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Access to baby - where to start?

(29 Posts)
NKffffffffabeee2d7X127640abcce Wed 22-May-13 10:10:12

I would be really grateful for any advice. My stepson lives in Germany, he met an English girl (K) and had a relationship with her. When she found out she was pregnant he moved to the UK to be with her and support the baby. They got a house and he found a job. Whilst living there he paid all the rent and all bills, K had a part time job as well as claiming benefits but did not contribute to these bills though she did pay for food and had paid the deposit on the rent.

About three months ago the relationship ended, it was K's decision though DSS wanted to continue. She left the house and moved in with her family. Around this time DSS lost his job. He looked for other work but then decided that as he has no family, friends or links in the UK it was best for him to move back to Germany where he had an offer of work. He paid off all remaining bills at the house. Though things had been relatively civil until then, at this stage K wanted the deposit back. DSS didn't give her any of it on the basis that he had paid all rent and bills and needed the money for moving home.

Since then K has refused to speak to him at all. The due date for the birth has passed but he doesn't know if he is a father. K has also ignored contact from me and DH. DSS contacted her mum yesterday and she said that K will not allow him an access or any information about the baby, he doesn't deserve it as he robbed her of the deposit.

We really need some advice from anyone who knows this area. What are his legal rights? Do DH and I have an as grandparents? (Step in my case). I am a bit lost as to where to start. DSS wants to visit the UK and see his child and would travel for court processes as much as possible but needs advice by phone or email initially. Can anyone help with what we should do please?

Collaborate Wed 22-May-13 11:51:26

Where does the mother live?

He can apply to court for PArental Responsibility and Contact. Best to try mediation first though, as mediated settlements are cheaper and more durable, although mediation only works where there is agreement.

lostdad Wed 22-May-13 12:22:44

NKffffffffabeee2d7X127640abcce - contact Families Need Fathers as a first step and get your stepson to do so too. It's there to ensure children have a relationship with both parents even if they have separated and this sort of case is shared by a lot of our members. We have large numbers (an increasing) number of grandmothers and other members of paternal families who need assistance. Google them, give them a call. There are support meetings around the country and an excellent forum for both support and advice (including solicitors who help out).

Secondly - as Collaborate says, try mediation. Court is to be avoided unless there is no alternative. Write to her (get some help if you don't know what to say) outlaying your proposals and organise mediation at the same time. If you don't get a response from either - or you can't come to agreement that is when you go to court.

Don't delay however: Courts don't like changing a status quo. If there is no contact at all it is almost inevitable that Mum will attempt to block any kind of contact by saying your stepson is a stranger to the baby and contact should be very, very limited and quite possibly supervised.

NKffffffffabeee2d7X127640abcce Wed 22-May-13 12:33:44

Thank you Collaborate and Lostdad for your advice. The mother lives in the UK in the Midlands. Mediation sounds like absolutely the right route and I know DSS would come over to do that. Sorry I am so clueless but how would you go about getting mediation in place?

Re writing to K, would email be ok? DSS doesn't have an address for her any more, or a current phone number. Going to look up Families Need Fathers now, thank you again for helping.

lostdad Wed 22-May-13 13:33:52

Find a mediation service - National Family Mediation is a national one but there are local ones. Give them a call and explain the situation - they'll typically invite both parties in one at a time and then together to try and come to an agreement to avoid court.

If that fails your DSS should ask for an FM1 form to show mediation has been attempted as he'll likely be asked if there is a court hearing. He'll probably have to pay for mediation and they'll tell you what it costs. He can raise contact issues, PR, birth certificate, etc. and if you come to an agreement great.

If it goes true to form however and she refuses to mediate (and chances are because why would she negotiate if she has everything she wants) the next step is to decide on what kind of application you are making (C100 for a Section 8 application that includes contact, etc.)

Xenia Wed 22-May-13 14:30:28

Most disputes resolve best without courts and fighting. What is the amount of this deposit? If her half is £500 it might save masses of money on lawyers and mediation if someone in the family just gives the girl her £500 and contact then starts. Obviousyl. ti will stick in the teeth to do sop but you have to set feelings aside and do what is going to work practically.

AuntyVirus Wed 22-May-13 14:58:23

Hi we are in a similar situation to you .
My ss girlfriend gave birth last week to our first grandchild , she already has a child from a previous relationship who calls ss dad.
Out of the blue she has told ss she is not putting his name on birth certificate and can't give or won't give no reason as to why.
As you can imagine she has taken all the enjoyment out of ss first week of been a new father .
We are all devastated I have tried calling his girlfriend just to see how she is but had the phone put down me .
Sorry for hijacking your post I think I just needed to write it down .

NKffffffffabeee2d7X127640abcce Wed 22-May-13 22:42:35

Thank you again Lostdad, I have been looking into mediation services today. I'm going to see whether his part could be done through Skype or something similar as he won't be in the UK until the end of June and as you said earlier, the sooner contact is established the better his chances.

Xenia I agree about the deposit, I advised at the time that he should just give her half however unmerited he felt that was, to keep relations sweet - he was stubborn though and felt he needed the money. I would definitely pay it myself but don't have any means to contact her and make the offer directly. I do think that they both need to focus on the bigger picture, and what the baby will need.

Auntyvirus I'm sorry to hear you're having the same issue, I hope the advice is useful for your DSS as well. Thank you all for taking the time to comment and help me, I appreciate it.

RedHelenB Thu 23-May-13 07:17:39

Is the baby born yet? Personally I think a great start would be him letting her know that he wants to be involved & to set up regular maintenance paymments into her bank account.(*15 % of net wage is CSA minimum)

NKffffffffabeee2d7X127640abcce Thu 23-May-13 08:43:31

Hi RedHelen, we're not sure if the baby is born but the due date is well past so I should think so. He is definitely planning to pay maintenance but you're right, making this very clear to her and discussing amounts etc. would be helpful.

I tried to send K a message through Facebook this morning (she has changed her phone number and I haven't got the address where she is staying) and found that as well as unfriending me, I am not able to find her at all. Was going to discuss DH and me reimbursing the deposit and ask about mediation. Will need to see if DSS has an email address for her, or contact details for any of her family.

Please keep the advice coming everyone, I have a newborn so mixture of sleep deprivation, baby brain and anxiety I am not thinking very clearly - you are really helping!

lostdad Thu 23-May-13 15:27:15

Don't keep sending her messages if she won't respond. If she reports you for harassment you can be sure that it'll be mentioned on any statements that she felt bullied and pressured by you/your DSS.

Court is often a mud-slinging exercise. Don't give her ammunition.

She doesn't want to be found. If you are unable to contact her for mediation, etc. the next stage is to submit a C4 form for a `Seek and Find Order'.

Most importantly though - don't hassle her. She's likely to be in a delicate frame of mind but you will need to balance that with the fact that courts move very, very slowly and the longer you let a status quo of no contact build the more strong her argument will be that no contact should take place.

And seriously - if you haven't done so, join Families Need Fathers. You too AuntyVirus wink

DuelingFanjo Thu 23-May-13 15:32:05

As a grandparent i don't think your husband has any rights at all to see the child, you even less.

Personally, as there may be good reasons why they split up, I think it's best to just advise him but not get involved with trying to contact her yourself.

Why not get your DSS to contact her mum again and offer the deposit money to her?

lostdad Thu 23-May-13 15:47:58

Grandparents are entitled to make an application so long as they have the leave of the court to do so - this is a separate application however.

I would encourage the OPs DSS to do the leg work on this however.

At the Families Need Fathers meetings I attend grandparents are coming in ever greater numbers.

omaoma Thu 23-May-13 15:59:14

Please help your son remember that to a new mother EVERYTHING is about you being the most important thing to your baby (as i'm sure you realise!) and any sense that she is not viewed like this is probably likely to make her clam up even more. I doubt she wants to hear about anybody else's rights, not least a grandparent's, even if she's been in the wrong a bit so far. delicate situation.

omaoma Thu 23-May-13 16:00:55

I also think son has to move on a bit from the deposit money - yes good idea to offer it with an apology - but frame it in terms of wanting to help her support the child from hereon in.

BabetteAteOatmeal Thu 23-May-13 16:23:00

Hi this is me the OP - I finally managed to work out how to name change and get rid of my ridiculous other name!

LostDad, thank you again. I have advised DSS not to contact her again after the offer of mediation and maintenance, and then to do,it through court. I also sent the details of Families Need Fathers.

Omaoma and Dueling - thank you for answering. I just want to support DSS to get access to his child, I certainly don't want the mother to feel attacked or harassed. I'm sad that she won't respond to me as we had a good relationship at one point both expecting at the same time, and I don't think she has any issue with DH and me.

I know DSS was at least partly at fault for the split as I know from experience that he can be immature and behave selfishly - but I don't think he should be denied any information about his child. I'm trying to be sensitive as it must be very hard for a young girl in her situation and I know that it's difficult to think straight with a newborn. But I'm also aware of what LostDad says about not wasting time getting things sorted.

Spero Thu 23-May-13 16:27:41

I am not surprised she is pissed off. He 'needs' the money does he? What about the baby? Does he think that the mother won't also need money?

Hopefully this will calm down, but he needs to have a look at his attitudes. If he hasn't already offered finanicial support I would do so now.

I appreciate that the courts deliberately keep maintenance and contact as seperate issues, but I can tell you without any shadow of doubt, nothing cause more angst and antagonism in a contact dispute than a father who pays nothing but demands contact.

lostdad Fri 24-May-13 09:30:37

Spero - `I appreciate that the courts deliberately keep maintenance and contact as seperate issues, but I can tell you without any shadow of doubt, nothing cause more angst and antagonism in a contact dispute than a father who pays nothing but demands contact.'

Or the converse. I've dealt with numerous cases where seeing the children is `Pay per view'. And other ones where parents are not permitted any involvement with their own children other than paying for them.

I am sure I saw an Australian study which showed that a NRP with contact is more likely to pay maintenance than one is cut out of their child's life.

BabetteAteOatmeal Fri 24-May-13 12:12:09

I take your point Spero but he did pay all the rent and bills at the house, and moved to another country to try to support her and baby. When the relationship ended he was left with no means to support himself and no friends etc. in the UK so had to move back to Germany to get work.

Yes he has offered maintenance which at the moment she is rejecting but he does want to support the baby financially and personally. He also asked what she needed for the baby and said he would buy anything. DH and I gave her a cot, pram and pushchair, car seat etc. I have several bags of clothes but don't know at the moment whether it's a girl or boy.

Basically there is no issue with wanting to provide, and DSS isn't "demanding" anything, nor are DH and me. He just wants to try to be a father to the baby, as far as he can from abroad. I'm not sure if some posters think he should just give up and never see his child, because that's what the mother is currently saying she wants? Is that really her call, and shouldn't the baby's right to know its family be considered along with hers?

DuelingFanjo Fri 24-May-13 12:33:18

That still doesn't explain why he should keep the deposit she paid. Why did he think that was a fair thing to do?

Surely he didn't lose his job because of her? He would have lost it anyway presumably?

I think making excuses for him taking the deposit she paid is a bit off.

Personally I think you need to concentrate on the baby's need to have a relationship with the father rather than you and your husband's want to have a relationship. Putting pressure on her RE Grandparent involvement and using the things you gave her in the past as some kind of bargaining tool isn't likely to go down well with her. You gave those things in good faith, not as some kind of payment towards seeing the baby.

encourage your son to pay the deposit back.

BabetteAteOatmeal Fri 24-May-13 14:10:37

I actually advised that he should give her half of the deposit, in order to avoid the breakdown in communication that has inevitably happened. He kept it because he had no money - he had paid ALL the rent and ALL the bills the whole time they lived in the house. I don't think that was fair either. He only ever moved to the UK in order to be with her, and when he lost his job he had nothing at all there, and needed to go back to Germany. I'm not saying it's black and white, but that was why he kept the deposit money at the time.

I'd also like to be clear that DH and I are not putting any pressure on, and certainly not throwing back at her the fact we gave her things for the baby, I only mentioned that to explain that no one is trying to rip her off financially. I only tried to make contact to offer repayment of the deposit money as a poster above suggested, to try to move this whole horrible situation forward.

I'm just trying to support my step son to be a dad. DH and I are not in a position to spend lots of time travelling across the country to have a relationship with the grandchild right now, we have a new baby ourselves as well as a toddler. If DSS gets regular contact I am sure we will then see the baby too. I posted asking for advice about the legal situation and am grateful to Lostdad and others for helping with this.

lostdad Fri 24-May-13 14:15:44

As has been said before money and contact have no link in law.

A parent should not deprive a child of relationship with their other parent because of money. Children have a right to a relationship with both parents and stopping this is abuse.

honey86 Wed 29-May-13 21:00:55

lostdad are you a campaigner for families need fathers? no it is not abuse! there are varying circumstances surrounding different cases. it is more neglect when children are exposed to allsorts of toxic situations like dv. and child protection would back me up on that. the generalized ideology in society that there should be a father in every family is quite frankly bull****. children also have a right to a stable upbringing, the benefits of that well outweighs the benefits of having my babys vile dad being involved and turning a happy child into a troubled one. i saw my little bro turn from a sweet normal toddler, to a nasty smelly drink-fuelled thug with a tag and curfew, thanks to his druggie dads influence.
nb. im well aware women arent perfect either, and my 3 other kids had a beautiful relationship with their dad who sadly died. and an amazing dad he was, pleased to say.

BlatantRedhead Sat 01-Jun-13 09:14:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lostdad Sun 02-Jun-13 16:54:52

A campaigner? Well I believe children have a right to both parents. I believe there should be a presumption of shared parenting.

And I believe that it is abuse when a parent stops a child having a relationship with the other parent without good cause.

Why do you mention DV and child protection? You're not suggesting that fathers are involved with them by default any more than mothers are you (because if you are I'd be obliged to point out NSPCC stats that show more mothers kill their children than fathers for example...) wink

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