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What is an appropriate amount of contact

(60 Posts)
CherryOnTop11 Wed 20-Mar-19 16:23:19

Me and hubby have split, it's been very messy and upsetting for me and my DC (DD8 DS15)

Since then I've sorted the divorce papers, the finances and have basically been left to look after the kids by myself (luckily I have two amazing parents who have helped loads!) while he has moved in with his manager from work and her kids.

On advice from my solicitor I wrote out an informal contact arrangement. As my stbExH works shifts I've agreed that he can pick them up from school every other Thursday and then drop them home at about 6.30pm and also every other Saturday 10am-6pm. So basically once a week he sees them.

He's asking for more but he lives with a woman who destroyed our family so the kids do not want to see her, plus with her kids there is no room for them for stopovers or anything. He has nowhere to take them in the evenings to cook for them, except his sisters who is a 25 minute drive away, so it would be takeaways/meals etc, and Iike to make the most of the weekends I have with them as I'm so stressed from work and everything else, the time I do have with them in the week is just stressful.

I have made it clear to him that if he was to get a flat/house not too far away that I would be happy to sort out more contact and share their care but he seems to be set on staying at this woman's house.

He's setting up mediation and then if that doesn't work to go to court he said (even though with the cost of it he could probably sort a place to live and we wouldn't need it)

Is the contact enough? I've spoken to the kids and they seem happy with it. They're tired after school and both have clubs etc they go to so to disrupt their life because he chose to leave doesn't seem fair. Am I right here?

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SkinnyPete Wed 20-Mar-19 16:47:23

Yes, I think you're right.

Kids don't want to see OW
No room for them to stay anywhere
Kids are happy and this way no difference in routine

If I was his solicitor (and I'm not one), I'd be advising him to stick to an informal arrangement with you until the kids accept and come around to other woman, and he's moved into premises that could accommodate them. And then ask for more contact or go down the child arrangements order route.

I can't see how anyone at this point would agree with anything else. Just make sure you don't give him any ammunition that you're doing it to punish him, which it doesn't sound like at all. Just watch for any outbursts, especially on texts/mails.

CherryOnTop11 Wed 20-Mar-19 16:59:41

I'm glad you agree. He told me his solicitor thinks once a week is a joke. I've asked him what he plans to do with them 2/3 times a week and how he will feed them, his reply was 'it doesn't matter they'll be with me that's what matters' I don't think this would wash in mediation or court. I've told him that if he can give me details of proper arrangements then I'm open to discussion.

I honestly think though that it's all hot air. He's too selfish and lazy to fight for anything, including his kids, but I just wanted to check that I'm not clouded by my own hurt and I'm doing the kids out of anything.

Well there have been outbursts in the past, butapart from a few where I've been very very low after everything he did to me, I've been very careful with my wording thankfully and it's mainly involved talking about how upset the children are and how he needs to give them time... with a few swears and names thrown in 🙈🙈 but my head is getting better and I'm becoming more settled as time goes on, so my messages now focus on the kids and their contact. I did have to tell him today though that I don't have time to be sorting out swimming gear for the kids to take to school tomorrow and he would need to buy his own. I am busy, and i don't have time, that's not a lie but I did also do it to show him that he needs to step up and stop relying on me to do everything so he can bugger off back to his new family and be happy while my kids are still hurt and upset by it all.

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DPotter Wed 20-Mar-19 17:01:38

Surely the 15 yr old is more than capable of expressing their own views and will have an active social life of their own which Dad will just have to fit around

millymollymoomoo Wed 20-Mar-19 17:16:32

Personally I think that level of contact is really low! However, the 15 year old can sort their own out and he needs to have somewhere they can stay

I know you’re hurt but you need to help the kids through this difficult time which will be the best longer term outcome. At the moment they will have a sense of loyalty to you but you should be letting them know it’s ok to still love their dad

CherryOnTop11 Wed 20-Mar-19 17:18:56

@DPotter that is what is happening really, he texts DS a lot, claims they are now closer than ever, even though I nagged him for years to do more with him on his own 🙄🙄 DS is also quite sensitive though, he's really hurt and angry but when he sees his dad, with a pathetic sad look on his face, he finds it hard to tell him how he feels.. so I've been accused of inventing stories about what the three of us have been through by exH and his family. It's mainly DD who has the arranged contact through me and she's just started playing out with friends so he's not going to get a look in really. He's delusional as he really thinks he can have the same sort of relationship as before, but the kids aren't stupid, they know he's chosen that other family over us and they won't forget it.

I'm just trying to focus on the practical aspects of it right now as otherwise I just get wound up again. And once a week will cause the least disruption to their lives. He can 'need to be with them' all he wants but it's what the kids need.

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CherryOnTop11 Wed 20-Mar-19 17:22:51

@millymollymoomoo I do tell them how much their dad loves them, but I can't answer their questions and he refuses to address them too. He disappeared for two weeks after causing me to have a breakdown, the kids seen it too. He then turns up when we're moving on and starts making demands which don't fit around the lives the kids already have. I'm not changing their hobbies and having them in McDonald's three times a week because he chose to leave. If he wants to be a proper dad, then he needs to take some responsibility which he refuses to do.

Like I say, I'm open to more contact, just not in the situation he is presenting it.

Trust me - I would LOVE every other weekend to myself, maybe a couple if evenings a week. But not at the expense of the kids

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averythinline Wed 20-Mar-19 17:30:27

your 15 year old will be able to sort stuff out...

re the 8 yr old I think you will be seen as unreasonable if it gets to court - he doesnt have to clear what he does with her in 'his' time with you...
he has PR, if there are no safeguarding concerns- it might be shit and not what you or DD want but you cannot dictate.....where he takes them to eat/sleep anything....

You are right not to answer anything for him to the kids though.....he has to justify to them why he thinks its ok ...if he wants them to stay at OW house.... am sure she's not that keen either.....but he has to own his crap behaviour....

SkinnyPete Wed 20-Mar-19 17:45:02

averythinline I know what you mean about not interfering with his time. Still I think she has legitimate concerns about the 8 year old not wanting to be with OW and not having anywhere to sleep. I'd stick to my guns on that.

Only thing I'd offer is more time but with no sleepovers. Maybe with the intent for the kids to get more used to the situation and possibility of getting comfortable with OW (days out etc) and then consider overnights if they can shift space around for DD to have a room she's comfortable sleeping in.

NorthernSpirit Wed 20-Mar-19 17:47:05

If the shoe was on the other foot and he ‘dictated’ how often you saw your own children would 2.5 hours on a Thu and then 8 hours on a Saturday be enough for you? So 10 or do hours every week. Not a lot is it?

I doubt it.

It doesn’t matter who left who and who did what, or who he lives with, contact is for the benefit of the children.

You don’t get to dictate who he can introduce the kids to (like he can’t dictate to you).

Personally I don’t think it’s enough.

The 15 year old should be able to decide themselves.

If it went to court he would likely get a night in the week and EOW weekend with overnight contact. Plus half of the holidays.

CherryOnTop11 Wed 20-Mar-19 19:04:48

I've actually stated in the agreement that neither of us can introduce new partners to our children until they have been in a relationship for at least 6 months and they have to consult the other parent.

And I am not relenting on contact with that woman. My kids would find it very upsetting to be introduced to her and be forced into playing happy families with her and her kids, seeing their dad suddenly all over another woman would just add to their confusion. And I cannot feasibly find another evening where my daughter is free to go with him, she has art, dancing, horse riding, play dates etc that she doesn't want to give up. I'm trying my best to make this transition as easy as possible after everything they've been through. They need some sort of normality after all the hurt and confusion he caused.

I've begged him to find a place of his own so he can see them more and help with their care but he refuses. His needs are not important, the kids are. He hasn't put them first through any of this, and not helped them in anyway so I have to do it on their behalf.

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CherryOnTop11 Wed 20-Mar-19 19:06:28

And with regards to overnight, there's no room for them, no beds or anything No court would allow two children to sleep on air beds in their aunts house EOW (his first suggestion) and wouldn't they at least consult the child as to whether they want baby involvement in his new family?

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Smoggle Wed 20-Mar-19 19:11:31

Sleepover at auntie's house eow sounds fine to me.

I'd offer another week night for him to collect from school, take out for tea and bring home.

CherryOnTop11 Wed 20-Mar-19 19:18:51

On airbeds? In a living room? Really? The 15 year old said no straight away, he's going through changes and doesn't want to sleep in someone else's living room (this is an aunty who has barely glanced at either of them until this). It's not sensible for long term. He needs to sort himself out and be a proper grown up. Would you want to be forced onto an uncomfortable air bed every two weeks in a house you don't know, where you can't get something to eat or drink whenever you want?
They went to visit and hated it. I don't see why children should be forced to do things adults wouldn't want to, simply because their father chose to turn their lives upside down and break their hearts.

You all seem to be thinking more about his needs, his rights, rather than the children's. It's so wrong.

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Smoggle Wed 20-Mar-19 19:24:52

It's clear that you are very angry with him which is absolutely understandable, but you still need to allow the children to have a good relationship with him, especially the younger one. A few hours a week is very little.
Could he take them out another evening?

CherryOnTop11 Wed 20-Mar-19 19:34:09

Well as I said he works shifts so there is only one week in two he can do evenings, and she has her hobbies and clubs etc. If he had a place to take her too, to feed her and bath her etc then it would work as he could do all the running around and drop her off in time for bed (he would have a very early start next day so can't do midweek sleepovers either) but he doesn't so it doesn't work, and the last thing she wants to do is drive 25 mins to his sisters and back again after school and activities. I want him to see her more, I'm bloody shattered from doing it all. The only answer is he uses my house, but that wouldn't be good, I can't have him near me after the way he has treated me, and it would cause tension.

Thing is, he is flat out refusing to sort alternatives, he just wants me to arrange everything and he just turns up and feeds them McDonald's. There are plenty of flats he could easily afford a 5-10 min drive from our village and I know he's had loads of overtime so would have the money to get one, so in the end, it is his choice, and he's choosing her over his own children.

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RandomMess Wed 20-Mar-19 19:36:16

He can't force the 15 year old into overnight contact, he may well succeed with DD though.

SixDot941 Wed 20-Mar-19 19:39:20

I understand that you don't want to be replaced in another way by your exs new partner. That won't happen even if your ex got full custody. Those will always be your children.

However he is not your husband now. As much as you'd like to dictate he lived alone you aren't being fair. You can't control his life now. You don't have a right unless he is damaging the children.

As a mum your job is to protect your kids. I get that. Is their father someone you need to protect them from? Is his partner? If the answer is no then you don't have a right to dictate his life. Your kids are angry with their dad, they blame him. Do you want your kids to end up estranged and hating their dad and his partner because they hurt you or do you want them to see their parents have overcome their adversity with each other because they love their children more than anything. You're children won't thank you in the long run if you don't encourage them to be close to their dad and attentively his new partner.

He hurt you deeply. Don't transfer how much you hate what he did into them. Love them more than you hate him and let them have more time with their Dad. They will love you and respect you more for it.

Smoggle Wed 20-Mar-19 19:49:31

So maybe another week night he could pick her up from school, take her to her club and for tea afterwards and home for bed?

So for eg Tuesday & Thursday evening every other week, Saturday all day every other week, with an agreement to move to overnights as soon as he has a home with a bedroom for her? I doubt he'd get better in court.

You can't dictate who he lives with or when he introduces them to the children though.

CherryOnTop11 Wed 20-Mar-19 19:50:30

No, I'm not encouraging contact with that woman, not straight away. He left just after Xmas, and then kept coming back to do more damage, then moved in with her and didn't tell them, after lying to their face about his relationship with her.

it's too soon and i don't want them forced into more hurt and confusion because he chose her over them. No way. I don't know how I'll feel 6 months down the line, and maybe if they last the situation can change, but right now, absolutely not in any way is she playing mother to my children. I don't know her, and in any other circumstances, I wouldn't leave my children with a stranger, so why should I be forced to now, and why should they be forced to build relationships with someone who destroyed their family unit?

I've tried being civil, but it blows up in my face because he starts saying stuff about me, about how controlling I was and how I drove him into depression, he says this to my son, and I have never ever put him down to them. And it's all lies because he cheated constantly for the last 12 months or more. I was the one depressed, I was the one controlled.

I can't dictate where he lives, but I can protect my children from more hurt. They deserve a happy settled life, which right now he cannot give them because he has nowhere to take them that is good for them. He had a choice in this, and he chose her over them. Now the choice should be theirs, and they are both happy with the set up right now.

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NorthernSpirit Wed 20-Mar-19 20:02:01

You come across as very angry and controlling. I understand that you are upset.

You say you have an agreement that he can’t introduce the children to.... this is controlling and wouldn’t stand up in court.

YOU are not relenting on contact with. Again very controlling. The children aren’t YOUR belongings. You and the father are equal.

You can not find a free evening for the kids to see their dad. I can tell you that contact with the father comes before children’s activities (my OH’s EW tried to pull the same stunt and was told by a judge).

No room for him to house the kids on sleepovers. While my OH’s EW swanned around in a 3 bed, 3 bathroom house (that her EH paid for) and he lived in a one bedroom flat. The kids had overnight contact.

You are angry (understandably) but this isn’t about winning, it’s abour facilitating contact with the kids father.

I think it’s best it goes to court and you let a judge decide.

SixDot941 Wed 20-Mar-19 20:13:42

I'm afraid I agree. You are letting your anger at him and particularly her jeapordise your children's future happiness.

Affairs are horrible and cruel. You have every right to hate him and her. Every single right. You do not have the right to colour your children's view of their father. In the end they will judge him on his behaviour but if you deny them time with him they will come to see you as controlling, you will paint yourself in a bad light to them. In the meantime you might cement them in your perspective but would being as angry and hurt as you are help them? Do they need to hate him too? Every action you make on this tells them what is most important to you. Bluntly, right now what is coming across is that your hurt is more important than their happiness. You aren't being fair to them by projecting your rage into their now very insecure situation.

Maybe your 15 year old doesn't want to. It's her choice at that age. You should encourage her to see her Dad in other ways, including taking herself to see him at his house and she'll go behind your back anyway if you don't allow her. Then your DD will be lying to you to see her Dad. That's horrific for the trust relationship between you.

Your 8 year old shouldn't have a choice. Routine even if it isn't perfect routine, or a perfect situation is better for all children. I think as an 8 year old I'd have found sleeping at my auntie's in a camp type situation fun! Evetually you will have to accept them going to their father's with his new partner. They will go anyway eventually.

I know you want to control it all because you are very hurt but if you apply an iron fist to your kids time with their Dad and ban them from his home you will drive them away from you. Maybe not to him either just away.

CherryOnTop11 Wed 20-Mar-19 20:18:55

The agreement is actually towards both of us, I will not introduce any new partners to my children either until it's been six months and I've spoken to him. My solicitor advised me this is a standard thing to place in an informal agreement. And it's basic respect to the kids, who wants a parade of parents partners through their lives?

And yes right now I am being controlling because for the last 3 months I've had to deal with two heartbroken children, my own heartbreak, a full time job and sorting everything around the divorce, the money, the house. I need to be in control because otherwise it will all come tumbling down. The pain he has caused has meant both my kids have had to be off school, have lost sleep, my son is now in counselling which I have to pay for, and I'm still holding them some nights to get them to sleep. So yes I'm angry also, because he has refused to help, refused to answer their questions. Refuses to acknowledge the pain the kids are in. Every time he's come back, he's hurt them again, confused them again and then leaves all that for me to deal with. I am cracking under the pressure and if I crack, there will be no mother left for my children so, control right now will help them both keep their lives in equilibrium.

And introducing this woman could make things worse for them, and he will not help, he'll drop them at the door and drive off, leaving me to pick up the pieces. Would you take the risk?

And if you think he's paying for anything in this house, you are wrong he gives me the bare minimum, it's all down to me to keep this tiny little terraced house for my two beautiful children. You sound like you are painting me as some evil EW, I'm not. I'm not even his ex wife yet, as the divorce has only just been applied for (he left me to pay for that btw). I'm trying to do what's best for my children. Do you want to sit my 8year old down and tell her she has to give up dancing or art or ponies because dad says no? Because he won't, that will be my job and she doesn't want to give them up. Why are we so insistent on upturning a child's life so easily because adults insist on it?

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ScarletBitch Wed 20-Mar-19 20:20:39

When the kids are in his care unfortunately you have no say where they go and who with. I know it is disgusting what he had done, but you cannot stop him in his time. Sorry OP, I am on your side but just don't want you to go through the court process where you will be told the same.

Your eldest is old enough to decide how much contact they want, your youngest however isn't. I do not blame you or your DC one bit for being angry and upset. What a total shit your ex is. thanks

CherryOnTop11 Wed 20-Mar-19 20:39:15

Thank you @ScarletBitch he is a total shit. A cruel one too.

like I say I want him to see them more, just not to involve someone who could cause them more hurt. If he would just sit down and help me come up with a plan, with their involvement, then I'd be open to that, but he refuses to talk to any of us, it's just demands, and shouting. I'm their mother, I just want reassurance that they are going to be ok, it's not too much to ask. I just don't have the mental energy to try to sort this all on my own, again. If he spoke to her about her hobbies etc, then that would help, but he avoids any difficult conversations. If he wasn't such a nasty bastard to me now then he could use my home to cook food on a temporary basis and I would work late or go see friends but I don't want to see him when I come home, it would be more anxiety, more stress that I can't handle

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