Should I have to make allowances for his new family?(10 Posts)
Brief backstory. XP and I split up 7 years ago due in part to DV and drug use. We have 2 DC together. I moved 300 miles away to return to my home town where I had a support network and there were more opportunities for the DC. Contact has been sporadic and has consisted of a phone call most weeks and him visiting or us meeting in the middle once a year or so (averaged out to one a year anyway). There were several reasons for our not going to him, not least of which being threats of abduction (previous incident of this) as well as more practical concerns about ease of travel, single driver, 6 hour journey vs 2 DC, 8 hours by train including Underground changes.
XP has since married and has 3 DC with his wife, DC4 on the way. XP has now sent a solicitors letter demanding visits now be in his home area as it is harder for him to travel with 3 DC. Should I make allowances for his change in circumstances or should it have been something he considered before having the subsequent DC?
I don't want to prevent our DC from meeting or having a relationship with his DC (for simplicity, ours are DSs, all his are DDs so I'll just stick to that ) but at present, the DDs are too young to understand who the DSs are and visits end up stressful and fraught just from the pressure of trying to entertain a baby, 2 and 3 year old DDs and 10 and 11 YO DSs as there are only so many trips to the park one can make! Factoring in that XP's wife is pregnant, as am I (by DP, not XP i hasten to add) and it all becomes quite difficult. Is it reasonable for me to ask XP to leave his DDs at home for some visits to make travelling easier and so XP and DSs can spend quality time together, with occasional meet ups in the middle so that all the kids can see each other?
the proposal for him to have some visits decidicated to your shared DSs and other visits when your DSs will meet with his new DC seems reasonable to me!
How often are these visits? If they are still only 1/year, okay fine, he could leave his DDs at home. If they are very regular visits, he shouldn't. It's a bit of give on your part too as you moved away. Can your DSs get the train down to spend a week with their Dad and half-siblings for holidays a few times a year? Could their Dad meet them in London (presuming as you mention underground changes), and carry on the rest of the journey with them to his home?
yes. You moved his children a long way away from their father so you must facilitate their ability to have a relationship with him as much as you possibly can.
Tricky. I'm guessing that since you've received a solicitor's letter things are not particularly amicable, which isn't going to make things easier. The fact that he's an abuser (don't believe he's changed at all sorry, they never do), and that he poses an abduction risk makes me think you have to think about what's best for your DC not about whether or not you're being fair to him.
A solicitor's letter can say anything he has told his solicitor to say, BTW (as long as it's not abusive or suggesting something illegal). It doesn't mean that's what he'd get if he took it to court, though a court may be sympathetic given the ages of his children. Does he pay maintenance BTW as that would have a bearing on travel costs.
How do you feel about something like Skype? You could have agreed times so that no one feels like their privacy is being invaded and your DSs are definitely old enough to use it effectively as a way of keeping communication open. It's also a way they can encourage the relationship with their siblings even though they are so young - half of my family live abroad and my DTs were using Skype quite happily at age 3.
Having regular communication like this is not the same as a physical meet-up but it's the next best thing, especially given you and XP's wife are both pregnant. Trying to arrange meet-ups when you both have newborns is going to be very difficult indeed. I think what you're asking for about some travelling, meet-ups in the middle and some just him and DSs and some with all the DC is perfectly reasonable.
Visits have totalled 7 in 7 years. 3 were close together when we first left, one of which was me taking the DC to his area for his wedding. After that was a gap of 3 years with no physical contact, then roughly once a year since.
Given the sporadic and limited nature of the visits, I am not inclined to pack my children off on a train to stay with a virtual stranger, regardless of their biological link. DS1 also has SN so wouldn't be capable of getting the train without an adult and I don't think it is fair to ask his younger brother to supervise him. There is also the previous abduction incident to consider. All visits have been supervised by myself, initially due to the DS's age and since then due to XPs drinking and behaviour during prior visits. After an incident during a visit 2 years ago, I now also take DP with me for support.
Sunshine I am aware that solicitors can only go by what they are told and letters from them don't in themselves constitute a legal obligation, thanks though, it took me a while to work that out and not panic every time one arrived! This is now the third or fourth such letter and it never gets past this point as each time he finds a new solicitor to send a letter out, it is replied to with a copy of the first solicitors letter I sent him offering contact visits every other week and twice weekly phone calls, with a list of dates contact actually occurred. Oddly enough no solicitor seems keen to push for a court date for greater access when shown that it was offered 6 years ago and never taken up
Hairy lights I dont know if this makes any difference, but the area I live in now is actually where the DC were born and lived for their first 3 years. We only lived in the area XP is in for 18 months so it is more a return home than a removal to my mind. I left with the help, and on the advice, of women's aid to get out of the area as I was receiving threats from XP and his friends and remaining in the area would not have been safe for myself or the DC.
The travel arrangements for contact have been in place and agreed upon for the last 4 years. I don't feel that previously agreed arrangements are up for debate, as they were worked out between XP and I (through solicitors mainly but still, we both agreed) and have worked perfectly fine until now. My question is whether or not it is reasonable to change those arrangements based on a change in circumstances, to expect me and the DSs to travel because XP has chosen to have more children than he can travel with himself.
Sorry, missed a couple of points to reply to.
I did suggest Skype or FaceTime but XP doesn't have a computer so it is physical visits, phone conversations or messages on Facebook only ATM.
XP does pay maintenance which is taken from his benefits so we are one of those £5 a week families I would assume that our ability to pay for travel would be deemed about equal, since obviously the child maintenance isn't going to cover much in the way of train fares and I have just finished studying and am currently looking for work so am in no better a financial position that he is.
If his visits are going to remain as infrequent and based on your further info, then it would make sense for him to travel to you on his own. Hopefully all his children will be able to meet up as they get older and have a relationship with each other too.
I think once you move 300 miles away and he hasn't got the money or capability to visit and you don't want to travel there's not really much to debate.
He hasn't really got a relationship with his children nor is likely to.
Rightly or wrongly I think he's been pretty well written out of that.
Truck, my ex and I are more than 300 miles apart, and still manage to both have regular contact with our daughter. It's not like she's moved to Australia.
OP, I think he should be able to take time out of his new family to visit his children. He's being ridiculous. Lots of people would be away with work for a couple of days a year at least, so it's no different to that for his new partner and children.
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