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"If a mother doesn't let the father see his children, then she shouldn't expect or ask for any money from him" says DH

(106 Posts)
futureforward Tue 19-Nov-13 23:25:15

I suppose the thread could have gone in many places, AIBU, Feminism, Chat... but I've put it here because I think (sadly) people might have experience of what DH and I were talking about and so might be able to give some informed opinions.

For background, DH and I were watching Corrie, David and Kylie have split up and she won't let him see the children because she believes he could be a danger to them. David wants access to the joint bank account but Kylie thinks the money should be all for her and the kids and this is what prompted DH to say:

"If a mother doesn't let the father see his children, then she shouldn't expect or ask for any money from him"

I then said, what if the dad is an abuser, has committed DV against the mum for example, what then? DH replied that in that case if the dad was truly such a terrible person than the mum should 'have pride' and 'not WANT' to take any of his money as child support. I said well principles are all very well, but they won't pay for heating, or uniform, or food. Surely the best interests of the child must always be paramount which in that case means the dad should not be allowed to see his kids BUT he should be expected to pay child support.

DH loudly disagreed and TBH got quite narky about it! I would like to know whose way of thinking is right here?!

fifi669 Sun 24-Nov-13 10:41:55

Help dude = jeopardise

Why do are phones want us to look stupid?

fifi669 Sun 24-Nov-13 10:40:33

Damn it. I posted a massive rant and it disappeared!

DP hasn't got a court order yet, every time ex allows him contact she says they don't need to go to court, it's not fair in DD etc and he optimistically (foolishly) believes her. He's had a 7 month period if no contact, a 6 month and 4 month. The longer periods were as he was applying for legal aid back in the day. It takes so long as there's a period he tries to reason with her, then the wait for mediation. She had an appointment, then him, then together. She has missed said appointments dragging it out longer. She had freely admitted in front if the mediator she'd like it to go to court as it means he can't see DD for longer. Although he is currently allowed to see her, he'll be pushing for court in the new year. He doesn't want to do it now and help dude seeing her over Christmas.

They were never married. She's 24 and quit work at 20 when she realised she was pregnant and plans to be a SAHM from now on. DP didn't want it this way but obviously doesn't have a choice. Before that worked part time at co-op. DP is 28 and works at sainsburys. There's no pension rights/loss of career/earnings to take into consideration here.

I'm not sure if ex has problems being away from DD or still wants to punish DP. They split in April 2011. On one hand she makes snide comments to him every time to picks up or drops off DD. This week it was, you and fifi aren't as close as you think, you're not actually that stable... I've met her twice briefly when they were together and we have no mutual friends, I have no idea where she plucked that from! When DP had my DS's car seat in, she said DD isn't sitting where that cunt has been sat. I hate to think of the prison sentence I'd serve if I'd been there for that one....

On the other hand she doesn't have many friends. DP said she never wanted to go out when they were together, she wanted to be with him 24/7 and he wasn't allowed out either. If he did go play football with his mates she'd accuse him if having an affair with one of the other men, he went to see his mum and came back to the washing machine had shredded his favourite jumper... We were friends and colleagues at the time so it's not post break up bull shit. This attention is now on DD. She says DD is her best friend....

Lazyjaney Sun 24-Nov-13 09:40:54

"LazyJaney, if you ever post in a way that shows you even see children in such disputes as human, rather than bitplayers in some man's psychodrama, then I may be interested in your opinions"

I think your biasses are showing, it's better to keep gender out of it IMO and look at the roles and who is being abusive, and who is being abused, clearly.

The kids are already involuntary bit players, collateral damage in the RPs psychodrama, irrespective of what the NRP does. The damage is Already being done. IMO the obvious solution is to recognise this as serious abuse and remove the kids, a short term pain for a long term gain.

Expecting saintly behaviour from NRP's when the RP is being an abusive shit is unreasonable - humans are just not that perfect. Kicking the NRP for not being perfect is just another form of victim blaming. It's a real testament that so many don't walk away IMO.

duchesse Sat 23-Nov-13 16:21:39

fifi, I may be being a bit thick, but surely if your DP has a court order stating his access days and duration, he can take his DD from her mother's care at the time and day decided and not bring her back until the end of his access visit? Does the mother turn up at your door to collect her after 45 mn?

Is the mother really doing it to be difficult to your DP and you? To me that says a lot more about the child's mother's state of mind than anything else if she does- she cannot bear to be without her dd for more than an hour. Which is certainly not healthy for the child. Does the mother have friends and hobbies of her own?

saragossa2010 Sat 23-Nov-13 15:55:00

basil, we had 50/50 before the split, in fact perhaps more like 60.40 in his favour and then he chose to take a lot of money and have no none of the childcare after. I accept I am unusual in that I earned a lot more than he did (we both worked full time) and our court order says I support the children. In fact one risk was he would get them after the divorce as he had done a bit more care although they were old enough to choose and he didn't want them at all so that never came to pass.

The problem with all my proposed remedies - dumping the washing on the man to do, forcing him to have them 50% of the time even if it were a week on week off or never changing Wed - Sat is that as you say the children suffer. If both parents abandoned the children as my children's father had done they would be in care (and I appreciate I am very lucky to earn enough to keep them all and to have paid out to their father).

As for men who set up a small business so they have no income (dead easy to do) or give up the high paid job to play at work in a vineyard in France to avoid paying a penny that is often done. I see it all the time. I've had men bragging about it on dates, as if they think it will make me think more of them! Even had the one who works for a very rich shipping family as an accountant/adviser regaling me about tax havens he used to avoid paying his wife (not exactly a good chat up line for someone left paying everything for her own children). I agree however that in principle if someone moves abroad, if you can find them and if they are paid under PAYE you may be able to use the courts to get paid abroad - not easy though.

Another trick some men use is give up work entirely and their new wife has a baby and she carries on working. Maintenance is based only on his income and not that of his new family whereas if the new wife gave up work and he supported her and the new baby he would still have to contribute to the first family.

[Thankfully however most men do want to see their children, are happy to do their washing and the dross stuff not just the playing around stuff and plenty also pay]

BasilDalekEater Sat 23-Nov-13 12:32:08

I would have no problem with that Fifi, provided that the partner who had gone out to work and was enabled to do so by the partner who stayed at home, was obliged to gradually financially compensate that partner who had lost out in terms of wage, career progression, market value, pension accrual etc., by staying at home.

That way, childcare would be valued. If men knew it was valued a) they would have more respect for the women who do it and b) they would start doing more of it themselves while they were actually married and c) the whole of society, including workplaces, would have to change in order to accommodate its status as essential and valuable and d) men and women's experience of parenting and work would be more similar, meaning that hopefully, relationship breakdown would be less likely in the first place.

perfectstorm Sat 23-Nov-13 05:21:01

LazyJaney, if you ever post in a way that shows you even see children in such disputes as human, rather than bitplayers in some man's psychodrama, then I may be interested in your opinions. If your reading comprehension improves, too. As it is - no. But if it makes you feel a little better about yourself, believing you could affect anyone, anywhere, then absolutely, keep right on. I'm good with that. wink

Basil, I agree.

fifi669 Fri 22-Nov-13 23:13:59

The dad can ask. What's stopping her saying no?

If contact should be arranged on a childcare before breaking up basis it should be built up to 50:50 where the NRP wants this. Then with equal time, there would surely have to be no maintenance either. Problem solved.

feelingvunerable Fri 22-Nov-13 23:11:51

I'm so glad that I have always loved my dcs to such an extent that my needs come second to theirs.
My love for them is not conditional upon their love for me.

Disgusting that many other parents don't take this view. Imo they don't deserve to be parents.

feelingvunerable Fri 22-Nov-13 23:07:37

care and control?
wow what an awful way to look at things.

Personally I would love for my ex to have more care of the dcs. I am exhausted by having the vast majority of responsibility, both financial and emotional. I would love for him to step up to the plate and take some bloody responsibility, but the reality is somewhat different.

As my dd1 has said though, "You have been a wonderful mum, whilst dad has been a disappointment."
Sad but her feelings .

Lazyjaney Fri 22-Nov-13 23:04:05

"you tried to argue that it was a valid strategy on the part of the NRP - which it self-evidently is not, as you now appear to admit"

I didn't say it was valid. I said it was not unreasonable, given that the do nothing approach was guaranteed to achieve nothing.

As for the rest, I do note you have somewhat moderated your stance over the last 2 pages - glad to see my arguments have changed your mind smile

Lazyjaney Fri 22-Nov-13 22:56:24

"He could suggest she goes part time and he goes part time fifi"

Or even better he could stop work, tell her to work full time, demand RP status and then deny her access to the kids.

"The principle that a child's welfare is the most important consideration when deciding care and control, is right IMO"

Of course it's right. Now, given the RP is being an emotionally abusive shit and the NRP is being a responsible parent, how about re-considering who has care and control?

BasilDalekEater Fri 22-Nov-13 22:37:15

He could suggest she goes part time and he goes part time fifi.

That way, he's taken the same financial and career hit as her and he's demonstrated to a court that it's right to give him 50:50.

Also hard cases make bad law. The principle that a child's welfare is the most important consideration when deciding care and control, is right IMO. Do you disagree with it?

fifi669 Fri 22-Nov-13 22:23:32

basil so if mum refuses to work after DC, the dad should refuse too so he would get equal contact? That makes no sense.

BasilDalekEater Fri 22-Nov-13 22:09:05

Non-payment of maintenance is financial abuse. Your DH is in favour of financial abuse OP.

Courts award care and control by what the status quo is. I too agree with 50 /50 care, if both parents have done 50% of the childcare. The way the courts work, is that they assume that the welfare of the child is absolutely paramount and the rights of the parents must take second place to the welfare of the child. That is absolutely a correct principle IMO. If most of the childcare has been done by the mother, then the courts will award care and control to the mother. Because that is what is in the child's best interests - the status quo.

If people want 50:50 care and control of children after relationship breakdown, then they need to do 50:50 parenting before relationship breakdown.

perfectstorm Fri 22-Nov-13 21:57:49

You do need to play the game, there was never a truer statement, and miserably the court option can make things a lot worse - it needs to be at the point you don't feel you have many alternatives before that's a risk worth taking. It does need a lot of thought, but sometimes it's all you are left with. Only you and your DH can really know if his relationship with his DD is surviving such limited contact time.

I'm sorry you are in this position, and your DH. And I'm sorriest of all that your poor little DSD is. It's awful to know so many kids are being preventably fucked up by parents who cannot put their own issues aside to save the kids' misery, and that she's losing so much from the extended family, too. Good luck with it all, and I hope you find a way through.

fifi669 Fri 22-Nov-13 21:35:45

That's exactly what it is! Powerless to help those you love the most. Seeing a man like DP who is the stereotypical strong and silent, bottle it all up type, break down in tears is devastating.

I'll point out those links to him. He doesn't have a solicitor, he doesn't have the money, but has had a few free half hours. The last one didn't sound very positive and basically said he needs to play the game. Sigh.

Thanks for your help, sorry for the hijack!

perfectstorm Fri 22-Nov-13 20:52:04

Yeah, sadly it does sound like court is your only option. It's frustrating beyond belief, isn't it. The worst thing about these cases is they're so petty at the same time as being so devastating - you do wonder how they aren't actively embarrassed to come out with such crap, when there are women with genuinely and scarily threatening exes who are fighting to keep their kids safe, and then you have a selfish PITA fighting to deprive their own child(ren) of the best hope they have of a secure, stable and happy childhood. Believe me, it's something the courts are aware of and used to, but to an extent their hands are tied. There's nothing they can do that won't wind RP like this up more, and make things harder, short of transferring primary residence. Which actually is why I think that should be an option considered earlier, and more seriously, in more cases. If RP like your H's ex knew they were risking primary care, you'd see a dramatic shift in compliance in many cases. But they don't because they feel more disruption would be more harmful to the children concerned, and they can't effect that strategy on the specific kids to help others down the line, obviously. But personally, I do think they should. I understand the emotional price payable by the children but I also think it's lower than losing a parent from their lives altogether, which happens too much.

Obviously I sympathise with women who've had a husband leave them for another woman, and who are scared to hand their children over to play happy families with the man who betrayed them and the woman who dislocated that family to start with. (Not saying that's your scenario, I hasten to add, just that it's a common one.) It's hugely hard for a mother to behave impeccably in that situation. But the thing is, being a parent means swallowing down even appalling hurt and pain if yout child's welfare desperately requires that - it's the same as expecting a father kicked out in similar circs to not only know his children are living with the couple who broke the family unit, but that he has to help fund things. Adults have to accept that gross injustices to them may sometimes be implemented because to do anything else will harm the kids. They have to be the adults and suck it up, basically, if they want to be good parents. The problem is you're dealing with flawed human beings, and so the gulf between what they should do and what they will do is predictably great.

Has your husband contacted Families Need Fathers? NOT Fathers For Justice, who are nutters, but FNF, who will help anyone - men and women alike, gay and straight alike - the name is a hangover from the days when no dads were ever RPs as so few had significant childcare responsibilities. And does he have a good solicitor? Obviously it depends on her age - little but often is seen as best for preschoolers - but if she's school aged, then he should be gunning for every other weekend and a midweek night at the very least, I think. An hour a week is derisory and her mother is not thinking of her welfare at all in limiting it to that.

I used to think NRP who walked away from their kids without fighting for contact through the courts were as scummy as the contact-denying RP. Then I actually learned what was going on, and came to have sympathy and understanding for why some did it. It's appalling that legal aid has been removed, in my view. I know they say it's not just about money - that people need to think twice before resorting to the courts - but let's be realistic here: nobody sane would ever go to court if they could mediate instead. It's hardly stress free. And some RP who have genuinely suffered abuse will be denied help, because it was never recorded, and so many great NRP will have to spend stupid amounts of money they don't have, or drive themselves crazy self-repping, just to try to see their kids at all. It does sound, with an ex that difficult, that you need the clarity of a defined court order setting out proper levels of contact, and the ability to haul her back for enforcement proceedings if she flouts it. It's just a shame it ever had to come to this.

If you aren't currently represented then the Coram Children's Legal Centre have a good free helpline. They can talk you through the process/options if you need to self-represent. They obviously have no motives in advising you other than the best interests of the child, which can be a real help when establishing what to do next.

I'm really sorry you're in this situation. It's a particularly unique form of hell, isn't it? Relatives, partners and friends of people being denied contact with their children are so powerless to help. It's painful.

fifi669 Fri 22-Nov-13 20:17:04

DP has been to mediation 3 times I think? Each mediation certificate only lasts a few months in the eyes of the court so every time she stops contact it starts all over again. The ex has refused contact saying he wants to run off with his DD, me and DS (which was never in anyway a plan!), that he wouldn't be allowed to let DD see her grandparents, aunts, uncles etc let alone me and DS. She makes unreasonable demands such as he had to prove he could dry DD with her present before he could take her swimming in his own... There's actually loads of things, most stupid and petty, some massive like the no family thing.

We want nothing more than to include his DD in our family, DP is raising DS as his own and we have another in the way. Pretty sure ex will stop contact again once she knows. She's already told DP AND a mediator that we'll never be DDs family, that any child we have won't be brother/sister and that she'll make DD know this. Mediator said she's entitled to her opinion! How is that in the child's best interest?

She currently gives him 1 hour a week. She cut it to 45 minutes a few weeks back because DD was naughty at nursery and wouldn't share a car..... This was blamed on DP. She cut it before because DD wet the bed....

It's crazy that RP can behave like this and not be punished!

perfectstorm Fri 22-Nov-13 19:40:44

Contrarian if he has the kids 50% of the overnights then he needs to get a new CSA assessment, and a contact order that acknowledges that status quo, because there are deductions on maintenance per night spent away. There's also a cap on what the CSA can remove, so even a bloke on 10k a week would apparently only be paying around the £200 a week mark, if he has them half the time. Though I note you say "stay in the family home" so presumably that's for mortgage etc? In other words it's ancillary relief (spousal division of money associated with divorce) and not actually child maintenance per se. The maintenance payable in that situation, as opposed to other financial settlements ancillary to marital split, would be at absolute most a couple of hundred weekly. Probably less.

It is horribly unfair on some NRP - the classic scenario of wife is main carer, has affair, kicks him out, he gets every other weekend and the privilege of paying for his kids to live with another bloke is often trotted out, but it's as real as the guy who abandons the kids for another woman with nary a backwards glance and has to be chased for support. The problem is that if you put the kids' best interests at the top of the heap, at least one and often both parents will lose out in various ways.

As to the state keeping the extra child support, that was the case, and in fact was why the Child Support Agency was set up to begin with. They used to prioritise cases where the RP was in receipt of benefit, much to the chagrin of working RP who could wait years to see a penny. But that meant the children didn't benefit from the money being paid, so in 2010 the law was changed so maintenance wasn't factored in at all - I only found that out this week myself, because I worked under the old system. It does make sense, as most kids in single parent homes live below or just above the poverty line, so it's a good way of targeting those families (the kids have already suffered a major deprivation in losing one parent fulltime, after all). As interventions to help kids go, it's not a bad one.

Fifi I sympathise so much. Believe it or not there's been an awful lot of thought and research into how to force RP to comply with contact orders, but the problem is the remedies tend to hurt the children, too, and also alienate them yet more from the NRP. Short jail sentences are theoretically possible but rarer than hen's teeth, but that isn't from sympathy for the RP but because of the impact on the kids. You can imagine how they see it - that their NRP has sent their RP to jail, not that the RP is a selfish arse who brought the punishment on themselves. Community service, with the kids cared for by the other parent, is an option, but again, it destabilises the children's routines and sense of security, and adds to the conflict. Genuinely shared - close to 50/50 - care is sometimes helpful as it cuts the power struggles, but the problem there is you have two people who by definition can't get along in any way for any reason having to co-operate closely and communicate constantly, and the inevitable conflict the kids will witness will all be about them. Horrible position to be in, and horrible example of adult communication to set. So all you're left with is transferring residence, which blows all that child knows apart, and completely disrupts their life all over again when stability and continuity are the best defences we have for children after a parental split. Personally I think it should happen more often, and at an earlier point: there are way too many cases where a child is irrevocably alienated from a loving parent because of an implacably and unreasonably hostile resident one, and a switch before things reach that point should be ordered in my view because the damage of losing a parent and hating a part of who they are is so appalling, that IMO the balancing exercise falls on the side of transfer. But that view isn't currently the most accepted one, because as mentioned, there are equally solid arguments against it. There just isn't an easy answer there, whereas with the money there is, as long as the RP is employed. The CSA can deduct from salary- simple(ish) as long as the NRP isn't furious enough to resign, and isn't self-employed. With contact disputes, it's the judgement of Solomon as to what can be done.

I'm assuming mediation has failed in your husband's situation - so no contact order by agreement possible? Always better than litigation if remotely possible, because adversarial court action is corrosive and stressful and expensive. Everyone loses, really. sad Good for him in paying more than he has to, though. Kids grow up and start being interested in facts, and at that point, such black and white evidence of his determination to put their interests first will help. It's such clearcut evidence of love, when a parent denies themselves to benefit their children. It isn't only or even mainly about the money to the kids, when people refuse to pay. It's a shame their mother isn't equally concerned with their welfare.

Saragossa, the problem with the remedies you suggest is they don't provide the kids with the sort of predictable, constant routine that is the best thing for them after a parental split. And while most people are employees, I agree it's a sticky wicket when someone's angry enough to stop working, or self-employed. Though actually moving to New Zealand is less of an obstacle in terms of enforcement than you might think. I don't know what the answers are when people consistently contact-deny, but given parental alienation is generally present in that situation, I rather reluctantly fall into the "reverse primary residence" camp. I could link to too many cases where that hasn't been done, and the kid is so used to blaming the NRP for the conflict and so vehemently opposed to contact, by the time they're hitting their teens nothing can be done anymore.

I suppose if there were any easy answers, they'd have been found by now. It's not as if it isn't a heavily researched area.

saragossa2010 Fri 22-Nov-13 13:49:33

I would support a 50/50 default. That is not currently the law. I agree forced contact may be hard both on the father who wants to avoid seeing the children and children who may not want to see their father. however it might be fairer as a default and then if parents/children agree not 50/50 or the courts agree otherwise then you can depart from it but not otherwise.

I don't agree it is fair you can refuse contact and yet expect payment but I can see why the law does not link them (and I write as a resident parent 100% of the time who would love 50/50 and is paid nothing and has paid the father which is a pretty unfair deal - all the childcare or paying for it, paying the father and he doesn't help or see them at all - just took the money and ran).

I suggest above that if a mother refuses or is late with contact 3 times then the children go to the father for 3 weeks. And on the other side which is just as common if the father does not turn up 3 weeks in a row or only very late or returns them late then he shoudl lose contact with them for the next 3 weeks.

Money issues are not always solved by deductions from salary as plenty of men give up their work purely to avoid paying or go into some kind of cash in hand business or to find themselves in New Zealand and legally avoid paying anything that way.

No easy answers.

fifi669 Fri 22-Nov-13 13:11:15

DP would love to be the RP! But as I mentioned before, he has always paid a bit above the CSA recommendation, so he's not refusing maintenance. Do you think it's fair that his ex can withhold contact and then ring and ask him to pay half of nursery fees, clubs etc on top of CSA?

Anyone know what the punishment is should the RP defy a contact order? From my limited knowledge, it's a slap on the wrist and don't do it again....

DP will be going to court after Christmas to seek official contact (as ex keeps changing or stopping how much he can see his DD). We both know in all likelihood she'll either ignore the order or the DD (3) will mysteriously always be ill/busy that day....

Contrarian78 Fri 22-Nov-13 12:09:19

I've always found the whole business of child maintenance odd. A friend of mine is going through a divorce at the moment. In order that his STBXW can stay in the family home (for now) he's paying something in the order of £2k per month. She is still able to claim a myriad of benefits on top of this. I should add that he has the kids (a daughter and a stepson) 50% of the time.

Surely the starting point for access should be 50:50 (which I believe it may well be) and any maintenance due from the NRP should be collected by way of an adjusted tax code and kep by the state - to the extent that the RP has to rely on State benefits to supposrt themselves. If the parents want to come to an arragnement over an above that - then that's fine.

I do have some sympathy with NRP's though who perhaps feel that the only "leverage" they have - with regards to enforcing contact - is to potentially withold financial support. I'm not saying it's right, but I can at least understand it.

Lastly, (and I offer my back for flaming here) some people should just stop having kids with people they don't know! Or stop having kids when they relaise their partner is an absolute *&%$£$!

perfectstorm Fri 22-Nov-13 08:17:44

Saragossa forced contact would be terrible for the children, though. That's the problem here with all aspects of bad parenting after separation: the solutions almost always impact the kids adversely. That's why there are so few simple answers.

perfectstorm Fri 22-Nov-13 08:16:07

I don't expect that, as I plainly stated on numerous occasions. You misrepresent me - have to, I suppose, if an apology for your mistake is beyond you. I consistently condemned both sides, while you tried to argue that it was a valid strategy on the part of the NRP - which it self-evidently is not, as you now appear to admit. Glad to see my arguments have changed your mind on that. wink

You also don't appear to grasp that many, many non-payers aren't being refused contact. Many don't actually take the contact they're freely offered, and don't want to pay either. But then you do tend to have a strong bias towards a male perspective on all issues, and most NRP are men, so I guess that's not a surprise.

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