Father lives 350 miles away and wants joint custody

(29 Posts)
linnysully Sun 05-Jan-14 13:13:52

Hi everyone I am new to this so will try not to bore you all, but really need some advice. My daughter has just split from her verbally abusive partner and they are struggling to arrange suitable contact arrangements for their 9 month old daughter. Not to go into too fine a detail, but their relationship has never been a good one. When she was pregnant he said he wanted a DNA test to prove his fatherhood, he has been consistently jealous and paranoid when she comes to visit us with the baby, accusing her of sleeping around etc, in short he is a vile bully. Of course I understand that his relationship with my daughter has no bearing on his relationship with his daughter, but as he had never looked after the baby for longer than two hours alone since she was born, my daughter was reluctant to allow him to have her to stay with him overnight. He bullied her into allowing him to collect the baby and as soon as he got her home (which is a 4 hour car journey) he texted my daughter to say he would not be handing her back over unless she gave him a date for another visit (during time he told my daughter he felt like 'ending her' 'mowing her down' etc. We advised her to go to the police, but she didn't want to make matters worse so she didn't). Because of all this she is reluctant to let the baby go away with him again. She has told him that she is going to put together an agreement whereby he can have the baby for a week out of every month - he has said he will accept nothing less than 50% access - we are extremely worried about him taking the baby and then refusing to give her back. She can't afford to go to court - and really that would be the last option - but I wonder if anyone has any advice as to what she should do.
Thank you in advance

queenofthepirates Sun 05-Jan-14 13:33:59

Well a contact arrangement is perhaps going to be a good idea but at 9 months of age, a week away from the mother is probably not ideal for the mother/baby bonding relationship. I think that most care professionals suggest building up contact with a baby and the absent parent. This gives both the mother and the baby time to relax and get used to the new arrangement. She could suggest contact via a contact centre if she has concerns about the child's safety.

I suspect your post is more to do with practical advice about how your daughter should handle her ex. If she feels she cannot stand up to him (and that's perfectly reasonable in abusive relationships) then she need to find someone to act on her behalf and authorise them to communicate between him and her. Alternatively she could consider mediation.

If this does go to court, she would be well advised to have registered her concerns about her exes' parenting skills with either the police or social services. I would urge her to do so today.

Best of luck and if all else fails, perhaps she should just cut contact and hope he slopes off.

linnysully Sun 05-Jan-14 14:07:34

Thanks for your quick response - I suppose in some respects you are right - but we do have this very real worry that he will refuse to hand the baby back at the end of any planned contact visits - can he do this? And if he does this what do we do? The other concern is that he lives so very far away, she had no choice but to move back in with us as she couldn't possibly afford to live in the greater London area - I wonder whether we should just get a solicitor as we are not sure of the legalities - he has sent her links to articles which say women can be jailed for refusing access - and adding that she can 'suck on that' (as I have said he is vile). I wish he would slope off as you say, but he is like a dog with a bone - and I really don't believe he is doing this because he is interested in the baby - he wasn't very involved in her day to day care when my daughter lived with him, I suspect he is just trying to maker her life as difficult as possible.

Monetbyhimself Sun 05-Jan-14 14:23:10

She needs to see a solicitor. She really can't manage this situation on her own.

mumandboys123 Sun 05-Jan-14 14:51:06

I wouldn't let him take a child that age with that kind of threat hanging over you - and I'm very pro-contact.

a) the courts would never order a baby of that age to live a week at a time with dad. Not going to happen. At that distance, there is going to need to be compromise on both sides, in the best interests of the little one. He's already showing he has no idea how to do that. Please tell her not to hand the baby over again. Let him take it to court.
b) if he doesn't return her, you are in court immediately. You would need a solicitor. The police won't help other than to do a 'safe and well check' and, if you're lucky, they would try and talk him into handing her back but they wouldn't actually force it. So don't give him the opportunity - if he's very clever (and these types often are), he could hang onto her for weeks.
c) Get your daughter to call the police and ask to speak to their community support officers who deal with domestic abuse. They will give advice and more importantly, will register her as someone to be responded to immediately in the even of a 999 call. If it goes to court, police checks are made and the very fact the police have flagged her will go into the report made to the court.
d) Women's Aid are often cited as useful in getting support to overcome this kind of problem - do contact them (not something I ever did so not sure of what support may be available but it's what they do so don't be afraid of asking).
e) make sure your daughter (or indeed, any of your family) avoids any contact with him which could be perceived by the courts as hostile or inappropriate. She should never say, for example, 'if you don't leave me alone, you'll never see your daughter again'. She must walk away from every single fight he tries to start. Every time.

She really, really does need to be taking a lead and voicing her concerns to the relevant authorities - police and Women's Aid or Social Services as a starting point. Don't hand over the baby again - suggest only some kind of supervised access with a family member present (doesn't have to be your daughter) who will be able to handle him if he kicks off. Your husband or if you have a grown-up son, might work? Keep offering contact on her terms - he won't do it because his motive is to upset your daughter, not see the baby. Then, when/if you end up in court, there is a clear papertrail that shows contact was offered and ignored or refused. If he was desperate to see his child, he would do anything. Believe me, he won't. He will either settle down and get on with parenting or he'll disappear. Unfortunately, the disappearing often doesn't happen until a court order has been achieved which they then take great delight in ignoring. Keep posting - there are lots of people here who have been there, done that!

I wouldn't let him take the baby now he has threatened not to return her. If he has PR, the police might not do anything because it isn't kidnap or anything.

But she needs proper legal advice. Let him take her to court. If he hasn't looked after the baby before they wouldn't give him 50% anyway. They will look to building it up gradually.

Don't let your daughter be bullied now because it will set the bar for the next 18 years.

DarkKnight123 Sun 05-Jan-14 16:56:23

Linny - a couple of thoughts. The dad may love his daughter and be feeling very powerless and insecure as to his future role. He would have heard stories about nasty mums blocking contact, there's the distance thing which must be awful and apparently there's some distrust and conflict between the parents.
Nothing excuses bullying or general nastiness. But perhaps the dad and the mum both share some responsibility for their separation and both need to find a workable arrangement for the future.
My guess is that what dad might need is not so much shared care, which he must know is unachievable given the circumstances, but some kind of reassurance that he is recognised and valued as a parent and that he will continue to play a parenting role in childs life.
I suggest that what both parents need is peace of mind. That is likely to come through increased communication and agreements. The best avenue would be contacting the family mediation service.

You're recommending mediation to someone who has been told by her ex he would like to mow her down and end her? hmm He's also used the baby as a weapon, threatening to keep her to blackmail the child's mother. But yeah poor guy lets reassure him and makes sure he feels valued hmm

linny, I'd recommend checking darkknights posting history before taking any advice from him/her. Very pro dad on these type of threads even when there have been threats or emotional abuse from the man.

And what I mean by pro dad, before I get jumped on by any dads, is pro ignoring any failings and bad behaviour on the part of the dad when the mans behaviour should be taken into account.

Preciousbane Sun 05-Jan-14 17:25:29

I hope she kept the awful text messages that he sent her, she needs to keep these and any other threatening emails etc. Get her to back them up as well, I know my DH links his phone in to his I cloud account thing.

Daddyofone Sun 05-Jan-14 17:31:07

OP.

A slightly different perspective from me. I hope it helps in some way.

Firstly, leaving aside his behaviour towards your daughter for a second.

In practical terms your daughter did decide to have a child with this man. He is the father, paranoid or not.

And whatever the reasons, your daughter has now taken his child 350 miles away. I think it's worth pondering that for a second and consider how you yourself may have responded if someone had taken your own child, as an infant, that far away from you.

Would you have been calm about it ? Or highly upset and very VERY angry ? I wager the latter.

What I'm saying is that if a person is provoked to a high degree, and it doesn't come much higher than when in relation to being separated from your own child, I don't think you can view that anger outside of the context that provoked it. Does that make sense ?

Also, you've spoken about him taking the child from your daughter, but you haven't voiced a concern about his parenting when he looked after her. And I'm reading from your posts that he has indeed taken her home and looked after her, I assume for more than a few hours ? So it's not an issue of his care.

If that is the case, trying to then force supervised contact is only going to rub salt in his wounds, no ? And just provoke even more anger. And that is in no way in your granddaughters interests.

If my ex had demanded supervised access I would have hit the roof. And I am I assure you a very calm bloke.

And ironically some of the responses here suggest you should do exactly what you fear he will do. Not return the child for contact.

This guy may well be simply trying to cause problems rather than working in his daughter interests. Time will tell. But you simply don't know that. Maybe he thinks your daughter moved his child 350 miles away just to piss him off. But I think for your granddaughters sake you need to consider that he may actually want a decent relationship with his own child, and her being so far away makes it incredibly difficult if not impossible to bond. And thus provokes him.

You haven't mentioned anything about the practicalities of him looking after an infant or child 50:50. Do you think that's possible ? Is he wealthy enough to afford child care or work part time ?

Obviously 50:50 care over that distance is totally impractical, but I'd point out again that it's your daughter who's moved the child so far away from her dad and your post doesn't seem to acknowledge that.

If you go the legal route it must go through a process of mediation, so even if unsuccessful there will need to be dialogue. Failed or not. But I'd just say, from a dad's point of view, if you care about your child, having them moved so far away can be profoundly heartbreaking to the extreme and abusive or not I think you need to cut him some slack accordingly. Not by just giving into his 'demands' , but by accepting that in some respects he has the shitty end of the stick in far from ideal circumstances.

I am not I'd stress the local F4J representative ! But there's always another side to things. Worth considering.

The bottom line is get legal advice for your concerns, and then attempt dialogue.

DarkKnight123 Sun 05-Jan-14 19:05:44

"...linny, I'd recommend checking darkknights posting history before taking any advice from him/her. Very pro dad on these type of threads even when there have been threats or emotional abuse from the man..."Buffyx

Look you can offer your 'advice' and i give mine; its up to Linny to go with what she feels is best. The fact is im not pro child not pro anything else.

The kid would want his parents to focus on his needs and if that means trying, against the odds perhaps, to talk things through at mediation so be it. The alternative road ends up with the kid between two warring and embittered parents.

DarkKnight123 Sun 05-Jan-14 19:07:32

sorry, type meant to say...im pro child not pro anything else...d'ooh.

cestlavielife Sun 05-Jan-14 20:19:57

if he makes threats she needs to go to the police
she needs to see a lawyer and get proper legal advice

the story is confusing - on one hand she happy for baby to go for a whole week once a month
on the other she worried she wont get baby back at all.

she needs to read up on the terms - it.s residence which could be shared residence and contact arrrangements.shared residence doesnt ncecessarily mean fifty fifty contact.

has she reported his behaviour to anyone? told a health vsisitor? kept a log? or is it her word against his?

Monetbyhimself Sun 05-Jan-14 20:23:11

OP your daughter must not, under any circumstances, engage in any sort of mediation with this man. He has threatened to kill her. Get some recommendations for a good family law solicitor. Check out their credentials and ensure that they have interests in dealing with abusive men.

starlight1234 Sun 05-Jan-14 20:40:27

Does Ex have PR? If he is making threats not to return child Residency order can be applied for..

Make conversations text or email so there is evidence of his threats and she needs to keep them

DoYouNeedAWahhmbulance Sun 05-Jan-14 20:51:28

Honestly I think both of the babies parents are behaving quite badly, obviously her dad more so than her mum but even so

Your dd has moved a long way away and while I'm sure she had her reasons the fact is that is going to have a huge implication with contact. It would be very unfair of her to expect her ex to do all of the travelling or meet all the costs of it. It will also make things more difficult for a very young baby who is now going to be doing a lot of travelling. Little and often Is the best for very young children but the distance is going to make that all but impossible

All that being said though is no excuse at all for the vile behaviour of your daughters ex. He has no right to harass or threaten her

I really think the only way this can be sorted is officially through the courts, of course most people want to avoid that but sometimes it is absolutely neccesery and I think this is one of those times

linnysully Sun 05-Jan-14 21:12:13

First of all thank you all for your responses - she is going to contact a solicitor tomorrow. I don't think there is any way they can sort this out between them and to be honest I really don't feel like mediating between my daughter and a man who has been so nasty and threatening towards her. And I'm sorry for not making this clear in my first post ( new to this) but he, in fact, left her at his sisters house when they were on a visit so her father drove down to collect her.
Again thanks for all the advice - it is really appreciated.

TheNightIsDark Sun 05-Jan-14 21:14:56

Ask her to ask the solicitor about a prohibitive steps order (if it still exists). We had this in place as DSDs mum refused to return her once after access.

I hope she gets this sorted out. It's a horrible situation to be in but you've been given brilliant advice up thread.

Monetbyhimself Sun 05-Jan-14 21:21:49

Keep posting OP. There are loads of us here who are dealing with bullying Exs every day.

Darkknight, we will have to agree to disagree on that one. Nearly every reply you make has the woman bending over backwards to accommodate the man, even when he has threatened violence. Yes, parents should try to get along but no one should have to put up with some of the things you seem to expect. No kid would want his mum bullied for life.

Funnily enough, both replies here that are clearly from men include the comments "leaving aside his behaviour towards your daughter" and "Nothing excuses bullying or general nastiness. But.." before ignoring it completely. The mans behaviour is very relevant to what actions the daughter should take so why ignore it?

LionessOfThePride Mon 06-Jan-14 12:55:45

Firstly - Hi Linny. I don't really have any advice but I'm bumping for you. I hope it works out.

What caught my eye though - Men on this forum are mental! I know for a fact that there are some good guys out there but Darknight and Lostdad really to lower the tone.

Just my opinion but I would love, at the very least, a bit more subtlety from men posting on, what is essentially, a women's forum. Not that they're not welcome or that I'm sexist but... Come on! It's called Mumsnet FFS.

HedgehogsRevenge Mon 06-Jan-14 14:08:55

Ok, this is not going to go down well on here but personally if he can't be reasonable I'd stop contact and let him go to court. This kind of contact with lengthy periods away from the primary carer is no good for a baby. If someone moved away with my child I'd be doing everything in my power to get a job/flat closer to where my child lives so I could have regular contact. 50:50 with a distance of 350 miles is not workable.

cestlavielife Mon 06-Jan-14 16:47:23

while posters might not agree with darknight it is worth reading what he says because in the absence of hard eveidence of abusive behaviour eg police reports etc then a judge - if this goes to court - presented with a charming man who says "i just want to be with my child" - "i dont understand why she moved away" etc etc... well that judge can only go on what he sees and the evidence.

so it is as well to bear in mind that a judge wont take the mother's view as gospel...and when going thru hearings myself i came across judges - both male and female - who took ex at his word (until solicitor pointed out the pages of evidence in the block of papers s/he had not had time to read...) .

without hard evidence of someone's abusive behaviour you will be hard pushed to persuade a judge that keeping a child from its other parent is anything more than spite ... read posts as a devil's advocate and think how you might respond if a judge wants to know what is happening and why? what evidence will you have to hand? how will you show that he has been verbally abusive etc? what real evidence of the threats to not return the child are there?

if both parents been involved since birth then both are primary carers(you might need to show more evidence about non involvement - but if he asking for fifty fifty and shows he means it then why should a judge consider him the "lesser" parent? again you need some hard facts here not just "because she is the mother". if the mother looks "warring and embittered " and the father presents as charming....

cestlavielife Mon 06-Jan-14 16:56:21

that si why it is so important for someone to go to police if there are genuine threats . not reporting doesnt help.

DarkKnight123 Mon 06-Jan-14 21:53:30

I thought Id put on my tin hat and come back for another go...smile

The narrative that's been put forward is that the ex is without merit; as a person or a father. Him being upset by the separation from his child is unimportant. What he can offer his son by way of parenting, negligible. He is a threat and the only issue to resolve are stratergies to keep him at bay.

Any advice that blindly accepts that is going to be well received because it reinforces what someone already believes. But, that belief, although sincerely held, is going to be clouded and one sided. It's not always going to be 'helpful' to gee them along to take the most oppositional course available. Likewise, its not necessarily unsupportive to help someone understand other viewpoints or suggest the benefits of defusing conflict where you can.

Monetbyhimself Mon 06-Jan-14 22:16:27

Yeah you've already said all that Darkknight. He's an abusive git but just do what he says cos he's the daddy.

girliefriend Mon 06-Jan-14 22:24:48

I would not be handing a baby to this man, is he on the birth certificate?

If he is serious about wanting contact I would leave it to him to organise going to court and seeing what a court feels would be in the best interest of the baby.

Personally if it were me I would allow limited supervised access only.

lostdad Tue 07-Jan-14 13:35:10

LionessofthePride `Just my opinion but I would love, at the very least, a bit more subtlety from men posting on, what is essentially, a women's forum. Not that they're not welcome or that I'm sexist but... Come on! It's called Mumsnet FFS.'

You best get them to remove the tagline `By parents for parents'...although your point of view is entirely valid if you don't consider dads as such. wink

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