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Should/can I change contact arrangements?

(21 Posts)
MinnieMoose2014 Tue 04-Feb-14 15:01:59

Dd is 6 and has been going to her dad's every other or every third weekend for five years. She desperately wants to attend a dance class that's only on a Saturday morning, she's been asking for almost three years. She does a different dance class on a weeknight and loves it, is good at it and it's been really helping her confidence as she's previously suffered with selective mutism. Her dad lives half hour away and his fuel is paid for by his company. He rarely does anything with her during contact, often doing his own hobby instead. He refuses to take dd dancing.

I've offered that he either takes her to dancing and therefore be involved in her passion or otherwise that I take her and he collects her afterwards/I take her to him and he returns her to school on Monday instead of on Sunday at 2 p.m. as he currently does. He refuses. There is no court order in place so technically I could insist he takes her or else change contact to commencing from Saturday lunchtime and let him take me to court. What do you think? Should I change contact? Would court be supportive of dds activity? It seems so unfair that she'll never be able to do any gymnastics competitions or anything because they'll sometimes fall on weekends.

MadIsTheNewNormal Tue 04-Feb-14 15:05:04

I don't think you can start dictating what he does and does not do on his weekends with DD. You have her by far the majority of the time, and you can find other dance classes elsewhere during in the week if you are really that keen for her to go. It's annoying, but that's split parenting for you.

MinnieMoose2014 Tue 04-Feb-14 15:09:40

No, this is only on a Saturday as stated above. His lack of contact is his choice, not my fault. It seems unfair that he sees her so little but it dictates what she can and can't do in life.

Monetbyhimself Tue 04-Feb-14 17:19:21

OP there was a similar thread very recently which I've bumped for you as there are lots of differing viewpoints.

MaryPoppinsCarpetBag Tue 04-Feb-14 17:53:10

That does sound frustrating.

If she's been asking for 3 years is there a reason why you now want to go ahead when you haven't before?

Minime85 Tue 04-Feb-14 19:40:36

I just dont get why some, and it seems to be more dads than mums, do this. that's all about the child missing out. if he is so adamant she can't go I can't see the problem in changing the times. why would he spite the child like that? surely contact isn't all about spending every minute together.

I'm only relatively new to all this but so far stbexh and I are trying to be of the mind that if its something dc would have done if we were still together why should they miss out?

good luck and I hope he sees some sense.

queenofthepirates Tue 04-Feb-14 20:07:28

Does she have to go to dance class every weekend?

balia Tue 04-Feb-14 20:45:36

DH gets this from his ex - she won't take DSS to activities when they fall on 'her' weekend. She sometimes does let DH take DSS to weeknight activities during 'her' weeks (eg in the holidays) but presumably feels that her weekend time is for her to make parenting decisions about.

TBH, though, we've generally found that most classes etc are very understanding about DC with separated parents not managing to attend every week and there was only one class he couldn't do at all; and in fairness he could have done that one during the week if it wasn't for the fact he was already doing a class in the week that he preferred. For everything else we found alternative weekday classes.

I'm sure he does stuff with his Mum he values just as much as the things he does with DH, even if it might not seem as exciting or important to us. Staying well away from that kind of value judgement has been very helpful in terms of keeping things calm in a very difficult separated parenting situation.

I would certainly suggest trying mediation before court (and TBH, having watched DH going through the process for YEARS, I seriously wouldn't be tempted to force him to go over a dance class) and maybe try a range of options/compromises? Can he logistically return her to school on a Monday if he works? Although no-one ever really knows what a judge would do, in DH's case, his ex was very firmly told that contact with a parent was more important than other activities eg parties etc. However, it was clear to the court and all the professionals involved that his ex was actively trying to block contact, so that might have influenced the judge.

If you have no joy with mediation then I think you might be better to apply to court yourself rather than withhold contact. Your ex could immediately apply for an interim order to reinstate contact as per the past 3 years and I think the action could be viewed quite dimly by Cafcass and ramp up the hostility which is, of course, far worse for DD than missing a dance class.

MinnieMoose2014 Tue 04-Feb-14 22:20:21

Mary I think three years of her asking shows she's serious about it. Plus she wants to perform in the show which is a massive thing considering her past anxiety issues. It's getting increasingly frustrating when she returns from contact not having done anything bar playing video games and sometimes hasn't even seen her dad besides on the journey, yet it's this that's stopping her from dancing. She can't do the show and exams if she doesn't attend every week.

Balia - I didn't say I'd withhold contact, I said I'd changetimes. The aamount of contact would be the same and he's logistically able to take her to school on a Monday but doesn't want to because he likes going tothe pub for a roast and a few pints on a Sunday hmm

MinnieMoose2014 Tue 04-Feb-14 22:23:42

What is the thread called please Monet? I can't seem to find it

Monetbyhimself Tue 04-Feb-14 22:43:34

About 9 threads down now -'activities on exs weekend'

MaryPoppinsCarpetBag Wed 05-Feb-14 13:30:59

Yes I agree she must be serious about it. I just wondered why now when not before.

I don't know, I'm always torn in these situations. Your ex should be putting your DD first of course, but I'm not sure it's worth a row about. I've spent years balancing putting my foot down with exH and realising it's not worth the hassle. The increased conflict between is has always been bad for the children so I try to avoid it as much as possible. We never argue in front of the children but they can always tell when we're not getting on.

PinkHardHat Wed 05-Feb-14 13:36:16

Lots of interesting replies there, thanks Monet. Seems to be a lot of conflicting experience and opinion. I agree Mary that conflict should be avoided but not to the point where dd suffers to appease her father. Never being able to pursue any hobbies or interests isn't fair on her imo.

Monetbyhimself Wed 05-Feb-14 15:30:00

What you are suggesting in terms of shifting contact is perfectly reasonable. Very soon she'll be the one deciding if and when she wants to see him. Perhaps at that point he'll realise that contact is not about him, it's about her. Good luck OP.

Frogbyanothername Wed 05-Feb-14 15:49:29

Never being able to pursue any hobbies or interests isn't fair on her imo.

I'm not sure how contact with her dad every 14/21 days translates to never being able to - presumably if the class was too expensive, required travel during school time or clashed with a siblings activity, you'd have no problem saying no, she couldn't go to this particular class?

Your DC is 6 years old - a long way off making decisions about contact for herself. She may well have her heart set on this, and been asking for 3 years; my DD asked for a pet manatee repeatedly for five years - doesn't mean she got one, though!

If you're going to change contact arrangements at least be honest about it - you want your DD to go to this class, and you're willing to risk conflict with your ex in order for her to do so. The reasons/justifications you've given so far are flimsy, and why do you need to validate your decision with a reason?

MaryPoppinsCarpetBag Wed 05-Feb-14 16:11:00

I wonder if it would seem so reasonable if the other parent decided to unilaterally move contact times.
I always tried to reverse the situation when facing this with my ex, it helps to look at it from all sides.

It doesn't really sound like the OP values the input from the father, rightly or wrongly, and this is undoubtedly colouring her decision. It also sounded like she had already made up her mind and just wanted validation.

TortillasAndChocolate Wed 05-Feb-14 16:26:08

I think some people are quite harsh and this surprises me. I think it's unreasonable that your ex won't take her to a dance class. Why should she miss out? It's not her fault her parents aren't together. Things like this annoy me because he isn't putting his daughter first (unless there is some really good reason which we don't know about).

If it was me I would change the contact arrangements and put it in writing explaining why.

It's a tricky situation. What I would say though is no two situations are the same so while people on here can give their opinion, ultimately you should trust your judgement and the fact you know your own circumstances.

It's so crappy - I think it's horrible that kids have to go through this. It's far from ideal for anybody.

Frogbyanothername Wed 05-Feb-14 16:32:59

tortillas Im not sure its reasonable for either parent to have to justify their decision to the other though.

if a NRP decides to sign their DC up for classes they have said that want to do, but it requires the RP to facilitate that as well, should the RP have to go along with it unless they can give a reason why not?

Surely, where there are two equal parents, both have the responsibility to say no to something they don't agree with regarding the DC, even if that is in disagreement with the other parent?

Frogbyanothername Wed 05-Feb-14 16:42:09

Why should she miss out? It's not her fault her parents aren't together

But why is it assumed that it is her parents being separated that has led to this decision on the part of the Dad?

If the OP and her ex were still together and the OP decided unilaterally that her DD would be going to dance class, but that it was her DDs Dad who would be responsible for taking her, don't you think that would be a bit unreasonable?
Couples agree things together - if one parent commits the time of another without consultation then it's quite likely that the DC will miss out then, too!

balia Wed 05-Feb-14 20:44:24

I think it is somewhat disingenuous to suggest that 'the amount of contact would be the same', though, given that most of the replacement time she would be asleep or on the way to school.

Perhaps legal advice would be helpful? The fact that there is no court order, as I understand it, does not give you the right to make unilateral changes to the contact. Technically you both have equal parental responsibility - would you think it reasonable if your ex decided he would change the contact without your consent because he decided that you should be doing something else with your DD?

Honestly, it is better for DC of separated parents to keep the conflict and anxiety down to a minimum. I understand your frustration, really I do, but issuing ultimatums really isn't going to help.

bibliomania Fri 07-Feb-14 13:02:11

Have you tried asking the dance class if she can attend 50% of the time? Like balia, I've found most classes accept this. I've just enrolled DD in a class on the understanding she'll come every second weekend and I'll pay 75% of the full fees. I take your point about she might possible miss a performance, but she has a 50:50 chance of making it, and there will be other opportunities.

Honestly, don't make this into a battleground.

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