How can we convince her to let SD come to our house without legal action?

(35 Posts)
WickedStepMonster Fri 01-Feb-13 13:58:38

I've posted about something similar before, my BF has a 4yo daughter and his ex is refusing to let her come to our house. It looks like legal action is inevitable but I was wondering, if you were in her shoes, what would it take for you to accept the situation and let her visit and stop over? Is it just going to take time and hoping she realises it's what's best for their daughter? Or would things like photos of the house and her bedroom, a letter, books she can read to her about the fact they're not together any more, would these things help or make it worse?

She was almost coming round but then she found that I had been there on one of BFs access days and she threatened to stop access all together.

I know there's nothing I can do, I'm just trying to be supportive to BF, but I'd like to be able to offer him some ideas for easing the tension.

NatashaBee Fri 01-Feb-13 14:07:47

If she is not adult enough to realise that she's denying her child a relationship with their father, you're probably not going to be able to reason with her.

But - you could always suggest the things above. It might work, and it would go in your favour if it did go to court. Could you suggest a 'phased' plan - where she goes over to your BF's for an hour or so without you there, builds that up gradually to overnights, and then agree a deadline when she would consider it OK for you to meet the child? Would his ex feel more comfortable if she met you before the daughter did? How often does your BF have contact now?

WickedStepMonster Fri 01-Feb-13 14:25:48

He sees her once a week, for a full day. There was a phased plan agreed (all on her terms) but that went out of the window after the day I spent with LO. The latest message from her was threatening to stop access if I am involved and that she is starting divorce proceedings and he should expect a letter imminently (he hasn't received anything yet). I doubt she would want to meet me, unless it was to slit my throat.

NothingIsAsBadAsItSeems Fri 01-Feb-13 15:06:32

How long have you been with your bf and were you the reason for the split? These could possibly help to influence her decision.

I'd want to meet you and make sure we were on the same page re my child before you met him and would be less than impressed that you'd technically gone behind my back and met him already.

Good thing we have no intention of spliting up as I can just see me and DH interviewing each others new partners to assess their worthiness maybe slightly overprotective

I hope this doesn't come accross as accusing but did you break the agreed phased plan when you spent the day with LO or was that the next step that she was aware of but has since changed her mind?

sanityseeker75 Fri 01-Feb-13 15:24:53

How long have you been together? IF there was a phased plan in place did that include phasing you in to the LO life? If so why did you jump the gun a bit? If contact has been stopped then I suggest he seek legal advise and asks for a letter to go reinstating visits with immediate effect until the court hearing but be aware initially you may not be there - once it goes through court I doubt if they would enforce you being absent unless you were considered a risk to the LO.

Mueslimorning Fri 01-Feb-13 15:51:23

Op, it should not matter if you are ow or not. Dd has right to see her dad and vice versa. In my case I did not vet the new woman in ex life, my ds was about 7 when she Met him, married ex at some point, but I was always told many nice things about her by ds and that was enough for me. we met when I was dating now dh, and she and ex were pleased I invited them. We do all the arrangements between ourselves now and get along fine. I think she appreciated not being gawked at by me or made to feel she was on trial or something. Different story for me however, met dh ex when introduced to their dc. It was a disaster. Dss fine at 8, but dsd 12 followed ex nasty attitude to both me, never remotely ow, and dh. Still a problem 4 years on. But dss now moving in! So dsc do make up own minds when they want to, regardless of control freak mums. Good luck, xx

WickedStepMonster Fri 01-Feb-13 16:13:33

The phase plan was to do with LO visiting his (our) house but BF didn't mention me, he didn't know how much she knew about our relationship and didn't want to stir things up. We didn't see it as 'going behind her back' as we knew she had already introduce LO to a BF of hers.

Oh, these situations are so difficult!

I can only say that from my perspective it was very difficult to learn that my DS had spent the day with ex and new girlfriend and I did not even know he had a new girlfriend. So if she did not know about you and your BF didn't discuss it openly and honestly with her then perhaps her reaction is, if not right then understandable.

I understand you saying you didn't want to stir things up - ex said he didn't tell me because he did not want to upset me. It didn't occur to him that I would be more upset about the duplicity than if he had been upfront - it became a trust issue then!

However on the other hand I would never have introduced DS to a new BF without discussing it with ex first so I think from your & BF's point of view you are seeing double standards from her. And although I was very hurt and made my disappointment clear to ex, I did not and would not stop access over this.

I think perhaps some of your suggestions above would be nice, although don't take it too badly if they are "thown back in your face" - which they probably will be if she doesnt even want to meet you.

I'm sorry I don't have any definative advice for you, just to remember at all times that DD is the most important person in this situation. If you and BF continue to be open, honest and reasonable she may come round - although it will take time. And if she doesn't then you will have tried and this will be taken into account by the courts.

WickedStepMonster Fri 01-Feb-13 16:40:16

JustFoldingStars thanks, it's really frustrating because I can't do anything, it's up to BF, and he's reluctant to do anything that might make things worse.

I suggested he talks to her and explains everything so there are no more surprises (we're not sure if she realises that we're living together), but he doesn't want to risk a fight and more threats of stopping access. He says she can be very manipulative and I wouldn't put it past her to arrange things on his access day and tell him at the last minute.

The fact is, I feel a lot of empathy for her and wish I could speak to her myself but that is not an option. I suppose it will just take time and patience. I'm very nervous about developing my relationship with SD (as a step-child myself I know how fraught it could become) so I'd love to get into a routine as soon as possible.

sanityseeker75 Fri 01-Feb-13 16:53:08

I agree it doesn't matter if OW or not - just trying to understand reasoning behind Ex's behaviour (not that there is a reasoning for manipulating and using kids as a weapon).

We have faced issues with contact and then overnight visits. Many, many years on this is no longer an issue and have EW access smile

I think there are two things that you need to be thinking about

1 - She cannot stop access. She can make things diffcult temporarily but I believe the courts don't look highly on this and it is highly unlikely they will decide that LO should not see her father. They will decide what is in the best interests of the child and, unless there is a risk of abuse etc, that would be to have regular contact with her dad. If things do get that far and she then messes about with access that would be breaching the court's order and things can be taken further. Hopefully it won't get that far though!

2 - By being open and honest and letting her know the full and true facts of the situation you/BF are in the 'right'. If she reacts badly then she is in the wrong but you have done all you can to be have handled the situation correctly. You never know, she might just appreciate the effort given a little time!
If you hide things/are not honest (or if comes accross like that to her) then I'm sorry but IMO that makes you/BF in the wrong and she can use that as an excuse to not behave correctly herself - i.e. threatening resticted access.

At then end of the day I think you are right when you say you guess it will just take time and patience. Hopefully she will come round and realise that going down the "offical" route is not in the best interest of her DD and will be able to come to some agreement with your BF and acceptance of you.

mumandboys123 Fri 01-Feb-13 17:29:48

had to laugh at the 'empathy' thing...the woman my ex left me for once told me she had a lot of 'empathy' for me. Hilarious, really, when you think about how involved she was in lying and cheating and hiding and telling stories. There was - and never was - any empathy and if you have been involved in the breakdown of this woman's marriage, please don't pretend you either know or care how she's feeling.

I am assuming (my apologies if I'm assuming wrongly) that you are the 'other woman' in which case, things will always be difficult. That's not the children's fault, however, and there is a need to balance mum's sensitivities with the on-going rights of the children to a relationship with their father. Mediation is a good starting point if she will consider it - it would probably be worth sending an 'official' letter (from a solicitor) stating that you wish to sort things out 'for the sake of the children' and are happy to do so via mediation so that everyone's opinions get taken into account. However, in the same letter, you need to time limit her - give her 2 weeks to agree to mediation or say you will start court proceedings for a contact order. If she hasn't agreed to mediation at the end of the 2 weeks, proceed directly to court. There is a lot of information on the Families Need Fathers website about self-repping, it doesn't need to cost a fortune.

Within all of this, you do need to be aware of timescales and appropriateness - if you are the 'other woman' (sorry, I know that's a horrible title) and the relationship breakdown is recent (less than 6 months ago, maybe even up to a year), it may be considered inappropriate to have the children meet you. Any new partner shouldn't really expect an introduction prior to the 6 month mark and some kind of plan should be in place to make sure that the introduction is child-focused. You will need this info for court.

There is no need for 'vetting'. A parent is allowed to introduce their children to whoever they consider appropriate. I can't think of anything worse than meeting my ex's new partner and trying to be polite to her about life, the universe any anything. Would rather stick pins in my eyes. I have little respect for my ex, but I do know he loves our children and will do his best for him within his own definition of 'best'. There is no need for introductions or pretend friendliness. I certainly wouldn't take kindly to the 'other woman' sending me books on 'now mummy and daddy don't live together'. I am capable of parenting my own children, thanks!

Xalla Mon 04-Feb-13 06:54:01

I was in this situation once upon a time. I was never the 'other woman' - DH was never in a serious relationship with my DSD's mother let alone married to her but she still stopped contact when my DH and I started seeing each other.

We've been married for 5 years now and my DH has DSD 50% of the time. It's been a long, tedious journey for him to reach this point. For a long time it was very much a case of Mum saying "jump" and him saying "how high"?

I didn't really have a lot to do with my DSD until after the first 12 months of our relationship. We married about 12 months after that and it wasn't until we were married that my DH got decent contact restablished. I think my DSD's Mum realised at that point there really wasn't much she could do about our relationship.

I didn't and don't empathize with her to be honest; most of her behaviour was driven by her own insecurities / jealousy and had little if anything to do with DSD's wellbeing.

We had our own 'phased plan' - I can't quite remember the details of it but certainly it involved first my DH spending time with DSD at Mum's house, followed by me and DH spending time at Mum's house, followed by DSD coming to us a for a few hours. It quickly escalated to overnights at that point. I did have Mum over to 'inspect' our home once....it was hideous and I don't recommend it!

The sorry fact is that if your DP is currently seeing his DD for only a few hours each week (far too little for a 4 year old to be seeing her Dad btw), he's not in a very strong position. If he goes down the court route, contact will most likely improve but it will be a long, slow and expensive process and he'll have to jump through all kinds of hoops. Imo he may as well try jumping through HER hoops for a while and see where it gets him.

You probably are going to have to take a back seat for a while but at the same time I think your DP should put a clear time limit on when you do start playing a part in his DD's life. Some posters higher up have suggested 6 months...that seems reasonable. He should insist his ex is clear that you're eventual involvement is inevitable and non-negotiable.

I know it's really hard when you love someone and you want to share their world but this is one of those things you just can't push too quickly. Patience is a virtue and all that. Good luck.

WickedStepMonster Mon 04-Feb-13 16:44:57

Xalla thanks for your post. Since my original post, the exw has started divorce proceedings. BF received a letter specifially stating that she will stop contact if I am involved. I can't believe her solicitor agreed to put that in the letter, it seems brazenly unreasonable.

The solicitor has also suggested mediation so I suppose that is a good sign, hopefully she will have no choice but to compromise, even if it does end up taking a bit longer.

Xalla Mon 04-Feb-13 17:06:47

Tell your DP to join Families Need Fathers. My DH got loads of advice and support from their forum. Xx

mumandboys123 Mon 04-Feb-13 17:09:17

solicitors on the whole do as they are told - they work for their clients. They can advise against something but in the end, if the client wants it, the clients wants it.

Petal02 Tue 05-Feb-13 09:57:46

Wickedstepmonster – whilst I can totally understand why you want to avoid legal proceedings, it sadly might end up going that way, otherwise the ex will call all the shots.

And regardless of whether or not you were the ‘other woman’, your DP has a legal right to see his daughter. One poster has suggested that if you were the ‘other woman’ then it may be inappropriate for the children to meet you – I doubt this stacks up legally. Surely your DP has the right for other people to be present during access, providing they don’t present a threat – the ex doesn’t get the right to choose who the daughter meets during access, heaven forbid. As for the “mother’s sensitivities” being considered – I doubt this stacks up legally either, otherwise access would be denied in millions of families.

I like Mumandboys’ suggestion of sending a solicitors letter, stating that you wish to sort things out, and are happy to do so via mediation. It’s not heading directly down the court route, but it does make it clear that any discussions/negotiations will be a structured, organised two-way decision, and not everyone jumping to the ex’s demands.

WickedStepMonster Tue 05-Feb-13 12:32:32

Petal02 legal proceedings are inevitable now, sadly, although at least there will be a chance for mediation. All her threats are so obviously about her personal feelings of anger and nothing to do with the child's welfare that the mediator should bring her down to earth pretty quickly.

NothingIsAsBadAsItSeems Tue 05-Feb-13 13:58:15

I still couldn't answer how long it would take for me, if I was in that situation, to let you and the ex have the dc overnight as it would depend on:

- How long ago we split, reasons for the split and are we still friends or at least on speaking terms?
- How long have you been with the ex? If the ex trusts you around our dc and I still trust exs ability to look after dc (again can't really answer unless I know the answers to Q1) then it could be sooner rather than later.
- What you are like with children? If dc came home after spending the day with you and ex and complained about how you treated them I'd have problems letting them stay over if you were around.

I'd also want to talk to ex about how serious his relationship was as I don't believe a string of 'aunts'/'uncles' coming and going from a childs life is healthy.

ladydeedy Tue 05-Feb-13 14:03:38

Solicitors will indeed write what the client wants. I would put little store by the letter. however, it does seem that legal action is the way ahead. The ex is making the situation all about her, not about the child. Your BF can introduce his daughter to whoever he likes - it is not the mother's decision and she cannot veto it (unless of course there's risk of danger etc). Sounds like she is being very short sighted in this case.
You are doing the right thing in trying to support your BF. Get court action going and then your BF will at least have something reasonable to work to in terms of access (currently far too little it seems, currently).

Petal02 Tue 05-Feb-13 15:10:17

Nothingisasbadasitseems whilst I can completely understand the sentiments behind your list of reasons why you would be reluctant for an ex and his new partner to have the child overnight, I doubt any of them carry any legal weight. As LadyDeedy said, the mother does not have the power to decide if/when the father should have access, nor can she dictate the company he keeps during that access. “Sour grapes” is not a good enough reason to deny a man access to his children.

WickedStepMonster Tue 05-Feb-13 15:47:20

Nothing what do any of those things have to do with a child's right to see her father? We live together, of course she needs to meet me.

Sadly that seems to the be the attitude she has, and it's so frustrating especially when she cites SDs emotional wellbeing as a reason for being so controlling.

NothingIsAsBadAsItSeems Tue 05-Feb-13 16:17:44

Wicked - I think they indicate how your bf's ex may see the situation which if you want to empathise with her or help to improve the situation without going to court you could take into account. She may genuinely feel that it isn't in their childs best interests to have overnight visits.

I know ds doesn't settle well if we leave him with relatives (he's 3), could that be why or at least part of the reason why she won't let their child stay with you both?

Petal02 Tue 05-Feb-13 16:25:09

So what are you suggesting – that the OP indulges the ex’s sensitivities, in the hope that things improve? They could find themselves tip-toeing round the ex forever. As I said in an earlier post, sour grapes is not a valid reason to withhold access.

And even if the ex insists that the child doesn’t settle well if she’s with her father and his new partner – is that a legally substantial reason to deny access? Would a court uphold this? I doubt it.

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