Making Arrangements In The Other Parents Contact Time

(276 Posts)
SnowWhiteWinter Wed 05-Dec-12 09:46:17

Hi everyone, I have another thread too but have some other issues that I'd like to pose to mumsnetters. Everyone gave very honest advice (even if it was a little harsh at times) on my other thread (which I will update as soon as we have an update) and I (and my DP) would very much appreciate some honest opinions here too, and ideas of what to do etc.

My DSD (3) is starting a new preschool in January. She has been on the waiting list for over a year and was finally offered a place in October. It's so much better in every way than her current one, which has just had a "satisfactory" Ofsted report, and this one is "outstanding" - not that Ofsted reports are everything but it just adds to the list of reasons why the new one is better. It's bigger, more activities, better facilities, nicer location etc.

DSD's mum doesn't want her to change preschool but decided to leave it until 2 weeks ago to email DP to tell him. She likes the old one and wants her to stay there. We now have a very awkward situation as she is already enrolled in the new one and deposit is paid. For those of you who have not read my other thread, DSD's mum has only been having her and my other DSD on a 50/50 basis for the last 6/7 months. Before that, she was only seeing them about 1 night per week for around 2 years. During this time things like pre schools and schools were considered, visited, chosen and applied for - she wasn't interested in what choices were made, didn't want to visit any etc, so my DP and I did this, until 6 mths ago she had never been to see DSD's preschool. There is no residency order in place, no court involvement so far, which sort of makes things harder as when DSD's parents can't agree I guess it's a bit of a stalemate!

She hasn't actually given any particular reason for wanting to stop the move just "I like the current one". DP has asked her to visit the new one so she can see how great it is, she won't, she also doesn't want the prospectus we picked up for her, she just will not discuss it. DSD knows she is going to the new pre school after Xmas, she has been and visited with us a couple of times already too.

So my 1st question is What do we do? Cancel the new better preschool because her mum doesn't want her going there, even though she has been waiting for a space for so long, knows that's where she is going and we have paid deposit and we believe it's much better (hence the long waiting list).

My 2nd question is a little bit last minute. Next week, during the DSD's time with their mother, the new pre school is having their "induction" session for all new January starters. The children meet the staff and key workers and all the other new starters, parents have coffee and introduce themselves etc. This is only done once and unfortunately falls on a day when DSD's are with their mum. DP has written to her about 5 weeks ago and explained this all and proposed we take DSD to it (it's only 2 hrs). DSD's mum is at work that particular day, so DSD will be at pre school all day that day anyway so we would pick her up, take her for two hours and drop her back to preschool. DSD's mum has said no, DP cannot take her out of preschool for 2 hours as it is her week with the children.

Now as there is no court order in place DP knows he can very easily just go and get DSD and take her and return her but he is torn as to what to do. He has never once planned something during their time with their mum or asked to take them to anything during that time- and as she is working it doesn't make a difference to her anyway as DSD will be at pre school. He has asked their mum if she could get the time off work to take her instead of us, or we all go together, but she has ignored this possible idea. So what do you guys think? It is for DSD's pre school education but it's certainly not compulsory, it would just be very nice for her and I would think helpful for DSD to go. DP doesn't want to cause problems or act unreasonably during their mums contact time, but equally we know she is saying no because she doesn't want her to start at the new preschool at all (she may have other reasons but she hasn't mentioned any).

All advice greatly received, some of you have so much experience as step parents and of step family situations perhaps someone has been in a similar situation? Part of me just wants to say to DP, forget it, let her mum make the decisions just to keep the peace.

allnewtaketwo Wed 05-Dec-12 20:30:21

I'm not confusing you with anyone, but there are so many similarities between your posts and someone else's that it seems you have a mumsnet twin smile

SnowWhiteWinter Wed 05-Dec-12 20:37:04

So why not just stop posting rather than constantly accusing me of being someone else - MN themselves have posted and said they can confirm I am a new poster and NOT someone else!

elliebellys Wed 05-Dec-12 20:37:19

Still think what you says goes.definately.whether she hasnt had muchinput is irrelevant.she is their mother and her views when she expresses them have to taken on board,shether you agree or not.

MagicLlama Wed 05-Dec-12 20:41:55

Realistically moving preschools is pointless, irrelevant and likely to cause massive conflict with the mother for no reason other than you want to.

Its a matter of picking your battles.

I can guarantee you that when the times comes round where you want to move DSD1 into a different school, and you end up in court, then acting without consultation and basically overriding mum when the DSDs are in a 50/50 situation will backfire and your DP will be painted as controlling, out only to win against the ex, and not putting his daughters wishes infront of his selfish desires.

MagicLlama Wed 05-Dec-12 20:45:06

Also whilst the mother may have been the biggest pile of shit for a large part of the childrens lives, the last 7 months she has consistently done 50/50 and been reliable and there for her children, so constantly going on about how she wasnt involved previously also wont do you any favours.

Focus on the now and the future, which would appear to involve 2 parents who are 50% involved in their childrens lives, and focus on instead how you can improve the communication between them thus avoiding making the children the centre of a battleground with each parent out to win.

That does far more damage than how many hours spent with who.

MustafaCake Wed 05-Dec-12 20:50:08

There is absolutely no valid reason to move your DSD.

A 3 year old will not even notice the things YOU think are important about the new school ie "It's bigger, more activities, better facilities, nicer location etc".

All she will care about is being thrust into an unfamiliar environment away from established friends and carers. And for only 2 terms then another upheaval to primary school.

And you need to stop pretending that all this is being done for DSD's benefit. It is clearly about you and your partner trying to get what you want done. You all need to be putting the children first and coming to arrangements that benefit them even if it feels like you are compromising on things.

elliebellys Wed 05-Dec-12 20:52:02

Snow,why keep postin then,cos you aint listenin to anyone, just verbally beatin their mum

ArtexTheHallWithBoughsOfMonkey Wed 05-Dec-12 20:53:36

I will show my arse in Greggs if you appeal to get dsd2 into dsd1's school. You'll just move dsd1. I can feel it in my water. I also don't understand why you've asked for people's advice if you're not going to take it, but then the same thing goes for most threads on mn I guess.

SnowWhiteWinter Wed 05-Dec-12 21:06:38

Artex, who said the advice wasn't going to be taken? It will be taken, replayed to Dp (who will prob read it all himself later) and then seriously considered. We are talking about decision for children and their education and welfare, hardly something that can be decided immediately and solely on advice from a stranger on MN!

There has been no mention of moving DSD1's school. It's lovely and she is happy there, they seem to be very helpful and supportive too. Why would we want to move her, there is no issue there and it would upset her too much, she's very quiet and sensitive and doesn't do change very well.

It's your arse so show it wherever you like!

sanityseeker75 Wed 05-Dec-12 21:12:26

Thanks snow for answering question. Imho I dont really think 7 months is still a trial, if it was me I would assume after having same contact arrangements for 7 months that it is now a standing arrangement, even if not court ordered. Therefore I think dsc have 2 homes based on 50/50 and both mom and dad have right to make decision on major changes regardless ofwhat used to be the case.

I also feel that if you took dsd out of preschool for induction on moms week without her consent then you and your dp are majorly overstepping the mark and I know that any mother would be fuming in this scenario. what would you do if she turned up on your week and collected her daughter to take her somewhere without your consent?

I think you see these children as your own being the problem here and actually it is heartbreaking. As a sm you are expected to look after and care for these children and give them your heart. I also would do anything for my stepkids and have been there for operations and sickness, but I also accept that to truely love them I have to accept I am not and never will be their mom. Even if their mom died tomorrow, I would never be able to take her place.

This situation is always going to hurt you unless you accept their moms place in their lives. If she cocks up, they will see this and understand as they get older but if you are not careful they will hate and resent you forever for the part you will have played sad

MagicLlama Wed 05-Dec-12 21:19:59

Snow But realistically, even if youve not got round to dealing with it in your head, once DSD2 is in a school in your village, and DSD1 is in a school 30 mins away, you cannot, or mum cannot get them both to school on time.

Given that you have already raised mums lateness as a parenting fail, how do you propose to deal with 2 children needing to be in 2 places at the same time, when those places are 30 mins apart? How are you going to pick them up?

SnowWhiteWinter Wed 05-Dec-12 21:40:03

Sanityseeker, in a way you are right, I have found it very hard adjusting to their mum now wanting to be their mum again. I have raised the girls for the last two years with my DP they were 1 and 3 when we met) we have done all the milestones with them, all the firsts and the sleepless nights, hard work and all the rewards. I find it just as hard as DP does to not have them here, to not wake up with them in the house, to not be able to tuck them up and kiss them goodnight every night when I have done that almost every night for the past two years.

I know that they are with their mum and we know they she would not hurt them or anything awful but we also know that they are not happy with the "new" alternate week arrangement and hoped we could do something to still keep 50/50 but to both make it easier for the girls and also hopefully easier for their mum to "cope".

We are hoping that the school will have a good chat with her (they told us that they were calling her in to talk to her) about how it's just not on to keep taking DSD1 in late, it makes her really anxious and she worries lots about it and it's been noticed by the teachers. It makes me angry and sad because it's not far to drive, she doesn't work most days she takes her to school, why can't she just get her there on time to save her being upset!

Disney...

Thank you so much for all your advice. We will be re-meeting with the school teacher and headteacher before the end of term. I will ask about a CAF as you suggest, and get DP look it up as I have no idea what it is! smile Hopefully the school will give her a kick up the arse about lateness and solve that problem.

DP emailed their mum last night about the CB and suggested her use the CB to pay for all the things for DD's such as school dinners, clothes, uniforms and clubs etc - no reply as yet about that, we aren't hopeful and he has said he may just do it in the absence of a response he might just cancel the trust funds and use the CB to pay for stuff and cancel the CSA claim.

You are right I am angry that she won't take responsibility, and DP and I both want things to be "fair" but I see that sometimes it's better to accept that she might be shit but she is their mum and we have to take the shit from her and make what we can of it to keep the girls happy. She does just want all the good bits of the DSC without all the hard and stressful bits, if that makes sense. sad

The preschool thing, well Dp hasn't decided. He is going to take DSD tomorrow as he still really wants her to go to the new preschool. She iwll be taken from her current preschool, round the corner to her new one and will be returned within 2 hrs. It will make no difference at all to contact time as her mum is at work anyway and he feels its the best decision in DD's best interests. (To answer someones question up thread, Dp has always said he has no problems at all with EX taking DD out of preschool if she has the opportunity to spend the day with her doing a special activity / day out / visiting relatives, although she never has and to date DP has never interfered in EX's contact time either, but feels this is important. I have told him all you guys seem to think it's too much for her to move just for 2 terms and reasons people have given. We have to be realistic and we know that she is likely to be going to the village primary so it is beneficial for her to do her last 2 terms at the pre-school that feeds there as she will knows lots of children already when she starts reception. We also know DSD2 is confident and easily settles into new routines and with new people, so it will be an y easy transition for her. If it were DSD1 then it would be a definite non option, but he really wants this new pre-school for her. I have encouraged him to consider EX's wishes, which he says he has and I suppose I agree that she is basing her refusal to agree on nothing at all, she has never even been to the new preschool and has now idea how downhill the old one has got over time.

As for residency / court... well he is seeing his solicitor Friday. He is going to ask her opinion, options and her recommendations. It seems that many of you here who know and have lived as step families seem to agree that a residency order will give the DSD's some stability and enable important decisions to be made. He is hoping he can get a residency order , possibly with contact 50/50 if possible and if their mum can cope with it, but not alternate weeks as it's not working for them. We don't know if this would be a joint residency order or a shared residency order or if he should apply for sole residency and 50/50 contact for their mum or what, but hope the solicitor will clear it all up for him.

SnowWhiteWinter Wed 05-Dec-12 21:44:17

Snow - We already do that though, my Dc are in the village primary and DSD1 is at school out of the village (it's not that far, 30 mins in morning traffic). DP and I either do oone school run each or my DC walk to school with my friend who's children go to the village primary and I drive DSD1.

It will be impossible for their mum to do, but that's not anyone's fault as DSD1's school was applied for from where she was living at the time and now we have all moved outwards. I'm unsure of the options, apart from to appeal and if not then to offer to do school runs for their mum when we can, or DP said tonight perhaps she has the DSD more weekend days and we have them more school days as we can more easily do the school runs. Residency / contact arrangements may be different by then anyway. It's hard to try and resolve future problems when there are so many right now..

Plus it's nearly bloody Christmas... sad

SnowWhiteWinter Wed 05-Dec-12 21:48:37

Sorry my last post should have said "MagicLaama" not "snow" smile

Also, when I say impossible for their mum, I mean without a childminder or before school club. DSD1 could go to before school club for 30 mins and she could then get DSD2 to school on time, if that's what she chose.

Dp has raised this with her, no reply or proposals form her though. She has never mentioned her worries about this problem or tried to make arrangements around it or anything. It's like she leaves the stress and worries to us to deal with and think up solutions!

sanityseeker75 Wed 05-Dec-12 21:50:51

Snow, be very careful on this school thing, if you say it is impossible for mom to do. You will be percieved as deliberately trying to seperate her from her children. What if she counteracts and moves them to a school an hour in the other direction to you? I feel if you force this issue all hell will break loose and dsc will be smack in the middle

SnowWhiteWinter Wed 05-Dec-12 21:57:16

There is nothing to be careful with sanity. DSD1 goes to school where she does because she was living with DP at the time at his mums house after they separated so they applied from that address.

DSD2's application has already been submitted, DSD1's school first choice and our local school 2nd choice.

She is almost certain to not get in DSD1's school as we are out of catchment by miles and out of borough.

What other option is there? The only other thing we could do is to transfer CB to DSD's mum, withdraw the application that is in and allow her to apply to the school nearby her. Which then creates the same situation, both girls in different schools. Except DSD's mum cant / won't be as helpful to us as we would her, she won't offer to help with difficult school runs or change contact days like we would. Plus then DP and I would have 3 school destinations across our 4 children! lol

It is a bit shit, but there is no other option that we can think of, apart from to appeal. DSD's mum can go to court all she likes and claim we were unreasonable, the only reason DSD1 is in a school near neither of us is because she did a disappearing act and then decided she didn't want the girls (babies) living with her.

I have a friend who has previous been on an appeals panel and we are hoping she can help us do a shit hot appeal when the inevitable happens.

SnowWhiteWinter Wed 05-Dec-12 22:00:47

I seriously hope a court wouldn't award her sole residency and leave to remove DSD from her current school.

Surely, a mother who has only had 1 night a week contact for 2 years and recently had 6-7 months of aternate week contact which isn't working for the children and is leaving them upset and having issues at school plus refuses to communicate with the other parent wouldn't get that? sad

DP needs to apply for residency doesn't he. sad

MagicLlama Wed 05-Dec-12 22:05:15

Snow

Please be careful. Its obvious from your posts that you care for these children, its obvious that you are used to being their mum, and I can understand that having mum reinvolved is difficult for you and your DP.

However, I really believe this school thing could cause massive problems for you.
1) You should not be interfering in the other parents contact time. Regardless of the fact that the childen are not directly in her presence.
2) Education should be agreed on between parties with PR and where parties do not agree, court should decide
3) You are setting a precedent for one parent just totally disregarding the other and acting without agreement. What if mum just decides to move DSD2 to a preschool near her?

I know what you are saying re school & friends, but honestly in the scheme of things its not important. The conflict you, your DP and the ex are putting these DSDs through is important.

Im 30, and I dealt with this shit from my parents. It affects me now, and my brother, who was less aligned with a parent, and more in the middle it affects even more.

Please, please, please, if you hold these childrens best wishes at heart, just dont.

sanityseeker75 Wed 05-Dec-12 22:07:09

I don't know but perhaps dp should get legal advice first? I doubt they would give kids straight back but I do think they look at best interests of children and it does look a bit manipulative of your do to change schools so you can help with drop offs just before seeking residency hmm

CatchingMockingbirds Wed 05-Dec-12 22:09:57

If the preschool is next to your house isn't that an hour away from the mum? And if it's a feeder to DSD's future school then I take it she won't be going to the school her big sister goes to which is half way between your DP and the mother making things much easier for the children since their parents have 50/50 care?

I can see why the mother would be objecting.

NotaDisneyMum Wed 05-Dec-12 22:10:21

snow it certainly won't be as easy for the school
as giving her mum a kick up the bum to resolve the lateness.

Habitual school lateness is used by schools as flag for possible chaotic lifestyle and/or a family in crisis.

Whatever the school may have told you and your DP, they will be carefully assessing the situation and watching for other indicators of neglect and/or abuse (including emotional) and based on what you have said it may not be long before there are enough concerns for them to raise them with SS. The whole family set up is then scrutinised and your own DCs as well as both your DSD's will become involved.

I think your DP needs to familiarise himself with the local child protection and safeguarding procedures - he may well find himself plunged into the middle of it based on what you have said about the circumstances - I've seen it happen myself.

I certainly think you have a case for 'exceptional social circumstances' regarding the school application and if your DP puts his mind your, his DD could be accepted on those grounds with no need for appeal. If he's not keen to do so, even though it will smooth the way for his DDs then I hope that will be enough for you to question his motives - by refusing to do everything he can to secure his DD a place, he is increasing the hurdles for his ex to overcome. Sounds like he's still quite emotionally invested - which isn't a surprise given the nature of their split and speed of your relationship. I understand why you feel vulnerable and are reluctant to openly disagree with his opinion.

MagicLlama Wed 05-Dec-12 22:10:24

Also on another note, a friend of mine had 50/50 with his DSs, and was in a similar situation to you, he changed childcare provider without mums agreement, she went to court, after a lot of faff and court appearances the judge awarded the ex residency on the basis that the hostility and the distance between them meant 50/50 was unworkable, and one of them needed to be the primary care, and the dads actions of acting without consultation, the involvement of the SM, the deliberate sidelining on the mum meant that whilst a good parent in the majority of respects, he wasnt with regards to their emotional welfare. He said that mum has stuck to he contact, not brought conflict into the parenting relationship, and was a able as dad to provide all the welfare checklist, but her behaviour showed she had more care to their emotional welfare.

He now has a shared residency order, which allows him to have them every other weekend Fri to Mon, with a teatime visit in their hometown every Wednesday, and 50% of holidays.

Hes gutted. Gutted

SnowWhiteWinter Wed 05-Dec-12 22:17:02

Magiclaama, you are right. Totally, thank you! x Yeah, I know I will get flamed to hell and back for admitting it, but I do feel like they are "mine". I love them and take care of them as I would my own. I don't ever bad mouth their mum or do anything to give them a negative view of her but it hurts like hell each time she comes and collects them (or each time we have to drop them to her more often then not). I wouldn't leave my own DC in her care for many reasons and I do worry about them when they are with her.

Sanity, I'm not sure if my massive long waffling posts have confused you maybe other posters too.

The only thing DP would be changing is DSD2's preschool, it's only a 5 min walk away from her current one. She has been then since before her mum started having her 50/50. It makes no difference to her at all as it starts 40 mins after DSD1's primary school, so plenty of time to get there.

The primary school DSD2 will get into next Sept is near our house, which causes a problem for her mum. But we don't know what else to do. With catchment areas an such there is no way she can go to a school nearer to her mum or nearer DSD1's school.

SnowWhiteWinter Wed 05-Dec-12 22:20:47

Catchingmokingbirds, please read up thread for reasons why she won't get into DSD1's school, we are planning an appeal but failing that she will have to go to the local primary near our house. School can only be applied for from Child Benefit address, so that is 2nd choice, she wouldn't get into DSD1's school from mums address either though.

PoppyPrincess Wed 05-Dec-12 22:22:41

What's to stop her moving both DSD's to a school near her? How do you know she hasn't already? If you live so far away from each other I assume you'll fall under different councils so she'd be able to do that?

I think it would depend on her case as to whether she'd be granted residency, if she can prove that she had good reason for her absence and that those reasons are now fixed then who knows?

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