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Ex's Soliciors Letter

(33 Posts)
Pandato2 Wed 01-Jun-11 17:38:03

Hi I'm new to this but hoping someone can help or maybe advise if they have been in a similar situation. I split with ex just over two years ago. We have two children now 4 and 7. We had to move out of our home as he wouldn't and during the first few months he chose to play around rather than see his children. Obviously I wouldn't let him introduce my two to lots of different women. He never understood this. Anyway over time things improved, however my two have never like having sleepover's (they only ever stayed one night every two weeks). I encouraged this as I believed it was the right thing to do. I had to ask him to take down his calendar in his kitchen of topless girls when my daughters were visiting after my eldest made a comment. He did not see any wrong in it.
He has recently been sacked for gross misconduct and as far as I'm aware waiting to know if he is being charged. He has stopped paying maintenance and has not seen or made an attempt to see his children since the begining of March. He has also now moved 350 miles away.
I came home today to a solicitors letter acting on his behalf stating he wants to have the children at certain times during the year. This includes a whole week at Easter time and two weeks during the Summer holidays. He is living with a woman who has a 13 year old boy, who my inlaws have said is naughty and a complete handful, I've never met him and not sure I want my girls to be around him.
M daughters will be distraught about leaving home for one week let alone two. I just don't think they will cope with it very well emotionally at all. There dad does shout at them and scares them a bit.
I work part time but having done the legal aid calculator it says I'm not legible. I certainly cannot afford a solicitor at £150 per hour.
I'm at my wits end as to which way to turn and what to do for the best. My two daughters are my only concern. If he was a good dad I would have no issues. He has a step daughter who is now grown up and has recently referred to her a 'just a pair of tits'. I just feel he has a very unhealthy attitude to women, and to make a comment like that to his own daughters is just not right.
I would be ever so grateful for any advice, or has anyone else been in the same situation?
Thank you. sad

Gster Wed 01-Jun-11 18:32:14

Can't offer much in the way of advice I'm afraid, gillybean2 seems pretty good at this stuff and I'm sure she'll pop up at some point.

From what you've said I'm not sure he can just suddenly get that amount of prolonged access in one jump, especially if he hasn't seen them since March, but he'd almost certainly get some. If you have concerns they can be looked at by various agencies to determine if it's detrimental to your daughters.

Some solicitors will give you a free chat.

Nothing is going to change overnight, so try and relax, you will get some good advice here eventually.

Newbabynewmum Wed 01-Jun-11 18:37:23

Have you got a solicitor? Mine is invaluable. Can you get legal aid? Or a free hour to start with to see where you are at?

It must be really hard, I'm very sorry. X

Pandato2 Wed 01-Jun-11 18:56:11

Thank you Gster and Newbabynewmum. It's actually just nice to have someone listen and respond thank you. I have booked one hour free appointment on Friday, but after that it's £150 + vat per hour. I did the legal aid calculator, but not eligible. That said I definately can't afford what soliciors charge.
It is hard, I can't believe he can suddenly start putting in demands when he doesn't even pay maintenance.
Thank you x

Newbabynewmum Wed 01-Jun-11 19:03:40

I get cross about my EX feeling so entitled when he's done nothing to help. I completely see what you mean. It's so unfair as you do all the work and he does nothing yet he is now demanding to see them.

I'm sure someone who knows more than me will be able to answer some of your questions - but I'd think if ur DC haven't done overnights for such a long time and so don't want to do them they should at least be introduced gradually and then work up to a week. I'm not sure though.

I hope the solicitor goes well. I went with a big list of questions for my first appt so I got everything covered that I needed to. X

Pandato2 Wed 01-Jun-11 19:09:23

That's a great idea to do a list, I will start putting one together - Thanks

It all seems so unfair doesn't it - I do not believe they are should be entitled to just pop in and out when it suits them.

xx

Snorbs Wed 01-Jun-11 19:20:26

An important thing to remember is that his solicitor can make all sorts of demands. But just because the letter came from a solicitor it does not mean that those demands are necessarily reasonable or that you have to comply. You can simply write back saying that you've considered their proposal but that you think that it would be better if contact was done differently.

Given the distance and the circumstances, what would you regard as reasonable contact?

Gster Wed 01-Jun-11 19:24:19

Pandato, you might want to post in the 'legal' section as well. But the solicitor should give you the lay of the land so to speak.

Also if he's moved 350 miles away he's going to be doing a 700 mile journey every time he picks them up and brings them home.

I think ultimately he will get some access, but your kids have a right to have their best interests looked after. A four year old going on 350 mile journeys away from her mum.... doubtful.

Like I say, try and relax for the moment, don't be intimidated by a solicitors letter ( did he mention any of this before the letter ? ) , stay calm, if you're not now, try and get an email conversation going as you can keep a record of everything said, keep texts, note down EVERYTHING.

good luck.

Cain Wed 01-Jun-11 19:35:37

I have been through something along these lines with my ex.
If I were you I would go to a solicitor, even if you are not entitled to full legal aid you may be able to get a contribution and if its still the case where you get a free half hour first consultation this would be discussed.

I will be honest with you, your kids are going to have to go and spend time with him however, it is not reasonable for him to demand 2 weeks at a time from nothing.

Speak to your children, find out how long they would be happy with and offer this as an alternative stating why. You could suggest a need to rebuild the relationship and trust as dumping them for months on end is not acceptable.

Why not suggest he come to you for a couple of weekends at first (not staying with you if you would not be happy) and spend some time with them, it could then be increased to a weekend once a month or whatever your children are happy with.

They, especially the eldest are going to have their wishes taken into account increasingly.

A cafcass assessment may be worth pursuing - its very much focussed on the wishes of your children.

All the best.

zest01 Wed 01-Jun-11 19:39:37

You don't actually need a solicitor, even if it goes to court as it possible to represent yourself and I know a couple of people who have done so successfully. The thing to remember is that the most important thing is the needs of the children, rather than what he or you want to happen. The court would probably feel that the girls need to have their Dad in their lives but are likely to want to see the relationship built up over time rather than going from a nothing to full week situation.

Respond to the letter with what you consider to be a fair and reasonable schedule of access, perhaps building up from day visits to overnight stays locally (in a b&b, hotel, with family.....etc) and build up to longer visits and then see what they come back with.

Pandato2 Wed 01-Jun-11 19:40:19

Thanks Snorbs I did go into panic mode, but have calmed down a bit now.
Thanks also Gster have also put into legal section.

Cain, I've never heard of cafcass so will look into it.

Thank you all so much your advice and support is very much appreciated, and just what I need a this moment in time. Don't feel like I'm on my own xx

Cain Wed 01-Jun-11 19:42:08

Oh and request mediation, you can discuss the whole situation with out solicitors but with a calm and reasonable person present who has your childrens' besst intersts at heart and will help you both 'meet half way' so to speak.

Pandato2 Wed 01-Jun-11 20:31:35

Does Cafcass and mediation cost?

Gster Wed 01-Jun-11 20:51:14

Mediation yes. Cafcass no ( i think )

the basics go like this. You try and sort it between you. If that fails a court will tell you to go to mediation, if that fails you head to court to slug it out. Cafcass are an agency who asses whether your ex has suitable home etc and report to the court their findings.

Best advice i can give is to remind your ex that you kids well being is paramount, maybe he's receptive to that, maybe he's a git, but it'll be better for everyone if you can sort it between you. It may require a lot of tongue bitting. Maybe it's past that.

Cain Wed 01-Jun-11 20:55:53

Hmm for me they were part of the court process which did cost but I don't think there was a specific cost payable for them - it was all solicitors time fees.
I notice you mention that there is a full hour with a solicitor foc these days, ask them about it.
I think iirc I was offered mediation as preferrable alternative to court before I started incurring fees. That worked for a couple of years but my ex was not satisfied with the agreement we reached in mediation and so he actually cancelled mediation on the basis that he said I wouldn't attend, I made sure the court knew I was fully committed to mediation and he was forced to try again. I'm pretty sure I didn't pay for that.
direct gov website

Cain Wed 01-Jun-11 21:08:30

Ah following my own link I notice there are fees but I had contribution based legal aid which meant I didn't pay in full.

Biting your toungue is good advice, its very difficult to remove emotion from such a situation but the more you can treat this like a business negotiation the less it will cost you.

Focus on the needs of your children and accept that your ex is going to push your boundaries.
Pick your fights carefully, if something really matters to you let something less important go in exchange.

PinkCarBlueCar Wed 01-Jun-11 22:08:27

I'd suggest drafting some sort of response to the solicitor's letter along the lines of:

Dear solicitor,

It is good to see that my ex now wishes to be a part of his daughter's lives. As he has had no contact from (whenever he last made any sort of contact) up until the present time and he chose to move 350 miles away, I am sure he will agree that the first step in the best interest of his daughters would be for him to commit to re-building his relationship with them.

To that end, perhaps he could phone / skype them for (x amount of time) every Friday at 7pm. If he were to write to them and / or send photos and / or cards, I shall do all I can to have the girls respond.

Should this go well, then perhaps after six weeks direct contact could begin in the form of Mr Twat-Ex coming down to (place where we live) and seeing his daughters on the Saturday from 10am until 6pm the next day on a fortnightly basis, on the proviso that will have somewhere suitable for them to sleep over. Otherwise, he could see them from 10am till 6pm both days. (Or whatever length of time you think is appropriate for your daughter's ages)

I am aware that their right to be maintained by him his separate to their right to have him in their lives, but I hope that he can now also show a commitment to providing an appropriate amount of his income to their upkeep.

Yours sincerely,

PWC who won't be intimidated by a solicitor.

And look into McKenzie Friends, too, even though there are the occasional ones with an axe to grind. They are volunteer lay people who will give you support during the court process, including coming into court with you. Usually they've been through it themselves.

Pandato2 Wed 01-Jun-11 22:15:06

Thank you very much PinkcarBluecar that is really really helpful. Amazing support thank you so very much xx

Gster Wed 01-Jun-11 22:39:52

I agree with pinkcarblurcar....that is good advice... especially the 'mr twat ex' bit. Grin

I would just say that the maintenance ( which he should pay ) and the access are entirely separate issues. Never mix them together.

Cain Wed 01-Jun-11 22:53:26

Love PinkCarBlueCar's letter, especially the last comment.

Important to remember that just because they are a solicitor doesn't mean they have more clout. They might have more experience but they are also bound to act reasonably, if you choose to represent yourself, the court will give just as much consideration of your POV so a solicitor will come at you with bully tactics but it is all just that, tactics.
I found a lot of information online and went to the extent of buying a university recommended text book on family law - knowledge is power as they say.

Gonzo33 Thu 02-Jun-11 08:47:54

The letter that Pink Car suggested is good. However I would leave the bit out about maintenance. The court will see it as a different issue altogether, and probably ask you to refrain from discussing that. Unfortunately the CSA would be the way to go in relation to that.

I am glad you are seeking legal advice, even if it is for an hour free. when I started my case (I wanted leave of jurisdiction) my solicitor read the letters I had written before I sent them to my ex, and only started getting involved fully when my ex insisted we went to court.

Whatever happens, good luck xx

ladydeedy Thu 02-Jun-11 18:56:55

agree with Snorbs as well that just because a letter has been sent by a solicitor, it doesnt mean you have to worry unduly or even respond in fact.

DH regularly gets letters from various solicitors demanding/requesting all sorts of things that his ex would like to happen and he simply ignores them as they are all completely unreasonable and unrealistic. Nothing ever happens as a result.

She just tries different solicitors every few weeks and they write her a letter for free of whatever her current gripes are and then moves on to another. So do not worry yourself too much, and try to remain unemotional and calm. Just because it's been requested, doesnt mean it will happen exactly that way.

PinkCarBlueCar Thu 02-Jun-11 21:02:42

Indeed and agreed - the court will see maintenance as a separate issue to contact, because in law they are separate. So don't bother bringing it up at court, if you ever get there.

But as it's a first letter in response to twat ex getting a solicitor involved, why not take the opportunity to remind both twat and his solicitor that he isn't providing maintenance?

If any solicitor was to present such a letter at court, it's not making any demands in the sense of "pay to see your kids", it's just pointing out that he's not paying maintenance. That's why I phrased it the way I did.

Oh, and what ladydeedy - as a whole, the letter can be utterly ignored should you wish to do so.

If he's that bothered about seeing the kids, he'll apply to court and if (*if*) you get letters from the court then that will be something you'll need to deal with.

Meanwhile, that letter can be ignored, should you wish to do so. That's why the tone of my letter was aiming towards dismissive.

PinkCarBlueCar Thu 02-Jun-11 21:03:32

* what ladydeedy said...

littlemum007 Fri 03-Jun-11 10:37:52

Your Ex's proposals are unworkable given the distance and practicalities and in addition to his sacking for gross misconduct which leads you to question his current state of mind (do you know what he did?) - make sure its not YOU who ends up having to drive that huge distance - he'll probably ask you to do one journey and he do the other - make sure that doesn't happen!

I think you should simply write back to the solicitor saying that you acknowledge receipt of his letter dated.... I am currently taking legal advice and will come back to you shortly.

Please remember that under The Children's Act, a child has a right to be "maintained" by both parents and your Ex has chosen not to financially provide for his daughters who are going without as a result - remind him (at a later stage) that the CSA is always an option if you can't agree a sensible sum - even people on Income Support have to pay a fiver. Or, you could get a Consent Order drafted provided you can agree an amount (make sure you fleece the b'strd). Rooting for you.

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