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Father going to court/access/rant!(22 Posts)
Name change for this. Will try to keep this as brief as possible! My BIL split with his girlfriend last year. They'd been together less than 2 years, got pregnant after a couple of months together. Their DD is 2 years old. We'll call ex-girlfriend Dianne.
Even before the split Dianne was (and still is) extremely controlling/mentally abusive towards him and over the course of their short relationship he gradually lost contact with all his friends and had minimum contact with our family, MIL hardly allowed to see the baby, only 'allowed' to see his DM for one hour on Mother's Day, not allowed to help my DH choose a suit for our wedding even though he was best man etc. (Could write another post just on all the ways she controlled him.) This was very upsetting for us all. There were lots of arguments and he couldn't do anything right.
Once they split she moved 150 miles away back to her father's, let's call him Dave. In the year they have been apart BIL and Dianne have attended mediation and things have moved at a snail's pace, access being determined by Dianne and in that year it's increased from 4 hours on a Saturday once a fortnight, to 5 hours on a Saturday and 2 hours on a Sunday morning (still once a fortnight) which means BIL staying in a hotel each time. The 2 hours flies by as you can imagine.
There have been lots of setbacks (Dianne often texts BIL on a Friday night and says their DD is ill and he can't visit that weekend – sometimes he's already booked train tickets and has lost lots of money – another time we were actually all on our way on the train as a family and she texted him then to say DD was ill again) and with each tiny step forward at mediation Dianne will only agree to more access for BIL if it takes place after the following mediation.
One week Dave, who does the handover on his doorstep, grabbed BIL by the face (in front of DD) and threatened him, saying he'd punch him next time. BIL went to the police about this which Dave and Dianne are furious about.
The latest agreement at mediation was that BIL could have DD overnight (in a hotel as Dianne will not let him take DD back home). BIL is so desperate to know and see his DD that he agreed to this. The first weekend it was meant to take place (a month ago), Dianne texted him to say DD was violently ill with sickness and diarrhoea. BIL suggested coming up on the Sunday instead and staying overnight until Monday. Dianne said DD was too ill. (How did she know DD would still be ill 2 days later?!) This is typical of Dianne and BIL was upset but almost expected it.
However this weekend he tried again. He was due to collect DD on Saturday, have her overnight in hotel and return her the next day. MIL went up with him. They checked into their hotel and the BIL went to collect DD. When he went to the house, nobody answered the door and he had to phone Dave. Dave came into the garden and asked BIL what he was doing there. Dave said he couldn't say anything but Dianne had spoken to her solictor and was advised not to allow BIL access to DD until the handover had been properly discussed. This is utterly ridiculous. Dave usually does handover (often making snide comments to BIL) and could have just done it there and then! Instead, Dave let DD say hello to BIL and then told him to go.
BIL returned to meet MIL and they had to return to hotel, pick up cases and rebook a train home. MIL absolutely devastated. Nearly £300 wasted. The money is beside the point but BIL has lost quite a lot of money over the last year in this way. Later on, Dianne spoke to BIL on phone and said she had emailed the mediator at 5pm on Friday night (!) to say the visit was off. She also said she was very angry that he had gone to the police about Dave threatening him.
BIL is completely reasonable, pays maintenance (and more) and would do anything for his daughter. He's a calm person and rarely, if ever, gets angry. Ideally he wants to be able to have DD at home and for holidays etc. Dianne obviously never wants this to happen.
Over the last year we have all told BIL to just go to court. We think he is concerned he will get a worse deal if he does. We're not sure if Dianne has threatened him with not seeing DD at all until the court agreement. But everyone, friends, family, strangers, want him to do it.
Dianne is a liar and extremely controlling. There is a worry she will make up lies in court. Has anyone had experience of a similar situation with a positive outcome? Do you think a court would grant him more time with DD? And what would happen if Dianne kept using the 'DD is ill' card?
Thanks so much in advance. This is a very sad and frustrating situation. We are all devastated as DD is a lovely little girl and we hardy see her.
I have a friend in a very similar position - severe restrictions on contact even after lengthy mediation, and whimsical changes from STBExW over contact at last minute.
He's going to court - its the only way to get a secure contact agreement, but so sad that parents put their children through this
Go to court. Keep diaries of all the cancelled access. If the child really is* ill this often, what is the mother doing about it? Is there an ongoing medical problem?
*sounds made up, but you never know. Could be she gets sick because her mother is winding her up, maybe nerves or anxiety? Who knows.
Thanks Vivienne and Veterinari
It's a real worry that my BIL will go through the stress and expense of court and then at the end of it all Dianne will just pull out the 'DD is ill again' card. Does anyone know where BIL would stand if this kept happening and could she be breaking the law?
Absolutely go to court, !!! Do not put up with this a moment longer. Unless she has documentary evidence of abusive behaviour of your BIL toward his child, then the least he would get is every other weekend and one night in the week plus half of every holiday.
Has he had legal advice ? It sounds like he hadn't . If he had he would have been advised to obtain a prohibitive steps order preventing her from taking the child 150 miles away from the other EQUAL parent !!!
I would also expect a judge at court to start from a point of 50/50 contact if this is what he would like. Depends on child /age/ school etc .
Get your brother in law to his nearest family law court. Get a C100 completed. Include the last minute changes to agreed mediation and GET OFF THE BACK FOOT AND START FIGHTING FOR HIS CHILD. !!
We had a decade of this non complaint nonsense before my DH finally grew a pair and got his children on a regular schedule . - the big bonus was that they had had ten years of this utter bollocks and finally realised they had been manipulated. The result being that two oldest made the decision to come and live with us.. and all because Mother couldn't face sharing. Really sad and unnecessary.
.... and if she continues the 'ill crap' she will be in contempt of court. Which can result in community service and in extreme situations , Jail.
He has a solicitor but has not told us what's been discussed. He finds it really hard to open up as he knows everyone just wants him to go to court...he wanted to try things his own way (mediation).
I had no idea about the 150 mile thing Marilyn . He may well know about this, we think there is lots he's not telling us. He is very placid (beaten down?) and I don't know if he would fight for a prohibitive steps order as he may not want to annoy Dianne even further.
We know as a family she is in the wrong but BIL seems to have more empathy towards her. We are beyond frustrated with the whole situation but there's only so many times we can tell him what we think he should do.
His DD is 2 and a half. Obviously one night a week would be impossible given the distance but half the holidays would be amazing. I just hope he makes the right decision.
I'm so sorry to hear this, I was actually about to start my own post about my similar frustrations.
My partner of 10 months is having a similar issue, he mentally abusive now ex wife and he split while she was pregnant due to the 100k debts she had hidden from him, when he stopped paying her bills due to redundancy (he used half his payout to pay her bills while she secretly paid for things on his CC) the abuse became intolerable.
He now has a 20month old child she won't let him see. The court process is so long, and he is missing he young years.
It's heartbreaking and I'm so angry for him that she thinks this is about her and not the child, he is an amazing father, I have a five year old who he loves, and everything seems to be about the mother, she doesn't even seem to have any actual allegations painting him as an unfit father!
Now the child is at an age where he is a stranger, bringing them together will be an enormous struggle over time to build that relationship all because the woman is a selfish psychopath!
Sorry I totally hijacked your thread, I've just NC too.
I don't have much advice, but to think about next year and the years to come, children are resilient and smart, they instinctively know the good people in their lives and it will all be ok eventually.
Once you get to court, they should issue interim orders which will provide for reasonable regular contact, be sure to request an option of 'catch up' sessions for the inevitable sick days. This may reduce the number of these
court court court court court court court court .
contact centres in interim when your DB ex tells lies about the situation (which I think will happen)
Keep a diary, no phone calls all emails/texts to prove whats happening.
theres no reason why child cant stay overnight?
Thanks all for your thoughts. Bondi that sounds like an horrendous situation too. Like your scenario, and a point I forgot to mention, BIL is a great dad and has a lovely bond with his DD. The worry is over time (and with manipulation from Dianne) his DD may lose this feeling and may even not want to see him due to the web of lies she will be told.
Redken no reason at all that DD can't be with BIL overnight, just that (as Marilyn says) the mother does not want to share their child. She sees DD as hers, and hers alone.
I'll keep you informed of what happens next.
Oh this infuriates me! I have a friend going through this atm. He has been to court multiple times, had cafcass involved etc. All say no problems at all, he should have regular contact.
This started when his child was 1, she's 4 next month and he still only sees her once a week for two hours at a contact centre.
Everytime he does his 6weeks contact centre agreement his ex then decides it has a negative effect on dd, she doesn't want to see her dad. Withholds contact, breaks court order, back to court they go! She has actually said in court she doesn't see why her dd should know her father!
Of course while contact has been in a contact centre that means dads extended family have had zero contact. So she hasn't seen her grandparents / aunties / cousins for 3yrs.....
Luckily he has done everything in writing / always paid maintanence / always been calm in court and basically given her enough rope to hang herself with.
His ex has been told that if she breaks another court order she will do community service and a representative will collect the child for contact.
Its a hard slog but he has to see it through.
Posted a reply and it seems to have gone missing...
Teal that sounds beyond devastating. Why are things not progressing and can you explain 'contact centres'? If court has said he can have more contact why is it not happening? How horrible for the whole family. To not see DD for years and years. Oh my, I can't imagine how painful that must be.
I'm really sad to hear that and hope something changes soon.
Basically it goes to court, judge says as hes not seen dd for a few weeks (due to mother) they have to rebuild the relationship in a contact centre.
A contact centre is basically a centre with visitation rooms with toys / games etc and staff on site. Mum drops with staff, dad has time to play with dd, dad then leaves and mum collects. So no contact between parents at all, staff on site if anything goes wrong, and the dd thinks she's at like a activity / play centre.
They are good and definitely serve a purpose when a parent cant be trusted / has issues etc.
Honestly in my opinion the mother should have been arrested by now. She has broken the court order numerous times, but everytime its just a stern word from a judge and then back to the beginning.
Hes not asking for the world he has said he wants to build up to every other weekend and half holidays.
Unfortunately his ex has literally nothing else in her life, no job, no friends, not much family, etc and i think she genuinely sees her dd as a 'thing' that is hers, and doesn't want to share.
I do think this situation is rare though, every other separate couple i know (even if they hate each other) has come to an agreement for the sake of the kids. She is just too selfish...
I hope your family situation works out with a lot less drama! I think most normal people dont want to have to keep going back to court, and do eventually put their kids first. He must remain calm, keep paying maintainence and do everything via email so he has evidence of everything when it does get to court
Can someone clarify the Prohibited steps order? My friend has been told it could only be used if STBexW moved to (for example) Scotland, but not within England. His job means he is geographically v limited and his wife has moved to make contact difficult
Your BIL needs to fight his own battle. That's my suggestion as someone who left an abusive relationship and had lost much of my sense of strength and self respect. The more my family tried to support and advise and push, the more I stayed in a victim place. I needed to take charge and make the decisions that are right for the kids and me, and stand up to the bully.
If your BIL is keeping info from his fam maybe he's trying to assert his authority in a non-confrontational way?
Just wanted to share my experience. Good luck to you all.
This kind of behaviour isn't that uncommon by ex wives and girlfriends, weaponizing the child or children is a form of control... although the degree you mention sounds unusual.
Go to separated dads forum as they have a number of contributors who have experienced issues similar to those you mentioned.
What I will say if it follows my experience is that when this goes to court his ex will make a series of allegations against the father to restrict access and get CAFCASS and social services involved. The usual advice to the man is not to produce their own (true) allegations as it will just exacerbate the situation and make it less likely he will get a reasonable CAO.
Family court will then take months into years to detangle these allegations, fact finding hearings etc but at some point he should get overnight access.
What if the father is an unfit parent and the child is at serious risk. But he still gets to see his child once a week supervise in the mother home
Does your brother have parental responsibility? If he does I would suggest that the next time he has contact he should bring the child home and keep her. Let the mother go to court and see how she likes it when the shoe is on the other foot.
Court is the only way forward. I would ask for the C100 form needed on the basis she is continuously manipulating contact time at last minute knowing he would be there or travelling plus the expense. She's purposely and maliciously trying to control the situation including slowly emptying his bank account.
Court, as pp have said.
A legal professional who's also a friend of mine told me "these people have to be told to fuck off, and sometimes they need to be told repeatedly, before they do".
Best wishes to your BIL.
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