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Is it right to ask for supervised contact over this?

(38 Posts)
Neepandthedragon Sun 29-Sep-13 21:13:57

Hi, I am new here. I have been reading this board for a few weeks and was hoping for some advice with my own situation.

I have not allowed my ex to see our kids without supervision. This has been going on for a while, he has not taken this up, so is not seeing the kids but has made it clear he intends to take this to court. He has been saying this for a while and it does not seem he will ever actually do it.

I have had some contact with his family and friends who say my concerns are unfounded, that I need to get help and separate my issues with him and the children, but I feel my concerns are valid and that he is manipulating and lying to everyone about what has happened.

What worries me is his mental health, that he does some very extreme and negative things that create crisis situations, often taking things over the line of where things go from being ok, to being very very bad. He regularly talks about killing himself, is a known suicide risk, does things like vanishing for days without a word so everyone panics he has killed himself and does so many other things to push people away that if I wrote down the details I would probably be outed.

In combination with this, he became madly angry with me and started doing things to get at me, like refusing to see the kids for months on end. he told me he wanted nothing more to do with them, threw away their toys, walked past them in the street ignoring them. This stopped and started until the last time when it went on for 9 months and I thought that was enough. I feel that treating children in this way is unacceptable, that this is emotionally abusive and considering that he has shown he is unable to prevent himself from knowingly upsetting the children as a result of this hatred towards me, how could i trust him not to involve the kids in the other kind of stunts he pulls?

I am tired of having this hanging over me, it has been going on for years and in a way I think that he is just perpetuating his need to have some negative impact on me by having this long standing threat of taking it to court followed by long silences and ignoring my letters (In the relationship he used to say he was leaving, would never see me and the kids again, then sit on the sofa in silence for days).

So I wondered what you thought-do I sound like a mad women for asking for supervised contact ? and what can I do to resolve this stalemate?

Thanks for reading (sorry about the long first post) x

StupidMistakes Sun 29-Sep-13 21:29:25

They are your kids, if he is a known mental health risk the court if he was to take you would more than lilely agree with you, I mean whats to stop him doing something whilst caring for them? You don't sound mad, the fact that he can be emotionally abusive would give me enough of a reason to doubt that he can appropriately care for the children. The fact that he has ignored them for months at a time to get back at you suggests he is prepared to use them as a weapon.


Neepandthedragon Sun 29-Sep-13 21:48:31

Thanks stupidmistakes x

It upsets me because the general consensus around me is that I am out of order for asking for a contact center, and that he is fully justified in refusing - I have been accused of being abusive towards the kids because of this. I wish he would just take it to court then at least I wouldn't be blamed for it all.

Oh ignore him. Honestly. No court will give him unsupervised contact against your wishes without him going through a long spell of supervised contact during which he behaves himself, and the fact that he is refusing to see the children will make the court even more inclined to consider him a dickhead. Cut all contact with him; ignore emails and phone calls etc.
Maybe you'll be lucky and he actually will kill himself, though generally worthless men like this are never obliging enough to actually die and leave you alone.

foolonthehill Sun 29-Sep-13 22:07:39

Really you are doing the right thing.
I offered my husband (abusive and controlling) contact at the contact centre after some serious problems . He declined. Threatened to abduct them, threatened to take me to court (so many times) Now 2 years of skype only contact and he's finally got to court (probably because his supporters are fed up with him moaning about not seeing his children but doing nothing). Interim court order....supervised contact.

people always seem to tell you that you must not stand up for your kids...but if you don;t who will? Yes if he takes you to court (slim chance) he MAY get more contact than you are happy with ...but given his mental health and suicide threats it's unlikely.

Keep good records. All letters, all texts and emails.
Do the right thing.
Remember you know your ex, you know your children. These others don't and they don't have to live with the consequences if they are wrong.

Believe in yourself and your judgment

Neepandthedragon Sun 29-Sep-13 22:21:34

lol solidgoldbrass - you are right though, he only pulls these stunts when there is something in it for him.

foolonthehill sounds very similar to what I am dealing with, especially the stuff about his supporters. It's good to hear the court made an interim order of supervision. I hope it all works out for you and your kids too x

Always bear in mind (and tell anyone else who gives you any shit) that a decent man who cared about his children would not piss and moan and tantrum about supervised contact. He'd turn up on time and sober, see his kids and behave himself. Men who try to insist on unsupervised contact are abusive arseholes who are not actually interested in the children - their aim is to harass the woman who has dared to dump them.

cestlavielife Sun 29-Sep-13 23:08:44

So long as you have enough evidence eg professionals reports than I really can't see him getting anything other than supervised.
And you are right to be firm about it being supervised.

The fact he won't take up offer to see kids supervised says it all really.

All you can do is keep being firm and kids will grow up and then they can decide.

Neepandthedragon Sun 29-Sep-13 23:31:00

This is my worry - there is no professional evidence only a few things from face book. He never gets any help, its all been going on under the radar. He is very convincing and knows how to play people and pushes the right emotional buttons.

cestlavielife Sun 29-Sep-13 23:54:08

You said he was known suicide risk presumably this is recorded some place ?
Have people called police or his gp on these occasions ? (if not then you need to start doing so...)

If there is absolutely no record any where of these concerns then you only going on his emails or texts to you. which should be enough to show something but
You do need some evidence. You can't say for example to a judge that he is known suicide risk and talks about killing himselF if no one has ever reported this to police or called 999 . If he has never been referred to mh team. Etc.

(I had Exp .s gp letters referrals, his behaviour witnessed by social workers etc plus record of a police caution for assault and criminal damage etc ) . And yes I have called 999 and there have been times his friends have called his gp etc , and he is known to gp and mh team..

cestlavielife Sun 29-Sep-13 23:56:50

But the flact he refuses to see kids at all shows something warped.... However a judge should he take it to court might see it as you being obstructive if there is no hard evidence that he has any worrying mh issues which are not being treated...

Also something like depression is not a barrier to contact if is being treated. But if recent incidents have been reported then yes might be ordered as supervised .

Neepandthedragon Mon 30-Sep-13 19:50:58

Thanks for your input, I was thinking of taking it to court myself just to get some kind of resolution, but from what you say, I could be risking not being believed.

He is a known suicide risk to the people who know him, but not to the doctors, and the people who know him have made it very clear to me that they are prepared to cover up for him and make me out to be the one with problems.

He portrays himself as a lovable rouge who gets a bit of depression from time to time, anything more serious is swept under the carpet. It's the crazy things he does that worry me, when he appears to have no control whatsoever of the impact of his actions on others - including his children. As far as the GP is concerned, I think they think he is fine, he believes in his own version of events so much that he is very believable. He never gets any help because all the suicide/vanishing stunts are done to panic the people around him and get sympathy (sorry for sounding cynical, but in reality this is the way it is with him) when something happens, he gets on a high after as people are worried, and so is 'all better' until the next episode.

I have no idea what to do, its horrible wondering when and if a letter taking me to court is coming through the door. I have been told that certain people are going to 'tell my children the truth - that I prevented them from a relationship with their father' and I worry about what would happen if (or when) we see any of these people. My kids don't need any more confusion than they have already experienced, and they need at least one parent they can rely on, who they can trust to be there for them and who they know has their best interests at heart.

I just feel that this stalemate he has created is so similar to past abusive behavior of saying/doing something then silence and refusal to communicate, that I want to break it, I don't want to allow this man to bring this negativity and stress into our lives, but can't see any way to stop it.

rollmeover Mon 30-Sep-13 20:39:15

I think the advice of others is spot on - if he really wanted contact and his kids best interests were at heart he would have been straight to court or tried to negotiate via a solicitor.
If his mental health issues arent documented you need to ensure that you are keeping a record/diary of things, contact offered, behaviour towards the children. Speak to your Health Visitor/GP/CAB/anyone official about your concerns so that if him/his supporters try and spring anything on you you are prepared.
Good luck, it sounds like you are a great mum trying your hardest for your kids in a very difficult situation

foolonthehill Mon 30-Sep-13 21:01:38

Don't take it to court yourself...let him do the running.

try to live your life as independently from him as you can, try not to engage and don;t believe the lies he spreads.

make sure people know about your fears and concerns (this is no time to be private, your children are at the centre of this)

Neepandthedragon Mon 30-Sep-13 21:39:20

I knew I would get some good advice on here! CAB will be my next step as have already spoken to health visitor, GP and various helplines. I have pretty much everything written down and so am as prepared as I can be. You are right about not being too private - I think that has been my biggest mistake. I think the main thing for me now is to try to put it to bed in my mind and not engage unless he does actually take it to court.

Thanks again x

CookieDoughKid Mon 30-Sep-13 21:57:09

You haven't gone into any details of his relationship with your dcs. What's he like around them? Is he physically threatening? Abusive? Can you give an example where he has been manipulative to the detriment to the children (whilst in his care)?

Detach yourself from this man as much as you can (when it comes to your mental health). Another biggie is his family and his friends who are his supporters. I would not suggest seeking advice/consolation with these people because they don't understand the real issues and even if they did, they would be looking at your ex with rose tinted glasses (because it's a lot easier and convenient to them to believe he isn't a problem manchild).

mummytime Mon 30-Sep-13 22:17:41

If he "disappears" again and you know about it, then I would report it to the police yourself.
Keep a diary, take screen shots of Facebook pages, start to gather evidence of his behaviour.

cestlavielife Mon 30-Sep-13 23:03:54

All you can do is keep a record of contact offered and refused.
Don't engage with him.

The fact time has passed with no contact could be enough to argue supervised contact for a while.

Any Facebook messages about killing himself call his gp or police to check on him. If it seems serious. Tho it would be best you not Facebook friends... And he could just laugh it off...

But really you have zero proof he is a suicide risk as it has never been reported or recognised. And his friends don't report it. (maybe because they know he will never actually do anything...)

Neepandthedragon Mon 30-Sep-13 23:10:30

Cookie - I keep trying to write a response but it keeps getting too specific and I don't want to make this identifiable. In short; he is emotionally abusive and has shown a potential for crazy behavior around children. I went to a mediation assessment and they felt it was too serious so referred it to social services. They spoke to me and said that it was their job to safeguard children and as I was already doing that, there was no need for them to be involved - hence the no man's land I find myself in.

cestlavielife Mon 30-Sep-13 23:38:20

Ah. Do you have a report from the mediation in writing?
Copy of referral to ss ?
That is your hard evidence l...

mumsforjustice Tue 01-Oct-13 08:06:45

Neep, nobody wants to say this less than me (as I have been through this), but I don't think anything you have said here would stop him getting unsupervised contact if he went to court as there's nothing that really would suggest harm to them. You should be realistic on this. Also supervised contact is really horrid for your dc; don't inflict it on them to get at him tbh.
You also don't say how old your kids are but if they are 11-13 plus their views will be taken into consideration if he does take court action. How old are they and what are their views?
Best policy might be just to accept he's an arse and a deadbeat dad, move on and just get on with your life, let your dc see him as and when for their sakes; as the chinese say, you can win by not fighting!
Good luck (and lots more support for women in our situation in lone paremts)

mumsforjustice Tue 01-Oct-13 08:14:21

Forgot to say, cab a very good idea. See what they advice. If you are in london, cab at family court in holborn are excellent so go there (google "cab royal courts of justice)

cestlavielife Tue 01-Oct-13 12:40:56

mumsfor - why do you say supervised contact is really horrid ?
it does not have to be.
my dc were fine with contact centre.
dd then age 6, 7 was v clear she wanted to see dad but only with a "strong adult" present and she knew it should not be me as ex would be nasty to me.

if dc able to understand why it is upervised and dad makes an effort in the supervised context then there is no reason for it to be "horrid" .
also supervised can mean another adult tagging along to eg a soft play centre - that doesnt need to be horrid either...

foolonthehill Tue 01-Oct-13 14:41:46

If supervised is necessary then it is necessary does not have to be horrid and surely it is only worth avoiding if it is not necessary

Putting children through traumatic experiences with their father (or mother for that matter) is much more "horrid" than any contact centre could ever be. And has far longer and far reaching consequences.

mumsforjustice Tue 01-Oct-13 20:28:44

Think that the experience for a child of some grimy center, someone loking over them and something half known is "bad" about their dad is awful and really damaging to a child

betterthanever Tue 01-Oct-13 20:54:05

Very wise words from fool and well done you on getting the interim supervised contact, let's see if he turns up and how that goes.
Keep stong all of you. OP I go with fools first post - no one else will protect you DC and you know the sitiution.
It is good advice from others who warn you about having to proof what you are saying - i personaly feel a verbal threat of suicide should be taken seriously in relation to the care of children. CAFCASS would know what questions to ask and base deciosins on what he replies - you can only tell the truth just makes sure it is the truth as or the court will know as my ex is finding out.

cestlavielife Tue 01-Oct-13 20:56:57

Centre was shabby but clean with plenty of toys for all ages. Ball pond for little ones and pool table for older. Books. Plenty board games to get out and play with . Crayons paper to draw with. Much like a local school or library.

Dc had already witnessed and seen dad,s negative behaviour but understood that being supervised it would be ok.

Obviously if NRp s behaviour is hidden from child could be different. But not all centres are going to be grimy.
Sometimes it will, be due to length of time without seeing the Nrp. All depends.

The fact that dad or mum has been "bad" in some way may well be obvious and knowing it s a supervised centre may well be reassuring to a child.
If child is very young they prob won't notice too much tho may of course realise it isn't at home. But then home will have changed anyway and they will understand dad or mum isn't at home any more .

Obviously your experience mums may have been different but my dc experience at contact centre was v positive. And staff were v professional .

cestlavielife Tue 01-Oct-13 21:03:00

Other supervised contact was with other adults.
It worked well with a lady who was a friend of exp. Older lady I was v happy for her to be involved .

It didn't work so well with younger people I chose (he assaulted one of them ! )

cestlavielife Tue 01-Oct-13 21:03:54

That was someone taking dc to visit with him .

ElsieMc Tue 01-Oct-13 21:22:07

Although posting in relationships means you will receive more supportive responses, you could perhaps also post in legal. Responses will be geared toward the realities of family court.

I think you have done absolutely the right thing because in your situation you are damned if you do and damned if you don't. A social worker would want to see you do the right thing for your children and if you have any doubts, you need to protect them. He is already damaging them emotionally with his erratic behaviour.

However, supervised contact is the slippery slope to unsupervised contact. It is testing the water and a way to re-establish contact after there has been no contact for a period of time with the non resident parent.

It is very, very rare for a parent to have a no contact order. It is always seen as in the childs' best interests to have contact with both parents. I differ in that I do not think it is in any child's best interests to have to suffer frightening, abusive, unsafe contact.

The family court judge gave my eldest's father supervised, then unsupervised contact saying he did not believe he was a violent person. Five years on, he has continued to offend (actual bodily harm, drink driving and a recent conviction for gbh in the last twelve months). His contact moved to supervised whilst he was on bail, but changed back to unsupervised following him being found guilty.

I hope you can avoid court and it's stresses. They do expect mediation and this may be a way forward. Another issue is the cost and this may ultimately be a deterrent for him.

Neepandthedragon Tue 01-Oct-13 21:26:33

Mumsfor - I am sorry you have had bad experiences with contact centers, but I would like to say that this is in no way about 'getting back at my ex' - My dc are the ones suffering the most in this situation, not my ex, which is why I have tried to set up contact with their father for them (albeit supervised).

The soft play area is a brilliant Idea, I had thought of the local sure start but he did not accept that either, but he might just do the soft play area so thanks, I hadn't thought of that.

CharLiz Tue 01-Oct-13 21:35:03

What a sad situation. Sounds like your ex needs some help. As someone who lives with mental health issues the disappearing acts and suicide threats sound like a cry for help, even if he doesn't realise it. I went undiagnosed for years, even my husband didn't know how serious the situation had got, so I can appreciate how he's managed to go under the radar. Feeling suicidal and being suicidal are two completely different things, even if he's doing it cos he likes the attention that's a big problem. Someone who is thinking rationally does not do this.

He probably won't thank you at the time but when he does make these threats or disappears for days I would call the police, they will take it seriously. This will be good for you as you will have records of what is happening if this does go to court and it will hopefully get help for your ex.

I fully understand you not wanting him around the children unsupervised (I would be exactly the same), is there anyone in yours or his family that could supervise? Just to make it a bit more relaxed than a contact centre.

I found that with my MH issues I became an amazing actress, I'm very open about it now so don't feel the need so much but before my massive breakdown no one would ever have known how ill I was. Consider this if you do end up going to court, he's obviously convinced friends and family he's fine. He can do it in court too! Keep records of everything, texts, letters, police reports, FB screenshots and a diary (including the emotional abuse he is still inflicting on you, times you have contacted him but he hasn't contacted you back, times he hasn't turned up to see the children).

From a none MH point of view as long as you aren't stopping him seeing the children and you aren't bad mouthing him to them no matter what 'his supporters' say children are very perceptive and over time they'll make their own minds up about him.
Best of luck

Neepandthedragon Tue 01-Oct-13 21:40:51

elsiemc - Thanks for the info - i am new here so I will try posting in legal.

I am sorry to here about your situation too, I was worried that supervised contact would lead to unsupervised, he is very good at putting on a front. In my situation at least time gives my dc a chance to get older and be less dependent on the adult taking care of them should they be with him in an episode (they are 5&6) and dc2 has allergies so adequate parenting is essential.

Neepandthedragon Tue 01-Oct-13 21:52:47

Yes he desperately needs help, in many ways I feel compassion for him as what he is going through is horrendous. Its because the behavior is so damaging and often aimed at damaging others that I am so worried for the children. When we were together we spoke about it and he said he almost wanted to push people away and do terrible things to the people close to him, as he felt he didn't deserve them. Its very sad, but in later it became very malicious towards me, including rejecting the children to spite me, and he knew it would devastate them, yet still did it. I just worry what if he involved them in something more serious as I feel he has shown the capability to.

CharLiz Tue 01-Oct-13 22:19:29

I think you need to separate the compassion and the reality. Which I know is easier said than done but it sounds like you're doing. keep offering the supervised visits so you can't be accused of hindering him but I suppose start to build a case against him. Going through the police is a pretty horrible for him way of doing it but it will get his assed at a vulnerable point. GPs have quite limited resources basically it's pile you with pills and until you've had the police to you or you've been to a&e it's very difficult to get any help, we went the GP route and it took around 9months to get anywhere. He's using these issues to abuse you make sure you're keeping everything. Keep strong, he's trying to hurt you so however hard it is try not to let him see he's affecting you. Even if you have to scream and cry after don't give him the satisfaction. I know you're saying it'll devastate the children and in an ideal world every child would have two parents that are lovely but sadly life isn't like that. At this point in his life it doesn't seem that it's a good idea for him to be a big part of their life. Doesn't mean he won't be a good dad down the line, if he gets help and gets himself sorted. When the children are older and understand more it can be explained that they didn't see dad around this time much cos he wasn't well and needed some help. No decisions that are made now are set in stone, everything can be reviewed as circumstances change. You have to do what you think is right, as long as you have good reason don't feel guilty. You're keeping your children safe

Actually, I don't think you need waste much pity on this dickhead. It sounds to me like his 'mental health problems' are more like tantrums when he doesn't get his own way. Remember that the feelings and welfare of an abusive man you have thrown out are bottom priority in your life. And if SS have already advised you to keep him at a distance, you will not have much trouble with a court, particularly if he is refusing supervised contact already.

cestlavielife Wed 02-Oct-13 10:44:53

it is up to him to get the help he needs.
you cannot do this.
you say that all other adults around him - including gp - apparently dont recognize what you saying. "what he is going thru is horrendous" - what exactly? if it that bad the authorities need to be involved... if you the only person seeing it, then step back. if others ar protecting him from himself - well leave them to it.

and if it is more a question of a personality disorder than a clinical depression it is more difficult to diagnose and treat...

so - you call police if he makes threats to kill himself; goes awol, etc. charliz is right in saying stop worrying about his feelings. do what is needed.

so - you focus on protecting yourself and dc.
offer supervised contact. somehing which suits you and DC . if its saturday 2 pm at the soft play centre with person xxxx supevising then that is what you offer.
he doesnt turn up - his choice.
kids get to play anyway. dont tell them he invited.

if he refuses, record the refusal.
work by email so you have a record.

get the report from SS, from the mediator etc.

your main argument here is that he has deliberately refused to see the DC for spurious reasons and isnt taking offer of (supervised) contact up.

you have no proof or basis to argue his serious mental health as you have absolutely no proof of it. BUt if mediator referrred to SS then you need to get written report from SS/mediator

Neepandthedragon Wed 02-Oct-13 12:48:13

Thanks, I feel much clearer now.

I recently read about borderline personality disorder which felt like it was describing him exactly.

You are right, I need to let go of making things the way I want them to be and just accept him and the situation for the way they are.

I will set up a contact arrangement and its up to him if he accepts. Its time to focus my attention on being a good mum and having a great life with my lovely dc smile

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