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Seeing 1 year old daughter alone

(10 Posts)
LandysOffRoad Tue 05-Mar-13 13:53:24

My ex and I have a daughter, who has just turned 1. I lost contact for a month at 2 months old due to changing jobs and moving house, but since 3 months old I have seen her at least once a week for 2-3 hours a visit, and paid maintenance My ex has never let me take her out alone, or be in the room alone with her. I have always been a loving dad to her, but my ex insists this is so our daughter "won't get scared being away from her".

Whenever I ask when I can have her alone, she says "once she is ready." but won't give any indication of when this is, and as she never leaves our daughter with anyone, she understandably cries if she leaves the room. My ex insists she won't calm down without her, and isn't willing to try this. Up until now I haven't pushed the point, due to breastfeeding meaning I couldn't have had long with her anyway, but now it seems like she's just going to drag it on and on. (she is also still breastfeeding even though our daughter is over 1.)

If I take this to court, would her reasons mean I still only have supervised access?
She says:
1. Our daughter doesn't know me well enough and will be scared (I see her once-twice a week, I do all the travelling-about 30 minutes each way, and she won't let me take her out unless ex is with us. Daughter will happily smile/play with me, though she is quite shy, but this is with everyone not just me.)

2. That I don't pay enough attention to her and she might end up hurting herself. (This is not true-my ex expects me to never take my eyes off her, and comments if I even check my phone for example.)

3. That I can't calm my daughter down on my own, (She has never let me try this, as if she cries longer than about 5 minutes she takes her off me and does it herself.)

And also how much/how long is an average court case of this sort?
Thank you in advance.

Piemother Tue 05-Mar-13 19:09:24

Sorry bit the bf thing is kind of irrelevant. There's nothing wrong with bf past one but at this age it's probable that your dd can manage quite long periods between feeds and anyway she can eat solid food if she needs a snack/meal.
Unless there is info you are not telling is it sound like she is being quite unreasonable wrt unsupervised contact and its likely you will be awarded that if you go to court.
However....I found leaving dd1 with anyone extremely until I got used to it and since she has been raising your dd alone she may feel even more this way. But.....she is entitled to develop a relationship with her father which is separate from her mother.
Unless you have convictions etc you would be awarded unsupervised contact .

Piemother Tue 05-Mar-13 19:10:07

Plus the courts will ignore points 2 and 3.

LandysOffRoad Tue 05-Mar-13 19:39:13

I have one caution for affray from 2 years ago, but no real convictions. That wouldn't count against me would it?

You say they will ignore points 2 and 3, what likely influence would point 1 have on a decision?
Thank you for your reply

(I didn't mean to suggest there is anything wrong with breast feeding over 1, just the fact that I had been assuming she would stop then, but now she is still using it as an excuse to always be present, so it seems like there will be no end point. She says that she feeds every 2-3 hours still.)

catkind Tue 05-Mar-13 19:47:03

Lovely to hear from a dad trying so hard to build a relationship with his baby. I don't know details of how to deal with courts but certain you would be entitled to some unsupervised contact in the circumstances you describe.

I'm no expert on the legal side, but breastfed 1 yr olds I can tell you about!
Your ex is doing a great thing for your baby by breastfeeding and continuing to breastfeed. Be gentle, it's difficult letting go when you've been with baby 24 hours a day. But you also need to be firm. Forming an independent relationship with you is also a great thing for your daughter.

The ideal situation would be to convince your ex that you are on the same team, and you will work with her to make sure baby is settled and happy with you, and that you will take her straight back if she's finding it too much.

My littler one is just 1 and similarly breastfeeds a lot. As I work, I now have to leave her for 3 long days every week. She's absolutely fine for a day with the childminder or with her dad. Yes she cries when I go sometimes, but she stops as soon as I'm out of sight. Perhaps you could promise to call your ex as soon as baby's settled to reassure her? I'd also happily leave her with grandparents who she's seen much less often than you've seen your daughter. She clearly knows them, and reacts so positively to them. I'm sure your daughter knows you much better and would be very easily settled with you.

With regard to settling her, you'll find your own ways. I like to send a bottle of expressed milk for mine to have at nap time, perhaps your ex would like to do that too. (And I freely admit she probably doesn't need it, it's more about my wanting to do something to help!)

StitchAteMySleep Tue 05-Mar-13 20:34:53

I have a breastfed 1 year old who feeds quite regularly, but they can be kept going with snacks and yoghurt etc... If you are caught out somewhere. There is also the option of her expressing and you giving your daughter a beaker of milk, which if hungry she will take. Breastfeeding need not be a barrier, it certainly hasn't been for my DH (breastfed dd1 until 2 and will with dd2).

There is no reason you couldn't have her for a longer period, but you would need to build your time alone up gradually. Say an half an hour in local park, then increase over a period of weeks until you take her for a few hours to soft play or something. Eventually whole days and then maybe nights in around 6-8 months once she is used to whole days. Your ex will have to of course relax her need for control enough for this to happen, that is why it needs to start slowly. That way your dd will find it easier and your ex's trust of you will grow.

If she won't meet you halfway then court is the only option, it can take years. How about her family or friends, do you get on with any of them? Maybe if she trusts one of them they could chaperone you and dd and observe dd and report back to her. That way she would be reassured that your dd really will be okay without her mummy.

I do understand how she feels, dd2 is still so bonded with me (I am main carer), when I left her the other day with DH and went out it felt like I was missing a limb or something. DH sees her everyday and she was fine with him, but it just felt weird not having her there.

Piemother Wed 06-Mar-13 23:43:50

Point 1 is unreasonable too. I don't see how you can bond with her any further if ex won't allow you to.
The best thing for all concerned is to negotiate with her and move forward but if she won't budge you have a good case for legal action

lostdad Thu 21-Mar-13 13:02:25

LandysOffRoad - yours is a common situation.

You're not allowed to care for your daughter because you don't have experience of caring for her, but because you don't care for her your daughter you don't have experience of caring for her.

If you know what I mean. And because it is a viscious circle there is no way to break it. For a lot of dads `When she's ready' actually means `When (or if) I say she is ready.

The bottom line is that the longer you remain in the current situation the stronger the status quo is and the harder the fight will be if you do end up in court. So your first priority is to get things moving.

The best outcome of all is that you can talk to your ex, agree between you what is in your daughter's best interests (and shockingly enough as a father your judgement about this is actually as good as hers!) and make arrangements so that you can work together and that's the end of it.

But it sounds like that this scenario isn't going to happen right now and your ex is not willing to discuss it.

So you need to move it forward. The thing to do is organise professional mediation. Someone to `referee' in your discussion with her and come to an arrangement so everyone goes away feeling amicable. Google `National Family Mediation' and find your nearest branch. Give them a call, explain the situation and ask that they organise mediation for you. They will likely call you in for a chat to help understand the situation, then do the same to your ex.

Hopefully she'll do that and you'll then both be invited in to try to sort things out. Work out what it is you are seeking beforehand.

It's at this point it very often becomes `difficult'. If your ex refuses to attend, refuses to compromise you will need to ask for a FM1 form - which shows you have attempted mediation but it didn't work out. You'll need this if you end up in court to show that you've not just dragged her to court because you're out to punish her, control her, etc.

Now...court. You really don't want to go there unless there is no other chance. No, really. You don't. It will likely embitter both you and your ex and if you dislike each other now chances are by the end of things you'll loathe the very sight of each other. Which is why you should do your best to avoid it.

It'll cost you £200 to submit an application for a Section 8 application - that's for contact orders, residence orders, etc. If you choose to use a solicitor expect to pay them at least £170 an hour and £1500 a day if you use a barrister. Don't be surprised to be paying around £400 a month before it gets to court. For the paperwork preparation, correspondence and attendance of a solicitor for a 30 minute hearing you shouldn't be that surprised to be paying about £700 (on top of your monthly costs). If it's a final (all day) hearing and you take a barrister what with paperwork you'll be paying at least £2000 for a day.

As for how varies depending on what the situation is. Allegations of child and domestic abuse? Expect a CAFCASS report (and quite frankly you can usually expect one without these allegations). Mum won't agree to anything? A few hearings to gradually scale up contact to something meaningful. For the hearing was 15 hearings long and took 5 years to resolve.

The bottom line is that for a lot of people this is unsustainable. It was for me. I used a McKenzie Friend (watch the solicitors crowd here and say they are unregulated, not professionals and shouldn't be trusted) - but for the record my son is now with me 40% of the time, the total cost was less than a quarter a solicitor would have charged, my McKenzie Friend was available at all hours to deal with the inevitable `just before the weekend' letters the solicitor would send me and I ended up with way more contact than any solicitor would promise me.

I also joined Families Need Fathers for emotional support. You will meet a thousand people (fathers and mothers) who have been cut off from their children who have seen it, done it and got the court order and are able to help you in one way or the other.

If you want some pointers, give me a shout because this situation can be salvaged - ideally you and your ex working together to be allies for your daughter.

SisterMonicaJoan Thu 21-Mar-13 13:14:58

Hmm, I remember your previous thread and you've changed your story re: how often you have contact and your intentions somewhat...

WouldBeHarrietVane Thu 27-Jun-13 19:15:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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