AIBU not to want 50-50 contact?

(30 Posts)
CharlotteCollinsinherownplace Mon 28-Oct-13 18:27:40

I separated from H a few months ago, but only moved out a few weeks ago. We have 4 dcs, aged 3 to 10.

Before the separation, he left all the childcare to me, to the extent that he usually wouldn't even eat with us. He only reliably showed an interest in his dcs if they asked him (eg for an occasionaly bedtime story) or if friends or family were around, in which case he morphed into Disney Dad.

Now it seems that Disney Dad is here to stay. He wants enough contact to keep my maintenance payments low hmm, which is already more than I'm comfortable with - partly maybe that's just me adjusting, having done everything in the past, but partly I'm concerned because he will have no real routine for the dcs because he dislikes routine, and he tends to blame them if things go wrong rather than accept any responsibility. He also has a demanding job (flexible timing so he often stays up very late working) and never used to get up in the mornings with the dcs.

He is used to getting what he wants and ignoring what I want - and I am used to accepting that with minimal fight more recently, tbh. But I don't want the dcs to have so much time with him if that is not in their best interests.

Do I have any right to fight 50-50 contact?

mumandboys123 Mon 28-Oct-13 19:16:42

on the basis of what you have said, I would fight but whether that would be 'right' or not depends on so many things that you probably have no control over.

My inclination is to say let him try. He's pretty much guarenteed not to succeed because he clearly hasn't a clue and 4 children you're not used to managing is going to hit him in the face like a freight train! Or it might be the making of him and his relationship with the children....will he get them to school on time in clean clothes with their homework done? can you agree some kind of fair split of child-related costs?

I have done shared care, I have done ex disappearing and I currently do every other weekend. From the perspective of getting on with life personally, shared care works best. If you can agree a fair split of costs (think I've said that already!), you might find shared care works for you too. The money thing will work itself out - I was practically destitute when my ex walked out but I have savings now, my own home, car etc. Just took some time to get back on my feet and work it all out.

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 28-Oct-13 22:40:39

What do your older DCs want? My DD at 8 was very clear that she wanted 50:50.
Lack of routine is a difficult one unless there is a quantifiable reason (e.g. SN) why this is necessary it's not an easy one to argue as many children thrive without a real routine.
If you think it is purely financial it maybe worth sucking it and see, he may not be soon keen when he discovers not only how much work 4DCs are, but also just how much they eat.
Have you considered mediation to discuss exactly how it would work? Discussing the nitty gritty of school runs etc may make him realise how much it will curtail his life.
As for whether you can fight it I don't know as I say it was what my DD wanted and it is all about the importance of the children having a relationship with both parents. In my case we share care 50:50, but I do 100% of the actual parenting.

CharlotteCollinsinherownplace Tue 29-Oct-13 11:18:13

Wow, cat, that's quite a statement in your last sentence. How does that look in practice? How does your DD cope with transitions between the house? How is the time divided?

Sorry, lots of questions. I'm very new to all this and don't know any parents irl who are separated and both involved in raising the dcs!

Lonecatwithkitten Tue 29-Oct-13 11:24:36

So DD is with me Monday and Thursday nights, with her Daddy Tuesday and Wednesday night and then every other weekend Friday through to Monday morning. Roughly half the Holidays with each of us. So she has been with me since Thursday last week and will go to her Daddy Thursday this week till she goes to school on Monday morning.
In truth she is with me probably 55% of the time as Ex requires alone holiday with gf(ow).

Lonecatwithkitten Tue 29-Oct-13 11:26:20

Sorry forgot say she is happier and more settled with me, but some of this is due to current circumstances. She is certain she doesn't want less time with her Daddy.

CharlotteCollinsinherownplace Tue 29-Oct-13 13:51:18

That's interesting. I guess it would be easier to be happy with more equal contact if I knew that's what my older DCs want. I've been trying to avoid quizzing them, especially as it's been a bit of an unsettled start.

But if you're doing all the real parenting, cat, how do you feel about her time with him? Does his lack of good parenting make it harder for you?

Lonecatwithkitten Tue 29-Oct-13 16:06:05

I have accepted that we will never parent the same. He will be free range lawless society, I will rules and boundaries. It doesn't make it easy for me, but I strive to do the best for DD and help her maintain her relationship with him. I never criticise him in her hearing. I have put my feelings aside for the moment.
I really wish I could say he did the same.

CharlotteCollinsinherownplace Tue 29-Oct-13 20:23:40

That's very helpful to hear, cat. I think it will be much the same for us. At the moment, he is keen on showing how good he can be, so I can even see benefits for the DCs in the time they spend with him, despite he too having a "free range lawless society" approach.

I am starting to feel a bit more relaxed about it all.

lostdad Wed 30-Oct-13 13:09:11

My son is with me 40% of the time. He says he has two homes - mine and his mum's - and two bedrooms.

There's no problem. He's happy.

I am really not sure if the whole `children need one home' thing is based on research or just what some resident parents want. Children do best when they have both parents in their life who play a meaningful role. To avoid `Disney Dad' syndrome children should have contact with their father during the week...but this is usually refused on the grounds that `children need one home' and `it would be disruptive'. This is a little `having your cake and eating it' IMHO.

Similarly with the whole `He only wants contact to avoid maintenance' trope. I have met fathers who are clearly doing this...but not many. Most of them regard the `every other weekend' thing as insulting, derisory and not enough for their children to have a good relationship with him.

TALK to your ex. Believe me, if it comes to court as bad as the situation may be now it'll seem like Heaven compared to what it will be like if you end up down the whole court routine. Seriously!

itsjustplayingonmymind Wed 30-Oct-13 13:26:37

Lostdad well said smile parents need to sit down and talk about their kids and what is best for them and put their feeling towards ex's aside because it will hurt the kids they are the ones suffering. Mothers need to make it easy for fathers to have a healthy relationship with their kids and not use the kids as a weapon to hurt the father

CharlotteCollinsinherownplace Wed 30-Oct-13 20:50:56

The thing is, lostdad, that EOW is already a staggering improvement on his involvement with the DCs before we split. When I tried to talk to him in those days, he'd say: he didn't feel the need to spend time with them; there's always something more of a priority than playing with your DCs, like DIY; he already spent more time with them (by which he meant in the house and available to them, not directly engaging with them) than most dads he knew.

Over the years, I came to the sad conclusion that he was self-centred and had, if not little love for the DCs, at least very little understanding of their needs.

That's why it's difficult to get my head round this sudden turnaround. And when I talk to him now, whatever he says it's hard to believe that this New Man is more real than the one I've known for much much longer.

And he doesn't listen to me. He usually stops talking while I am, which may give the appearance of listening, but usually carries on where he left off or on yet another tangent or, occasionally, says, "No, I think that's wrong," to what I've said and then carries on where he left off.

I think that because you are a reasonable man, you are hoping that my STBXH also is.

lostdad Thu 31-Oct-13 15:21:38

CharlotteCollinsinherownplace -`I think that because you are a reasonable man'.

You'd have to ask my ex about that...I'm guessing she'd not agree with you. grin

The thing is - I have known people who have gone away and then come back. Sometimes it's because they've grown up. I know of someone only now who, after being destroyed physically and financially by a court fight for contact is now ready to try again - even though his ex will inevitably say `He can't just walk away and then walk back in'.

The thing I am suggesting is that maybe he HAS changed. Maybe he hasn't - but you won't know unless you leave the door open.

So I would advise you right to him and ask him what his proposals are. See if you can come up with a compromise. Say you're happy to try whatever on a trial basis. If he is an arse you'll find out. If he isn't...well...your DC will have an involved dad who DID screw up at some point but has come up and you'll have someone who means all the childcare isn't on your shoulders.

CharlotteCollinsinherownplace Thu 31-Oct-13 21:04:00

grin I don't need to ask him what his proposals are as he has already set them out in detail and assumed that I will agree anyway. Compromise is not a word in his vocabulary. Currently, it's his way or the highway. Maybe it'll be different with mediation.

I'm certainly glad that he's so much more involved than he was before. I think the DCs are already benefitting from that. I don't want him to go away completely (for the DC's sake... for my own I'd love him to disappear totally). That's not what I'm suggesting. I just think 50:50 is too much of a leap from what he's been doing so far. Too much too fast. In any case, he has a demanding job and I'm a SAHM. So how can 50:50 be best for the DCs?

If he's an arse you'll find out. But he's been an arse to me for years and nobody close to me found out. That there is my big fear: he'll be an arse to the DCs, and I won't know about it.

RandomMess Thu 31-Oct-13 21:09:12

As long as he's not having all the weekends and leaving you with all the stress of mid week etc.

What is he proposing?

CharlotteCollinsinherownplace Thu 31-Oct-13 21:23:42

Every other weekend, Friday night to Monday morning. One mid-week night every week. Extra nights tacked onto the weekends to compensate for when he has to miss a mid-week night because of work. (Quite a lot of time away from me for the 3yo, who I always looked after before the separation. She's showing most signs of being unsettled at the moment.)

Rising to 50:50 "as soon as practically possible".

But this man is incapable of saying no and certainly never admits to weakness and is good at concealing when he's in trouble. So even if he realises he has taken on too much contact, he will deny it to me.

RandomMess Thu 31-Oct-13 21:26:09

Sounds a bit messy. I wouldn't agree to that. I would say EOW and one mid-week night is great and for him to have them more than that during their holidays to fit in with his work schedule?

How does he envisage 50:50 working? I would ask him that?

Theydeserve Thu 31-Oct-13 21:27:16

Take what he is offering because it will settle down to less. I would pay my ex for 50-50.

You do not want your DCs in the same position mine are.

My Dcs (x2) both under 6yrs - in 18 months have had
8 single overnights
3 two nighters
2 weeks holiday ( coinciding with my booked holiday - I gave in because I know he would have gone without them)

and Dad picks them up from school on average once every 8 schooldays and sees them for 2.5 hrs - during which his new DP texts constantly.

I just want Daddy to play with me, when we go to his house we are not allowed to cuddle him on the sofa, we have to go to bed very early and we never get to see him on our own. ( the latter I know is not completely true - as he does have them on his own whilst she works!)

It is crap, when I asked what his priorities are, he said his new DP and her children and then his DCs. Their needs come above his DCs everytime, he agrees to something when he drops them off, by the time he is home and discussion has happened he reneges,if it does not fit in with their plans. I never tell the DCs he is doing pick up or if they are staying for the weekend because so many crises have happened and he has failed them, I can not bear their sad faces.

Oh for 50-50!

CharlotteCollinsinherownplace Thu 31-Oct-13 21:45:28

Sounds sensible, RandomMess. Forgot to say he's proposing half of holidays already. Yes, I'll ask him that about 50:50.

The "extra nights tacked on" did sound to me like "making up my hours so that I keep paying the lower amount of maintenance."

Replace "the new DP" with "work", Theydeserve, and you've a fair picture of how my DC's relationship with their father has been for their whole life up till 5 months ago.

That's encouraging that they tell you what they don't like about the contact time, though. My older two are currently very protective of Daddy (who, after all, is finally responding to their consistent life-long efforts to get him to spend time with them sad ), so I don't think at the moment they'd tell me if they were disappointed with their contact time. Maybe further down the road.

starlight1234 Thu 31-Oct-13 21:57:46

You would know...We do know when out kids aren't happy...Have you asked him how he will manage childcare over these 50/50 holidays?

I have to say I feel for you...Even if it is genuine realization of he is missing out on the kids...You have raised these kids with little involvement or emotional support and he decides he want to do 50% so he can decide at what age he wants to be a parent.

I would feel mad as hell If I was you

RandomMess Thu 31-Oct-13 22:09:13

So for what reason what he have to concel mid-week overnights for? Does he go away with work or something? If it's because he'd have to work late he can't just cancel he'd have to have you know childcare arrangements in place!

CharlotteCollinsinherownplace Thu 31-Oct-13 22:16:24

Yeah, he travels with work, so for example he's already telling me which nights he can't do in January.

RandomMess Thu 31-Oct-13 22:18:17

Well I'd just laugh and say no then, you need routine. He will have to rearrange his work or sort out getting a nanny...

RandomMess Thu 31-Oct-13 22:19:48

How the hell does he propose to do 50:50 if he travels away with work and is already dictating when he can't have them in January? Where/what is he living in now?

Please don't offer flexibility over the basics it just means you will never be able to have a life, you'll just be the childcare provider again...

How about EOW and every Sunday over night from 4pm?

CharlotteCollinsinherownplace Thu 31-Oct-13 22:26:23

I'm going to have to think about what you've just said there, Random - it had not even occurred to me to think along those lines. Your proposal there is quite exciting in its simplicity - I would love something like that!

Can I take you into mediation with me? wink

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