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can anyone with experience of family law cast their eye over this please?(55 Posts)
i've posted lots before about EXp.
i am now in a situation where he has dropped maintenance payments down to £100 per month for 2 dcs and is refusing to have them more than 2 nights EOW despite his original suggestion that he would have them at least 1 night midweek every week so that i could start working again. he is now refusing, saying that as he works full time he cant have them. he has texted today furious with me for contacting CSA and says that i have 'shot myself in the foot' and to 'prepare for not much money'. i knew he would do this so this is no great surprise however i am sick sore and tired of just having to accept the decisions he makes about his input (physical and financial) with our dcs. i know no court in the land will force him to have our dcs more and i am not holding my breath that CSA will be any use at all. but i've decided i'm not going to just accept it anymore.
so this is what i want to do.
i want to send him a letter informing him that as of X date he will now be responsible for our dcs between 9am on tuesday mornings til 2pm on thursday afternoons of each week aswell as our current arrangement of 2pm on fridays til 2pm on sundays of EOW. i will inform the school and afterschool club of this arrangement and tell him that they know he will be collecting the dcs on those days. i will tell him that he will be responsible for organising and paying for all childcare he requires on these days and also any clubs or activities the dcs attend on those days. i will provide him with contact details for the school, afterschool club, gp, hv and anyone else necessary and inform him that he can request to have information letters sent to him from the school if he wishes so that he can be aware of any thing he needs to attend or arrange extra childcare for. i will tell him that this arrangement would mean he would not be required to pay any child support to me towards the support of our children.
i have been considering doing this for about a week and his latest texts have helped me make the decision to do so. obviously he can just refuse all of this and carry on paying very little and not seeing them more than he is but i am going to at least try to make things a bit fairer for myself.
as i said, i know none of that will be supported by a court but i was wondering if i should get a free half hour with a family solicitor for some guidance on this.
does anyone have any advice? would i be opening myself to accusations of neglect if he didn't turn up to the school for dcs? (i dont think he would not turn up if i made it absoloutely clear that i would not be collecting them but just incase)
btw, i am willing to negotiate on the days he has them, i have specifically chosen those days as they are the days the dcs have fewest activities on after school and EXp's mum already collects them on wednesday afternoons EOW. but i will negotiate, i just thought it better to offer specific days to work from rather than ask for days that suited as he wont give a straight answer then.
I know it must be frustrating, but I don't see how you acting unilaterally helps. Won't the children feel abandoned, with each of you washing your hands of them?
washing my hands of my children? i dont think you have understood what i'm suggesting. i will have my children with me 50% of the time. they will spend the other 50% of their time with their father who they know well and are used to staying with EOW. they ask to go to his house during the week and when i contact him he either ignores me or will agree to get back to me to make an arrangement but he never does. they want to see more of him. there is no abandoning happening at all. it wont be a case of me just leaving them at his door if he refuses to have them, i will of course have them as i always have done so my children will not be abandoned.
what i am trying to do is force him to be fair. i have asked and asked and asked and he is pretty much laughing at me with the arrangement he has decided. i am done with asking to be treated fairly. i am now telling him to treat me fairly, i will not ask his permission for me to do that. he of course can refuse and i will be in the same situation i am now, i will not leave my dcs uncared for if he refuses so he still has choice to do as he pleases. i can do none of this without his agreement. the ball is still in his court. all i am doing is putting this to him and hoping he will step up. he may decide to continue with the current arrangement.
Having the kids: you sound as bad as one another, tbh.
Maintenance: yes, I would seek professional advice. Pronouncing that he is about to drop the payment simply isn't on. He can't reduce the time he spends with them and reduce his maintenance payments at the same time - it doesn't work like that! Mind you, if you have now applied to the CSA, it may be out of a lawyer's hands...?
"Having the kids: you sound as bad as one another, tbh."
can you explain what you mean by this please? i've been raising my dcs alone for most of the last 7 years, sometimes without any financial help at all from him. he had them over night for the first time less than a year ago and the EOW arrangement started a couple of months ago. i'm struggling to see how i am anywhere near as negectful as my EXP when it comes to time spent with my dcs. i've been doing his share of the work for all this time and i think i should be entitled to be treated fairly by him. i am not looking to palm my dcs off on just anyone for a break. i am asking their father to step up to his share of the work so that i might be able to make a living for myself and not be restricted by when he decides to have them.
Because you are both dictating to one another re. contact. He says NO, THESE DAYS, you say NO, THOSE DAYS and neither of you sound like rollovers!
It might be worth pointing out to him that if he reduces contact time, then the CSA may make him pay even more maintenance per month.
Like I said though, if it was me I would be seeing a solicitor to get this sorted: he sounds like the pair of you are at stalemate, and he is being an eejit re. maintenance.
that's my point though. up until now i haven't dictated anything. i have always asked "can you have" or "when can you have" and he either ignores completely or says he will get back to me and doesn't and then will text on a random day asking what the dc are up to at that very moment in time. that's why i have decided to put forward set days and times and give him the opportunity to negotiate from that point. asking him for anything just leaves me in exactly the same situation every time. if i every expect fairness i cannot wait around for him to decide to be fair. he wont, i have to tell him what is fair and work from there. asking gets me nowhere with him and he's taking the piss tbh.
contact has always been on his terms when it suits him and he expects alot of flexibility which i accomodate pretty much every time because my dcs want to see him. teh only times i dont acommodate is if there is something we have paid to attend or like a family birthday party or something. but he is not prepared at all to be flexible if it is at my request and he is enjoying all the benefits of working, building a career, with free childcare (me) and now he's not even paying the minimum child support.
he says he is working full time for his partner's father and that it is temporary until he starts his proper job. i dont know if he is 'offically' employed and paying tax and NI though. he is paying me £100 per month which if that is 20% of his income then he is only earning £500 a month which doesn't sound right for a full time job at NMW which makes me think he isn't 'on the books'. he is so vague about it because he knows he will have to pay more if he admits to earning more.
i know i cant force him to have the dcs. i am not yet working so i was thinking that if i start this now then i will have a pretty good idea by the time i get a job whether i need to arrange my own childcare for those days based on how he has been up til then.
I am sympathetic but I don't think telling him in a letter that he has to pick the children up from school on a Tuesday and look after them until Thurs is really going to work, is it? What will happen when he doesn't turn up on the first Tuesday? if school calls and he doesn't pick up, are they going to call you? Will you also refuse to pick them up? The only losers here are the children.
no i wont refuse to pick them up. however i dont believe he would leave them if i made it clear that i was not available and would not be doing it. i was thinking of giving him one month's notice before starting so that he has a chance to approach me, talk about it, negotiate and arrange any childcare he needs.
I think you are in difficulties here as you could be opening yourself up for problems if he doesn't turn up to collect them. You can propose those arrangements to him but I think it's probably counter productive to unilaterally dictate the arrangements. If he refuses to stick to a routine you can give him dates when they will be available (for example every other Sunday) and insist that he confirms whether or not he will be attending for contact by close of play on Friday for example. This puts the emphasis on him to organise himself.
i really dont think he would fail to collect them, or at least arrange for his mum to if he couldn't, if i made it clear i wouldn't be available.
however i would of course be available in reality and i'm the first contact for the school to call if he doesn't turn up. the dcs would not be just left in school.
he currently has them EOW friday pm to sunday pm and so far has been sticking to that arrangement. what i am wanting him to do is take them during the week as he originally suggested and was agreed bewteen both of us.
he doesn't confirm that he will or will not be collecting the dcs. i have tried that in the past based on lots of advice on MN and he just didn't bother with contacting to say whether he would or wouldn't be turning up meaning i could plan nothing and i couldn't even tell the dcs they might be seeing him. i told them the first time and he didn't show up. they were devastated and i realised i couldn't tell them in future. i just had to pack their bags in secret and tell them to have their coats and shoes ready without telling them why. at 7 my eldest has worked out that it means his dad might be coming and he gets excited and then gutted when there is a no show.
we have definitely made progress with the EOW arrangement but it was all on his terms and i had to actually let him 'come up' with the idea. his idea was to have them EOW and then at least 1 night midweek aswell (his words). he has stuck to the EOW part but not the midweek part, he says because he works he cant do it.
i'm not prepared to sit around and wait for him to 'come up' with the idea that he'd like to have them midweek because it may never happen and i dont think he should be the only one getting to decide what happens just to suit him.
this is why i am considering putting this too him and hopefully using that as a starting point for us to work something out that will suit us both. i dont expect him to be over the moon about it, he wont like to give up his evenings and have to sort childcare etc but i'm not over the moon about the deal he's given me and it needs to be fairer.
I think people have been MOST unfair to the OP here...she's not doing anything bad...the children's Father DOES and SHOULD have responsibility for them. Why is it all the OPs job?
OP I do hope someone gives you good advice...in an ideal world ALL Fathers and ALL MOthers would work towards an equal share of childcare.
The key here is the phrase 'forcing him to be fair'.
I am afraid you can't. There is no mechanism in the family law system to 'force' a parent to spend time with children - just one of the many examples of why these problems are so difficult to deal with in a legal framework.
All the court can realistically do is order a child to be made available to see a parent if that parent requests it and contact is deemed in child's best interests.
I totally get your frustration and annoyance - been there, got the T shirt.
But one thing I finally learned is that you have to deal with the reality of the person in front of you. If they are going to be a knob, they will be a knob no matter how you eloquently point this out to them.
If you really cannot communicate to sort this out then I think you need to deal with money through the CSA and arrange some contact deal that he will stick with. If he won't then I am really sorry but the court can do very little to help you - the only remedy I can see is for a court to make a no contact order if a parent is repeatedly unreliable and chops and changes for no good reason. But they would be reluctant.
thank you neo
i do appreciate the comments from all the posters. i have been trhough court and solicitors before and i know thsi will not have a perfect outcome for either of us. we will both have to compromise on what we feel is fair but i think if i start by putting 50/50 care and no money changing hands as the starting point that gives us the best chance of a fairer arrangement even with both of us compromising.
if i carry on as i have done for the last 7 years i will forever be resentful of teh fact that he gets off so light. i have to try, for myself i have to be able to tell myself that i didn't just 'let' it happen and that i tried to be fair to myself. i have done the years of biting my tongue and people telling me "it's different for men, they can just get up and go if they like" well i'm not accepting it anymore. i'm going to at least try. and at least if he refuses, well i've coped on my own for this long and without his money, i can do it again and i will if that's what happens.
yes spero, i absoloutely know i would have no court support with this. this is just me writing a letter with what i expect of him, he can take it or leave it. he might even just ignore it and i'll be no worse off but i have to try.
force was probably teh wrong word as i know that forcing him isn't possible. maybe, jumpstart him into at least discussing it is more along the lines of what i want to do.
It's worth a try. You seem realistic about prospects of success. But I wouldn't want to put children in a position where they might not get picked up by anyone.
they will be picked up. the most they would be waiting would be 5 minutes. i have been late twice in the past due to traffic and the school phoned me 5 minutes after pick up time both times. i live right beside the school. i could even make sure i'm in the school for pick up and handover at the gate when he arrived or keep myself out of sight and disappear when he arrived/ go over and collect dcs if it appeared he hadn't showed.
Hope I'm wrong in this case but human nature is such that trying to impose something on an expartner/spouse or issuing ultimatums tends to result in the opposite of the desired effect.
i know STIDW and this guy stays true that nature. but what is my alternative? just accept that this is my lot? i've asked outright, many times, i've dropped hints, i've left it alone hoping he would decide himself he wanted it, i'm ashamed to say it even crossed my mind to tell him he couldn't have the dcs apart from EOW to try and make him want what he cant have sort of thing but i couldn't do that. if i dont try this, what else can i do?
Sorry. It is a shit situation and it isn't fair. I think the only thing you can do is try and deal with the reality of who he is and what he will realistically do. And you are left holding the fort I know. It is crap but I think you risk burning a lot of emotional energy trying to fight it. He will be the long term loser if he isn't willing to put in the work to make a relationship with his own children.
I would force the contact midweek but tag it on to a every other weekend contact
therefore making him pick up on a Thursday after school and pick up on a monday after school and have over night and take back to school Tuesday morning - he will likely find it more difficult to ignore his extended weekend time than an add hoc time every other week - iyswim
Also it keeps a very simple pattern Thursday through to Tuesday every other week and then Tuesday through 10 days till the following Thursday when he needs to pick them up again and start being daddy to his children.
Just my thought on the matter - and you go for it girl make this man stand up and be a dad to his children
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