Custody of 2 year old(20 Posts)
This is my first post so be gentle:
I separated from my husband almost 2 years ago. We have a 2 year old daughter who we have successfully co-parented up until now. We basically split the week in half and have alternate weekends. We're flexible within this if there's something going on, a holiday or a party or whatever. I have a new partener now and we are expecting a baby in a few months. He has been offered a good job around an hour away from where we currently live, in a new city, and we plan to move there permanently. I want to bring my daughter with me, but this would make our current child arrangements impossible to maintain. We have been unable to agree on a new arrangement in mediation and therefore my ex has applied for a prohibitive steps order to prevent me from taking her with and had also applied to have full custody of her. I received the court papers this morning and his statement as to why I should not be able to take her with me is so hurtful. He has always lived in something of a fantasy land and I expected him to be unfair and somewhat deluded but I really wasn't expecting it to upset me so much.
He has claimed that he is her main carer when in fact I work part time in order to care for her. I also have full financial responsibility for her. I pay for her nursery fees and any extra curricular activities. I also until very recently was still paying half of his rent even though I left that house 2 years ago. This has prevented me from living independently and I have had to move in with my parents, he also claims the child benefit so I can't claim any housing benefit. He is using this against me, saying that I've never looked after our daughter alone and that I can't cope with one let alone two. I take her to the docs, dentists drop her off with him a and collect her. He lives in a 1 bed council flat and is still drug dependent (prescription) as he used to be a heroin addict. I'm so frustrated at his complete inability to see the real world! I'm moving into a 2 bed house with a garden in a nice area. My daughter will have a sibling and two incomes from two adults.
I'm so worried about the court process. I'm fairly confident that he won't get custody as he hasn't made any kind of plans regarding his housing or finances. I'm still so nervous about the process though and him dragging my name through the mud, accusing me of being unable to care for my daughter and also bringing up my past mental health, which is much better now. I had pre and post natal depression which I sought help for and I'm now anti-depressant free and feeling very good emotionally.
I have no intention to prevent him from seeing her and I will do all I can to foster their relationship but I truly believe she would have a better quality of life if she lived with me.
Has anyone else been through this process? What happened and how did you deal with it?
Nightmare scenario. Sorry for your worries OP. Out of interest, why would it be impossible to maintain the current arrangement? An hour is not a huge distance...
I can see why your ex is a bit miffed TBH, you have 50-50 custody, it seems to be working really well and you must have been happy with the way your Ex H is living to allow the arrangement so far.
Now you seem to want to change contact arrangements and the amout of contact HE has because YOU want to move away from the area.
Alternate weeks with each of you would reduce the requirement to travel so much but this would not work when your child is at school or nursery.
Go and get proper legal advice. You may well be able to self represent in court, but you need the advice first.
Just not allowing you to move (especially as it is the same country) is unlikely. Courts are likely to want to preserve as much of the status quo as possible, admittedly by him having the CB does seem to imply he has her the majority of the time. So you will need detailed proof of exactly how her time and care is split.
Why on earth did you pay his rent and why does he still claim the child benefit?
You need to get the child benefit back ASAP. Then you can claim tax credits.
I don't blame him for wanting tI stop you moving away though if you have 50-50 care.
Court is an adversarial process. It pits parents who can't agree against each other.
If you can evidence that his allegations are untrue, then you have nothing to worry about. Similarly, he will undoubtedly counter any concerns you raise about his housing or drug addiction with the evidence that he's had 50:50 care of your DD since she was a newborn and neither you, nor SOcServ, have had concerns.
An hours travelling is not too far. You may well be court ordered to do all the travelling and I imagine the court will think ahead to when your DD starts school - a true 50:50 won't be possible then.
I signed the child benefit over to him and paid half the rent as he threatened to challenge my tax credit claim. You don't have to claim child benefit to receive tax credits. If he had done this then they would have stopped payment while they investigated. This would have meant I would have been unable to pay her nursery fees and therefore unable to work. He had said that he would then claim housing benefit and this would have meant I could stop paying him the rent. He didn't do this, probably because he has a conviction for benefit fraud in the past. He told everyone that the money was for 'maintenance' of our daughter, which is absurd as I pay for everything and our time with her is split evenly. He is very good at playing the victim and extremely emotionally manipulative. The reason I we are moving is not just because we want to, it's financially necessary. We currently live in London and can no longer afford to do so. I understand why he is upset, I'm sure I'd feel the same. My anger comes from the things that he has said about me. That I'm unable to cope and that I've never had to look after her on my own - completely untrue. I have lots of evidence to prove that what he is saying is at least a manipulation of the truth if not a lie. I'm happy to do the travelling back and forth to drop her/collect her. Like I say I want them to continue to have a relationship, despite what he has said and done to me he is a good dad. I just feel very hurt about what appears to be a smear campaign.
There is a legal board on mumsnet which may be good for advice, but if you are going to Court you will need to see a Solicitor.
If your ex is happy with 50:50 care, then I'm not surprised he is challenging your move. I think that if the current arrangement is working the Court are reluctant to enforce changes.
Do you have 50:50 now? I'm confused why you have been paying half his rent and why he gets the child benefit? That makes it sound like he is the resident parent, was that ever the arrangement?
Not sure how the Court will view his methadone dependence. If he is leading a stable lifestyle with it, I don't think it would be a huge concern,
I have also sought legal advice and will be seeing my solicitor again next week. My reason for posting on here was really just to see if anyone else has had a similar experience and how they found the process? I'm nervous about court etc. Opinions on the circumstances are not especially helpful at this point. I'm aware of how the situation looks to others and I also know that I'm absolutely doing the right thing by my daughter. I couldn't claim to be a good parent of I didn't try to make sure she was getting the best from life.
Can I ask again, why wouldn;t it be possible to maintain the current arrangement? An hour is not a huge amount of travel time.
For the short term we could, and I am happy to continue this for as long as we can. My ex thinks that the back and forth travelling is too disruptive and so wants a new arrangement ASAP. When she starts school it won't be possible any more anyway.
i just feel very hurt about what appears to be a smear campaign
That's the nature of family court I'm afraid. It's why mediation has become compulsory and why so many people, here on MN and in RL, urge people to avoid court if at all possible.
In my experience it'll get worse before it gets better. There may be allegations about your DP made. And you will be encouraged by your legal team, to discredit and downplay your DDs dads role in her life.
it is unlikely that either of you will be satisfied with the outcome.
It sounds unreasonable, very unreasonable. I'm afraid the needs of the child come before your desire to move.
Once again, it's not just a desire it's a necessity and again, opinions on the situation are just not helpful. Real life experiences are.
It's a necessity that the other parent keeps 50% too. You are demanding that your child sees less of the other parent.
Thank goodness in the county where I live that parents cannot move away and demand to take their children at a higher/lesser rate of contact without the consent of the other parent. That is real life from an entire country.
it's not just a desire it's a necessity
A court won't see it that way.
The court pays very little regard to domestic circumstances, in my experience - for instance, they disregarded my DH's exs shift work commitments when setting a contact schedule - which resulted in her paying more in private childcare that she earned every shift.
There have been cases where courts have insisted that a resident parent who has moved several hundred miles away maintains a EOW schedule and does all the travelling - irrespective of the cost or inconvenience.
In your case, there is no clear "resident parent" - you have both had equal care of your DC since birth. Both of you are already casting doubt on the others ability as a parent, yet have been happy to permit your baby DC to be in the sole care of the other for half the time.
This is going to be messy, and unpleasant. It is a shame that you were not able to compromise in mediation, as it is inevitable that the court will come to a conclusion that will leave one, or both, of you, dissatisfied and resentful.
I agree. I cannot see a court agreeing that a child should lose significant amounts of time with a parent because one parent's partner has got a job in a town close enough to commute to. It'd be a hard enough argument even if it were you that had a job but to try and convince a judge that this is in the best interests of the child? Uphill struggle is an understatement - I think you'd be wasting your time and money and putting your child through unnecessary distress and conflict.
If the court decides your child should stay with her father and only see you EOW, will you still go? Or will it suddenly no longer be essential that you move? Your arguments that he's not fit to have her full time will hold very little weight given that you've been happy enough with a 50/50 arrangement.
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