Should I fear a custody challenge(18 Posts)
My ex and I have been separated for 4 months. A year ago he took a temporary job 200 miles away, coming home every weekend. Up until that point he'd been a very involved father.
I didn't see it at the time, but he was subtly manipulating me over a period of 5 years, so that everything he wanted he got. There were some very painful events (such as finding out impotence was actually a porn addiction being fulfilled on a regular basis in a locked bathroom - this went on for two years before I found out) which triggered some angry verbal outbursts from me.
Feeling dreadful about my behaviour towards him, I took myself off to therapy and I asked for a referral to community mental health. I did absolutely everything the cmht told me to do. I was able to stop the outbursts.
Over the period he was away with work, I started to find my self confidence grow, and I really enjoyed being it just me and our daughter.
However, when I went to spend the weekend with him three weeks before Christmas, he told me in a five minute conversation it was over as I was on my way out of his flat to drive 200 miles home and collect our daughter from his parents.
I was absolutely devasted. I left the car and took a train home. He refused to come home and tell our daughter, expecting me to wait a week. Two days later I told her.
He asked to have every other weekend with our daughter. I was shocked he wanted so little contact, and I repeatedly told him he could see more of her. I also told his parents that they could come and see her whenever they wanted. I bought her an ipod so that she could facetime him. I offered him the first Christmas. He declined.
The ipod backfired because he would only answer her calls at very specific times. She got upset and started saying she didn't want to talk to him. I tried explaining the problem to him, but instead he got angry with me because I wasn't making her talk to him.
This all became far too much, and one weekend whilst he had her, I was weighing up jumping off a motorway bridge. The next day I took her to school, went straight to the doctors and was immediately referred to the crisis team. They sent someone out to check on my daughter's welfare, and there were no concerns. Social services were made aware, but after talking to school and crisis team, they decided not to even visit.
3 months on and I am astonished at how much better I am. It is a nightmare co-parenting with him. He questions my judgement on everything. I've arranged for a play therapist to see my daughter. He even doesn't agree with that.
I'm starting to hear rumours he's planning to take full residential custody. I'd agree 50:50 with him if he were to move back this way, but he won't - he's decided to stay 200 miles away. Last weekend he told our daughter he's getting a house round the corner from a park. It's starting to look as though these rumours are true - in his weekends there isn't enough time to take her all the way to his, so it's puzzling as to why he's gone to the expense.
The other theory is he's so interested in appearing to be a good Dad, that even if she spends just 3 weeks a year in that house, it doesn't matter because he's still the guy that rents a house with a room for his daughter. This does fit with his other behaviour, but then so does going for custody.
How worried should I be?
It won't happen unless there are serious concerns about your parenting which it doesn't sound like there are (SS not getting involved).
Why have you arranged a play specialist?
I think 50/50 is becoming more common.
Not for people who live 200 miles away. You have done and are doing really well and sound a good parent. His chances are slim and he will do himself no favours citing your mental health as the reason he needs residence. The thing you have to be mindful of is not to let him trigger you. It was very abusive of him to end your relationship as you set off alone on a long drive home. He sounds like someone who will detonate bombs in your path and then when you react he might say 'oh look she's crazy'. He sounds devious and unpleasant. I'm glad you're rid of him. Well done for facing your own issues and seeking support.
Thank you everyone. Couple of you have asked why a play therapist. If you are 7 years old and your Dad suddenly leaves three weeks before Christmas and then Mum is so devastated she ends up the in scenario I describe above, even though I tried my best to insulate her, what was her Christmas was like?
There's also the stuff he's told her about faking his love for Mummy and other such gems. Last weekend he had her on his birthday, and she complained to me that he spent all day on his ipad and then took her to a social event that she was bored at. She wondered why I'd packed her off to him on her birthday . (It was because he asked to have her).
Plus try my best, but can you imagine the acting I have to pull when I say only nice things about him to her. She's a smart kid, she must know it's not quite what I really think.
On balance, she is coping brilliantly. But I have enough concerns about the situation to not leave her emotional wellbeing to chance.
Kitty biscuits, I am worried about the secret cameras you appear to have installed in my house . That's right on the money.
I think play therapy is a really good idea. Even if it was as happy a separation as one can imagine, it's still a huge loss for the child and play therapy can really help them process those emotions
I would ignore the rumours he is almost certainly fuelling them. Keep all your offers and organisation of contact in writing ( so you can show how reasonable you are). A play based counsellor really helped my DD at a similar age and school were very supportive of this - so I think this shows concern for how your DD is coping.
The whole phone / FaceTime thing I have been through, my take is he is the adult and should be making the calls etc. it is not a 7 year old's job to be chasing round after their dad making calls.
If ( and it is a very big if) he did choose to go to court he would have to prove that uprooting a 7 year old from a school where she is settled and has friends and moving her 200 miles to start again would be for her benefit. SS have no concerns so how would he justify this, because he thinks your 'mad'. Well you felt very unhappy recognised that you needed help immediately contacted the right people and got the help you needed - you would be criticised for getting a broken leg fixed and you won't be for getting a broken head fixed you did everything right.
From the sounds of things you are doing everything right. Though just to check you are doing all the travelling are you? He should be at least doing half and possibly more as he moved away.
" you would not be criticised for getting a broken leg fixed " is what should have been there.
Sorry about the cctv . Minimal contact is the way to go and yy to arrangements made in writing to there is documentation. Based on the special birthday he arranged for her do you think you might be accommodating his wishes too much in order to avoid conflict/court? Re his comments to your daughter, keep a diary and aim for a neutral responses such as 'oh well daddy says silly things sometimes'. He sounds very manipulative.
He does all the travelling and he is not supposed to take her up there unless for 5 consecutive nights because it's too much travelling for her. I let last weekend go because it was his birthday.
Just one snag with this distance thing. We live in the middle of nowhere. It's going to be really hard for me to get a suitable job, let alone a career where we live, and be there for her because of commuting times. It was never my choice to live there - this is what I mean about the manipulating. His family live nearby, but apart from threatening me with social services the one time I ask for support (crisis team wanted me to make them aware so that if the worst happened, daughter would have someone), I've not heard anything from them.
So when she finishes the school she's at, I'm moving. I'm really lucky because my family live in an area where there is a big concentration of potential employers. I'm a bit worried his argument will be that she's being uprooted anyway. However, by then I'll have had residency for 2 years. I'm hoping that this, plus the fact I'm going to be close to family she has a good relationship with, will weigh in my favour.
You have your head screwed firmly on your shoulders OP. Approx how far will the move be? Do you already visit and spend time there? Is it nearer to your FWex or further away?
Yes kitty biscuits, absolutely I do accommodate him too much. Too used to being bullied. I don't know why, but I'm scared of him. He's never given me a reason to be.
Anyway, he didn't ask if he could take her up there last weekend, or even let me know.
It's just under 70 miles from where we live now and an extra 15 minutes on the journey for him compared with now. The problem it presents is he has nowhere to stay here (well he does, my Mum would accommodate him). So he's complaining he'll only be able to see her once a month. I'm kinda "well, isn't it a shame you decided to be a fuckstick then" but I know that kind of statement won't be used by my solicitor.
As I write this, I'm in my Mum's house. She's telling me to get off my phone and get dressed. I'm over 30 ffs!!
Lol. Just tell your Mum 'In a minute'. If he moves 200 miles away he can't really complain at your move adding 15 minutes to his journey time so that you can support yourself and your daughter and be nearer to family. You might not feel like it now, but he has doneyou a massive favour. Time to start firming up your boundaries with him
Oh, I'm a about to tell her I am having breakfast in my PJS. So there!!
He certainly has. Knobweasle.
Thank you Kitty biscuits
I think you have nothing to worry about custody... However I think in cases like this you really have to limit communication with him.. She is 7 so unless anything really important she can update her dad herself..
Do not discuss anything about yourself.. It is none of his business...
I also wonder if you are letting him have her any time he wants for an easy life..You have a right to plan a life with her too.
It's probably not rocket science to work out that negotiation isn't your ex's strong point. His expectations need Managing.
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