WWYD? Custody issues.(18 Posts)
Posting this here as any other board might give me abuse for even considering this.
When I met DP he had a 2 month old DD. his XP left him when she was pregnant. When DSD was 4 months old DPs ex knocked on the door, threw DSD at him and said you have her today. She phoned up a week later after no contact to ask for her back.
A month later she phoned up in tears saying she couldn't cope. DP said ok, I'll come and get her. 3 months went by with the XP having DSD some weekends during which DSD would regularly come back in clothes that were too small, horrific nappy rash and would take hours to settle to sleep (later found out from a mutual friend that DSD was shoved in a travel cot with a few toys for most the day).
DP tried to get the child benefit put into his name. XP turns up one day screaming and shouting and tries to snatch a terrified DSD (about 10 months old at this point). The next day DP goes to court and gets a prohibitive steps order and we start the court process. Residency awarded to DP.
3 months later XP meets a new bloke, gets pregnant and takes us back to court. DSD gets a UTI whilst in her care and she accuses DP of sexually abusing DSD and other complete shite. Once again residency goes to DP.
New bloke breaks up with XP. She goes off the rails, turning up at random accusing us of stealing her daughter and drags us back to court. DP has some form of breakdown and decides that DSD might need to live with her mum as he doesn't want her to turn around years later and blame him for it.
2 years later and DSD is now 5. Her mum has a new partner who she is now moving 100 odd miles away to live with and taking DSD with her. She has never done a pick up or drop off in 5 years. DP will now have to do both trips every other weekend which he is prepared to do so that he isn't missing out on time with DSD.
However DSD is getting very emotional over the smallest things. She keeps saying she wants to live here and see her mum at weekends and that she doesn't like it at mummy's because she gets smacked and screamed at.
We don't know what to do. My instinct is to go for residency here. DP is worried about the hell XP will unleash and the effect it will have on DSD. I'm worried that DSD will be moved 100 miles away from the majority of her family and that XP will vanish and cut contact (she's been threatening this for years).
I need some outside perspective really. DSD is too scared to speak to her mum. DP is too worried about the confrontation and can't seperate emotionally to decide what's best. I don't trust the XP. There's been too many vicious lies and DSD has gone from being a happy confident little girl to someone who breaks down in tears over the smallest thing.
Let me say up front that I have never been involved in a custody fight, and I really can't give you any advice on that front.
But I think (based just on what you have posted obviously) that your instinct is right. I hope you and your DP will go for residency. If your DP doesn't have the strength and determination to carry through, though, I don't know how you can proceed. In your shoes, I'd be wanting to give my DP a serious kick up the backside. His daughter's well-being and whole life is at stake....what is really holding him back? The fact that the initial residency rulings were in his favour, but then he voluntarily gave it up...is he genuinely not sure what is best for his daughter, or is there more to it?
I would definitely go for it. If nothing else, I'd have thought that the court might order the travelling to be split 50/50 rather than him having to do it all. But it sounds like the little girl really needs a secure home
He's worried that going through the court process when DSD is old enough to pick up on it could have negative effects on her. He's also worried about DSD resenting him for taking her away from her mother. There's also the worry that it could backfire and the court would award him less time with DSD.
My DH had a similar situation - DSD's mum left when she was about 3 - her mum decided to go for custody about a year later but after CAFCASS got involved, DH got residency and DSD's mum was given every other weekend and half holidays. DSD does miss her mum, but it was undoubtedly the right decision - if she had stayed with her mother she'd have gone to 6 different schools by now and lived in 6 different areas. I've seen varying opinions of CAFCASS on this board, but in my opinion they were very fair. Is a solicitor an option for you, to look at what the possibilities might be?
There's no proof that she's being hit. Just DSD saying she gets smacked when she's naughty.
Do please go for it. Its doesn't sound like the XP is doing this for the benefit of the DD, which is the only thing that matters. Personally I coulnd't live with myself in that situation if I didn't at least try to do the right thing, and if you can offer a stable home that DD prefers, then going to court is the right thing.
As for worrying about the effect on DD- if she had to go away with her mother it wouldn't be the end of the story, but if she knows you and your DP fought to give her a decent home, she will be reassued, I reckon.
Why would anyone give you abuse? You're trying to do the right thing for a child in difficult circumstances. Good luck.
I was a bit worried about getting abuse in case it came across as though me and DP were trying to take DSD away from her mum without good reason.
Last night DSD was amazed that you could make spaghetti bolognese from scratch. She assumed it only came in tins. I've read out the replies to DP and he is going to get a consultation with a solicitor and see where we stand.
It's easy to fall into the trap of confusing different parenting styles with neglect/abuse.
There are clearly genuine welfare concerns regarding your DSD living with her Mum, and your DP can get advise about that from a solicitor - but only eating tinned food rather than fresh isn't neglect/abuse, and even if you think you could offer a better/healthier environment, that sort of issue won't be of interest to a court.
Raising this sort of thing alongside more serious concerns may suggest that your DP is being malicious and trying to paint his ex in a bad light.
It sounds like your DP is the most stable parent.. I think you should go for residency.
I'm so sorry to hear of your situation, which I'm sure you must be finding very stressful and emotionally draining. It sounds as though your DP has had some doubts over the years about whether he is the best person to raise his DD. It is decision time for him. He needs to decide whether she will be ok with her mother, or whether he has to fight for her now. It doesn't sound like the child's mother would give him the same consideration he is giving her.
I have been in your situation, and I know how unpleasant it can be. There are two pieces of advice I can offer. Firstly, you must leave DSD out of this completely. She is 5 years old - nowhere near old enough to make decisions like this. It is up to her parents to make arrangements for her, she can't possibly give an opinion about who is the best parent. Of course she loves her mum, but that doesn't mean living with mum is what's best. Don't ever give her the impression that it's her decision, 5 year olds do not need to feel empowered. (I'm not proud to say that we didn't really understand this until my DSD was so stressed she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital at age 13)
Secondly, these are decisions that DP has to make. He should be taking advice from you and you should be a team, but in reality there is nothing you can do here, it's all up to him. If he doesn't feel that he can stand up to the mother and go through the court process again then that has to be his decision. You can't go through that for him. One of the most stressful and hurtful things with step kids is realising that no matter how much you love them, they're not yours. It helps in the long run if you keep remembering that.
Your DSD is very luck to have such a committed SM who is willing to go through this for her. However this turns out, there will come a time when she's old enough to understand what you went though for her. All the best.
It's not just tinned food. There's several health care issues we have such as DSD doesn't realise she has to wipe after going to the toilet and when she does wipe she repeatedly scrubs at her vagina with the toilet paper which makes her sore. She's also had two fillings already and a warning from the dentist about the amount of sugar she consumes (not saying that me and DP are perfect, we do allow sweets just not for breakfast!)
There is also the issue of the amount of illnesses and medication DSD has been on. Her mother appears to take her to the dr's every other week, she has a persistent cough at her mothers that she claims is a dust allergy although it does seem more than likely she's allergic to the cat (similar problem if we visit my mum) and her mum refuses to rehome the cat and DSD just has to put up with the coughing.
I'm trying to seperate my disgust for DSD's mum and the lies she has told (such as informing people that DD wasn't DPs child and that I was lying to him!) from what is in DSD's best interests. It's bloody difficult though as from experience, even if we did have residency, her mother could just not hand her back on a sunday (has happened twice before) and we could be in court for bloody years.
None of those things you mention are genuine health concerns- most small children are bad at wiping, mine included. As for fillings or a cough, well your argument is losing credibility. NADM is absolutely right- your original reasons for wanting residency are justifiable in their own right and your DP has grounds for residency based on those. However, you are now moving into another arena completely by bringing these issues up and your ex will be in danger of looking malicious if he brings them up alongside the more serious concerns.
Yes, reading your subsequent posts, I do think NADM and pingu have a good point - by including things like the differences in diet or hygiene (where these are differences in parenting not neglect, IYSWIM), you muddy the waters.
DP wouldn't bring up the petty issues. That's just me venting a bit, sorry. Thank you everyone for your advice.
What your DP needs to realise is that he will NOT be taking his dd away from her mother. If he has residency and his dd has regualr agreed time with her mother then that is fine. If her mother decided to move 100 miles away that is HER choice and is not caused by your DP.
he should do what is best for his child and from what you have said it would be better if her main home was with him.
I agree, I think your DP should go for residency.
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