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to think that DH's XP is doing the wrong thing?

(16 Posts)
citybranch Sun 01-Nov-09 19:34:33

Bit of background: DH and his exP had a messy split where he left, and returned a few times before it was finally over. XP became pregnant during this time...DH said he would support whatever decision she made although both agreed their relationship was over and the new baby wouldn't change that. (They also have 2 sons).

It was quite a long drawn out nasty split which was initially DH leaving. From what he and his family have told me she was very controlling and he started counselling as he was very depressed. The counselling eventually helped him see that he needed to leave the relationship.

So he was living with his mum when the baby was born but took his 2 weeks paternity leave and slept on the sofa at the house, he looked after the boys and tried to bond with the new baby. This is the last time he has been allowed to see his daughter properly. His XP made excuse after excuse ever since.

This was 5.5 years ago now and he has since met me (about a year later), we're married and we have a 2 year old and a new baby. The two boys come to our house every other weekend and we have a great time, they love our children dearly.

He asks every 6 months or so if it would be OK to start having more contact with his daughter, and replies have been she's too young/you can't cope with looking after a baby/she doesn't know you/she is too nervous to come. He asked again recently and was told, You had your chance when she was a year old, you don't get another, stop asking.

He goes there to collect the boys and sometimes the little girl comes to the door and is pushed back inside. The boys (aged 9 and 11) once told DH that she calls him by his first name. We wonder if she even knows that DH is her Dad.

We feel very sad about it because it feels as though something is missing in DHs life, he is a great Dad and loves his daughter although he does not know her. He had tried to detach from the situation now but I know it gets him down. The boys know that he asks to see her, they don't understand why their mum doesn't allow it. I feel like it hangs over all of us, and just feel it is so wrong that this little girl watches her brothers being collected every 2 weeks and she can't come.

I just can't understand. I feel that the situation is a ticking timebomb. I wonder what to say to my children about it when they grow older.
I guess I'm just interested in people's thoughts and opinions and I would also like to know if anyone has been in this position, maybe as a child themselves.
Will the little girl resent her mother, her father, both or neither? And what do we say to all the other children when they ask why?

Haylstones Sun 01-Nov-09 19:49:11

I think your dh needs to get legal advice and a DNA test.

abouteve Sun 01-Nov-09 19:57:05

My first thoughts were about DNA, sorry that sounds awful, but it's baffling why his ex will let him see the Ds's but not the DD.

Agree about the legal advice. Hope it all gets sorted out.

citybranch Sun 01-Nov-09 20:05:13

thanks for fast reply! Yes I did question his paternity too, but he seems fairly certain. His DD is the spitting image of him for one, and he also remembers when she was conceived as their relationship was so bad they hadn't slept together in 2 years! (she initiated this, and maybe I'm being suspicious but I do wonder if she got pregnant 'on purpose')

As for legal advice, we have been discussing it for a long time but we have little money. DH handed over the house to XP and also had to clear up debts that she ran up. We now have quite a large mortgage and he earns a lot less than me so feels uncomfortable that it would be my money that pays the legal bills.

I also believe that deep down he is still kind of 'scared' of her and he is petrified of going head to head with her. His eldest DS was diagnosed with cancer a year ago and we have shared his care/appointments. He is now out of the woods but it has all been so emotionally draining I don't think any of us are ready for a legal battle. I suppose we are hoping that as the daughter gets older XP will come to her senses before we have to do the legal thing.

toddlerama Sun 01-Nov-09 20:16:37

This is really sad sad

At some point, he will want to know his daughter and she has every right to know her father. You say maybe you will get legal advice later, but he can't know his daughter at this age ever again. He might need you to help him stand up to his Ex wife. I don't mean that you should confront her, but encourage him, comfort him, and make sure he knows that she can't hurt him now.

Hassled Sun 01-Nov-09 20:19:48

A lot of solicitors will give a free hour or half-hour's worth of advice - it might be worth having a chat with a family lawyer just so you know the lay of the land, and what you could, in theory, do.

CarGirl Sun 01-Nov-09 20:24:05

I think I would start legal proceedings, DNA tests aren't expensive. Does he pay maintenance for all 3 of them?

Once paternity is proved I would encourage him to fight to see his dd it is in her best interests that she has a positive male role model in her life instead of being fed the sublime message that he cares about his sons and not her.

Ivykaty44 Sun 01-Nov-09 20:25:47

I agree with hassled - try a couple of solicitor - even the original that organised the divorce for a ree consultation - also ask the question on how to strat sorting this out yourself... a simple letter etc then another letter written by yourslef outlying acess

You dont have to get the solicitor to write the letters and then see what happends.

All court forms are available to download online - so a lot of work can be done by yoursleves.

ElenorRigby Sun 01-Nov-09 20:26:59

citybranch you and your (DP) family will get good practical advice from Families Need Fathers
Ask for help there, or in the MN Step parent forum
or here
Bear in mind "step parents" rarely get much sympathy or understanding, so seek out those that have "been" there.

Good Luck x

citybranch Sun 01-Nov-09 20:29:44

You are right, I can't believe that he has had to miss the first 5.5 years of her life! I have told him that I would be happy for him to go the legal route, but he just seems so exhausted after his son's illness, he poured all his energy into that and says he can't face it just now.

He finds the whole subject difficult to discuss, I think because he has made himself detach.

He feels that his daughters mind is being poisoned against him already (as she refers to him as his first name, and the boys have said all cards and presents we give her are got rid of. Recently we have been giving gift vouchers instead, but we always always give cards and they are always signed 'dad')

He feels he has lost her already and has resigned himself to that, I think.

citybranch Sun 01-Nov-09 20:38:16

Yes DH was a member of Families Need Fathers. When DH and I got together XP stopped him seeing ALL the kids for 6 months or so and he joined up. I should encourage him to contact them again, maybe they can get his arse into gear better than I can.

He does pay maintenance for all 3 children and always has. He offers extra for uniforms etc but for the DD it is always turned down.

He and XP were never married, she has told him this means he has no rights over any of the children. Have since found out that he does in fact have parental responsibility for DD as the rules changed just before she was born.
DD also has his surname, along with the 2 boys. (different to their mothers as were never married)...

Haylstones Sun 01-Nov-09 20:42:02

For all their sakes he really should find enough fight in him to pursue it. If you get DNA proof that he is the father it would be very difficult to prevent access (I think)

If I was the daughter I would be wondering why he wanted to see her brothers and not her (I know thats not the truth and she doesn't know he is her father but she will know one day. I have a 5.5 yo dd and she picks up on pretty much everything that goes on so she must be asking questions.

Is his ex remarried or with a new partner? Does your dh pay maintenance?

Is there a possibility that if you raise the possibility of legal action it could be resolved without it?

Good luck with it- please urge your dh to pursue it further.

CarGirl Sun 01-Nov-09 20:46:42

As he has parental responsibility then he surely has a strong case.

He really needs to do this, his DD deserves an adult in her life who treats her in a healthy way. I'm sure the dd hears from her brothers how much they love Daddy and is very stressed about the 2 contradictions that she hears.

Parmageddon Sun 01-Nov-09 20:50:21

This is so sad. 5.5 is still very young and there are so many years ahead. His way of coping with her loss is to detach and it will be difficult to try to create a connection with her, but I do think that he owes it to himself and his daughter to try, sooner rather than later. I can understand that you must all have had a very tough time with his son's illness. Perhaps give it a few months and then take the free solicitor consultation?

Not to justify the mother at all, but I guess if you have brought up a child pretty much on your own from the start, it is harder to contemplate her going off for access visits. Is her mother with anyone else now?

CarGirl Sun 01-Nov-09 20:53:47

It sounds like the XP is doing it to have some control over him still tbh.

citybranch Sun 01-Nov-09 21:14:53

CarGirl I agree. From what he has told me she was very controlling throughout the relationship and was initially very shocked when she found out he had been having secret counselling and had summoned up the courage to leave her.

She lost control at that point and then even more so when he found me.

I think this is the last bit of control she has over him and she will cling onto that no matter how much it is hurting everyone.

I also think she may have told the DD a pack of lies and may find it difficult to backtrack now. She hasn't met anybody else since the split.

I really don't know how she can do this. I believe she is damaging and confusing all of the children (including mine although of course I don't expect her to give a toss about them).

The eldest DS has been through so much and he is 11 yrs old and intelligent. I feel he will start to ask her some very difficult questions soon.

It's like she thinks they will be young kids forever and she can tell them what she likes. They are children for such a short time...they'll be adults in the blink of an eye and god knows how messed up they'll be.

Tellingly, she does not know her own father. Her parents divorced and her mother moved away secretly so the dad never saw his 2 children again. Her brother no longer speaks to the family because of this so it's not as though she doesn't know what the potential fall-out will be.

Sorry, it makes me so angry

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