Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

ExH applying for sole custody - I'm miserable

(116 Posts)
user1475501383 Mon 03-Oct-16 15:03:35

I've been sneaking on this message board for a while and am liking it, I hope you could give me advice and opinions on this...

The beginning 'sticky' post is brilliant where it says the only amount of abuse that is acceptable is 0%. But there is one thing that has not happened in my case. It says 'no your kids won't be taken from you'. But mine has been taken away by XH, at least for the time being.

It's a long story but I'll try to be as brief as I can without leaving out too much important detail...

2 years ago I moved out because of constant disagreements with XH. He was the 'domineering' type and found it hard to accept my imperfections, so it was an ever-increasing amount of criticism, escalating to verbal and sometimes physical abuse. At the same time, he presented as TheWorld'sBestDadTM and TheWorld'sBestHusbandTM and I doubted myself for years when I wanted to leave because my family adored him, as well as our DS, and also, he was so super nice to me sometimes.

He always told me that if we ever broke up, he would refuse to move, as it was his deposit in the house. We were abroad with DS (now 9) and got into another conflict and he refused to let me on the plane, so I stayed behind and flew back to UK the next day. I moved out then.

XH also always told me that if we break up, "I will take DS and use your mental health records against you". I am on antidepressants and I also have a diagnosed learning disability similar to Dyspraxia.

I moved back 6 months later, for a 3 month period, as I was so depressed I wasn't getting proper access to DS. Everyone told me not to get a lawyer - XH and my family - so I wanted to see if we could live together as a family again. However, it didn't work out, I moved out again and we stayed friendly.

However, I still wasn't seeing DS enough - I only had him over half a weekend and also one night during the week when I 'babysat' for XH at the old marital home.

Things rapidly got worse when I found a new man. On one of the conflict occasions I expressed that I wanted to have our son overnight during the week at mine, as obviously (because of the conflict) it was no longer viable for me to 'babysit' at the old marital home. XH was walking away from my flat then but turned back and busted his way in, and in front of DS and new partner XH started pushing me and threatening to take pics of the state of my flat for social services. (It was a bit messy as I was packing up due to an impending move etc.)

Long story short, I called the police and XH from then on stopped me seeing DS AT ALL without 'supervision'. I started court proceedings but progress has been slow. For an agonising three-four months I could not see DS for more than 2 hours a week at a mutual friend for a playdate. Mother's day I spent 1 hour at a local shopping mall cafe with my son and XH!!!

Then XH agreed by consent for me to see DS overnight one night a week without supervision. The court has not taken a stance yet AT ALL because of several bureaucratic issues delaying the process. Social services have been involved and so far they have said to me that they have no concerns regarding my parenting and that all restrictions imposed come from XH only.

We are due to have the first official report published in a few weeks as we're also going to court again then. I am nervous - my parenting will be judged based on an 1 hr long meeting with me and DS.

One silver lining has been that I got a good report from my GP stating that my medication and mental conditions should pose no risk to my parenting. I cannot stress enough what a relief it was to have someone say I'm sane enough o look after DS! Especially as I believe XH's behaviours fall a lot under 'gaslighting'.

Things that worry me include:

DS says he wants to only spend one night a week with me, XH has been parrotting this from the start. I used to look after him full time and then later on more like 60% when XH went freelance. I don't understand why suddenly my own DS does not want to see me more, and I don't know what it is that XH has done for it to get to this point.

DS has got a legal guardian so his voice will be heard in court through that. I worry it will actually be XH's voice that gets heard through DS.

XH lies a lot in his statements, I have tried to point these out in my responses to his (as I do have proof that some/many of them are lies), but the Judge has not yet had time to go through any of them properly, and I worry that XH will get his way as he is so determined to erase me from DS's life.

XH is a very charming man, and I worry the social worker / legal guardian falls under his charm. XH has successfully mobilised his whole family and many of our mutual friends to give written statements against me and my parenting. (Obviously the mutual friends are not my friends anymore after this!) He is very good at people skills and he also lies (which shows in the statements written by former mutual friends) that I am applying for sole custody when in fact he is. I am only applying to co-parent on the 50-50 principle, shared care. Like we always used to do when we lived together!

This has been a miserable experience and I doubt I would have made it this far if I didn't have my new partner by my side, as well as my family's support and their money to pay for my legal representation.

Any comments are much appreciated. Honesty too, especially that. I feel guilty - what kind of a mum does not live with their child??!! Have I failed my DS? Where did I go wrong??

user1475501383 Mon 03-Oct-16 16:22:36

Any advice or views please? That would be so helpful...

Sassypants82 Mon 03-Oct-16 16:30:51

Sorry, no advice but flowers to you. I'm sure somebody with some knowledge / experience will comment shortly.

Iamdobby63 Mon 03-Oct-16 16:37:33

I'm a bit confused as to whether you live in the same country as your DS.

I'm so glad you have the support of your partner and family. I really hope this all works out for you and you get 50/50.

It's not always so straight forward that children live with their mother, it seems in your case you were abroad and it's difficult to remove children with the other parents consent. You did what was right at the time.

You should have called the police when he busted into your flat.

user1475501383 Mon 03-Oct-16 16:38:49

Thanks Sassypants. I wonder.... what do people think of my situation? As I suffer from depression anyway I'm sort of paranoid whether I count as a full human anymore after failing at motherhood... most mothers live with their children.... I stand out like a sore thumb... Not living with DS is bad enough but it's just self-esteem destroying to feel I have not got anyone to turn to except my new partner and my close family, as I feel everyone else judges me based on not living with DS, assuming I might be really horrible or something... so perhaps I'm looking for opinions regarding if this is really how people perceive me,or just some of them, or just the majority but not all..

MyGastIsFlabbered Mon 03-Oct-16 16:43:18

The beginning of your post reads exactly like my story, ExH was charming to everyone else but emotionally abusive to me, undermining my confidence etc. He refused to move out of the house saying it was 'his' house. And he used my MH against me. And he says inappropriate things to our children, my 6 yo is in counselling because of this.

I'm sorry you're going through this. Thankfully my boys have always said they want to remain living with me. Big hugs and strength to you.

RedMapleLeaf Mon 03-Oct-16 16:44:11

So did you leave your son (temporarily) behind or has he been taken from you?

user1475501383 Mon 03-Oct-16 16:48:44

Thanks very much for your comment Dobby,
we all live in the UK, we were visiting my birth country when we separated 2 years ago. XH didn't let me on flight so I flew back to UK separately the next day. I was homeless for a month, staying at B&B's, friends' etc, but saw DS nearly every day. Then it took me another month to get my flat sorted as it had lots of dysfunctions, didn't even have heating for ages and took the landlord a good while to sort out.
We were going to share 50-50 but at some point XH changed his mind without telling me.... I went back to live with him and DS but it didn't work out.... then the police incident which I did report to police. The police asked if I wanted to make a statement to get him arrested but I declined as I didn't want them busting in handcuffing my XH in front of DS. I feel I may have been too kind as XH has tried a lot of dirty tricks from his part - he called my GP pretending to be still married to me, expressing concerns re my mental health trying to start a process to get me institutionalised; he also orchestrated with former mutual friends an incident where ex-friend abused me over the phone and sent me a few weird texts, then I replied by email and text and the next thing I know the police are on my doorstep as ex-friend reported me for harrassment! Then XH has insisted this police report is disclosed to the courts, and now it is. I am not sure whether the Judge will see through it....
Thanks for your views.

user1475501383 Mon 03-Oct-16 16:51:08

Hi RedMapleLeaf, thanks for you comment.
See above - I hope it answers your question. Basically, after XH stopped me coming on the plane with him and DS flying back to UK, I bought a ticket to fly back next day, which I did, and then moved out, staying at friends', B&Bs etc, organising a new home as fast as I could....
One of us clearly had to move out, so I was the one who volunteered... I thought it was only fair as it was XH's deposit in the house as he always said - his life savings...

user1475501383 Mon 03-Oct-16 16:57:50

Thanks so much for your message MyGastIsFlabbered , it's astonishing the similarities in our situations! I'm so happy for you that at least your XH hasn't managed to take the kids from you as that is the worst part in so many ways.... I never thought my XH would sink this low - I never saw this coming, him acting this despicable let alone getting away with it --- so I did not prepare enough and was in retrospect way too naive and trusting....

It is hard for me to come to terms with the fact that some of XH's behaviour falls under 'emotional abuse'. He's got a large group of fans, both his boys' gang and his female admirers - school mums and so forth. My parents used to be completely besotted with him! XH used to tell me "you're lucky that I love you so much because no other man would put up with you" and once my own Dad said "if you two ever break up, he will find a better partner, but you won't/can't".
I asked Dad later why he said this and he said he meant it as an awkward compliment, as in XH (Then DH) was such a spectacular person that it was not possible to 'upgrade' from him.

I believed them and stayed in the marriage for way longer than I otherwise would have because of low self-esteem. I am so grateful every day that I now have a new partner who loves and accepts me the way I am. I consider it a miracle that I have someone like that by my side. A part of me still doesn't quite believe I deserve that - I know this is problematic that I have this low self-esteem and am thinking of going to therapy to deal with this..

RedMapleLeaf Mon 03-Oct-16 16:59:59

I ask because I wanted to clarify the point that leaving a relationship doesn't mean you'll have your children take.n from you. I'd be worried that people will read your opening post and think otherwise.

user1475501383 Mon 03-Oct-16 17:10:02

Thanks RedMapleLeaf - isn't that though what has happened to me? I have had DS taken from me by XH because I moved out. I would urge other people in my situation to be smarter and less naive than I was, and to realise that things can get REALLY bad, Neither I nor my family never imagined XH would be capable of this - denying access between DS and his own mother for months, and then to apply for sole custody as if I am of no importance to DS's life.... I NEVER saw it coming, and would urge others to be a bit more street-smart about things than I was....
That said, I'm not sure what I could have done differently, as one of us clearly had to move out, it was untenable and DS was exposed to way too many marital conflicts. I saw pictures of DS and XH at the airport when they left without me on the day of the separation - DS's face looks so miserable, shocked and devastated it breaks my heart.... I don't know -- should I have bowed down to XH and begged and pleaded to get on the plane? Actually I did beg and plead and he declined, then he at the last minute changed his mind but at that point I had already made arrangements to fly back the following day.

RedMapleLeaf Mon 03-Oct-16 17:27:57

I think you were in an incredibly difficult situation and that you did the best you could at the time. It sounds as though you had no support, weren't in full health and felt as though you had limited choices.

I think that most people thinking about leaving and getting support here, would see that they had more choices and power than you felt that you had.

gillybeandramaqueen Mon 03-Oct-16 17:35:34

He sounds like a cunt. A vile, controlling, manipulative cunt. I am so sorry you are having to fight against such a despicable individual to have some custody over your son. Anyone who says they would use mental health issues against you is a nasty piece of work.

user1475501383 Mon 03-Oct-16 17:36:48

Thanks RedMapleLeaf,

you may well be right. I guess I was in denial about actually breaking up with XH until it just got too much when he didn't let me on the plane. We used to have so many arguments where we said we'd break up and then we made up a few hours later or the next day, and went back to playing happy families. This happened so many times that I suppose I was in denial about actually breaking up --- when it happened, it seemed like a spontaneous decision made from my heart, ie 'surely this has finally crossed the line', and hence I had not prepared AT ALL.

I still don't know how I could have prepared better, as everyone adored XH, and said he was the perfect husband and father, and he supported me a lot with housework unlike many husbands. It was like I was being gaslighted from all directions, not just by XH. It was very hard to break free from the idea that I'm such a terrible burden as a person that I should not deserve a partner at all, let alone a good one, or someone whom everyone thinks is perfect. Truth be told, if I hadn't found my new partner, I probably still would believe I'm not able to find a loving, respectful relationship. I am quirky and an 'acquired taste', and as 'awful' as XH is, I have gone out with men much, much worse than him, so I did not know how to set standards...

Iamdobby63 Mon 03-Oct-16 17:37:05

I wouldn't be too concerned over one complaint that didn't go any further. The most important thing right now is that you stay strong and positive.

Hindsight is wonderful but all we can do in reality is what appears to be best at the time.

Does your solicitor dealing with the access know the full history of EA?

user1475501383 Mon 03-Oct-16 17:43:24

Thank you so much for your strong words gillybeandramaqueen smile

It is good to hear this view. It continues to be hard for me to reconcile his cunt-ish behaviour with the PerfectDadTM he presents to the outside world and also, I did love him and I know he has his vulnerabilities. I feel that deep down he is extremely fragile, and that's why he overcompensates by being such a bully whenever someone crosses him. It certainly helped me at times when someone was nasty to me and then my nuclear-bomb-of-a-husband would be by my side defending me! It was such a strange dynamic. I am significantly younger than him so I think he enjoyed the power aspect that comes with being the male protector, and I have to admit I did really appreciate it many times, as I have always found it hard to stand up for myself. But you reap what you sow and I suppose it's no wonder that eventually I had to face up to the consequences of my powerlessness and learned helplessness...

Thank you so much for your support.

user1475501383 Mon 03-Oct-16 17:46:09

Thanks Iamdobby63 .

very good question. In short, no, I do not think my solicitor fully understands the EA dynamic. He is a collaborative lawyer.

I like him very much, and he is a very very smart and understanding man. But I am aware that I may have to look for other legal representation if he proves unable to deal with the level of manipulation etc that come with the territory of dealing with this kind of person. XH is playing hardball whereas me and my lawyer have tried to keep a mediating, pragmatic approach. Perhaps in our next court session in 2 weeks I should find more indication as per if this will prove to be working enough or whether I should switch to someone with a more aggressive approach.

Mybeardeddragonjustdied2016 Mon 03-Oct-16 17:59:05

Please be vigilant with what your ds legal guardian is putting in his statement.. Argue points in it if necessary. . I won my case by exposing the guardians entire statement as being the words of my ex and all utter crap! The judge wasn't too pleased at all. You sound like a good mother- just been through shitty circumstances. . My 15 yo ds had moved in with me after 9 years of brain washing by his dad against me. He told him last year I was a prostitute ffs!! My ds has nothing to do with him now. Your ds will see the light eventually I promise you. Stay strong x

RunRabbitRunRabbit Mon 03-Oct-16 18:17:14

I think you need a new lawyer.

You also need a child/family psychologist.

One of my parents left us children with the abusive parent. That has never been forgiven by us. We were abandoned, left with the bully, not fought for. We see neither DM nor DF much now.

This probably isn't great news for you but the fact is, you didn't protect him. You let DH take him on the plane. You didn't take him out of DHs house when you returned. You didn't even call the police when assaulted. Your instinct is to protect the bully and pander, not to protect the child. I am sad for whatever has happened in your life to lead you to act in that way.

If your DS is anything like me and my siblings he will probably not feel safe with you. You don't put his needs first. I'm sorry to say that when you obviously feel shit already.

I would suggest you get help from a child / family psychologist to help you find a strategy to help you rebuild trust with DS and to help him learn how to protect himself from the unhinged bully.

There's still a chance for you to show him you won't hide from protecting him. I think you will need help with that though.

DS might even be best off living with someone who is neither you nor his DF for a while until he can come out of the FOG he must be in.

Wallywobbles Mon 03-Oct-16 18:18:06

This is all just my opinion. But I'm afraid it doesn't sound to me that you are appropriately lawyered up.

You and your lawyer should be working on the basis that you will only get one shot at court and the stakes are very high.

You need to have as much shit to throw at him as he's throwing at you. You need statements from everyone you can. School, childminder, friends, boyfriend etc. You need to appear reasonable and cooperative at all times.

You need to get counseling for abuse. Do the freedom program.

Timeline the abuse (once you've worked out what it is). Not allowing you on a plane is abuse for example. Do you have the plane tickets?

I'm in France so the systems are not identical.

Here what happens in general is the status quo tends to be conserved by the court. So based on the current situation you'd get the minimum of every other weekend and half the holidays. You could appeal that decision.

You would not be able to challenge any unappealed court ruling unless there was a significant change in circumstances. So this means you could not go back to court until/unless there was a significant change vThe fact that you didn't like the situation would have no baring.

user1475501383 Mon 03-Oct-16 18:22:57

Thanks so much Mybeardeddragon.

I'm very pleased you were able to expose the guardian's statement as manipulated. Any tips on how you did that?

I'm very nervous with guardian's statement which is due soon as I know my XH is such a man with charm and can charm especially women very easily, and the social worker / legal guardian are both female. Also, the guardian first interviewed only XH, then XH and DS, and only then me, and after that she's interviewed DS alone, and then supervised XH and DS, and only then me and DS.... basically, XH has been in the position to make all the first moves in 'framing' the discussion around my 'mental health issues' etc.

He has also successfully seemed to convince the guardian social worker that I have not ever played a big part in DS's life. This was implied when the social worker asked me 'so you haven't been here before' when my supervised visit with DS was at a local indoor play centre. I said no, we've been here a million times. She said 'all three of you?" I said, no just me and DS. It was apparent to me from that exchange that XH had managed to frame the situation so that I was 'never there' or whatever, when the reality was I always looked after DS way more than XH did, before the separation!

Therefore I'm really worried whether the social worker guardian can see through XH's very clever and completely shameless manipulation.

XH also stated in his latest letter to the court that I was never really present in DS's life. I panicked, spent hours looking for evidence from over the years as I know I was a full time mum and then worked only part time and much less than XH... until I realised, that: DS is bilingual --- how the heck would he speak EUMinorityLanguageX if he had not spend everyday time, regular, close contact, with me, the only one who speaks that language to him at all, apart from a few weeks a year when we visit my birth country?

The accusations are so crazy that they really mess with my head... Next thing we might have to have an expert witness assessing DS's comprehension of EUMinorityLanguageX and giving a testimony to how a child cannot possibly have that level of bilingualism unless extremely regular contact with a parent....this just gets so crazy that we might have to resort to measures like this with the solicitor.... and even then there is no guarantee whatsoever of the outcome.

user1475501383 Mon 03-Oct-16 18:31:25

Thanks RunRabbitRunRabbit for your honest opinion.

I'm sorry about the awful situation you have been through.

I disagree with your view that my first instinct has not been to protect my son... He loves both his parents and I tried hard to make the marriage work so he would not have to give up on time with either parent. I don't know how I could even have stopped XH from taking DS on the plane - he is the more strong and powerful one, and I did not want to cause any additional distress to my son, also at that point my parents were still backing up my PerfectHusbandTM and were angry at me that XH was angry at me --- I know this sounds crazy but that's how it was...

I believe I also protected DS by not calling the cops / having XH arrested because I did not want him to witness the terrible prospect of Xh getting handcuffed etc.

I don't believe things are black and white in our situation, and that my XH is a completely bad person, or a completely bad dad. On the contrary, I think he is in principle a very good father, as long as he stopped his demonising of me which will affect (or does already affect) DS.

I don't know how else I could have done. I did not think that DS was in danger with XH when I 'let' them get on the plane -- he had the tickets anyway so I don't know what else I could have done.

user1475501383 Mon 03-Oct-16 18:35:18

Also, RunRabbit, you say

"
This probably isn't great news for you but the fact is, you didn't protect him. You let DH take him on the plane. You didn't take him out of DHs house when you returned. You didn't even call the police when assaulted. Your instinct is to protect the bully and pander, not to protect the child. I am sad for whatever has happened in your life to lead you to act in that way. "

I have tried to separate mine and Xh's marital problems from his ability to parent, and this has been my main concern. I believe that despite our marital difficulties we are still both good parents to DS, just not when we lived together. I believe I am putting DS first in thinking this way. Of course, I do wonder whether this will be enough, seeing that at the moment XH is acting extremely forcefully with trying to get me out of Ds's life as much as possible. But apart from his 'parental gatekeeping' tactics - if only they were solved - I believe he otherwise poses no risk as such to DS, especially as I believe he has stopped his physical punishment of DS -- he used to slap him etc, which I was horrified at, but apparently people do that in the UK, I have heard.

user1475501383 Mon 03-Oct-16 19:12:39

Thanks wallywobbles,

very interesting insights from you. I did not actually understand that not letting me on the plane counted as abuse. I was bullied throughout my school years so I understand that my base level for what I consider abuse has been a bit different to someone from non-abusive background.

My XH did lots of things like that - throwing coffee cups, bashing furniture, shoving me, pinning me against a wall, confiscating my property abruptly, etc. At the same time, he can behave very nicely when he wants to, and he was oftentimes there to protect me from other bullies. He also has considerable people skills and can be lovely with DS - although controlling too, but then some amount of authority is expected of a parent? It is hard to know what to make of this....

I would so like to co-parent with XH as I believe this would be ideal for our son.... however, do you think there is no hope for this, and that I should just apply for main custody and really bring out the domestic abuse aspects?

My solicitor has advised me that I probably would not get sole custody because of XH having confiscated DS for 2 years - the status quo isn't in my favour. That said, I do wonder whether a different solicitor, someone who's a specialist in DA issues instead of mediation like my current lawyer, would be better?

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now