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When divorced parents can't agree

(64 Posts)
jewatson Thu 11-Oct-12 09:19:52

This is the first time I have posted here and hope that someone can help (I am deliberately being vague as I do not want to give too many details and risk outing myself)

My ex and I have been divorced for 4 years and our relationship is difficult (to say the least). I have always tried to be flexible and put the children's interests first (and I am sure that my ex believes the same thing about himself).

We have come to a point where he wants to change the status quo with regard to christmas and birthdays. I fundamentally disagree with his proposals. He wants me to go to mediation. Can he force this on me? If so, how does it work and will any agreement be legally binding?

Bonsoir Fri 12-Oct-12 17:42:57

Honestly and truthfully, Ginda's exH doesn't need a pay off. He needs to shoulder more responsibility, not just fun time.

Ginda Fri 12-Oct-12 17:45:22

Thanks bonsoir and longjane. He already has half the hols and could have more but it wouldn't really help him as he - like me - only has a limited about of holiday to take himself.

He has a new baby - does that change anything? I know he is very anxious that the DCs don't feel the new baby has supplanted them in his affections so he I even less likely to agree to any reduction in contact at all.

Bonsoir Fri 12-Oct-12 17:59:38

Ginda - what responsibilities does your exH shoulder for your DCs?

Ginda Fri 12-Oct-12 18:11:17

I'm not sure what you mean, quite, Bonsoir. He pays maintenance for them (at the same rate it was set at 6 years ago). He has them most weekends. At the weekends what he does with them tends to be what he wants, i.e. they go to the shops, have a meal out, otherwise stay at home watching Sky Sports. He ensures they do their homework (well, his wife does).

He has never taken them to a theme park or to "do" anything they like, e.g. To the leisure centre to do a sport of some kind, or a craft place (DD likes this). He likes to stay at home, eat, and watch tv (one of the contributing factors to the end of our marriage!)

I would not tell him what he "should" do on his weekends but I do think that as kids get older they want to pursue more activities and this should be encouraged and not stymied because "it detracts from my time with them".

He comes to parents' evenings and plays at school and things most of the time, not all of the time. He phones them every night, except when he is out for dinner which is about once a week. If he cannot speak to them and thinks it is because I am deliberately preventing it (which I never do), he is very abusive. He does not understand that, if I get home from work at 7pm and the kids go to bed at 8.30, then for him to spend half an hour every night on the phone to them takes a lot of "my" time away. He will not phone earlier, which I have suggested. His response was "don't be silly, Ginda" and then he just carried on calling at 8pm.

He has no real conception of the realities of organising 2 kids every day, as he installed his current wife as soon as he and I separated, whereupon she immediately stopped all employment and devoted herself to him and therefore does most of what I expect him to do, with the DCs. I am grateful for that, though obviously I would prefer it if he showed more understanding of their needs himself.

Bonsoir Fri 12-Oct-12 18:16:08

Does he plan their education? Does he do interesting trips with them in the holidays? Does he buy them books and take them to shows and museums? Does he buy their clothes and shoes?

Ginda Fri 12-Oct-12 18:44:43

Yes he is involved with education and does all that. If anything, on the material things front he well outdoes me. He earns a lot more than me and just buys everything for them to have at his - won't let them bring any of it home. So they have £100 iPod docks there, £50 trainers, every games console available... I can't afford those things. No expense spared - so long as it's all at his house, on his terms.

Bonsoir Fri 12-Oct-12 18:46:09

I don't mean buying them toys, I mean buying them educational experiences.

Ginda Fri 12-Oct-12 18:58:15

No, does that affect contact?

Spero Fri 12-Oct-12 20:28:34

I agree with collaborate. Try to talk to him, suggest mediation - if he won't budge only option is court I am afraid. I agree this isn't a great arrangement - as they get older time with peers at weekends will get more important, and rightly so. He does need to loosen up a bit.

Bonsoir Fri 12-Oct-12 20:38:11

Yes of course it does: if one parent, the mother, is shouldering all the responsibility and the other parent, the father, is Disney Dad incarnate, that affects how a court will feel about contact.

Qwertyytrewq Fri 12-Oct-12 22:04:19

As he moved 80 miles away what did he expect to happen?

Ginda Fri 12-Oct-12 22:11:09

On a logistical level, what does going to mediation mean? How do you arrange it?

olgaga Fri 12-Oct-12 22:31:30

Take a look here:

Spero Sat 13-Oct-12 14:06:29

Google providers in your area and make an appointment. They may do an initial intake meeting to check if is suitable for mediation then you meet for a couple of sessions. Costs vary but budget about £100 an hour. Agreements reached at mediation are not legally binding but can be turned into a consent order if you apply to court.

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