How would you handle this...

(14 Posts)
heidiwine Tue 01-Oct-13 08:49:41

DP agreed with his ex this summer that he would have his children the weekend before Xmas, that he would be taking them away to visit family overseas and may not return until the morning of the 24th. DP booked the trip. We return on the evening of the 23rd. DPs ex has said that she has made plans on the 23rd and that we will have to cancel the trip, if we don't then she will not allow the children to come to us that weekend.
My DP is looking into changing the dates. I feel so angry about the whole thing. This was supposed to be a Xmas celebration. We have never had the children for Xmas, until last year DP always went to his ex wife's. Last year she said he could not come unless he spent the whole day there (without me... No I was not the OW... They have been divorced for 8 years). This year she has said that neither child wants to see us on Xmas day. (But her newest partner will be there)
I'm at the end of my rope. I want to fix this but am powerless. I have no idea what we should do for the best. Both do and I want to crawl into a hole till the new year. Why is Christmas always so stressful?!

UC Tue 01-Oct-13 09:30:43

This is dreadful, and is using the children as pawns. I would be tempted to see a solicitor rather than try and appease the ex and re-arrange all your plans. Do you have the agreement you made in writing eg. on email?

heidiwine Tue 01-Oct-13 09:38:16

Yes we have it in writing. She is saying that we should've checked before booking. I agree re solicitor, last time he saw a solicitor mediation was suggested. Ex W said that there was no way she'd do mediation she's take it straight to court. I don't think DP wants to fight with her so he goes along with most of the shit she throws at him (and there's a lot).
So stressful for all of us and the children are stuck in the middle and scared of their mum (but too loyal to her to tell us anything). I strongly suspect parental alienation but have no idea how to tackle it and DP just sticks his head in the sand and focuses on work as earning money to support them all is to him a tangible way of showing he cares (misguided in my view)

UC Tue 01-Oct-13 10:43:57

So you made the agreement, got it in writing, and she still says you should have checked again before booking?

I don't have any experience in this kind of difficult situation, hopefully someone who does may come along. However, I do think that the more your DP sticks his head in the sand, the more he is enabling this kind of behaviour. The poor children.

Can you access some family mediation or family services for you and DP to help you?

RinseAndRepeat Tue 01-Oct-13 17:02:59

You should definitely still go.

Or ask her to reimburse you the money you'll be out of pocket if you cancel. She's the one changing plans.

This sort of shit makes me so mad.

catsmother Tue 01-Oct-13 19:02:21

From bitter experience if the ex is the sort of person who can't be trusted to keep to her word, who threatens cancelled contact if you don't do what she wants, who'll never reimburse you for money wasted etc., then I'd apply to court now for what I think is called a specific contact order (I may have the terminology wrong).

That may seem an extreme measure to some of you but you can't reason with someone who's unreasonable - and only you know how fair, honest and co-operative - or not - the ex is.

In our case we "agreed" a summer holiday 7 months in advance - complying exactly with the ex's demand to book very specific dates (we weren't allowed to go a day earlier etc). Having done that, which wasn't easy in high season on a limited budget, we were informed, by text late in the afternoon of the day before we were due to leave that the children wouldn't be coming. No apology, no shame, no explanation whatsoever. And then the ex refused to answer her landline or respond to any susbsequent texts. We basically poured around £7-800 down the drain as we'd otherwise have gone at a different time if the stepkids weren't coming. DP was devastated, I was furious - the holiday left a very sour taste in the mouth and was overshadowed by all this. What was worse was that I just knew - well, 99% gut feeling - she'd pull a spiteful stunt like that as had past form for cancelling agreements and mucking about with contact. I'd pleaded with DP to get a contact order prior to our trip (for that, and also the ongoing messing about over contact) but he dragged his heels hmm angry and left it far too late.

I should think a judge would take a very dim view of your situation. You have her agreement in writing and if she subsequently wanted to book something she should have checked before doing so as DP had already advised her that there was a chance he'd come back on the 24th. Threatening to withhold contact if DP doesn't back down won't go down very well either. Only thing is, and again this is from our eventual experience of court orders, is that things can move very slowly and I'm not sure you'd be able to get anything stamped before Xmas. It would however, do no harm to at least enquire if such an order for a specific event like this can be granted - in theory, and in enough time. Long term, your DP should certainly consider a contact order anyway - these can be worded to cover off important occasions like Xmas - so he may at least be able to do as much as he can in regard to next Xmas (though unfortunately contact orders are never a 100% guarantee the ex will play fair).

Again, IME, the more the NRP buries their head in the sand, tries not to "rock the boat" and so on, the more an unreasonable ex takes the piss. When all our contact troubles - and definite alienation - began I was very fearful it would escalate unless it was nipped in the bud asap - via legal means once appealing to her "better nature" had failed - and unfortunately that turned out to be true. If I could turn the clock back I would have been far far more insistent with DP that he applied for a contact order much sooner than he did. The mess he/we have had to unravel after years of this was so much more difficult than it should have been and has had a significant impact on all sorts of things - family relationships, our relationship, our finances etc.

purpleroses Tue 01-Oct-13 20:31:59

Tell her you've changed your flights, then email her once you're there to say sorry they've been delayed and it'll be the 23rd as previously agreed?

Seems a perfectly fair way to treat her, given how she's treated you, but possibly not the most diplomatic way to go about solving the problem...

VBisme Tue 01-Oct-13 20:35:46

Oooh I like purpleroses idea.

Definitely get a court order, that's just ridiculous.

Stepmooster Wed 02-Oct-13 01:43:29

We are supposed to be having DSS for Xmas, DSS is talking about being at ours for Xmas. It was all agreed in writing end of last year, because DSS wanted to spend Xmas with us then, but the Ex decided no but we could this year.

If we actually see DSS for Xmas I will be very surprised, DH is trying to get agreement on what days to have DSS during Xmas break, but ex is not playing ball. DH still has his hopes up, but I have specifically put my foot down on arranging any trips away in case it all falls through.

We don't have a court order, and DSS does not want DH and his mum in court again. He has requested this of us. As DSS is getting older and last year he made his first noises to his mum about what he wanted contact wise, and now even stronger noises this year, I do think that his mum is going to have to listen to what her son wants a lot more.

I think I will be pushing DH to go down the court route next year if she continues to ignore DSS wishes and mess us all around, again.

Mueslimorning Wed 02-Oct-13 06:09:33

Been there.
While it was possible for dh to take dsc to see gps in his home country every year, like they used to as a family, ex put her foot down in the same sneaky manner when dsc wanted to spend a short holiday in my country.
Again like you, we got her agreement in writing, dss in particular was pushing for this, and thankfully on the afternoon we were going to book I got dh to ring ex... Only by this time she had actually booked a holiday abroad for herself and dsc and so now we couldn't. Tbh I had anticipated this as it she is extremely manipulative, dh and dss were heartbroken. But like in stepmoosters case, dss became more assertive after this incident and, all on his own, he eventually got mum to agree to a 50:50 arrangement, not only did she lose her sons respect, but the generous maintenance that came with him... The first thing he asked for was the promised holiday, and considering its a very low key event the symbolic value becomes even stronger.

watchingout Wed 02-Oct-13 08:47:03

No experience but I too was favouring purpleroses approach! Guess whoever has the passport has control though..

heidiwine Wed 02-Oct-13 22:24:09

Thank you ladies for all your replies. After some thought we got family involved (DP's family... Not mine). DPs sister called ex W and said how disappointed she was not to be seeing the children the weekend before Xmas... I have never seen anyone back track that quickly...
Ex w said that my DP had been exaggerating and that she was never going to prevent the children from seeing their family etc etc
So the plans have been cancelled and we have confirmation (again) in writing that the children will be with us till the evening of the 23rd. So it all worked out for the best in the end...god knows what we'd have done I it was my family we were visiting.
To all those ladies who shared their stories/gave advice - thank you - I can't tell you how comforting it is to know there are others out there battling this sort of nonsense.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Thu 03-Oct-13 07:10:11

Brilliant solution - her backing down is a clear indication that she was just being malicious in order to get at your DP. Well done - enjoy your Xmas break!

purpleroses Thu 03-Oct-13 10:59:56

That's nice to hear. Sounds like she doesn't like to be seen as unreasonable - which is a very useful thing to have. Maybe encourage your DP's sister to keep the contact up with her.

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