I'm wondering if I can get some advice. My 3 year old son's Father has been absent from his life for almost a year now. He missed his birthday and xmas and ds doesn't recognise him or know who his Dad is any more even after seeing pictures and videos of him.
I recently tried to call him to discuss a name discrepancy on ds's passport but as soon as the word 'name' came up he yelled and hung up on me assuming I was planning on changing ds's name.
Today I received a letter from solicitors saying that he wants to resume contact and have ds every other weekend over night for the entire weekend and there are lots of holes in his account of things over the past year. He has even stated that I said 'he didn't have a say in anything and that he can't see ds at all' which I have never done. I am upset that he is making out I've refused to let him see ds and am really against him having him overnight.
I would agree to a contact centre but have suggested it before and he has been very opposed. He is incapable of looking after ds properly, he smokes and often leaves him with random family members. Plus he is a stranger to ds.
I'm just unsure what to do as the letter states a request for mediation. What does this mean? Will my views be listened to? Or can he force me to let ds stay with him overnight or someplace other than a contact centre?
Ds is only three so it's hard to know what is really in his best interest, he recently told me that I'm his Mummy & Daddy and I found it really cute, but is it wrong of me to want it to continue just the two of us as it has been? It's been so much less stress without his Father on the scene.
Hi OP, I'm sorry to hear you've been put in this position, it's rather selfish on your exP's behalf to drift in and out.
Mediation isn't a bad idea and it's a positive sign he's suggested it. It's an opportunity for you to put forward your POV about what you feel is best for your son.
His request for his son every other weekend does sound as though it's something to build up towards (it might give you a nice break for some you-time!) but I think that after a prolonged period of absence, it wouldn't be in your son's interests to launch straight into that kind of routine. Perhaps a Saturday afternoon out together building up to a whole day then overnights when your son knows who this man is and most importantly, trusts him.
This really does need to be about what is best for your son, not his father. A year's absence from his child also suggests he lacks commitment and so it's not unreasonable to ask that he 'proves' himself to ensure continuity for your son's relationship with him.
You need a solicitor. Most will give you half an hour for free to listen to your concerns and decide if they can help you. It's also for you to check them out and decide if you like them and feel they'll do a good job in representing you. Yellow Pages, the CAB, etc will help you find local firms and the CAB can advise you on whether you qualify for Legal Aid.
From what you've written above it sounds like a formal contact order was never put in place, so issue will need to be dealt with (or, if you and XP can come to an informal agreement that you're both happy with, maybe not - that's what mediation is for).
OP I am so sorry to hear this. I am going through it myself except that my ex was absent for 7 years.... He too as rewritten history via a solicitor - luckily I have kept all the correspondence from 7 years ago. We are now in court and it isn't going well for him (far too complicated to put all details on here). Is your ex on benefits? if so he may be getting legal aid and to get that he has to go to mediation so it may not be a genuine offer. Legal aid stops for family law without domestic violence at the end March so he may be doing this before that date. Totally agree to go and see a solicitor. Your concerns are quite right and a court would see it that way too. You can give CAFCASS a call - they were very helpful to me. Their web site is very useful. I really feel your pain and wish you well with everything.