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parenting plan advice

(16 Posts)
makeminemango Mon 10-Nov-14 16:21:35

I am in the midst of a messy divorce with a financial hearing scheduled for the end of this month. However, my ex has now sent me a parenting plan suggesting that I have the kids, aged 5 and 6, Mon and Tues, then he has them Wed and Thurs before we alternate weekends. I think this is very unsettling for the kids, particularly DS who has experienced behaviour problems including CAMHS support most probably as result of the divorce fallout. We continue to live under the same roof 2.5 years after I told him I would divorce him. It is a nightmare. I am looking for any advice, research, references etc that can help me to argue against such as parenting plan. I have my own business and work from home mostly around the kids whereas ex has a public service job 45 minutes drive away. I have a barrister and solicitor although if the kids matter has to go to court as well, then I will have to agree to this or represent myself. Thanks in advance.

HeadDoctor Mon 10-Nov-14 17:21:56

What sort of arrangement would you prefer?

makeminemango Mon 10-Nov-14 20:17:17

We had previously agree to alternate weekends and one day during the week. They would otherwise be with me. The kids are young at this stage need stability not being acted between homes every other day or thereabouts. My ex is very reluctant to pay me any money (he disagrees with a 50:50 split on finances for e.g) and this is also a ploy to pay less maintenance and argue that I do not need money to buy 2 bed flat.

HeadDoctor Tue 11-Nov-14 01:31:42

Not sure how a 50/50 plan equals you not needing enough bedrooms for you and the children. Also, it's very important if this does end up in court to keep finances and contact matters separate.

You agree on alternate weekends. He's proposing two week nights and you only want him to have one. To be honest, I'm not sure it's worth the fight. It could go either way and court is awful. If you think the conflict is bad now, court will make it worse and that's the worst thing for the children. They aren't all that young and as long as your exH is consistently available for the two days he proposes, I don't see the harm. I would actually imagine it would be more unsettling for the children to only see their father for one day when it's not his weekend to have them. Loss of contact has a huge effect on children and while it doesn't sound like he's a nice husband particularly, you haven't said anything that suggests he's a bad father. The more contact they have with both of you, the better.

My children were 4 and 1 when we started our shared care routine which is similar. I have Sun Mon Tue nights, exH has Wed Thur Fri night and we alternate Sat so one weekend they're home at 9am Sat and the other they're home at 5pm Sun.

By all means put forward your own proposal. You have to go to mediation before you can go to court anyway now but seriously try and avoid court if you can. It has a really bad impact on children.

TeapotDictator Tue 11-Nov-14 08:05:58

I have recently been in court with a husband trying for 50:50 shared care.

Like you I was firmly against it, I had always been the primary carer and am not of the opinion that a child's time needs to be split down the middle in order for both parents to have a full and involved role.

I also suspected my husband is motivated by money - so much rides on who has residency of the children in terms of asset division and deep down he thinks I'm entitled to nothing of our marital pot.

I advise you to get advice from a solicitor. My experience is that the courts very rarely award 50:50 shared care. In our case he ended up with 3 nights EOW and midweek non-staying contact, plus half the holidays.

I would agree that it's best to stay out of court if you can, but at the same time I would never agree to something that you believe strongly is not in the interests of the children because should it go to court you will have set a precedent which could be taken as the status quo.

TeapotDictator Tue 11-Nov-14 08:10:42

I'm not sure that you can day that court has a really bad effect on children Head. I mean, clearly it can but the whole point of it is supposedly to fight to protect their interests.

I felt very humbled by the experience - ours went to final hearing and the judge in each hearing made it very clear that her job was to represent the children and act on their behalf as they had no voice.

In my opinion too many parents are bullied into 50:50 shared care by their partner upon separation and I think it's a shame if they are warned away from the very process which is there to protect us from bullies and manipulators.

HeadDoctor Tue 11-Nov-14 13:56:53

The court's themselves and CAFCASS actively encourage people to avoid use of court where possible. Of course in some cases it is unavoidable.

TeapotDictator Tue 11-Nov-14 14:23:10

Well yes, of course they do, and for good reason. It is expensive and extremely stressful. Unfortunately if you are dealing with an unreasonable ex, it is unavoidable for many. I made my court application in utter desperation - because I wouldn't agree to what my ex wanted, he made every arrangement for contact unbearable, let the children down repeatedly, and often went weeks without seeing them because I wouldn't agree to his 'terms and conditions'.

I think it's a little bit patronising to think that anybody really takes a court application lightly - it's a last resort!

Gogglepox Wed 12-Nov-14 22:59:57

OMG I'm in the exact same situation. I stupidly verbally agreed to 50/50 and now my STBXH, who never showed much interest in our young DDs, is fighting to keep this arrangement as-is whilst I now feel they need to spend more time with their mother because they are so young, girls and it was mainly the three of us anyway when we all lived together.

Interesting TeapotDictator to hear about your court situation. I want to avoid courts myself but feel that my ex will not agree to things otherwise - even small silly things are a battleground for him.

TeapotDictator Thu 13-Nov-14 07:36:02

Gogglepox feel free to PM me if you need advice. It is such a difficult situation but try to focus on what you feel is right for your children. Mine were pre-school age.

Don't let yourself continue to be bullied.

DivorceAlchemist Thu 13-Nov-14 13:13:48

Have you tried family mediation? Mediation can help you discuss in more detail your thoughts and feelings in more depth than the court will consider.

Remember that there is no principle of shared residence in English law. It only works in a minority of cases in reality.

STIDW Mon 17-Nov-14 14:58:34

Research doesn't help very much because the courts don't regularly refer to any, unless it is a complicated case and there is an expert professional witness to interpret the findings. There are many different ways of sharing parenting. Shared parenting doesn't have to be equal time 50:50, it can be in different proportions and the focus should be meeting the needs of the individual children. There is very little more damaging to children's emotional wellbeing than high levels of ongoing conflict between separated parents.

Obviously when parents separate some routines will change, but generally professionals working with children agree that maintaining many routines and the established bonds is in the interests of children's sense of security and welfare. Arrangements need to be practical and there is no point in a parent insisting on having the children regularly at times when they are unavailable to care for the child if the other parent is available and willing to care for them. As children grow older and they reach a different developmental stage their needs may change.

makeminemango Tue 25-Nov-14 19:52:01

Thanks every one for your messages and sorry for the silence. I have my financial hearing tomorrow and have been preoccupied (stressed out of my head) with that. I will try for mediation but fear that it won't work as it didn't fur finances. I am strong but the strain on my kids is heartbreaking hmm wish me luck for tomorrow!

awishes Tue 25-Nov-14 20:29:54

I wish you all the best, I'm in your situation and it is Hell itself. Good luck x

wannabestressfree Tue 25-Nov-14 20:48:24

I hope it goes well tomorrow. We will all be thinking of you x

Placeinthesun Fri 28-Nov-14 13:14:51

Good luck with the hearing.

WRT your the shared care I have agreed mon and tues nights and E0W fri-sun with my stbxh (but I pick them up afterschool tues as we can' afford addtional childcare) and will have them back Sunday nights in term time and for school drop off on Mon mornings. Hoping it works out. It was agreed on the basis that there's already childcare in place for Monday afterschool and he does pick up then anyway and I have a regular commitment on a Tuesday evening. It means that over a fortnight they are with me 8 nights and him 6. I like that on my weekends they are with me basically Weds pm right through to Monday morning, and it doesn't disrupt their current schedule of activities.

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