, and I can't imagine it would be easy.

mopsera Sun 07-Oct-12 17:47:22

thats great to hear, inthenightgarden, thats really encouraging and gives me hope that i can do the same,despite having an arsehole around for the last 4 years. in some ways he 's a good dad, and dd loves seeing him but also has drink problem ( but lectures me about my shopping addiction! at the same time refusing to give me any regular maintenance so all the practical stuff falls down to me !) and has given me so much extra crap to deal with , allcompletely unnecessary drama & irritatingly creates drama or chaos at every opportunity.i can understand ur anger at having moved on to a better place all round he's still got access and rights, but he is always going to be the biological father, and as i realise now, the real father can never truly ' go away' we are tied forever thru dd, though i too want a healthy happy realtionship now, and to move on.

InTheNightGarden Wed 10-Oct-12 14:55:24

mopsera smile hope you manage to sort things out as amicably as possible smile just male sure your happy with any plans that are made smile

Meglet Wed 10-Oct-12 22:38:02

I prefer absent to difficult contact. I put my foot down with XP 3yrs ago and haven't regretted it. It wasn't worth the abuse and missed visits.

DS doesn't miss his father as he remembers what he was like and has never asked for him. DD was only 9 months at the time so I think we will need to talk about it in a year or so. I have never bad-mouthed their father I just say 'daddy was rather grumpy and not very good at being in a family' and so far we are pootling along ok.

Also, I wouldn't want 5yo DS to think it was acceptable to behave like his father did angry. Without such a negative influence I think there's a better chance he will grow up to be a decent bloke.

Shriek Thu 11-Oct-12 00:08:38

Anyone on here being completely slated as a mother by the ex and their partner to the dc, any ideas on how to manage it?

mopsera Thu 11-Oct-12 18:32:21

yes me. i will write when ex not in room

mopsera Thu 11-Oct-12 20:48:40

well, not exactly but dd has had alot of negative crap from dad, like mummy made daddy go away , , mummy has been horrible to daddy so he has to go home etc etc part of the reason i have to get away from him.

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