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Help! Advice/ideas re shared residency

(15 Posts)
Wolfwoman Tue 16-Dec-14 10:09:04

I would like some ideas and advice about how to deal with shared residency hearing in early January. Sorry about such long post but some background is needed. I separated from ex 2 years ago and I moved out - we were not married and the house was his. He bullied me into leaving DD behind (now 7) and I was badly depressed, having been bullied by him for a long time. In any case, it seemed to make sense to have DD stay put, with me living very near and coming to see her every day. The idea was that she would share her time between mum and dad, but stay at dad’s term time during the week to avoid disruption and I would see her every day at dad’s when she wasn’t with me. Ex thinks being the main resident parent gives him the right to keep total control and his attitude towards me is often hostile. DD has spent only a handful of nights with me and day time contact at mine is severely restricted. He often claims DD is unwell or needs rest. I never know when I am going to see her until the very day and frequently have to keep sending texts/emails to get position from dad. He tries to control what we do when DD and I are together. Just to be clear: there is no reason at all for this, I am a ‘good enough’ mother. Cafcass wrote a report and dismissed his absurd claims against me. I have applied for a shared residency order where DD stays with dad term time, I see her every day at his, doing half of school runs, and we alternate weekends and split holidays 50/50, again, with DD being able to see the parent she is not staying with briefly every couple of days. In response, dad is pushing for sole residency. My worry is that he will continue to be difficult, even after order is granted as I propose, using flexibility as an excuse. Also: what are other, better, ways of doing this (shared contact arrangement) whilst minimizing contact between the parents and ensuring DD still sees both parents frequently, as she is used to, and also minimizing disruption to school routines? We are supposed to bring a witness for the hearing. The best candidate is a neighbour of ex’s it would be awkward for her afterwards, so she refused, but agreed to write statement in my support. My family all live abroad. Can my mother be a witness over Skype? Can someone who is not so close act as a witness and what is the purpose of the witness? What measures can be written into the order to stop father being so controlling or abusing flexibility clause? What is the likelihood of the order being granted as I propose? I am profoundly grateful for any insights or advice about this.

duckduckgoose1 Tue 16-Dec-14 13:59:00

He already has majority residency (regardless of how that came about or who's right or wrong) so you need to show the Court that your proposals are in the child's best interests and the change in pattern of residency is beneficial enough to the child to outweigh the disruption of the change.

Alternate weekends and half of all school holidays is standard. As is alternate birthdays and Christmas Days and special changes to the pattern for any other special dates (religious dates, Mothers and Father's Day or siblings birthdays perhaps)

However... I can't see a Judge making an Order that you see the child every day at your ex's home... How are you proposing that this would this work and why do you want this? You say that you have proposed you do half the school runs- do you mean you collect from school and take the child back to your ex's and spend time there? Why, why not spend time at your place? If he's controlling and nasty why do you want to be around him daily and what about moving forward when you both get new partners- surely that can't continue!

titchy Tue 16-Dec-14 15:19:07

Agree with pp - you need a very clear order setting out specific term time days that she spends at your place, not his. Maybe Tues and Wed nights with you plus alternate weekends from Fri night to Mon morning. Your proposal sounds very woolly and open to abuse.

Agree 50/50 of all school hols, but set date by which specific days to be agreed - say 2 months in advance.

And add specific proposals for Mother's Day, Father's Day, Xmas, new year, yours and her birthdays.

duckduckgoose1 Tue 16-Dec-14 15:32:16

If he refuses to make arrangements in advance and is known for changing plans and wanting everything on his terms then you need the order to be specific and non ambiguous. Times and dates and locations for handovers. It needs to specific where and when and for how long else he will twist everything to make things his way and difficult for you.

Greengrow Tue 16-Dec-14 16:10:12

I think courts find it hard to use skype as they are not set up for it. In non family cases a proper video link can be used if someone abroad cannot get over here for the hearing.
You could use someone less involved. Sometimes a supportive teacher from school in whom a child has confided will give evidence although it is a huge imposition on anyone to have to come to court like that for someone.

Do you pay maintenance/support for your daughter?

Wolfwoman Tue 16-Dec-14 18:25:37

Hi, Thank you all for your input! It is very helpful. Yes, I do pay maintenance, why do you ask? And yes, I do mean collect her from school, take her back to his and spend an hour with her there. On the whole it has worked well becaue he is usually not there, just the au-pair and it means there is minimal disruption for DD midweek. And yes, the proposal will be very detailed/prescriptive about hand over times and dates so that he can't abuse it. And yes, it is a big ask for anyone to be a witness, especially as the hearing will take all day. I'd rather not have to do it but I feel he will probably ask an ex au-pair and if I don't have anyone on my side it might look bad on me. If I can't get anyone to attend, I will definitely have written statements.

duckduckgoose1 Tue 16-Dec-14 18:46:17

Well he will obviously disagree with the proposal of you going there daily- especially as he's paying an au pair and he wants sole residency. A Judge isn't going to order him to allow you free access to his home whether he is there or not! Any reason why you didn't propose you collect her and take her back to your house?

Wolfwoman Tue 16-Dec-14 19:46:02

Hi, duckduckgoose1. Yes, that is a good question. Why not collect her and take her back to mine? The reason is so that she stays in one place all week. That has been going on for about two years. Dad has agreed with this arrangement so far (me taking her back to his during the week). I know it is unusual, but given that this is the set routine, judge may not want to change it.

titchy Tue 16-Dec-14 20:31:08

She's 7!!!! I'm sure she copes with going to school and friends houses ok? Why wouldn't she cope with going to her mums house after school? Do you want her overnight at all? Why aren't you asking for more overnight during school if you live close?

titchy Tue 16-Dec-14 20:31:10

She's 7!!!! I'm sure she copes with going to school and friends houses ok? Why wouldn't she cope with going to her mums house after school? Do you want her overnight at all? Why aren't you asking for more overnight during school if you live close?

duckduckgoose1 Tue 16-Dec-14 20:42:05

But even if he was agreeable to you being at his home every single school day evening before you applied to Court he won't be now will he- you said he wants sole residency. Previous routine or not no Judge is ever going to Order that one parent has to let the other parent have free access and reign over their home whilst they are at work every single school day. It won't happen.

Why does he have an au pair if you are available every day to look after her? What does the au pair do? Is she definitely an au pair and not a new girlfriend? (Suspicious mind at work I know).

Wolfwoman Tue 16-Dec-14 22:43:59

Hi, titchy. I have often asked that myself, why am I not asking for more overnight stays during school if I live close? I think I would find it hard to cope because I am self employed and work evenings to catch up on time lost by doing afternoon school collections. I usually come home after being with dd at dad's and work for 2-4 hrs, depending on work load. In fact, I have just clocked off now, at 10:30pm!

And duckduckgoose1, no, au-pair is not girlfriend. She is there to cook supper and mind dd in the time between I leave and dad arrives.

Thanks again for your input. smile

Wolfwoman Thu 18-Dec-14 12:06:12

Hi, again. Your input was very useful and made me question, not for the first time, but in a deeper way, why I am not asking for more overnight stays. Part of the reason is that I got so used to the way things are that it has become normalized. I am also a bit scared, to be frank, a lack of self-belief. It will be hard but I will find a way. I am going to submit my proposal to court asking for a longer stretch over the staying weekends when dd is with me.

Wolfwoman Thu 18-Dec-14 12:06:12

Hi, again. Your input was very useful and made me question, not for the first time, but in a deeper way, why I am not asking for more overnight stays. Part of the reason is that I got so used to the way things are that it has become normalized. I am also a bit scared, to be frank, a lack of self-belief. It will be hard but I will find a way. I am going to submit my proposal to court asking for a longer stretch over the staying weekends when dd is with me.

Wolfwoman Thu 18-Dec-14 12:06:12

Hi, again. Your input was very useful and made me question, not for the first time, but in a deeper way, why I am not asking for more overnight stays. Part of the reason is that I got so used to the way things are that it has become normalized. I am also a bit scared, to be frank, a lack of self-belief. It will be hard but I will find a way. I am going to submit my proposal to court asking for a longer stretch over the staying weekends when dd is with me.

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