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How much time does a dad get with kids if things get to lawyers?

(28 Posts)
TryingToKeepitTogether Fri 24-Aug-12 00:18:08

My nickname needs changing, I have now officially given up, and Im moving out, nearby, soon. We have agreed that to start I will get 140 days a year with our DD. That's half the holidays and weekends, plus one night a week during school. I want more, but the mere suggestion is jumped on with " right I'll talk to my lawyers". For now I want to avoid nastiness, and ex says the same, so long as she gets exactly what she wants. But if I feel its unfair, and she keeps making the same threat, does anyone know how much custody I might get ? We both work, my wife was working 3 days a week before and will shift to 4, I am 5.

TryingToKeepitTogether Mon 15-Jul-13 09:53:25

Interesting to read Blondie1969s post. What worked well for him might work badly for me - meaning that if we rack up a year of living happily in the current arrangement it might be held against me when I come back to seeking my share of our house. For what it's worth, it's in writing that we plan to sell it and split the proceeds equally, including a statement taken down in mediation. Neither of us particularly wants to stay there, it's too big for one parent and half a kid. I guess I might buy her out though, especially if it looks like I will be likely to have a second family. Of course that depends on the as-yet unknown third and maybe fourth parties.

I'm also amused that we seem to be having a little all-male mini-forum here smile

Dadthelion Wed 10-Jul-13 18:04:28

Well done.

We've done shared care for years, it can and does work if you put the children first, and neither of you think you're more of a parent.

And if neither of you are arses obviously.

Blondie1969 Wed 10-Jul-13 12:04:38

I have a ten year old and six year old. A year ago started a trial separation where we looked after the children fifty fifty.
This worked very well and both me and ex wife worked well together to minimise impact on kids
After a couple of months the trial turned to permanent. And the child arrangements continued.

Roll on to Feb and all the agreements we made with regards to division of house and shares went out the window.

Not got an issue with regards to ex wanting a greater percentage but she believed that the percentage would be greater but unfortunately because we were looking after the kids fifty fifty it meant that we both had equal housing needs. Once my rent was deducted from take home pay. My income was the same as hers and therefore split was no longer as much in her favour.
She then tried asking to have the kids more time but her best friend told me the reason was to increase her maintenance and increase the share of marital assets.

She tried threatening me saying she would take me to court

My solicitor had a word with her solicitor and mentioned there had been a status quo for over the year and there was numerous emails/comms saying the arrangement was working fine so asked what the reason was for wanting to change. Never heard about it again as she knew "financial" was not a justifiable reason.

Are you both wanting house sold or is there a possibility your ex can change her mind ask to live there until kids finish education (if she can take on mortgage payments?)

I agree with pombear that fifty fifty would be a nice starting point for discussion. Yes me and ex have issues sometimes but I want to be involved in bringing up my kids as much as ex does. If that means that i have to help with buying school clothes, non school clothes, haircuts then so be it. I do not want to be the "fun" parent that does the exciting trips to park, zoo whilst ex has to do the boring stuff like make sure they do homework.
I want my children to understand that I was involved in their day to day stuff as ex.
They seem happy and look forward to both houses as they have different routines at both houses (i don't mean in terms of bed times or amount of TV they can watch) but simple thing like when my youngest goes to bed my daughter makes a hot chocolate for us both, grans a couple of biscuits and we play UNO or chess or chinese checkers for half an hour. Or every other Tuesday my youngest can choose a friend to have over for a play date.

I hope it works out. But based on my experience and friends until financial settlement is worked out there is still a lot of pontential stress points to come.

TryingToKeepitTogether Wed 10-Jul-13 10:51:40

This seems like a long time ago now. One more update in case anyone is still out there. We have been working well on a 2-week schedule where DD is with me 6 out of 14 nights and half the holidays. DW and I are getting on well, we are both flexible to cover each other's work and occasionally do things together with DD and old shared friends. DW now understands I think that she needs my help and that her days without DD are valuable/necessary to her. DD seems happier than could have been hoped for. And I'm getting used to my new 2-part life, starting to enjoy the part where I'm with new friends doing new things. So far so good. Next worry will be the financial settlement and selling our house, which was left as a no-go area in January. But I'm beginning to think time is the great healer here, so I'm happy to let DW live rent free in our house for another year while I pay a full commercial rent, even though she earns good money herself and admits that she's stacking it away for her future and looking after her aging mum. She has teamed up with her boyfriend from her 20s, and I'm so over her that I'm hoping he will be good for her emotionally and financially smile

My exH and I have had 50/50 shared care of our boys since they were 4 and 2. It was gut wrenching to be away from them at first but I am a firm believer in equal parenting and it was the best thing for the boys. They have a very close relationship with their dad now at 8 and 10 and its worked out well.

Saying that though, I split up with the father of my ds3 and although he is welcome to see ds3 whenever he wants (which is every day at the moment) he is only 18 months old and a 50/50 arrangement wouldn't be beneficial to him at the moment. It's something we will look at again another time, I am dreading it though. I think at 6 years old, your child is old enough to spend an equal amount of time with both her parents and I hope it works out for you.

my stand on equal parenting doesn't apply if one of the parents isn't a good one

imdreamingofaskyebluechristmas Tue 18-Dec-12 22:26:12

my XH moved 20 miles away, refused to have DD a day a week in the summer holidays,

He claimed he had equal rights over DD, yet sees her when it suits him usually...

Well done to you for wanting to spend time with your DD and good luck

Allergictoironing Tue 18-Dec-12 12:56:29

I don't suppose anyone has thought to ask the child what she would prefer (sigh)?

cestlavielife Tue 18-Dec-12 10:09:23

keep pushing for incremental steps; hopefully mother will see that dd is happy and content and if it works out ok for school etc then no reason why dd should not spend roughly fifity fifty time with each.

try and suggest to ex she attends a divorce and separation course or workshop so she can sort out her emotions....

Letsmakecookies Tue 18-Dec-12 10:08:11

Good luck. I hope it all works out for you all. Whatever the outcome, your DD is very lucky that she has a dad who seems to put her needs first.

TryingToKeepitTogether Tue 18-Dec-12 08:53:35

Update in case anyone is still reading. Starting mediation tomorrow. DW has still steadfastly refused to give any reasons why she thinks DD should spend 10 out of 14 nights per fortnight with her during school term, but I presume that has to stop tomorrow. She blankly refused to discuss the matter at half term, despite agreeing in writing that she would. I have lost much personal respect for her over it, though I'm still happy that she is doing a good job as a mum. DD keeps asking to spend more nights with me, we are nicely settled into our new home, and she says half of the nights would be fair. I've tried hard not to put these words into her mouth, though find it hard to reply when she asks why she has to go back to mummy's so soon. When she is here she just wants to be with me, even turning down favourite friends' visits, a sure sign that she is not seeing me enough.

I will hold out for 6 nights in every 14, and no more disruption of my work to be a nanny for DW on the Fridays when her work demands it. It's taken this long for me to realise that we really are separate, and that DWs problems and needs are no longer mine. Fingers are firmly crossed.

pombear Fri 24-Aug-12 23:55:10

I don't know why I only ever post on these types of threads, but I guess I always do in the hope that even though I'll never change a lot of people's minds, if only one person reads and hears that it can work OK, and it's not always about power and control between a couple, but has truly been done with the child in mind, that it may work out oK for them. (I do know that some demands are about power and control, it's just that they don't always mean that - sometimes both Dads and Mums just want to make sure they're both as present in the child's life as they can be)

I remember the gutwrenching feelings i had initially, and all the 'but I am the mum' feelings I had that made me want to shout 'but i should have more time because I'm the mum', that I put to one side to think about what might be good for my child in the long run.

And the long run is something i've been on now, as it's been many years - it has meant that the ex has a very good understanding of the pressures that exist juggling school and work, drop-offs, pick-ups, arranging after-school things, meet ups etc. It means that the ex has been involved in school things much more than a lot of the Dads that aren't separated - because he's had to, but as a spin-off, i think he feels more involved per se. I know this is a luxury a lot of Dads can't do anyway because of work pressures, but i know that he has made sacrifices in his own work to do so too over the years.

It does mean I can't complain that 'he doesn't understand' about work/home life balance. It does mean that there is no RP/NRP effectively. It does mean that our paths crossed sometimes when I'd have rather they hadn't in the early days!

It does mean that, because we come from a place of shared parenting, it makes shifting arrangements occasionally or for holiday arrangements etc a lot easier, because the initial shared aspect fostered mutual respect and something that doesn't feel like negotiation for power.

I see so much on this forum where people would love ex-p/hs to be more involved in parenting. If the assumption that he should be happy with 40% was flipped the other way to being a comment on the Mum's time, i don't think many people would support it as OK and fair. My child seems to have fared well, is secure, happy with the arrangement, and considers both homes to be equally their home.

Essay over!

TryingToKeepitTogether Fri 24-Aug-12 23:17:47

Thanks everyone. Especially pombear, who wrote what I think. And mumOfmystery and others for some numbers that suggest I may have some rights to more. DD is nearly 6. I have spent a lot of time with her all her life and even DW accepts that I have been a very good dad, and have DDs best interests at heart. I believe and hope DW does too, and that she is not after more money only. We are both fairly comfortable and I expect to be generous to the extent that I earn more. We have read the literature, none of which was any different to what we would have done. I am moving out to minimise disruption and because I was told in no uncertain terms that the alternative was lawyers. I have got the closest place I could, am not asking for all weekends, and am all for minimum disruption to DD. I wanted to stay together and work on our relationship together, for DD more urgently than for us.

Our initial deal, DWs offer that was presented to me as if it were in her gift ... she even said I DID carry her for 9 months, to justify her right to dictate terms... is every other weekend fri after school to Sunday dinner, half the holidays, tuesday after school to weds to school, and collect and deliver from school every Friday. I asked for a full night anyspwhere in the week in place of the weird stub on odd Fridays, which is an extension of a current arrangement to cover DWs work. That would split the school time nights 3 to 2, rather than 4 to 1, which seems fairer. My work is flexible and I am very sad to be losing 4/5 dinner and bedtimes per week, mornings and breakfasts, that DD and I love so much. DW has complained that "normal" dads get up early and go to work, and don't talk to ther kids much in the morning or at bedtime. My response is " poor kids, poor dads, I'm glad I'm luckier ". I guess not any more, though I may still see more of DD than some dads I know.

I will put down in writing that I accept the current deal only temporarily, and see how I am placed to ask for more at half term, when DW agreed a review. Maybe she will find that 4 nights each week on her own is actually quite challenging, and maybe DD will express an opinion that she will listen to. Or maybe I will find I don't mind the arrangement, or DD will dislike her new home without her mum more than her old without her dad.

Olympicnmix Fri 24-Aug-12 09:22:48

Half the holidays, either alternate weekends or split weekends (so that each parent gets a full day with the dcs to do the things you can't midweek, and if nearby, an overnight midweek is normal. This kind of arrangement can work well, as the dcs will also want to start spending time with friends after school.

Occasionally there are instances where it's all about the parents and not about the dcs best interests. I have a friends who have an "equal share" in their dcs even if it means putting the dcs in childcare, one not wishing to concede anything to the other even if there is the other parent willing and able to look after them. It's going to court again soon.

Clytaemnestra Fri 24-Aug-12 09:07:01

I would have thought every other weekend Friday/Sunday night (or Monday morning) then one weekend in the week is fair.

Are you after precisely 50/50?

mummyofmystery Fri 24-Aug-12 09:04:26

Yes mid week overnight.

This works well and in my opinion only - good frequent contact enables good relationships with NRP and also encourages a feeling of having 2 homes rather than just being a visitor in dads.

mummyofmystery Fri 24-Aug-12 09:03:08

Eow fri-mon 1 overnight half school hols is roughly 170 days give or take - losing the extra 30 days means dropping of either the mid week day, or losing one of the weekend days.

To and from school ont the EOW helps the NRP to stay on touch with school life as does the mid week over night to and from school.

Of course the NRP may need assistance from family re school collection if they don't have a flexible employer, buy so do many RPs.

Unless the one night a week is an overnight. In which case I'm talking absolute rubbish....

Surely 140 days equates to ALL the weekends? Roughly 40 days school holidays and then every Friday to Sunday evening?

If that's the case I would say it's far too much. The mother would have no time to do "good stuff" with the kids as all she'd get is the bits before and after school. What about practical things such as taking the children clothes shopping, hair cuts etc? The mother would have to wait until school holidays every time she wanted top buy her children a new pair of shoes.

Sleepovers etc would ALL be at dad's house. Doesn't sound at all fair to me....

OptimisticPessimist Fri 24-Aug-12 08:43:10

How much are you actually looking for? What is your suggestion as opposed to hers? What are the reasons on each side for the arrangements being put forward?

It shouldn't necessarily be that she dictates to you what happens, but equally there are more things at work than how much time you spend with your DD - it is also of importance that your DD is happy and secure with the arrangement and that you maintain at least a civil co-parenting relationship with your XP which is likely to become more difficult the further down the legal route you go.

MoM mentions 40%, 140 days is only 6 days a year off 40%. Are 6 days really worth potentially spoiling what could be a reasonable co-parenting agreement?

crackcrackcrak Fri 24-Aug-12 02:01:14

fgs - i used the term 'offered' because that is factually what is happening if its been done outside of court. how else can it be negotiated rather than the exw offering and the op responding/accepting/not accepting and taking legal advice.

im happy with the word 'suggesting' instead if it matters that much.

mummyofmystery Fri 24-Aug-12 01:14:28

EOW, Fri from school - monday to school, 1 over night per week, half of holidays, as recommended by a Social Worker, put to judge, rubber stamped ove rmassive objections. 40%.

joanofarchitrave Fri 24-Aug-12 00:54:49

I know a couple who work a routine over a fortnight to give the kids exactly equal time - the dh insisted on it. When I first heard what the routine was I thought 'well at least they've agreed something, but it's insanely complicated and will last a few weeks' - well more fool me, because it's already lasted 2 years. I thought it would be too complicated for the (school-aged) children, but they seem OK with it, perhaps because it doesn't mean too long without any parent at a time. It goes something like (M = mother, F = father):

Mon pm M
Tue pm F
Wed pm M
Thur pm F
Fri pm M to Monday am drop off
Mon pm F
Tue pm M
Wed pm F
Thur pm M
Fri pm F to Mon am drop off

Something like that. They agree holiday weeks away together well in advance. So IMO don't be fobbed off, if you want more ask for it. TBH this only works because the parents live near to each other and are white-hot determined to keep the pain of their breakup away from their children.

pombear Fri 24-Aug-12 00:53:23

Huh? I don't really get some of the responses. Until the OP states 'i'm asking for every weekend' i don't think we can assume this in responses. 140 days sounds like the 'weekends' will mean saturday morning to sunday evening. This isn't every other weekend, this is part of every other weekend.

And why not two nights per week if the DD is at school close to where both parents will live?

Consistency and routine can still be applied if there's an arrangement where it's every other weekend starting from Friday night through to Monday morning, plus two nights per week. I can attest to that.

What I don't get is the reference to the mum 'giving' contact rights to the Dad, mums 'offering' time, and then referring to 'what's best for the child'. What's best for the child, surely, if there are two parents without any other DV/etc issues, is to know they aren't the possession of one, to be 'given' to the other, but equally important and have equal time with both.

Establishing this early can mean that it is not seen as 'further disruption' - life is disrupted when parents split, full stop, no matter what arrangements are made. Establishing equal parenting early on means it's not seen as disruption from 'home', it is just the normal tempo change from one home to another - in my experience, it's not the children who count how many days with each, it's the adults. Hard as it may be to hear!

Of course, if OP comes back to say he wants every weekend etc, I retract my calm and measured post!

crackcrackcrak Fri 24-Aug-12 00:37:27

Sorry but i think your ex proposal for contact is very reasonable. you can look up suggested contact scedules which are done in age brackets online - type i think mediation contact schedules. if you go through the courts you are likely to get the minimum amount suggested for dd's age range.

what your ex is offering is identical to a what a friend of mine gives in contact for a 5 and 7 year old. it works well for them. her advice to me was not to offer every weekend because you never get to do anything yourself with your own kids! this may be your ex' logic and its not unreasonable.

whats really important when working out contact is consistency and routine for the child and contact falling in to a regular, recognizable pattern. the younger the child the more rigid it needs to be. hard as it is to hear, this is more important than your needs and should it go to court, cafcass and the courts will prioritise this.

it is also worth knowing that cafcass etc support the child's social life/other commitments over the needs of both parents. for example; you cannot prevent a child attending a friend's birthday party because it clashes with contact.

whilst i think trying to work out contact amicably outside the courts is for the best, court intervention is nothing to be scared of - you dont actually take the child in to the court. a contact order is binding to both parties and can help a lot with establishing routines etc.

The 'standard' formula for parents who live near each other is exactly as you've stated - half the holidays, every other weekend and one night during the week, any other time sorted out like grown-ups. This is not about the parents, it's about what's best for your DD. Children need routine and stability. What is the problem with this? do you think she will not be disrupted quite enought for your liking with this arrangement? Is a fairer arrangement one where you get exactly what you want? If you do what is truly best for your DD it's not that difficult.

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