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Unfair contact?(156 Posts)
I am very unhappy with the arrangements for contact with my boys(7&8) with their dad.
He works away from home(London, home is northwest)
He picks them up every Friday night and drops off on Sunday evening.
Why am I unhappy?? Because I hear about all the fantastic things they have done, been on a steam train, buried each other in sand on the beach, camped out in the garden etc etc. I never get to do any of that with them.
I cook, clean, sort out uniform, take to school, do homework, drop off and pick up from rugby, BB and karate and put to bed. And I love doing all that. It's my job.
I don't think its unreasonable tho to ask my ex for every other weekend. Or is it?
The boys I have to say are more than happy with the arrangement, however, it's been all that they have been used to for the last 2 yrs..
It's not my fault he works in london(he manages to get time off to to his house up as and when it suits)
I am nervous to ask him
A. He has the money for solicitors, I don't
B. He has no communication skills with me
What do I do?
Could you suggest that you have at least one weekend a month with them? He would get a break and chance to go out and have fun on a non-work night and you would get a weekend for fun with your boys? I don't think it's an unreasonable request.
Has this contact been officially sanctioned by someone other than him?
I doubt that as every weekend with him simply means he gets the fun stuff and you get the humdrum stuff
Not fair, on you and not fair on the kids
Agree with the one weekend a month being a reasonable request.
Could you suggest you take them away once a month? Ask the boys what they'd like to do with you, maybe with friends/ family? I don't think it sounds fair that you don't get that leisure time with them- for their sake as well as yours
I don't agree. I think the weekends should be split down the middle
Op, how did it happen that you and boys live in NW and he works in London ?
I think he could cut down his work to four days a week every other week and collect them on Thursday evenings EOW and you have them the alternate weekends. that would be fairer than you having one weekend a month IMO.
Who on earth agreed this arrangement?
Of course you should have them every other weekend if not more.
Otherwise - just as you say - you miss out on the down'time with your sons at the weekend after doing all the tough stuff in the week. How on earth is that fair??
In fact I wonder if your boys will just grow up thinking that you dumped them at weekends and weren't interested in seeing them? You don't need to do all the fun fun fun blah blah stuff to give them a happy time! Watching a DVD together, letting them go off and meet their buddies from school, a bike ride together, bag of popcorn shared at the cinema, tickles,..
How old are they?
It sounds a soul-destroying arrangement for you the way it is.
sorry just saw that they are 7 and 8 - they'll want to hang out with their friends locally to where they live soon.
I wonder also, if they feel that they have to perform like monkeys when their dad is around forcing all that bloody annoying fun-time on them.
I trust he does their homework with them too.
It's not fair at all, precisely because you do all the work and he has all the quality time. That's why separated parents usually get every other weekend plus one weeknight. I don't think even one weekend a month is remotely fair. You're a joint parent, not a nanny.
You don't need to ask him. Just say that is the new arrangement because you never see them - you can offer an overnight midweek and he can see if he can arrange things to facilitate that. You say he gets time off quite flexibly so no reason why not.
A solicitor can't make you do anything, only a court can, and what you are asking for isn't unreasonable in the least. I would offer a midweek night every week, though, plus suggest he has them until Monday am and drops them off at school when he has them, if he can fix that with work, so he gets a longer weekend on his two. If work is flexible enough he can probably make up the time by working early/lates?
You never know, he might even want the odd weekend to himself. If he has a new partner she very probably will! But I would offer more midweek time to compensate.
Alternate weekends sounds much fairer.
It was agreed through our solicitors when we split. It was just that, an agreement. He wanted them for half the school holidays(which doesn't happen). He was going to pay half of the extra curricular activities(which doesn't happen) and every weekend. I agreed to it because I thought they needed to see that I wasn't unreasonable. He isn't a bad man, but he did NOTHING with them when we were together
I am living very happily with my new partner and his 2 sons(one of whom is my youngests best mate at school, which is how we met) and also my daughter from a previous relationship
Me an ex are both from northwest. He just works in London.
Friday night comes and we all sit down to watch a movie, and my boys are picked up it's just awful. I dread weekends now
He doesn't do their homework with them as he is always too busy doing the good stuff.they get it on a Friday night and it has to be in on the following Wednesday.
If he can't do weekdays then relegating him to one weekend a fortnight doesn't sound at all fair.
I think one weekend a month is a reasonable request. Or every other weekend you get them back Sunday morning, maybe?
And that he uses some holiday to take them midweek, term time too?
He wouldn't be able to do an overnight midweek as it would be un feasible to travel from London to northwest I suppose. He even moans if the kids are invited to birthday parties etc at the weekend
xpost. sounds like you need a proper chat about a few things.
Unfortunately he is impossible to talk to. Everything would have to be by email. He doesn't reply to texts(in fact is such a miser that he turns his phone off at night to preserve the battery!)
My youngest sons consultant(possible ADHD) thinks that by my very fair and truly accurate description of his tendencies and actions, mannerisms etc, that he is very possibly aspergers
I don't know a great deal about it, only what I have read, but I think that she is right.
I have no idea what to email him that wouldn't be aggravating to him, and wouldnt make him then say stuff to the boys. He would believe that I am doing it to wind him up, and wonder why it had taken so long.
In actual fact, when we first split, it was nice for me and my daughter to have so much quality time together, but now that I have extended my family, I realise just how much I miss them.
We went to mediation coz stupid DH didn't want to have his kids every Saturday while I worked coz he couldn't spend time with new fiancé. So several hundred pounds later.. my boss changed my shifts for me after seeing me in tears with frustration. I remember the mediator saying they often get dads saying they want every weekend but they see that as unfair to the remaining parent who has done all the running around in the week (wAshing /cooking etc) and that person doesn't reap the benefits at all. Surely one weekend at home in 3 would be reasonable?
Anything would be better than this!
Standard time with separated parents is every other week and one midweek. If he's moved away then he needs to work with that arrangement. If he isn't taking them in holidays, when he has his own time off, then he really is just taking them when it suits.
I'd ask for every other weekend. Be blunt about missing them terribly and suggest he starts taking his holiday entitlement with them to compensate?
One weekend a month is painfully little quality time with your own kids. If the OP works then she barely sees them - they're at school all day, and she's at work.
*every other weekend, sorry.
Who moved? Him or you?
And why did you agree to every weekend?
Why can't he have them just one day over every other weekend and a full every other weekend?
Personally, I'd consider changing the agreement. It's just an agreement, it's not enforceable unless it goes through a judge and he's not fulfilling his obligations under that agreement.
Just change the arrangements
Let him threaten to take you to court (he won't, and if he did he wouldn't get this unfair situation enforced)
Stop being so passive. Does your partner back you up ?
He needs to be doing some grunt work as well as sharing the weekends. As someone else said, you aren't a nanny.
We split the weekends - one week ex has them Friday and Saturday night, the following weekend he has them t during the day on Sunday. He washes their clothes, he supervises homework.
The arrangement you have it nuts. I'm amazed your solicitor recommended you agree to it. Or didn't they?
I agree with others who suggest every other weekend, or maybe one in 3, should be spent with you.
However, when you email to 'discuss' it with ex, be sure to present why this change would be better for your sons. If it does end up in court (and if it does, self representation is an option), the court is only interested in the needs of children, not whether you miss them at weekends.
As you have another child, who is your sons sibling, that strengthens your argument for having some weekends. It's important for you to spend relaxed time as a family, and also that your boys and dd have regular time together.
I'd offer a nights midweek contact, your ex can choose whether he uses annual leave or renegotiates his work, or not. That isn't yours or your ds's responsibility.
Switch thread into lone parents and-or legal as some of the above is unrealistic. Changing arrangements without consulting and after you agreed 2 years ago via solicitors is only going to cause conflict and will make you look like the problem if it goes to court.
So start by discussing constructively and politely with him. As suggested one weekend a month might work or maybe he can switch to time in week during hols for example? Bear in mind it maybe welcome break for him if he's working all week then spending every weekend driving hundreds of miles and being a disney dad all and every weekend!
But court will favour current arrangements as court will be reluctant to change arrangements in place and will bear in mind he lives away and so can't have mid week visits. Your kids are too young for their views to have much weight in court.
Work for your kids to have a good relationship with df. Good luck!
I really do want what's best for the boys. I see their faces when they go off on Friday night. As much as they enjoy their time with their dad, when they come back on Sunday they always want to know what we've done. If we've done something exciting they always seem to be downhearted. Look a bit left out if you know what i mean.
How do I swicth the thread to lone parents?
There's nothing wrong with where your thread is. I'm a line parent and a lawyer and I'd say exactly the same wherever you posted.
Not having any leisure time with their half and step siblings is hardly ideal. And contact arrangements need to be fluid, what works at one stage doesn't at another. You're not in the wrong op.
I think email him and start with some flattery... say how lucky your boys are to have such a wonderful relationship with their dad. Then maybe move on to the fact that you would like some weekend time with them and that this would give your ex some leisure time to himself.
Something I wondered - what happens in the holidays? Do you still have them all week? Why not suggest that your ex could have more weekday holiday time with them if he likes? That would even things up a bit.
Although he sounds like a bit of a dick I do think it's good that he's so hands-on at weekends, wanting to give the boys fun times.
id say that one weekend a month would be fair - yes you are doing all the hard work but you get all the school holidays and you get to see them almost every day - my dp sees his son every other weekend aside from holidays because his mum moved away - and its simply not enough for dp or dss. its very very difficult for them both. talk to him but its not fair on your kids to suddenly halve their time with their dad because you miss them.
Memory making? Their memory of me will be rushing them from one place to the next?
I found his camera in their rugby kitbag last week and it is all of the boys having fun.
I don't get all the school holidays. I also have to work albeit part time. I struggle to get the kids looked after at the best of times. If the summer hols are 6 weeks he has them for a few days of poss 2 of the weeks. My mum 73 helps out as necessary to help me out. His mum won't consider helping. I have tried to tell him that she would be helping HIM not me. The KIDS not me. I happy to have the kids all of the holidays. They are my kids fgs! But I do need to work. I said to help him out I could drop the kids at his mums house, but she sees it as helping ME out.
So, if I'm reading this correctly your ex works all week in London and every weekend he comes back to the NW to spend quality time with his children. He doesn't have them at all during the holidays (13 weeks, 25% of the year).
I would suggest you ask to have the children one weekend a month in exchange for him having them for 2 full weeks during the holidays.
I would also suggest that you get him to help with homework and any other reasonable 'grunt work'.
It's really good that your boys have good/positive contact with their dad - they will hopefully be more secure as adults than they might have been if they didn't. Please keep that in mind when you email/text him. It will help you to be more constructive.
Your boys like going, are happy and have fun.
This contact has been in place for two years.
What happens if you change it and they are unhappy about it?
It was agreed through our solicitors when we split. It was just that, an agreement. He wanted them for half the school holidays(which doesn't happen). He was going to pay half of the extra curricular activities(which doesn't happen) and every weekend.
As far as I can see from this agreement he is picking and choosing which bits he has agreed to. As he does not take them for half the school holidays, does not stump up for half the extra curricular activities then I would quite reasonably say the agreement was not working.
He appears to only want to do the fun stuff with them to make out he is some fun dad. I wonder how many weekends he would have them when the homework kicks in and it has to be done by Monday morning. Might be a bit naughty but what if you got your boys teachers to ask them to do their homework by Monday. Then when he comes on Friday have all their books packed with instructions for dad to sit and do it with them.
See if you can get a free half hour with a solicitor, to get an unbiased view and to find out what would be considered reasonable.
It does seem terribly unfair as it is. I'd ask him for eow as any change you ask for is quite likely to piss him off, so might as well get it over with. How old are the children? They may be old enough to decide what they want for themselves.
Had a bit of a weep at work this morning. Work for my dad and my sister also works there. Dad(who is much more level headed than me and much less emotional!)is going to compose an email. Mum and dad are very supportive and fully aware that he is awkward and governed by money. Money is his god!
Sounds like you are experiencing the familiar disneydad phenomena! But if your boys are happy don't let your (probably justified annoyance) spoil it.
But yes if your dads level headed then he could be good go-between and much better than legal process.
If he is money orientated, it may be worth agreeing that he still gets 2 nights a week worth of reduction in child maintenance when the new arrangements are made.
Thank you so much for all your support. Most of what you all say is obvious. HE however is just so unpredictable. What I say in my email will determine the tone of his reply, so my email and it's contents are paramount.
Thank you for you replies tho ladies.
I will keep you posted xxx
Ballstoit. Child maintenance isn't thru the CSA. It's a private arrangement. He didn't want me to go thru them as I would probably have got 3 times as much for the boys as I do now! It isn't about the money AFAIC. He worked it out on the basis that he earns a 'normal' wage when in fact he earns 10x that.
He will probably threaten to cut payments etc etc, but I'm not arsed about that. It's about the boys.
He has on occasion, cancelled at the last minute for the weekend saying he has to work and it's very important, and when that happens, the boys are chuffed to be spending the weekend with us.
It's something that would very quickly become normal to them.
Even if you've got a consent order re maintenance either of you can go to the CSA after a year. If it isn't fair change it. It's not up to him.
And if someone's declared income doesn't chime with their lifestyle the CSA can investigate.
You should check the CSA calculator and work out how much you are owed. It isn't about money to you, but to your children.
It's about providing them with a better lifestyle.
And having at least one weekend a month with you it's also about them spending quality time with their day to day family.
So he gets them every single weekend, and pays peanuts for their upkeep while you do every scrap of the donkey work?
I seriously think you need to shift this situation. It's all to his benefit - not the children's, actually, let alone yours.
Child support is for the children, as has been said. It isn't for the adults. If he's not paying enough to care for them as they could be cared for, then he's depriving them. I think the CSA is a very good idea, as is at least 1 and preferably 2 weekends a month. He can certainly make up the shortfall in time by actually using the half holidays he's entitled to spend with them, rather than using you as free childcare in that time.
Just think of the fun you can have together as a family - all the children, your dp and you altogether - every other w/e.
Think how more a part of it all they will feel if they are spending quality, fun time with all of you.
Think of how much easier things would be if he were taking them for half the holidays. How much easier things would be if you were getting a fair amount of money.
Think how much your relationship with them will improve if you have fun time and work time with them.
Think of the example they are getting of what dads do and what mums do, setting their future expectations of their roles when they themselves become adults.
I get £800 per calendar month to support the boys so don't think I need anymore!
Firstly you should know that I am not seeking any additional financial support from you for the boys. My present circumstances and part time job means I can manage on a day to day basis.
What I would like is some more weekend time with the boys. I realise that the agreement between us does say,
“The children shall live with Mum, and Dad shall have contact each weekend as agreed and share holiday time.”
As things stand at the moment I feel that I am doing all the heavy stuff (washing, ironing cooking etc.). I realise that like all, or at least most mothers, most of this is down to me and I am not complaining about it. Can we come to some arrangement whereby I have the boys occasionally at weekends, either whole or even part weekends. The boys really enjoy BB and I feel they would benefit from attending BB parade once a month for instance. Can I suggest that I have them for the parade weekends and perhaps one or two part weekends.
School holidays will present a problem for some time to come. Like you I cannot take extended time off work. Can we come to some better arrangement than the ad hoc arrangement in place at the moment. There are about 12 weeks each year that need to be covered and the sharing is not really equal at present. My mum and dad help out but clearly I can’t ask them to cover for more outside my 6 week share, just as I would not expect your mum and dad to cover for me. I can, for instance, help you out by dropping the boys off at your mum’s for the day if you are not able to get time off work. This is to help you out not me.
I would be interested to hear your views and hope we can come to some agreement on this. I am open to suggestions. I don’t want to get legal or involve the CSA. Whilst I can manage financially I don’t have money to line a solicitor’s pocket.
How's that? I reckon I don't want 'part' weekends tho tbh x
That is desperately apologetic as if you are asking him to do you a favour. You are not.
You may not need the extra money, but check out how much you could get to get an idea of how much of a favour you might be doing him by not asking for it. (And if you got more, you could put it in a savings account for the boys, couldn't you?)
I agree with jux. Why are you so craven with him? There is no reason why you shouldn't complain about doing all the crap while he plays uncle dad.
Be more assertive.
I'd be interested to know why the marriage broke down in the first place but I can probably guess.
I agree with both.
Demand a lot more and then compromise a bit.
Here's my take on your proposed email: you are saying too much, giving too much away, giving him too many avenues to attack you/twist your words back at you, and asking when you should be telling.
I would suggest something like:
The current arrangement of being with you every weekend is not working for the boys. They are missing out on spending quality time at home at the weekends, they are missing out on activities like friends' parties and BB parades, plus their homework is sometimes not getting done.
I would like to suggest that we either alternate it - you have them every other weekend - or that they stay at home one weekend a month and part of the weekend once a month [or whatever arrangement you think is suitable].
I would be interested to hear your views and hope we can come to some agreement on this that suits the boys better.
I am open to suggestions. I don’t want to get legal or involve the CSA. Whilst I can manage financially I don’t have money to line a solicitor’s pocket. [no need to mention this at this stage]
I am not sure what to suggest re holidays, expect that you shouldn't be asking him if you can come to a better arrangement, you need to tell him that you need a different arrangement.
And you don't have to manage on a day to day basis.
Bloody demand what is his rightful contribution to the children.
Perhaps enough that could help cover holiday child care, nice treats and so on.
Stand up to him, FGS.
I agree that the letter is incredibly apologetic - and why aren't you getting your children their money, or even contemplating doing so? The money is for your sons, and they're entitled to it - I can't believe tripling their child support couldn't also improve their lives, at least to some extent? So why are you so anti the idea, honestly? He can't challenge that as the CSA works via formula, and if you mention you're scared of using solicitors, given he's a high earner you're giving him a bloody great clue that he gets one to send you a stroppy letter reminding you of the agreement, and you fold.
“The children shall live with Mum, and Dad shall have contact each weekend as agreed and share holiday time.”
That doesn't say he gets them all weekend. It says "each weekend as agreed" which sounds like it means as agreed between the two of you. That implies flexibility to me - so why is it Fri to Sun evening every single week? Is there another wording elsewhere that sets out the days?
Have you had any sort of counselling for emotional abuse? You seem, I'm sorry to say, very frightened of him. You're promising not to go for the money you're entitled to to bolster a plea to see a bit more of your own kids. Why? Why not calmly point out the imbalance in quality time... and not mention money at all? You already have the upper hand on the money front, because you only need to make one phonecall to get what you're due! Why seek to placate him over that?
X-post with lots of people. Agree with all, and think Pony's wording is a big improvement.
Your letter sounds like an invitation to say no - like you expect him to say no. It's also about you rather than the boys, and any solicitor will tell him he's on a sticky wicket arguing their best interests, but a much stronger one if you're putting it as being about your needs, which your letter does for the most part. The courts don't give a toss about parental needs/wishes, but they care a lot about the kids. His arrangements are all about him, not them, and that's why they're bloody unreasonable.
NOT saying your feelings are in any way unfair/unreasonable or anything but normal, just that you always need to present it from the point of view of what is best for the children. Which starving them of child support, hoarding all the quality time, and offloading all the really hard work of parenting is not, as well as being seriously inequitable.
Right now you're doing almost all the work and spending almost all the money, while he swans in every weekend to play the Big I Am. That's not working for anyone but him, I don't expect.
In your position I would ask for every other weekend, or 2 weekends in 4. I wouldn't even suggest less than that to him or he'll grab it.
It would be sensible to ask for more to start with, and then if you concede something he'll feel like he's won ground.
I think you need to review how you see this OP, it's not about you asking permission to see your own children, it's about you telling him the current situation is not workable and has to change.
I have never heard of a father getting every weekends: he doesn't have the responsbility of joint custody whereby he has to manage them in the holidays too, but he gets all the quality time.
Dear Stingy Fuckwit
The current arrangements are not working for the boys. They miss out on parties, BB parade, socialising with their friends, and spending down time with me.
The arrangement I propose is that you take them for X weeks in the holidays, as per the original arrangement but which has never happened; and in return I will have them every other weekend.
We need to review financial arrangements also. At present, you are contributing £X which is approximately 1/3 of what the CSA would consider fair.
As we have a family occasion coming up on dd/mm, I propose that we start the new weekend arrangement then.
Meant to say, make up the family occasion/family outing, and put a date which is about a month away.
I like jux's version much more. But hasn't op already sent hers?
And I like ponys. But it doesn't use the word fuckwit which I think is entirely appropriate here.
Jux and Pony should set up a MN Fuckwit Ex Correspondence Course.
Probably worth checking the CSA calculator.
There's a cap of £2000 net a week, and at £800 a month he's paying somewhere near that unless contact is reduced from two nights a week.
It's not possible to get £2400 a month from the CSA, you'd have to go to court for that.
So he could come back and blow the facts out of the water.
Will reply in more detail in a bit.
He earns 1k a day
I would like some more weekend time with the boys.
I realise that the agreement between us does say,
“The children shall live with and shall have contact each weekend as agreed and share holiday time.”
However, as things stand at the moment I feel that I am doing all the heavy work (washing, ironing cooking etc.). I realise that like all, or at least most mothers, most of this is down to me and I am not complaining about it. We need to come to a better arrangement whereby I have the boys every other weekend.
School holidays will present a problem for some time to come. Like you I cannot take extended time off work. We need to come to some better arrangement than the ad hoc arrangement in place at the moment. There are about 12 weeks each year that need to be covered and the sharing is not really equal at present. My mum and dad help out but clearly I can’t ask them to cover for more outside my 6 week share, just as I would not expect your mum and dad to cover for me. I can, for instance, help you out by dropping the boys off at your mum’s for the day if you are not able to get time off work. This is to help you out not me.
I would be interested to hear your views and hope we can come to some agreement on this.
Is that better??
No. Not really. You're really scared of him aren't you?
This is the bit I particularly take issue with:
realise that like all, or at least most mothers, most of this is down to me and I am not complaining about it
The only bit of parenting you are uniquely equipped for you have done. Having a vagina doesn't make you better suited to operating a washing machine than him.
I was thinking more along these lines:
Despite our previous agreement, I have come to the conclusion that the boys will benefit from having frequent weekend time with me and their little sibling.
They are having hardly any fun and quality time with me, their own mother, so they need us to come to a better arrangement for them whereby they stay here at home every other weekend.
I'm sure they will miss you too, as you they. So, I strongly suggest that you do take advantage of the half of the holiday time they are entitled with you and that you haven't used in the last two years. Even if you have to pay for some child care then, they will benefit from having extended time, during the week with you.
I am open to discuss some details, but I expect that you will agree and for the new schedule to start next month for the benefit of the children.
By the way, the CSA recommended amount that you should contribute towards the boy's maintenance is xxxx. So your payments will need to be revised accordingly.
To make the case for a change in agreement, you can reinforce that he has not kept quite a lot of his part of the agreement, so it's badly in need of a revision.
I am not frightened of him. I just can't be arsed with all the shit that comes with the whole confrontation thing.
We split up because of his massive obsession with money. He lived in the Middle East for 5 months when the boys were 4&5. He skyped once a week. He sent me £400/ month.
We weren't allowed to read AND watch the tv at night. Should I say, if I was watching tv with the lamp next to me turned on, I would be heavily questioned as to the necessity of having the lamp on. Surely I would only need the lamp to read, not to watch the tv!
Everything was about making money. Not going anywhere. Everything was too expensive, not good value for money etc.
I just feel that he will be leaving all of his money to the boys anyway(albeit tied up in trust)
He will probably put it in a better high interest account than I ever would tbh.
When we split up, I took certain things from the house that I had previously. I didn't however take anything that wasn't necessary. I didn't want to leave big empty gaps in the house, as when the boys went back at weekends, I wanted them to see it as home, not somewhere I used to be and left empty(as I knew he wouldn't replace things)
In fact he still doesn't have a microwave. He told the boys that he hasn't got a microwave because 'your mum took it!'
I don't want him to have the opportunity to tell the boys that I bled him dry, or left him without.
I don't think your nice attitude will actually pay off. Not for you nor for the children.
You don't know he'll invest the money for them at all.
Or keep it for them as inheritance.
You do need better negotiating skills on this.
Op, getting the correct amount of maintenance isn't bleeding someone dry. You can't just go 'well he'll leave the boys all his money anyway' - you cannot know this. This is likely to be years and years and years away, long after the boys have graduated university, bought houses, started their own families - assuming your ex doesn't go onto have more children, or require very expensive long term private nursing care, or marry a con artist, or ANYTHING. You cannot base your actions now on assuming an inheritance in the future.
You do sound scared of him, and making excuses to avoid confrontation. Have you done the Freedom Programme or anything like that since you split?
I am sorry love, but you are being absolutely mugged off by this man. When you were together he did it, and still you allow him to do so.
Please, at least take out the ingratiating "all mothers expect to do the shitwork part of parenting"
I think he has done an absolute number on you, to be honest. You're still viewing everything through a prism of how he will think, feel and react. Who gives an airborne fornication? What matters is that you support his relationship with the kids (increasing holidays and offering longer weekends when he has them enables him to see them as much, without adversely impacting on your own time with them) and your own relationship with them, too. His thoughts are his own business. Your kids need close and loving relationships with you both.
You barely see your own kids for any of the fun part of the week. The courts don't offer every other weekend or that plus more weekdays or 50/50 arbitrarily. They do it so both parents have the chance to nurture a decent relationship with their children. He's hogging the cream and leaving the skim milk, effectively.
Wheatus that cap is outdated. He should be paying £336 a week - just checked it on the CSA calculator - which is £1460 a month. Or, put another way, one and a half days of his monthly earnings. He's not "close to that" if he pays £800 a month, which is less than he earns in a day. I don't think £660 extra a month is nothing, and that's even after applying the CSA earnings cap! And if the Children Act (from memory?) were used in addition to the CSA, she might be able to get them more. He's a colossally high earner and his kids are getting peanuts, proportionately. And it's not as if he's in an income bracket where paying more sensible amounts of money would cause him hardship, either. He's just being tight.
OP, is he paying for school fees, and did you get a property settlement of any kind when you left? What sort of legal representation did you have, how independent was it, and did they talk about what you might be entitled to? I'm just scratching my head at how much of his own way this man has had and apparently will keep right on having. Why aren't you angrier? I'm honestly puzzled. What you describe in your marriage is financial abuse. You say you aren't scared of him, but you tolerated financial abuse, then left in a way that allowed him to continue controlling you, both in terms of your relatively awful financial provision, and the really inequitable contact arrangements. It's all on his terms. Why? Why talk about getting a tiny bit more of his earnings to care for his kids as "bleeding him dry" and don't you think that that is his mindset coming from your own lips, even after all this time?
I think you really, really do need to think about doing the Freedom Programme. You may be out, but you're still thinking along the lines he inculcated. You don't need to.
Ok. This is what I have just sent
Despite our previous agreement, I have come to the conclusion that the boys will benefit from having frequent weekend time with me and Lily.
They are having hardly any fun and quality time with us in our family home, so they need us to come to a better arrangement for them whereby they stay here at home every other weekend.
I'm sure they will miss you, as you they, so I strongly suggest that you take advantage of the half of the holiday time that they are entitled to with you, that you haven't used in the last two years. Even if you have to pay for some child care, then they will benefit from having extended time, during those weeks with you.
I am open to discuss some details, but I expect that you will agree and for the new schedule to start next month for the benefit of the children.
By the way, the CSA recommended amount that you should contribute towards the boy's maintenance is £336/week. So your payments will need to be revised accordingly. Obviously I wouldn't have to ask you for any extra curricular payments re rugby, karate and BB.
I strongly agree with other posters who say that you need to make it about the boys, not about what you want. You are also inviting him to say "no". Then what would you do? You say you are not scared of him, but you are scared to some extent of his reaction and want to pander to him. It won't help in the long run. Have you asked the boys what they would like? As well as telling them that YOU want more time with them. (At the moment they may assume you're happy for them to leave the house every weekend)
I would send something like...
*I'm writing to address our current arrangements which are not working. The boys and I would like more weekend time. As we have agreed that “The children shall live with and shall have contact each weekend as agreed and share holiday time.” I propose that they spend alternate weekends with me, and skype you on these weekends. Holidays can be split equally as agreed."
I suggest we start on such and such a date. If you have a problem with this then I am willing to try mediation, which I can arrange.
Whatever you do, don't start mentioning IN WRITING your problems with childcare, as it sounds like you want him to have the boys in order to do you a favour in the holidays, rather than for their benefit. This would really go against you if it ever did go to court.
I think in order to change things, you will have to deal with the fallout and his possibly hostile reaction. But it will be worth it in the long run.
cross post! Very assertive reply. Well done :-)
He isn't paying school fees at all!!!
Neither of us is!
I have access to his emails as I said. He has a very astute accountant who is his solicitors best mate. They all play golf together etc.
He is always after ways to hide his income. Through pension overpayments etc. he claims for everything he can. Petrol, office, accom. Mobile. Meals. You name it
He spends all week in a bloody youth hostel FFS!
I can't, unfortunately take the credit for my reply-thanks Lweji!
MUCH better email I'm glad that was the one you sent!!
Well done Lwejii
I just know that I will get a barrage of abuse now
Incidentally my lovely partner is very supportive of me. His ex is an alcoholic and he has full custody of his boys. He gets no maintenance but is a good earner as a plumbing and heating engineer. We are financially comfortable and very happy. Home is now a pleasure to go back to at the end of every day
Part of the many reasons I left my ex was that I didn't want my boys to think that what they were witnessing at home was how they should treat future partners.
I got 140k out of our joint house. I bought a house outright which have since sold to buy the house we now all(7 of us) live in x
That email is much, much better, I'm cheering you here. And I do understand why you settled for so little for yourself - sometimes money is not worth the aggro, is it. But time with your kids, and the (capped, so actually minimal) CSA money they are entitled to for their childhood - that is.
If you get abuse, then just remember how bad that will make him look if he does try to use legal threats. Honestly, I think you might want to call Women's Aid, because he was abusive in the marriage and if he starts it again over money/contact then that's what they are there for.
Again, I think that email is great. Good for you.
Also so happy to know you have such happy home circumstances now. Honestly it's not fair on your sons to miss out on that, either. They need both parents.
Don't read it straight away. Only when you are feeling ready.
And don't back down.
If anything, eventually say "the best I can do is..."
At worst go through CSA for the payment and don't be afraid of potentially going through the court.
My experience was that the more accommodating, the more he takes advantage.
just catching up wiyh this. well done OP!( and those who helped) but especially OP for being so assertive and sending that email. don't worry about him kicking off- he's a toddler throwing the toys out of the pram and the fact that you know to expect it puts you in a better position to deal with it. react calmly. sleep on any response he sends before replying- don't reply with a knee jerk response because he knows how to trigger certain behaviours/reactions from you and will be relying on you caving to his temper tantrum so really think through any replies you send and do come back if you need any more advice here.
good luck. I hope this is the start of him taking you seriously. and you taking yourself seriously. hold on to that assertiveness- you will need it.
I have just always thought that I had/have everything I need for the kids so anything in excess is just greed. It's easy when with a rich man to just think pound signs. The boys have a fab life with us. Whereas their dad has more money, it's all locked away and forbidden to be spent. With us, we go out for days,bout for tea etc
He MADE me think like a miser, and that everyone was out to snare him and his dosh.
Lovely lovely people on here! Thank you so much xxxx
I LOVE that you sent that email. You sound like you have a lovely time with your boys. The best you can do for them is let them have a chance to experience that lovely family time some weekends each month.
Am really big into family time/memory making. Feel loads stronger since posting on here.
I was really willing you to be strong in your e mail, your first attempts were so wobbly and invited the answer "no".
Good on you, you came up trumps. Be prepared to battle it out though, he sounds used to getting his own way. And FWIW, the current set up is not right for you or your boys.
Well done on that very calm, assertive amd reasonable email. If he does email back loads of abuse in return, just think of it as "evidence thtml can be uses to support your case in future. In the same way, try to view your own ails as public documents too - you want to demonstrate how firm and reasonable you are being, so don't stoop to his level.
I think every other weekend plus half of school holidays sounds completely fair. Andmake sure your boys are getting the money they're entitled to as well. Good luck!
Argh... "evidence that can be used" and "your own emails"
You can always put any left over money on saving accounts for the boys, for them to actually use as they please when they are older.
Or as an emergency fund for them.
Wanting money for your children is not being greedy.
Not contributing what is fair to your children is abusive, on the other hand.
I agree with Lewji, any extra money from him can be put away for the boys' university fees or towards their first property.
You're not asking for it for yourself. He chose to be their father & he should contribute according to the nationally agreed scale.
There is no guarantee whatsoever that your sons will ever inherit a bean. If he goes on to have another family he could leave it all to them.
Well done you! That email is good, no-nonsense, unapologetic and factual.
I think you should have one in every three weekends.
Why one in three, not two?
Incidentally, the comment at the end of my email about CSA and money didn't rest easily with me. DID send it, but feel incredibly uncomfortable with it. He hasn't replied yet. He will be picking the boys up as usual tomorrow night.
Do I mention it or not?
If I do, he will argue in front of the kids which I absolutely won't do.
Do I drop it into conversation with the boys? Just done bath time. Kids have broken up today and youngest was asking me if they are with me tomorrow ALL day. I told him yes and he was that pleased that most of the contents of the bath ended up on me!!!! Lol
Good luck OP.
I can see this going two ways, he meekly accepts it or it's court time.
And as this has been the status quo for two years, you agreed to it, and
'The boys I have to say are more than happy with the arrangement'
'In actual fact, when we first split, it was nice for me and my daughter to have so much quality time together,'
'I found his camera in their rugby kitbag last week and it is all of the boys having fun.'
Could be a long court battle.
Hopefully he'll see reason and share the weekends and have half the holidays.
I don't think you have really RTFT have you, wheatus ?
I think I have thanks.
And I've experience of divorce courts, child court cases and status quo.
No point getting unrealistic advice.
Just lost that post!!
No. No news yet.
He will be picking the boys up tomorrow night. Do I mention it if he doesn't? I would imagine he will have been frantically trying to contact his solicitor!
Do I drop anything into conversation with the boys? My kids broke up for half term today. Just had bath time and youngest asked me if they were going to be with me ALL day with me tomorrow. When I told him yes, most of the contents of the bath need up on me lol!!
Incidentally, the last line of my email re money and CSA doesn't rest easy with me.,I DID keep,it in, but feel so shit about it. NOT scared of him or anything, and know the kids are entitled and all that. But not sitting easy
Just wondering why above poster reckons 1 in 3 rather than 2 is fairer?
Ok. So I didn't lose it!!!
Don't feel shit about the CSA OP, this is not about you it's purely about your boys. Any normal father earning what he does would want to provide generously for their kids.
The boys are happy with it cos it's all that they know. They demonstrate daily how much they want to me with ME too.
The pictures on his camera of them having fun are great. Is it wrong of me to want quality time with my own children Wheatus?
Why would anyone deny me that. They are after all my children too. Why should I have to do all of the shit stuff, school, rugby, BB, karate runs. Homework.washing, cooking, shopping, cleaning, doctors, opticians, dentist and much much more on top, and on top of that, get none of the good stuff. Lazy days, lie ins, bike rides, Sunday lunch with my parents(because of course they suffer too)
I am doing the job of a nanny as someone said up thread. Not fair
As I have said, I don't want more money, I just want my boys for some down time. Can't wait for tomorrow when they get into bed with me in the morning.
In your situation I wouldn't want to talk to him without legal advice.
You can get a free consultation as others have mentioned.
If he's likely to make a row on the doorstep, then tell him calmly and firmly you're not going to discuss it in front of the boys.
As regards Wheatus' post, the terms as OP described them were:
"The children shall live with Mum, and Dad shall have contact each weekend as agreed and share holiday time.”
First of all he doesn't share holiday time; secondly the phrase 'have contact each weekend' is open to interpretation - arguably having the boys for the whole weekend every weekend is more than simply having 'contact'; thirdly dad is not ensuring that the boys do their weekend homework which is fairly fundamental to parental responsibility; fourthly, it is difficult for OP's family to bond effectively if the boys are never there at weekends & they may end up feeling left out; fifthly, pics of kids having fun can be found on most divorced dads' phones...
Twink, it's all there on the thread. Wheatus chose not to read it properly.
I agree you should have and deserve weekends with your children.
I suppose I was looking at at as he and the courts could look at it.
Hopefully he'll agree to it without any problems.
Thank you twinkle. It's so easy to feel negative about stuff when 24 hrs earlier you feel buoyed up and positive
Yes, Wheatus, you were looking at it from his POV. He's not in charge though, is he ?
"I'd like to discuss my e mail with you, preferably not in front of the boys. Perhaps we can talk when they come back home on Sunday"
Bubbly - I don't know your situation and can see that you're getting support on here from a couple of posters. In my view, the best thing you can do is seek LEGAL advice. I'm glad the ladies on here are making you feel stronger (you need that) but please don't lose sight of the legalities - if your ex is talking to a solicitor then you should be too - they will be able to tell you what's reasonable in the eyes of the law (not the morals and opinions of others - which IME are frequently 2 different things).
And a lawyer will tell her what that consent order means. Which is what has been done on this thread.
There's no point the op paying a lawyer to so whst she may be able to do herself. There's very little hard law about contact, other than cases that hold up the principal over and over again that the child's best interests (taking into account the need for family time with both parents if possible) are paramount.
Exactly - you have a clear view on what's best for the children in this situation (I'm sure the OP's ex does too). What it may come down to in the end might not be what you think is best but what the OP's ex does (or something in between both of these).
Personally I wouldn't discuss these matters verbally.
I think you need a paper trail and he's less likely to be able to bully you. You'll have time to think
and post here.
And don't push for an answer. It gives him power. In a week or so, tell him he has a week to reply or you'll go to CSA and start the every other weekend system.
That was a good point about the wording. How was it exactly? Because contact could simply be a phone call.
Skype often seems to count as contact.
Will wait to see what he comes back with.
Rest assured, if it was in my boys best interests to spend NO time with me and dd at the weekend I wouldn't even think about disrupting things.
If I hadn't mentioned the money side of things, I think he would have been ok
I have no doubt you think that's best for your boys (and FWIW I agree). However you do have all the holiday time (and therefore quality time when you're not woking)... Your ex could use this to his advantage - even though he's not taking any holiday time it's not inconceivable that he could say that he doesn't have the boys as much as agreed. I'm playing devils advocate not to be deliberately difficult but because I have a lot of personal experience in dealing with two people who always believe they're acting in the best interests of their children - it's never as clear cut as she's right and he's wrong. I really think that paying for mediation could be useful and I think that the first thing you'd discuss is who pays the bill so you might not even be out of pocket.
Heidi. I don't have all the holidays as such. He takes them for a few days of maybe 3-4 of the 12 weeks. I cover the rest. Is till have to work so I pay for football club or my mum steps in or I do a shorter day.
I don't think I am right and he is wrong, but I do believe that we need time together. We are snuggled up on the couch now. The last time we did this was the last day of the summer holidays!!!
op I wouldn't mention it when he drops the boys off/collects them. I agree that you need a paper trail and if he is likely to argue infornt of the dcs then that's a defibnite no. keep it to emails from now on.
his lack of response tells me he is waiting to see his solicitor or has already seen them and been instructed not to contact you as they will on his behalf.
Take legal advise on anything more in writing. As some other ops note you need to be realistic about the view the court will take. Tbh if I was his solicitor that email is a gift to portray you as the one in the wrong.
I agree that you should take legal advice regardless, although agreements are just that. Agreements about children can change (my solicitor) and it is right that it is so, because circumstances change.
Mums, how does it portray me as being in the wrong?
I don't know if you have been involved in court processes but it can get nasty and adverserial. I am not suggesting this is reality but they might seek to portray you as having a stopped unilaterally and without proper notice or sdiscussions an agreed and happy contact arrangement that were working very well for the children because you are seeking money. And use that email in court to support that. If ex is taking legal advice he will be advised to act quickly to prevent you setting a precedent and as you have acted unilaterally without allowing for discussion may use this to skip mediation and issue an immediate court summons.
I have texted him umpteen times to ask him to stump up half of the extra curricular stuff. No reply. He doesn't like to part with a penny. It takes him ages to reply about party invitations if the boys are going to be with him. I am left telling the mums of the kids whose parties they are that I can't give an answer cos I've not heard of him!!
I think that you look carefully at the wording of the agreement.
Bubbly, MFJ has a very obvious agenda. Upsetting and destabilising you is part of that.
Of course seek legal advice but nothing you put in that email is going to get you into trouble.
It might be best to leave this thread now and start another one if need be.
MFJ,, seriously, what is your fucking problem ?
I don't think you look unreasonable in the email. You have said you expect him to agree they can stay with you EOW but that you can discuss the details - that doesn't sound unilateral to me. If you have posted the exact original wording of the agreement it was woolly and doesn't state every weekend from fri-sun. He hasn't stuck to the agreement in that he hasn't taken advantage of the holidays he was meant to spend with the boys.
Understandably, you may have a tendency to give into him. You could also benefit from a paper trail. It wouldn't be a conversation to have in front of the DC. For those reasons, don't do this verbally. Do it by email so you can have a good think and get advice before you respond. If it were me I'd get legal advice.
I wouldn't advise mediation. I think there's been a history of you avoiding conflict by giving in and such a power imbalance would make mediation unfair to you.
Well he just picked them up. Not a word. As usual. I was my usual chirpy self.
Unless it's shuttle mediation? That might be OK.
MFJ,, seriously, what is your fucking problem?
Perhaps the word mums should be replaced on the nickname?
yep, FFJ might be more applicable, one might say
mumsforjustice, you appear to have missed the extremely relevant facts that:
1) the ex earns a thousand pounds a day
2) the OP has meekly accepted just over half the mandated CSA minimum for years despite his exceedingly high earnings
3) the Children Act allows for very high earners to be made to pay more than the CSA minimum
4) the OP accepted a relatively tiny property settlement despite a decade of marriage and being primary carer/SAHM of two young children. She did that by agreement, never seeking/threatening court action to achieve a more equitable division.
None of those facts are remotely conducive to anyone successfully portraying her as money-grabbing. As any decent solicitor will tell her. It's a total non-starter.
The status quo is very important in child contact cases where the arrangement is seen as functional, but in this instance it can cogently be argued that the status quo is not working in their best interests - they are losing out on all weekend family time with their mother, her partner and the other children. There is a reason the convention splits weekends equally between the parents, regardless of weekday care. And the ex is not stepping up to care for their academic work and he is not caring for them in the holidays. He just wants the fun time.
As to the person saying she has fun time in the holidays - unless I am misunderstanding, he still has them for those weekends, too. He's saddling her with sole responsibility for all their out of school care, despite her working herself. Again: he's not stepping up to parent them in concert with her, he's having fun with them and then dumping them back on Mum to do all the actual child-rearing.
And what's the worst that could happen? He can't get more time, and he's already paying way less than the legally required minimum. Worst outcome is she gets them for some weekends but not the half she'd like (and in her OP, she was only asking for 1 in 4, so...), plus the CSA money which is legislatively set out and thus not subject to a court's jurisdiction. Which is better on both fronts than she has at the moment. So why the dark warnings to be careful? Careful of what? The continuation of the status quo? What exactly does she have to lose?
Dark warnings wrt "women, know your place" I reckon
please don't be nasty!! you are all trying to help me which is fantastic. you all have different takes on this which helps me enormously. MFJ has msgd me privately and been really lovely to me. she isn't a bad person. actually has a lot of relevant knowledge.
am really really grateful to all of you.
will se what happens over the weekend and let you know, but reckon I do need legal advise
many thanks ladies xxx
mumsforjustice has a bit of a reputation on these boards, shall we say. Hence the irritation. It's not about this thread as such.
The problem with seeking legal advice is that you don't know how good it will be. If you do want to, I strongly suggest that you contact Women's Aid and ask them for someone local to you who is experienced in dealing with abusive exes, because what you describe having experienced in your marriage is financial abuse, and not all solicitors are that good, never mind experienced in more subtly abusive relationships. And I'd wait and see what he says before approaching a solicitor, because he may be advised that it just is not worth taking it to court. If he's that mean, he will be looking at spending thousands of pounds on it, and he can't win on the CSA aspect, plus is unlikely to keep the exact status quo with regard to weekends. Is he genuinely likely to want to spend that much money, when you're not actually seeking to deny him contact, just a more reasonable share of time?
You aren't trying to thwart contact. You just want a more healthy arrangement. Don't lose sight of that.
Call them and have a chat? They can advise you in a trained way, and without expense.
I felt a bit bullied on this thread.
Unless you agree, your views are pointless.
Am sorry about that. I just wanted help. I got that. I think on here that there are so many people, often women who have been shit on badly.
I feel that I got the help I needed although am still a bit wobbly just hope that most people feel ok. Mumsnet is a very powerful source.
Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.
Well, he still hasn't contacted me, by phone, in person or by email.
I rang to say goodnight to the boys last night, but he got them to answer(which he usually does)
He will be dropping them off at 5 pm tonight and probably won't say a word. Usually just sends them up the drive.
Don't really know what to do!!
He knows there is an agreement in place and that you are likely to back off if he doesn't reply as usual. As he does with any other requests from you.
If the wording on your agreement is as you said, just "contact every weekend", then next weekend tell him when the children will be available for contact. Say, overnight on Saturday for example.
This type of agreement is awful in that it is wide open to interpretation and for dispute.
If it stipulates that he spends the two nights with the children, then give a deadline for him to answer or go to court.
Have you had legal advice over this yet?
I agree with lewji. Good advice. Also agree you should get legal advice.
Was going to wait and see what he comes back with first, but I will do if I have to.
Ok. so I waited till tonight!!!
The boys came home from their dads not last sunday night, but the sunday before. DS2 said 'dad says we aren't seeing him next weekend. we are going to see you one weekend, him the next, you the next, him the next'
message sent thru a 7 and 8 yr old!!!!
So he didn't come for them last Friday night so I presumed that the boys were correct and that the above had been accepted
We are going to a wedding reception tomorrow night and as such I needed to know re pick up times.
I texted to ask arrangements. no reply
DS1 rang him(noticed his car outside his house so therefore not in London)
Have just had major row. basically he has said that there is no way he is going to agree to EOW. he kept repeating 'go to court, get a court order'
the exact wording of our 'separation agreement' is
'the children shall live with mum, and dad shall have contact each weekend as agreed'
where do I now stand??????
As I understand it, 'contact' can mean a phone call or overnights, and anything in between. What was 'agreed'? Anything in particular, or just that there would be contact each weekend?
Fine, go to court. EOW is standard practice. And while you're at it, you can him to start paying what he should be paying for his children.
Do NOT be bullied by this miserly twat.
I seriously don't want or need what he should be paying. This about contact only.
Having read the whole thread, I think you need to get some legal advice.
Yes, it may mean you have to pay for it, although you might get a free initial consultation, but you need a properly qualified person to represent you.
Speak to Women's Aid, and to the CSA.
You may not need the extra money but you may as well get it while you're putting things on a stronger footing. As said before, put it in an account for the children. You never know what the future holds.
Put it in a savings account - you might not need it now but children get more expensive as they get older. If they go to uni there will be tuition fees, rent etc.
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