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What are my responsibilities with regards to contact between my STBXH and our children?(32 Posts)
People may have seen my other threads, and know that things are pretty rough between myself and STBXH. I have called the police a couple of times regarding his behaviour and they have logged it as abusive and told me it is pretty typical of the controlling behaviours they see from abusive exes.
He wants to see the kids. I had no objection to this initially. It started that he only wanted the kids one at a time, he wouldn't take both. Then when he did have them both I had to take them to him after dinner and collect then after breakfast and got endless texts and calls all evening "dd has done a poo, what do I do???" and other such stuff, demonstrating exactly how inept he is. He (admittedly correctly) thought I was seeing someone else, and started calling me to come and get them because he felt "panicky", suggesting I could stay over as well so he wasn't alone with the kids, etc. when he found out I am seeing someone he stopped overnight contact and refused to see the kids unless I am present. He then became furious when I continued to see my new partner, and just saw him with the kids. My partner already knew my children as a friend, he is a friend from school I have known for about 14 years.
Once he realised I was continuing to see my partner and the kids were spending time with him he stopped the messages begging for me back and began threatening to destroy my possessions that are still at the house I left, threatening to kill himself etc.
Currently I'm not chasing him to see the kids, I get a text every couple of weeks with him wanting to see them, again, refusing to see them alone, but now because he is apparently ill, being seen at the hospital for various symptoms, might have cancer, keeps passing out. I know he was actually in hospital in recent weeks for passing out as I called admissions to check as its such a headfuck not knowing when he's lying or not.
When he texts I usually meet him in town, we wander round shops with the kids, he pays for their lunch, then a few more shops, then he says he's going home and then instead hangs around in places he thinks I might go, waiting to catch us with DP. He once met us, handed over gifts for the kids then "left" because I had a friend with me and he doesn't want to see the kids if I have anyone with me. He then followed me and my friend around town, at a distance, not realising we could see him, and seriously freaked my friend out.
His contact is basically me bringing the kids, him doing very little with them, then me taking them back to my mums, and I have to be there with him. He was / is emotionally abusive and controlling, and he uses the time to snipe at me, often descending into shouting at me, or on the last occasion, was perfectly friendly and nice but kept talking about night outs he goes on, or how he's decorated to match the furniture that I'm still paying for on finance, as if to remind me how he's controlling my ability to have time to myself and to let me know he doesn't plan on giving me my stuff back. Afterwards the messages threatening to destroy my stuff start again for a few days, which I ignore.
I've told him to arrange for a friend or family member to be with him if he doesn't want to be alone with the kids because I don't want to be with him but he refuses. If I say I'm not coming any more he says I'm stopping him seeing his kids.
His behaviour is really weird and scary and unstable to me right now, I don't want him to have the kids overnight because of it, but I don't mind him seeing them in the daytime as long as he has someone there. It started because he said he didn't want to be alone but when in getting messages about how he doesn't want to live anymore and how I've taken everything from him, I don't want him alone with the kids, his behaviour is really worrying me.
Am I within my rights to say that it his responsibility to see his kids, that if I don't want to see him that I don't have to and if he can't make arrangements to have someone with him then that's his problem?
Yes. Email him (so there is a record of it) and say that you are more than willing for him to have contact but this must be done within the children's best interests and bullet point the non negotiable terms.
Copy in your solicitor. (If you don't have one get one)
I can't afford a solicitor. I feel really trapped, there is no legal aid any more is there?
Your only responsibility is to make the kids available at a time and place that suits them and their needs..
That is it
All the rest is just dancing to his abuse and manipulation of you
The worst bit is the kids (2 and 4) barely mention him, sometimes my 4 year old says he will be big like daddy but that's being replaced by grandad and sometimes he talks about how daddy can't shout at me any more. They ask for their toys (which are still with ex) more than about him.
Your only responsibility is to make the kids available at a time and place that suits them and their needs..
He can go and collect them (don't let him enter your place), or meet you at a suitable location for you.
He should have them by himself, or arrange for supervised contact himself.
As for one or two at a time, use your judgement in relation to the children.
Anything else you are not comfortable with, he can go to court if he likes.
Restrict communication with him to texts and e-mails.
If his behaviour is abusive you can get legal aid. Check with a solicitor. Check this
I don't have any evidence of his behaviour though, when he threatened suicide I called the police and they went to him, and then called me saying their view was that it was a form of manipulation and abuse and they were logging it as abuse, but I don't know if that's enough to entitle me to legal aid.
I should think so. But check with a solicitor.
In the meantime, make sure you get all communication with him in writing.
If he is set on abusing you, he will slip up. Or you'll get some peace. Win-win.
I got some lovely messages from mine that went straight to the police.
He is being much more careful since he realised that I was in contact with the police about his behaviour, so instead of "I'm going to bin or burn your stuff if you don't collect it" is now "you stuff needs to be collected by this afternoon". No threat, but I know what he means, iyswim? He knows I have no more room to store things at my parents, he dumped 85% of mine and the kids clothes out in the rains month or two back then called me to collect them.
I have found a project near me that helps women leaving domestic violence that is run through a women's centre and headed by a family law solicitor, it was mentioned to me by a lovely police officer who said they can provide free solicitor and an advocate to go to court if needed so I think I will call them up.
Please do that, I don't understand why you haven't done it already
That sounds great.
And if you have witnesses that he put the children's clothes in the rain, then that's how much he cares about them.
You can still put a case with all he has done, gather any witnesses, and hope that overall it makes it a believable case. As my solicitor said once, most DV is not witnessed, so it is mostly down to how believable your case is in context, not just cold evidence.
merryfuckingchristmas I know, I should have, but I suppose I was hoping he would get his anger at me leaving out of his system and then things could be civil between us, but it's not happening like that. I've been pretty down and I suppose I was just pushing on through, getting each day out of the way, I didn't have it in me to push back. I'm feeling more like me now though and I'm getting angry, as opposed to just feeling downtrodden and helpless. I suppose part of me didn't really want to admit that Im a victim iyswim, I feel stupid for letting it happen and for not even seeing that it was happening.
"I know, I should have, but I suppose I was hoping he would get his anger at me leaving out of his system and then things could be civil between us, but it's not happening like that".
It never does either, because abusive men like this one you were married to are at heart unreasonable and it will be ever the case. He will never be at all reasonable or make things any easier for anyone. He is still punishing you and by turn the children for leaving him and is not above using them either to get back at you.
You need some RL help. There is no shame in that. You are not dealing with a reasonable person. The same rules of mature and adult discourse were never going to work. Get the Big Guns into this and stop trying to manage him, it will make you ill x
I have a similar problem. No advice really as u don't know what's best to do either!
Spoke to the project I mentioned, to one of the advocates, I don't qualify for legal aid but the lady was very helpful. She said I should just stick to my guns and refuse to run around facilitating contact and just keep telling him that he can see the kids when he makes suitable arrangements and that I won't be spending time with him. She said that because there is no court ordered contact I'm doing nothing wrong if I say that the arrangement aren't suitable and I'm not allowing contact.
Good for you. Now take her advice, love. It is sound.
They run a course for survivors of domestic abuse, I might see if I can do it, because I often don't feel certain of myself, I have spent too long being told over and over that I'm unreasonable or selfish or imagining things.
The Freedom Programme ? or similar ?
The website says they do the freedom programme and there are details of a course which looks similar, which might be there own. I will call back to ask about it sometime.
There is a chance I may be able to get a house in the next town, is be further from my family but I'd also be further from ex and wouldn't have to worry about bumping into him when shopping in town. Think I might look into it.
Could he see them in a contact centre if he can't see them alone?
The court would consider the welfare checklist if it went to court; www.thecustodyminefield.com/mobile/welfarechecklist.html
Contact centres - www.naccc.org.uk
I don't think he'd agree to it, he refuses to make arrangements to have a family member there, he just clearly doesn't want me to have a break.
A lot of his messages to me are about me, my stuff, my attitude, what I'm doing, how I have ruined his life. Probably 20% or less are about the kids.
It isn't about him though it is about protecting you and the children. You need documentary evidence to support a possible court case. So, written stuff saying he can't manage on his own.
I think I would say that he can no longer communicate with you about anything other than contact with the children and that this must not be done in person or on the phone, that it must all be written and must be planned in advance so the children know what they can expect. That you'll only accept contact in a contact centre (or with a supervising family member) based on him having told you that he cannot cope with them alone and that this must be regular and planned in advance, whilst you will tolerate changes (only with good reason) they must be made with as much time as possible to avoid upsetting the children. That this is for the benefit of his children's relationship with him which will be undermined by him speaking badly of you, being unreliable in contact and not accepting support he needs to provide stability.
Also investigate the possibility of having the police accompany you to get your possessions and possibly have him warned for harassment.
Basically, I don't think you should be approaching this from a perspective of what he will agree with but rather from the perspective of what the children need in order to develop a good relationship with him. If he cannot or will not comply with that he is choosing not to see them.
(Your role as the RP is to help facilitate a relationship with their father with regard to their welfare as a primary concern).
If you can get a letter from a GP, HV or midwife detailing that they have seen you for any condition (including psychological conditions like depression) resulting from the abuse then you may qualify for legal aid under the DV scheme btw. www.justice.gov.uk/legal-aid-for-private-family-matters/legal-aid-divorcing-separating-abusive-partner#doctor
I'm suffering a lot of anxiety and I'm having trouble sleeping because I'm worried about getting messages threatening to destroy items belonging to me or threatening to kill himself because I'm (apparently) stopping him seeing the kids, but I haven't seen a dr because I didn't want to be put on medication. It might be worth going to see the gp perhaps.
go to gp and ask to be referred to the nhs counsellor attahced to the surgery.
then talk it all thru with the counsellor you should get six sessions free .
and what the otehrs said - offer suitable contact arrangemetns for teh children eg soft play, library, etc where he can be with them for short time and you not invovled.
or check out local contact centres.
if he wont do this, then it is his choice.
and yes get everything in email.
dont respond to his moans threats whines just state facts eg "i can arange for the dc to be at cxxx place on saturdaya t 2 pm"
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