phones, schools and changing residency

(82 Posts)
stepmooster Mon 10-Feb-14 06:25:10

DH pays for DSS fancy phone. It was his xmas present, well deserved for being v helpful with our 2 babies. He is tbh pretty rubbish at keeping it on whilst with us. Mostly DH keeps nagging him to keep it charged up and on, but as we are all v busy and doing something his phone is usually in his bag and doesn't come out until Sunday lunch when things get quieter and he gets ready to go.

They have an agreement that as DH pays the bill DSS should reply to DH's texts, his nan's texts and be ready to answer phone twice mid week on set days.

It works well, we had some teething probs a few years ago but DSS sticks by the rules. Except a week in Jan when DH couldn't reach him, so he texted his ex and she said she'd confiscated it. DH started to feel inner rage at not being asked or discussed with first. He does after all pay the bill. He bites his tongue, and replies could she discuss with him first next time.

Then on fri, after a v long day travelling, dSS asks to borrow DH phone so he can text his mum. He does, she replies prob not realising its DH phone at 1130pm she expects him to ring her on sat, with a real shitty sarcy comment and about 20 exclamation marks, and a if you don't you will lose your phone.

DH shows DSS in morning, inner rage boiling again. Its in DH name ffs how can she decide that? Its how DH and family stay in touch! But he does not reply to his ex.

DSS tries 3 times to call his mum and she doesn't answer. He spends all day worrying. She answers eventually in the evening.

If anyone remembers my other threads he lives miles and miles from his school. His phone is how he keeps in touch with his friends and us lot.

Anyway a week ago, The ex asked DH in a really shitty text to pay half of DSS passport so she and her DH could take him on hols. She told DH his half was £60 more expensive than it should be.

After much discussion I told DH not to reply (she likes to get him to engage in weird text battles by sending shitty goady texts like this). So instead DH sent her a cheque for half of the real cost and disengaged.

Now DH and I who have joint finances are thinking if she wants to take away DSS phone as punishment she should pay half the bill. She makes such a song and dance out of billing DH for half of everything. DH says if she does confiscate it again he will deduct half the bill from his CM.

Also it looks like DSS has won a significant part in his school play as has his sister. As he has to wait around for his mum to finish work every night he's obviously doing drama club to fill his time. he got himself a bit worked up about a sunday rehearsal, his mum doesn't know about it. We can take him, but she'd need to get him. DH said after taking DSS to his train that DSS seemed scared of his mum and he wants DH to ask her. He obviously has no idea how unlikely she is to agree to anything DH suggests.

I feel sorry for DSS, DH wanted him to go to a local secondary near his mums but she thought driving him on 2 hour journeys to school and back day in day out was better for him than being a latch key kid. Now he is liking his school and has lots of friends but no social life. His mum asked him after xmas if he wanted to move schools and he said no.

DSS told DH at NY he wanted us to move close to his school so he could live with us and see mum eow. We are going to do this, even if he changes his mind. He is such a good kid, very mature and helpful. He doesn't know about our plans because we don't want the ex to know. She would I fear pull him out of his school and move him near to them. If he stays where he is, he has a good school report and he gets to be near his friends and his elder siblings one who lives FT with his dad and the other 50/50. They always lived FT with mum until she moved. If we moved all his siblings (ours too) would be local to him. The only person he wouldn't be near is mum. BTW she chose to sell fmh instead of her dh home so she could move in with him and not other way around forcing this big move away.

Does anyone have any advice regarding phones and our moving house? Once we move and presuming DSS still wants to live with us how the hell do we achieve that for DSS?

Frogbyanothername Mon 10-Feb-14 06:57:06

Did your DH discuss the 'conditions of use' that he placed on the phone with his DS mum beforehand?

If he bought the phone for his DS independently, and then expected his DS mum to agree to its use in her home, then she's perfectly entitled to place rules on its use in her own home.
My DDs dad bought her a phone without discussing it with me and was furious when I insisted it remained in the kitchen when she was here; but he hadn't discussed it with me and I was not prepared to agree to it at that time.

Your DH and his ex obviously still have a high conflict relationship - but it does sound as if both of them are contributing to that.

NatashaBee Mon 10-Feb-14 07:23:06

I can see why you're fed up. But from the other side... DSD's mother used to pay for her phone and it was bloody annoying not being able to take it away/ impose conditions on her using it/ check her usage. It does sound like part of a bigger issue though.

Well the phone thing is difficult, it is what worked best for to ensure my teenager behaved, her phone was/is always attached to her and she would normally do anything not to lose it. However his mum if she is going to confiscate it should keep it on and let him talk to family when he is supposed to not just his friends, i can imagine my DD would have been thrilled if i wasn't allowed any control of it when she was younger, because her Dad paid for it. Apart from that it sounds like your DSS would prefer to live nearer his friends and as he gets older living so far away from his school is going to get much more problematic.

SavoyCabbage Mon 10-Feb-14 07:57:56

I think that you should remind him to get his phone out of his bag on a Friday night and charge it. I think that giving him a phone that his mother has no control over when she lives with him is unrealistic. It's the obvious way to punish a teen. It's their currency.

Perhaps her 'shitty' text messages to her own son an be read in a different way if you tried. I know when I imessage my daughter it could be read in another way.

Arranging for him to go to another school without telling him and planning to push forward with the plan even if he says he doesn't want to anymore is just awful. He might have just been trying to please you both by saying he would like to move schools as it is clear that you would like him to change. I can see why you think it would be best but it needs to be a move that he is involved with rather than something that happens to him without any control.

Reading what you wrote here, it sounds like you despise his mother so it is likely that this comes across to him even if it's to a far lesser degree. The boy is in a difficult position that is not of his own making. This could perhaps be lessened by saying things like 'get you phone out and charge it, you might want to speak to your mum later'.

No ideas on why she asked for more than the half a passport costs! Even is she was factoring in the overpriced photos.

stepmooster Mon 10-Feb-14 07:59:13

DH is not saying she cannot take it away, but he needs her to discuss it with him first. otherwise he is going to be punished twice for not being contactable. She does know that DSS is supposed to contact DH on it, that's why he has it. Otherwise there would be no phone contact.

FlyingBlind Mon 10-Feb-14 08:01:31

I'm guessing that your DSS is a bit older than my DSD's, but when their mum talked about moving away with them we did a bit of digging and found that because DP has parental responsibility Mum can't take the kids out of their school or enroll them in a new one without his permission. We wrote to the school to make sure they knew to notiy DP if mum started making any plans to move them without permission.Worth looking into maybe?

stepmooster Mon 10-Feb-14 08:03:14

btw dss has had a phone paid for by DH for the last 4 years. Its just a fancy new upgrade.

Frogbyanothername Mon 10-Feb-14 08:22:58

The contact that your DH requires is very specific though, isn't it?
He must re

Frogbyanothername Mon 10-Feb-14 08:23:46

He must reply to texts, and be available to answer the phone at set times.

All while he's in his mothers care.

lostdad Mon 10-Feb-14 08:35:22

Phone contact is notoriously difficult to enforce - even if you have a court order. If it IS in a court order judges really don't want to get involved as it is so easy to mess around frustrate contact - i.e. the battery was dead, there was no signal, it was on silent, we didn't hear it, it wasn't me who sent the text message, etc. etc.

In reality I think you may have to bite the bullet here and choose your battles. You're not going to win this one if the ex is determined to cause problems.

With regard to residency though the answer is `it depends'. How old is your DSS? His age is important and the older he is the more determinative is opinion. If he is say 12, 13 or older it's pretty significant and if he is 14 or 15 it's pretty much decisive (although I have assisted with cases where the police have - incorrectly - taken children off parents and taken them to a resident parent). If he IS 14 or 15 there is a good chance that he could simply `vote with his feet' and that will be that (although if that happens expect knocks on the door from the police, dire threats of legal action and the like).

You say `changing residence' in your title too - do you mean residence in a legal sense? It doesn't anything in terms of quantum of contact to be honest. A residence order doesn't actually confer that much and PR is the thing here.

stepmooster Mon 10-Feb-14 09:27:03

Obviously if he is being punished by his mum by having the phone removed from him, DH is not going to expect DSS to reply to his texts or phone calls. But unless he knows that is why it is happening then we are going to assume he is not replying.

No offense but that was the condition of having a phone that DH pays for �20 a month. DSS knows this, he is happy, he often calls DH up anyway so there isn't much making him do something he doesn't want to do.

Why would DSS keep asking to renew the contract with upgrades if his dad's condition of contact was not acceptable to him.

He sees his son 2 nights out of 14. I don't think asking for two phone calls a week after school to see how he is getting on at school etc is asking too much. seeing as the ex wife wants DSS to phone him the saturday he is with us, I can't see how its only mums who can stipulate contact with threat of phone removal and not NRPs who pay for the bloody phone!

DH just thinks if the ex wants to demand DSS calls her on his phone then take the phone away as punishment without informing DH, they should split the costs 50/50. FFS we are even agreeing to go halves on a passport for her bloody holiday with him. Are we being so unreasonable?

DSS is 12, he has said 3 times since I have known him that he would like to live with us. At the moment we live in a 2 bed with 3 kids (when DSS is here) we are moving towards his school and hopefully getting a 3rd bedroom. We thought we'd leave it up to DSS to decide what to do as he becomes more independent. We don't have the energy or money to get involved in anymore legal battles I'm afraid. DH has PR they were married.

SavoyCabbage The only person wanting DSS to change schools is his mum. DH wanted him to start secondary local to his mum, as the school he is at now none of his primary friends go too. Now she is asking DSS if he wants to change school. DSS asked if we would move near his school. Also in my OP I said about the phone, Mostly DH keeps nagging him to keep it charged up and on so not really sure what more you think we should do??

DSS is well aware his mum and dad hate each other, his mother is a real bitch who involved DSS in the gritty details of their financial settlement. Told him packs of lies, and likes to get DSS to pass messages on by word of mouth rather than emailling/texting DH. She has also tried to blackmail us, had her DH threaten my DH with physical violence (with police involvement). I can't stand the woman personally, but never have either DH or I talked abouther negatively in front of DSS, and when DSS is here for the holidays we make sure he phones her at least once.

stepmooster Mon 10-Feb-14 09:32:25

Lostdad I think DSS wants us to move near his school so he can live with us and not travel 2 hours each way to school and home, and see his mum EOW. I don't understand what you mean by quantum of contact, to be honest DH is of the opinion that DSS is old enough to decide how often he sees us, or where he wants to live. He has no interest in starting a contact war with the ex to try and win as many nights as possible in some silly game. It's DSS life his choice.

I just wondered how you actually organise such a thing if it's what DSS wants to do. Do courts need to be involved if mum disagrees?

Frogbyanothername Mon 10-Feb-14 09:34:30

All that may be true, but your DH has agreed and placed conditions on his DS regarding his conduct and behaviour while he in his mums home. That is unreasonable. it is entirely up to his Mum how his mobile phone is managed when he's in her home. If she chooses to take it away, that is up to her.
If she prevents/forbids contact in any way between your DH and his DS, that is a totally different issue and something that should be dealt with between your DH and his DS Mum. I fully understand why his mum would be pissed off about your DHs handling of this.

Given her past behaviour, and the fact that your DH knows that his ex is unreasonable, why on earth has he given her this ammunition?

stepmooster Mon 10-Feb-14 09:50:09

Sorry Frog, what has DH done wrong? Other than ask her to discuss with him when his phone has been taken away? His mum has known for years that DSS calls DH at about 2030 2 nights a week, I think it was even written in a contract agreement although I dont have it to hand. Sometimes he calls more, sometimes they text each other about football or TV or jokes. Should all that be run past mum for permission? If you dont suddenly hear from your child do you worry? Or should DH just assume mums taken the phone away. Should DH demand his ex doesnt make contact during EOW visits although she texts every night?

lostdad Mon 10-Feb-14 10:07:56

OP - all depends how old he is. If he's 14 or older, etc. and decides he's living with your DH as opposed to his mum it's going to be hard for a court to enforce a decision to the contrary.

How do you organise it if he's decided he wants to live with you?

Well - if he IS old enough (and remember until he's 16 EVERYTHING is up to date) he can move in with you and that's it. His mum, if she fancies her chances can take the matter to court to get an order with regard to residence and contact. If his moving in with you is a change in residence your DH will become the primary carer and can act as such.

stepmooster Mon 10-Feb-14 10:21:56

thanks Lostdad

Frogbyanothername Mon 10-Feb-14 10:28:27

mooster Did you DH ever discuss in advance with his DS Mum the provision and purchase of a fancy new smartphone, with the conditions he placed on its use?

Or did he decide that would be what happens unilaterally, with no consideration that in his DS Mums house, things may be different.

My DDs dad did this; bought her a data-enabled smartphone, paid for a contract, and then got arsy with me when I told him that our house rules meant that she couldn't use it in her room and it had to stay in family areas - so there would be no privacy for calls between him and DD using the phone he had supplied. Oh, and I reserve the right to look at her texts/messages at any time. He ranted about how I was blocking contact/interfering until I pointed out that we have a perfectly good landline, which DD can ask to use in the privacy of her own room at any time, and which he can call her in whenever he wants.

Your DH has tried to influence his DS behaviour while he is in his Mums care - that is unreasonable.

purpleroses Mon 10-Feb-14 10:32:47

I think your DH is putting a lot of pressure on DSS if he's threatening to take the phone away from him if doesn't answer it as agreed. Kids have busy lives and poor memories. When he's at his mum's he's engaged in that life - he shouldn't be pressured into always remembering to have his phone on him so his dad can call as agreed. Would be a bit more sympathetic if DSS was never answering texts or calls that his dad make to him but to insist that DSS could be punished for not responding (by having his phone confiscated) is a bit unreasonable.

And asking his mum to discuss taking the phoen off him with your DH first is also unrasonable and controlling of him. She is free to parent her DS in her own house as she likes, without having to consult your DH first. Was she consulted about your DH getting him a phone conditional on him being available to speak at times DH dictates? What if she wants him to be off playing football with his mates at that time, or in the shower? I think she probably sees the phone as an unreasonable imposition into her time with DSS.

Why does you DH need to be in such regular contact? Being a parent is about being there for your children when they need you not about enforcing that the speak to you when they're happy doing someting else. Parents aren't supposed to be the needy ones. His mum shouldn't be insisting on him phoning her either on the day he's with you.

Frogbyanothername Mon 10-Feb-14 10:33:34

...and I often don't hear from my DD during the week she's with her dad, why would I worry? I'll soon know if something has happened. She'll sometimes drop me a text (usually if she's forgotten something) or gives me a call if something exceptional has happened, and I'll drop her little snippets of news by text, but don't expect her to reply unless she wants to.

My DDs dad calls her at set times on set days when she's here - but that's for his benefit, not hers!

stepmooster Mon 10-Feb-14 10:38:31

Frog he had a BlackBerry for 2 years prior his new iPhone. His mum got him a TV and tablet for Xmas so presumably she isn't bothered about internet/screen time. She would be the first to complain about the smartphone if she thought it inappropriate. I don't see why she can't take his TV or tablet from him instead?

No one saying she can't check what he's up to on his mobile, but she doesn't do that although DH does as his name is on the contract.

stepmooster Mon 10-Feb-14 10:42:33

Its dh rule he wants to know how school is going, his mum won't tell him. As far as dh is concerned if dss wants to have a fancy iPhone and only stay I'm contact during visits twice a month then dss can have a pay as you go brick from our spare drawer.

Frogbyanothername Mon 10-Feb-14 10:44:31

* I don't see why she can't take his TV or tablet from him instead?*

Because its her home, her son and she can choose to parent him however she considers is most appropriate!
Your DH, and certainly you, have no right to interfer or question her parenting choices - if your DH feels so strongly he can discuss them, mediate, or go to court.

The fact that your DH has withheld information from his DS mum about his welfare regarding his residency/schooling is an indication that your DH, as well as his ex, is still point-scoring rather than putting his DS first.

Frogbyanothername Mon 10-Feb-14 10:48:04

See, this is about what your DH wants (to keep in touch about school etc) not what your DSS wants/needs.

I'm not surprised there is conflict if your DH behaves like this - bribing a child to stay in touch and meet his Dads emotional needs by giving him a fancy phone and threaten to withdraw it if his DS doesn't do what his Dad wants.

stepmooster Mon 10-Feb-14 10:51:32

purpleroses please explain how it is OK for the ex to threaten to remove dss phone and yet dh who pays for phone expects dss to phone or answer on set times and is not allowed to follow through with consequences if dss doesn't get In touch for a week, but that's not happened for ages until mum took the phone away. Sometimes dss is tired and will text dh to say so, or they are out and next evening dss will call instead. The only person who has ever taken his phone away is his mum. Who didn't answer the phone the 3 times dss tried to call her on Saturday like she requested.

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