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formal contact arrangement - aibu?

(16 Posts)
keepmefromcourt Sun 17-Jul-11 19:23:04

Hiya, woudl very much appreciate your thoughts on a formal doc dd's dad and i are in the process of drawing up, which I've agreed as a way of avoiding court. I'd be really grateful if those of you who have issued/received court orders can let me know if you think my draft will be accepted by a judge, shd dd's dad seek a court order anyway.

DD is 2.6. Her dad sees her every 4 or 5 weeks, from Sat midday to Sun 4pm, as he lives in Frankfurt (he moved there when we split up when i was pregnant, despite having a good job and house in London). He started having dd overnight since she 2.3. Most months he comes to us, but 3 or 4 times a year, I will take her to London, where his mother lives.

*HE WANTS*: 2 nights once a month, BUT in London (so dd and I have to travel 400m round trip), as he says it's better for him to have her at his mother's house, rather than a B&B in the town where we live
PLUS 1 week's holiday in Europe three times a year (incl Xmas)

*I HAVE AGREED*: 2 nights once a month, but in our town, so dd doesn't have to travel 400m, and can attend swimming classes
I have said no to a full week's holiday AT THIS AGE, but suggested we work incrementally towards it, with 3 nights at 3, 4 nights at 4 and a week at 5
I have also said I don't think she should go abroad without me until she is at least 7.

Are my restrictions on the length of contact and redlines on going abroad a) fair b) likely to be overruled by a judge?

GypsyMoth Sun 17-Jul-11 19:27:48

i think imposing a rule of not without you til age 7 is likely to be a problem. any reason?

i think you need more reasons for stopping the overnight at his mums.......can you afford it? is it by car?

keepmefromcourt Sun 17-Jul-11 19:36:08

thanks Tiffany. I would not be so concerned about the abroad thing if he had been a 'hands on' dad, but bc he has only seen her once a month, she is obviously much more attached to me than him. she is incredibly clingy to me after he's had her overnight, so i woudln't feel at all comfortable with him taking her somewhere where i couldn't get to her if she was very poorly/had an accident.
i realise taht this is NOT about me, but about her forging a better relationship with her dad, but bear in mind he doesn't have that much experience with her either. for example, he has never spent more than 2 days with her (through his choice, not mine, I have often encouraged him to stay for a week to facilitate a better bond between them) so i wonder if he would be able to cope abroad and so far away from me whilst she is so very young.

re overnights at his mums - it's not by car, we go by train, so it is incredibly expensive and dd hates it. however, i am happy to do it 3 or 4 times a year, just not every month.

NotSuchASmugMarriedNow Sun 17-Jul-11 20:51:27

were you actually married to him? I only ask because that might have a bearing on any court order.

I'd let her go to his mums twice a month but why on earth do you have to do the travelling? Why can't he come and get her? If my ex wants the kids he comes and gets them.

I wouldn't let her leave the country with him tbh. Especially for 3 holidays a year!!! Who has 3 holidays a year?

cestlavielife Sun 17-Jul-11 21:10:28

why cant he fly from frankfurt to nearer where you are? tehre must be flights to/from more local airport.

i think tho the only way they get used to each other is haivng more time together

having her more days a few times a year may be good for them both

keepmefromcourt Sun 17-Jul-11 21:10:46

no, notsuch, we were never married, and he has never lived with dd (or indeed in teh same country as her)

he wants me to do the travelling to london bc if i didn't he'd have to fly frankfurt - manchester to pick up dd, then get the train to london to his mum's AND then bring her back. Which he thinks makes his contact time too 'rushed'. but then I would continue bringing dd up alone for 28 days of the month, while rushing up and down the country for 2 days to acommodate him

He has three holidays a year, that's who. Cycling, skiing, hiking, you name it. But he has never taken a week off to hang out wiht dd, apart from this new request to start doing it 3 times a year. I woudln't mind a week in London, and indeed, would be happy to take her, and have her on the 3rd night to break the week up a bit. But my worry is that a judge will simply say, well, he's her dad, he can take her where he wants, including france or spain. which i'm sure lots of very good dads here do, (but they probably see their children more than 2 days a month)

keepmefromcourt Sun 17-Jul-11 21:14:09

yes, i agree c'est, i welcome him wanting her more, but my argument is that he shoud work up incrementally. So rather than taking a 2.5 year old away from her main carer for a week, which would be very unsettling for her, he starts with 2 nights, then tries 3 nights six months later, then 4 nights when she's four. That's all i'm suggesting. I think going from 1 night a month to a week is a bit extreme, given that he's a mainly absent father.

But I am aware that i could be projecting my fears on to this, rather than looking at it from all sides.

SirGin Wed 20-Jul-11 13:47:55

keepmefromcourt.

I think the best way to avoid court is, obviously , to sort out an arrangement that works for everybody. And I think the important issue there is that with a break up involving children there is no arrangement that suits everybody. It's largely a matter of compromise and tongue biting.

I think in terms of being incremental your instincts are right but personally if I were the Dad I'd disagree with the 3 nights at 3, 4 at 4 etc.

I had a similar disagreement with my XP. She felt our 2 year old wouldn't be able to cope staying with me for two nights until dd had spent around six months dealing with a single night ( originally she suggested dd should be 7 before overnights ) . I objected to this ( amongst other proposals ) and it nearly went to court until my XP backed down. The advice I had from solicitors regarding the amount of time I wished to have dd was that my XP was being unreasonable and would't stand a chance in court.

As an small observation you mention the swimming lessons. This was an issue with my XP too. Solicitor said to me no judge would put a swimming lesson over contact with the father. But it was a bone of contention between me and XP as she felt swimming was more important than me the dad. This I found offensive.

What eventually happened was that XP had to leave the country for three nights and dd stayed with me. With no problems at all , other than the odd bit of pining for mum when things didn't go her way. She now stays with me 3 / 4 nights a fortnight every month.

In terms of holidays though, we both agreed that for the time being rather than me take dd away for any length of time I'd use my holidays in bite size chunks throughout the year. And this may be worth suggesting to your XP if you also offer a reasonable timetable before longer visits can occur.

I think your right to say it there needs to be an incremental build up, but I'd be mindful that if you suggest too slow a build up your XP will head to a solicitors office. He should also appreciate there needs to be a build up.

Ultimately you need to be prepared to compromise on some fronts as does he.

The mantra is to do what's right for your dd, I know a mothers instincts will say it's best for the child to stay with the mother, but a child will be better off if there is also a father in their life.

The best thing that happened in my situation is that myself and my XP managed to salvage a workable relationship. It went from super-stress heading towards court to a relaxed and flexible arrangement.

I hope some of that at least helps.

berkshirefem Wed 20-Jul-11 15:35:01

I agree with sirgin, It has to be what is best for the child. Whilst you (with good reason!) don't care much for her dad, they will care about each other. The very fact he is fighting it shows he cares.

A swimming lesson isn't as important as building a relationship with your paternal family. I agree (assuming his mother isn't a raging, drunkern harridan) that it is better for your daughter to spend time with her dad at her grandma's home rather than a bed and breakfast. Is there any reason that you would disagree with that?

cestlavielife Wed 20-Jul-11 15:35:19

i dont see any reason why, after say four or six months of two night stays, he should not take her on holiday for a week. after all many holiday bookings are more cost effectve on a week by week basiss.

if she is happy with him and he with her - then it just comes across as you being too protective - sorry. i know people who leave their two year old child with grandparents (who child sees every 2 months or so) for two weeks while they go off on holiday...

if he wants to spend more time with her - and there are no serious welfare issues going on - take it at face value...as ginster said - suddenly there was a 3 night with dad and it was fine.

your ddd can now talk (presumably) so will be able to expres wishes and feelings to dad and to you. so if a two night stay is fine - then a five six or seven night holiday will be fine. children adapt.

focus more on how to arange it so you dont have to travel so much, maybe he doesnt need to be visiting london on each visit? but a train ride manchester to london - he could do it with her and would be fun for her . if he earns a lot and can afford first class so much the better .

balia Wed 20-Jul-11 19:48:33

Agree - the 4 nights at 4, 5 at 5 seems a bit obsessive/controlling, tbh, and doesn't appear to allow any leeway according to her needs/wishes. Given that your question was about court, I think it is fair to say that Cafcass would consider the build up unnecessarily slow (and of course you risk being seen as obstructive). How about suggesting that the first holiday is in england, say an hour or so away (is there anywhere lovely nearby? Seaside, touristy spot where she'd have a great time?) so that your fears about getting to her are calmed, and then the next holiday they can go abroad? Honestly I think you'd have a hard time objecting to a holiday with Dad.

Could you compromise on the travelling so that one month you take her, and the next month he collects but has her for 3 or 4 days? I know it is hard to feel that you do all the donkey work and he just swans in and does the fun bits, but your DD will thank you in the long run - how many other kids get to have 3 holidays a year in Europe? She'll be confident, travelled, interesting...and she'll love you more for putting her first.

keepmefromcourt Wed 20-Jul-11 23:14:16

Really, really grateful for your thoughtful posts, SirGin, C'est and Balia - I appreciate your input very much.
Sirgin, it's particularly valuable to hear things from your perspective.
I will reconsider the timings thing; maybe a week at 3 will be achievable. Her talking isn't brilliant btw, c'est, but has come on loads in the last 10 days actually, so probably will change how I feel about it. and yes, of course her dad is more important than swimming lessons, and I can understand how that would be deemed to be offensive.

Sirgin, do you mind me asking how old your dd is now? Do you take her away for 3 or 4 nights in the UK at the moment now then? When do you envisage being able to take her, say, abroad for a week?

SirGin Thu 21-Jul-11 10:58:10

keepmefromcourt

don't mind at all.

my dd is about 2.7 and she started coming to stay over at around 2.2. Before I had her to stay over I posted on MN to get advice / opinion about her staying with me at an early age. The majority ( empirical ) response was that toddlers tend to take things in their stride, and indeed dd did just that. We did do a couple of day visits to start with, but all in all it was pretty smooth. Initially as you might expect there were a few moments where she wondered where mummy was, this also happened a few times overnight, but lots of hugs, reassurance and comforting calmed her, and to be honest ( even at two ) she is learning how to be manipulative. If I say she can't do such-and-such , her response used to be ' daddies house bad, want mummy ' . But really, I was keeping a very close eye on how she was dealing with it all, and she was / is perfectly at ease when she's at mine and her mum told me she now asks for daddies house if mummy tells her off smile

I haven't yet taken her away anywhere yet, would love to ( XP has three foreign holidays with dd in the pipeline ) , but myself and XP discussed it and agreed she's a bit young at the moment for weeks away with me, I am planning on a trip to see my parents ( who live in the UK but 500 miles away ) but three nights max. Next summer though I will hope to take her away for a week at a time abroad.

That said I have read threads on MN where 2 year olds were quite happilly going off with dad for holidays, but if your XP has limited contact and dd isn't that familiar with him yet, I wouldn't have thought it was a great idea yet.

It is possible that the odd holiday might occur with me / dd and XP also. One really important aspect for me is that dd sees that me and her mum get on, I think it makes her happy to when we're all doing something together.

Your situation is a bit different though. The vaugish info I skim off of MN seems to suggest that in courts deciding how much access should be given distances between XPs is considered in that long distances mean it's more likely that less frequent longer visits are favoured. But somehow you need to get your XP to at least start with more frequent shorter visits, and I think you'll only do that if you dangle a bone infront of him. i.e. Agree with him about three holidays a year etc, but he needs to be a regular presence for a bit before that happens, unless he's bullish, he should see that is in his daughters interests.

From what you say he is making an effort to be in his DD's life. And I think ( despite the distance ) it's a good thing for him to take DD to his mum's / granny.

Being able to talk with my Xp also helped in looking after dd properly. I mean I'm a reasonably hands on dad, I've always changed nappies , cooked etc, but I did need a bit of advice on dd's routine and how it was changing, discuss parenting issues. Getting on also means that things are flexible ( as opposed to court ordered specific days and times ) . My XP just phoned me to arrange days when she's working so that I can hopefully take holiday off to cover.

Again the point I'm trying to re-enforce is that getting on is makes life infinitely better for everyone as opposed to the hatred that court proceedings tend to result in.

... sorry this is a bit long smile

Finally I assume your XP is giving you at least %15 of his net income.

Good luck again. I hope you sort it out.

SirGin Thu 21-Jul-11 11:10:46

.... there's more !

Do you have residency ? If you don't, both you and your XP would technically need the others written permission to take your dd out of the country.

Also, if you haven't already, and you can afford it, I'd suggest you see a solicitor, not in order to go to court, but to get professional advice on where you stand, what is reasonable and what isn't. I'd assume your XP has done this already.

Also ( last point honest ) all cases now get referred to mediation before court. And if you do think there is a slightest chance it will go to court start keeping a log of all visits, keep all emails etc etc.

SkelleyBones Thu 21-Jul-11 11:35:32

No way would I be paying for the train fares, if he wants to see her he has to come and get her, or send the money for the train tickets, that's fair.
The trips abroad I think you will have to allow, it's no different when she's 7 IME.

SkelleyBones Thu 21-Jul-11 11:36:19

Where is he resident in the UK or Germany ?

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