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Child contact after father not seeing her for most of her young life

(32 Posts)
daisystone Fri 15-Aug-14 13:02:02

I hope this is the correct place for this question.

I am not going to give all details as we will be here all day, but my three year old daughter has not seen her father since she was 1 years old. During this time I have tried to contact him to establish contact. He did not even pass on where he was living and I only found this out on divorce papers.

We have been communicating through solicitors for the last few months regarding his wish to have contact with his estranged child. He is saying that I have prevented him from seeing her. There is no truth to this statement and I can only think that he is saying it to paint me in a bad light and to make out that he has not intentionally neglected and abandoned his child. He has always known where we were and I have intermittently tried calling him to disuss matters but he has not answered or returned calls. He has not acknowledged birthdays or Christmases. I only found out where he was living via the divorce papers and it turns out he is only a few miles away so distance was never a problem for him.

After me trying to speak to him and going to his house where I was met by a new partner (all very civil - shook hands etc) we spoke on phone and he said he WOULD like to see daughter. I said we needed ground rules, to build trust etc. Asked him where he had been and how he could account for his behaviour. He refused to discuss it. Some heated emails between us and the police turn up on my doorstep with a harassment warning. Basically if I contact him or his partner they COULD in theory prosecute me. Spoke to a sergeant about this at length who said it was a ridiculous thing for him to have done but that it is his right to do it and that people can file them for the most basic things. Obviously I was very shocked about this. I think he is worried about new partner hearing bad things and would like to keep us apart as much as possible. He has no doubt told her that he has tried to see his child and that i will not let him.

Anyway, we have had mediation sessions in the diary for a month or so now. He has been to his assessment session alone and so have I. We were due to start joint mediation in September. A few days ago I received court papers which require me to attend magistrates court a few days before we were due to start our mediation. I am confused and thrown by this. My solicitor says that he may have done this because he does not want to sit at a table with me and talk about the past/his behaviour etc. He thinks he may be intimidated .

My question really is, how will a court take this? The man has not been part of his daughters life since she was one and she has no memory of him. She is four in December and she has never had a father. They surely cannot order that she sees him without mediation between parents? He has effectively abandoned her. He has only paid money since the CSA finally caught up with him at his new address and clearly he has to pay now or risk the new partner finding out about his evasion.

What will happen at the court? Will we be ordered to go ahead with mediation after all? I am very worried about this and I am worried about his lying and what he intends to do next. His track record since splitting up has been very bad and I do not trust him. Anyone been through anything similar or anyone in a legal career who knows abou these things? I simply want what is best for my daughter and he has done nothing for her since she was born. I was ready to move forward with mediation but he seems to think he never has to talk to me again and can take my three year old without discussing anything directly with me ever again. Not to mention that I am not supposed to have anything to do with him because of the harassment warning. I am at a loss really.

wannabestressfree Fri 15-Aug-14 13:14:00

I must admit when I started reading your thread I thought your dd would be much older. So he hasn't seen her for two years roughly? Or less?
I would say the court will try and arrange contact amicably. Contact centre then building up to longer periods of time.
Unfortunately your ex doesn't have to explain where he has been to you and sit through mediation. He needs to explain what he wants re your daughter and want he want contact wise. Does he pay maintenance?

wannabestressfree Fri 15-Aug-14 13:15:09

Sorry I just reread and saw about maintenance. My advice would be to back off a bit sorry.

daisystone Fri 15-Aug-14 13:18:20

Back of a bit how? We do not speak.

daisystone Fri 15-Aug-14 13:20:10

He has not seen her for two and a half years. She will be four in December

BirdhouseInYourSoul Fri 15-Aug-14 13:22:20

I think the problem is that you are expecting him to account and maybe apologise for abandoning his daughter and he probably doesn't feel he owes you that.

For the sake of your daughter and her relationship I think you need to decide to focus on the future.

PenisesAreNotPink Fri 15-Aug-14 13:23:12

He can decide to never speak to you again. He can go to court and get contact and build up to nights and weekends away, all without having to talk to you.

This may be the best thing for you too. Then there won't have to be any conflict. There are loads of threads on the lone parents boards with people being reassured they don't have to see their ex and that drop off eye can be conducted without having to talk.

daisystone Fri 15-Aug-14 13:29:56

But he is a stranger. It does not matter if they share blood, she does not now him. How does he get contact without me being around? I wanted to ease her through this. I feel uneasy about him taking care of her, he does not know how to. I have no issue seeing him, but clearly he has an issue seeing me. Can they force me not to be around when my daughter sees him in the early stages?

Quitelikely Fri 15-Aug-14 13:40:12

Yes the courts will award access. Starting slowly then building up to more.

They aren't emotional about these things and deal in facts. They work in the basis that contact with the father is very important, regardless of what has gone on (within reason)

He clearly doesn't want to talk with you, he doesn't want you controlling when he can and can't see his dd so he has cut to the chase and gone directly to the courts.

daisystone Fri 15-Aug-14 13:42:50

Yes I think control is a large factor in this. He does not want me to have any.

And if I disagree with the courts?

googoodolly Fri 15-Aug-14 13:46:58

Unless he's violent or abusive, you can't stop him seeing his child.

BirdhouseInYourSoul Fri 15-Aug-14 13:49:05

I know it's hard.

My situation was a bit similar - DD was 3 before he met his father. That was his fathers choice entirely. We were only allowed to communicate on a purely practical level. Only ever about the details of meetings etc (this was a condition of his marriage - I was an unknowing OW and his wife had trust issues - understandable really)

To begin with we looked at contact centres or a member of his family facilitating it. Could these be options for you?

I never ever got an explanation from him as to why he had behaved so appallingly. We are not allowed to discuss it now and it was initially very very hard to emotionally detach but actually now it's not. We know where we stand and DS loves is dad. Taking that relationship forward had to take priority.

We built up contact very slowly as I needed to see it was being done at a comfortable pace for DS. An hour in the park for a couple of visits, built up to an afternoon and eventually to over nights and holidays. It took time but DS adapted very quickly and was young enough to just accept that was how it was.

PenisesAreNotPink Fri 15-Aug-14 13:51:26

Yes, they can award contact without you needing to be there. You can obviously in court ask for it to be in a contact centre initially where it will be supervised there.

It's all about the child's right to know their parent and he will likely learn how to look after her as we all do, luckily she's of an age where she can tell him what she needs.

I very much appreciate how hard it will be to let go/ignore the anger you feel towards him. There is no reckoning, he doesn't have to speak to you and yes, the fucker does get away with his behaviour.

Try and think of it like this, he's the one who's missed out on not seeing her.

daisystone Fri 15-Aug-14 13:52:31

I haven't stopped him seeing his child Googoodolly - that is the point. I was prepared for mediation. I came here to ask how we can go forward without mediation and how can I simply go along with him taking her off without any assurances or built trust etc.

Quitelikely Fri 15-Aug-14 13:57:06

I think you will be in contempt of court if you do not honour the court order. (Anyone feel free to correct me)

Your dd won't be harmed by this process. He's her father, he loves her I'm thinking. I don't see the point in fighting it. The grounds described above dont suggest he is a danger to your child. The fact he has initiated these proceedings tells the court he really wants access to his daughter.

daisystone Fri 15-Aug-14 13:58:23

I want her to have a father - i really do. When I see other little ones with Dad's I feel awful. I have wanted him to be in her life for so long. It is his constant cruel thoughtless behaviour that worries me. He has never put her first or even asked about her. I cannot bear the thought of handing over my most precious thing to him and not knowing what will happend next - how he will treat her or what he will do around her or introduce her to. I literally cannot do that.

Quitelikely Fri 15-Aug-14 13:59:23

Plus if the court sets out contact. Neither of you are in control. It's decided according to the best interests of the child. Not on what has gone on with the parents.

wannabestressfree Fri 15-Aug-14 14:00:19

You get the trust built up by insisting to begin with that it's at a contact centre. He may not want you around for a variety of reasons and he is allowed to ask that you aren't involved.

When I said take a step back I mean allow instead of demanding answers and rehashing all ground work with the court to sort out an access arrangement that your happy with.

Quitelikely Fri 15-Aug-14 14:01:20

Please do not take this the wrong way but have you ever thought that it was you he didn't want to deal with anymore. And he just had to somehow avoid you.

Was the break up bad? How often was contact in the first year of dd life?

wannabestressfree Fri 15-Aug-14 14:01:54

Once he has gone through the contact centre I am afraid you do have to let go a bit and let them build a relationship. The court won't look kindly on you not complying.

PenisesAreNotPink Fri 15-Aug-14 14:02:09

But you have to. And it will be done gradually, in the best interests of your child.

I can't think of a better way to put this but really can he be that bad a person? To her? I get that he's been an arse to you and a shit father so far seeing as he hasn't seen her - but why have concerns about how he will treat her or what he will introduce her to - you must have thought at one point that he was a good enough human being to shag and have a child with? confused

BirdhouseInYourSoul Fri 15-Aug-14 14:02:38

It's hard daisystone It really is but you have to just accept this is how it will be.

He will have the chance to build up a relationship with your DD during the initial early stages of contact.

daisystone Fri 15-Aug-14 14:11:01

He wanted to avoid everthing - me included. We were married and we separated quite out of the blue in the first year of DDs life after a big argument. Lots stress and fighting and me trying to get him to see her. Him saying he loved us but then not committing to trying again etc. It was awful and me left with a baby and then forced to leave my home as he stopped paying the mortgage and we were finanically dependent on him at that point as I stopped work (contract position) in the middle of my pregnancy. Awful pregnancy, trauma birth, baby back in hospital after being allowed to go home. Stress stress stress. Then break up and more stress and then suddenly find myself alone, with nowhere to live, with no money and no help (apart from my own family I mean). It has been fucking awful. He has run away from bills and debts and left me to deal with even though he knew I was not working. He has not answered calls and letters from CSA and solicitors and estate agents etc He has completely vanished.

So does he not want to deal with me? No he certainly does not, he is probably shitting himself about it because he knows what he has done. I however am trying to be composed and do the right thing but he keeps sticking the knife in and it really hurts. The lying about not being allowed to see his daughter makes me particularly angry.

PenisesAreNotPink Fri 15-Aug-14 14:13:39

Awful man.

And the answer of course is that yes, he can entirely get away with acting like that.

daisystone Fri 15-Aug-14 14:15:11

And penises - I did think he was a good person once. I was under the impression that he was kind. However he has not been kind to either of us for the last three years. He has not though of how we managed financially, practically or emotionally. That worries me. He is going to care for my DD but he has proven that he does not care at all and has gone out of his way to shirk his responsibilities.

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