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Handling interaction with DS' father

(19 Posts)
LittleMissB83 Wed 13-Jun-18 14:17:04

I have a DS who is almost 16 weeks old. He was conceived accidentally due to a drunken evening and a misguided use of the withdrawal method - anyway. I was delighted as I wanted a baby. I wasn't in a serious relationship with his father and it wouldn't have mattered anyway as I was always going to continue with the pregnancy. When I was 20 weeks pregnant, DS' father decided he didn't want anything to do with either of us, and I didn't hear from him again. During the rest of the (difficult) pregnancy, I had family support. Once DS was born, I made contact with his father to let him know. Contact was patchy until I went to CMS when DS was around 8-10 weeks old.

After CMS had sent their initial letter to DS' father, he asked to come and see him so we met up twice with him. I found him very exasperating and didn't enjoy having him around but tolerated it for DS' benefit. However it didn't escape my notice that, whilst he was quite good with DS, his father was flaky with timings, and made no effort to offer any financial support (if anything he asked me to pay for things eg lunch). He has never offered me any money or bought anything for DS.

DS' father's general approach is that he cannot be sure that DS is his son, although he is as clear as me about the circumstances of conception. He wants a DNA test which obviously the CMS will arrange. But this all takes time, and I only have 2-3 months of fully paid maternity leave left, then will be on statutory pay. His decision to draw the process out will therefore leave me out of pocket. So I have gone back to him and said that, if he wishes to see his son in the interim period, he must pay me a minimal amount (eg £50-100 pcm) to help with expenses, to be deducted from the maintenance arrears. If he doesn't then the visits will stop. I don't enjoy his company and it is an inconvenience to me to arrange these visits when DS and I are getting nothing.

Does this seem fair?

NorthernSpirit Wed 13-Jun-18 15:16:56

Child maintenance and contact are completely separate. Children are not pay per view.

If this goes down formal legal routes it will be very frowned upon. I would withdraw your threat.

LittleMissB83 Wed 13-Jun-18 15:19:05

NorthernSpirit, does this stand in circumstances where he is denying parentage anyway? He is not on the birth certificate.

Aprilshouldhavebeenmyname Wed 13-Jun-18 15:20:31

If you are sure ds gets nothing from seeing him then stop.
Your mh is more important to you ds than a ff (flakey fuckwit) who won't even acknowledge his own dc.
Let him take you to court if he chooses, but continue with cms claim.. Don't threaten him as you lose credibility yourself by doing so.

sue51 Wed 13-Jun-18 15:34:00

As has often been said, children are not pay to view so YABU. As your baby was conceived after a ons, I dont think it unreasonable for the father to request a dna test. It would be the decent thing for him to contribute financially before cms arranged things but sadly fathers are not compelled to do this. You seem very cold towards the father, as you are going to be in each other's lives for the next 18 years a bit of tolerance might be necessary.

LittleMissB83 Wed 13-Jun-18 15:35:26

Sue51, you are assuming it was a ONS, which is incorrect.

sue51 Wed 13-Jun-18 15:38:53

I'm sorry I saw drunken evening and jumped to the wrong conclusion. I apologise for my mistake.

LittleMissB83 Wed 13-Jun-18 15:46:09

I understand- it was the lack of contraception that was the mistake.

sue51 Wed 13-Jun-18 15:54:33

I do think that men in this situation should take an equal share of the hit for costs incurred due to pregnancy, loss of earnings and baby essentials. Sadly there is nothing to compell them to in law. Maybe write to your MP and start a campaign to address what I see as an injustice to women. It pisses me off that child maintenance doesn't start the day the baby is born.

LittleMissB83 Wed 13-Jun-18 16:04:29

I did post on here to get feedback because it is (understandably) not always easy for me to view this situation neutrally. From just the few responses so far I can see that perhaps I am on the wrong side of the law and it would be wise to seek some advice before taking this any further.

LittleMissB83 Wed 13-Jun-18 16:05:42

Sue51, I couldn't agree more! I went into this with my eyes wide open that I would be parenting alone, but he should pay his way. It aggravates me that he can behave so inconsistently and not be liable to pay maintenance for so many months when there are so many costs incurred in raising a child.

Bluntly, no it is not fair. That is outrageous. Children are not pay per view. If this goes to court, you will (rightly) be crucified for demanding payment in return for access.

You say that you don't enjoy the dad's company, and arranging contact is an inconvenience. Doesn't matter. The contact isn't for your benefit - it's for your son's. You don't have to like each other, but you will have to learn that you have a responsibility to support your child's relationship with his father.

Given the circumstances of the pregnancy, it is legitimate for the father to want assurances that the child is his. And it is understandable that he is cautious about his involvement before he has that assurance. However, he's not exactly covering himself in glory either, with his earlier decision to distance himself from the child, and not offering even limited support in the interim.

So there is a challenge for both of you here. You both made a decision to have unprotected sex. You decided to have the baby. That child has two parents, and the child has a right to a relationship with both of you. So now is the time for you both to put the child's welfare ahead of what is convenient or enjoyable for you. It's time to be a grown up.

That starts with a serious discussion about how you will make co-parenting work. Recognise that dad may not want to commit large sums of money until he knows the child is his. But talk to him about any urgent areas of spending or specific items where you need help now, with that money to be set against arrears of maintenance when they are awarded. You might even offer to repay the money if tests show that the child isn't his - since you are confident that it is, there's no risk for you here.

Start building the relationship between the child and his father, but recognise that dad may hold back a little until he knows the child is his. Never, ever make access conditional upon money. Recognise that this man is going to play a major role in the life of the child. Start building a constructive relationship with him, where you put your child first and can work together in the child's best interests.

Louw12345 Wed 13-Jun-18 16:10:28

I would try and find a way to cope without the money for now as cms is a strestful process in its own right.

When the DNA test confirms the child is he he will have to pay from birth anyway so it will be back dated.

It doesn't help you now but you will find a way to cope. Also if there is fa mile yours or his that can help with pick up and drops offs so you don't need to spend time together that would be good.

sue51 Wed 13-Jun-18 16:13:23

Lou . Cm payments are not from birth but from the date the cms contact the father.

LittleMissB83 Wed 13-Jun-18 16:20:31

SMSD, just two questions:-

1) why would you assume that it is to my son's benefit to see his father? I am not making a general comment about men in general but this is a man who is erratic, narcissistic and demonstrated no interest in seeing his son whatsoever until the CMS came knocking, although he was aware of the pregnancy since July 2017.

2) what exactly about the conception do you see which makes it reasonable to challenge parentage? That two adults had (essentially) unprotected sex? Or are you trying to make some other suggestion (which I think is entirely unacceptable on the basis of what I have said).

Personally I am not sure that what I have suggested is actually meaningfully different from what you have (requesting some money for specific expenses), but I do think that your reply says more about the axe that you have to grind than about my situation.

NorthernSpirit Wed 13-Jun-18 16:35:52

Children have a right to a relationship with both parents. You might not like it, but it’s their right.

@SlightlyMisplaced has given you very good advice.

Why should YOU assume it’s not YOUR (?) you mean it’s not OUR sons benefit to see his father.

You will be absolutely crucified if this goes to court and you withhold access because of money. You are threatening that the child can only be seen if money is paid. It’s not legal.

I can totally understand why the father wants a DNA test. It’s a really disgusting thing to do to say you can not see a child unless you pay. I wounder how you would feel if the shoe was on the other foot?

Get the DNA test to prove he’s the father and go through the CMS.

@LittleMissB83 I'm sorry if my comments about the paternity test offended you. I'm going off your original post, in which you said that the pregnancy was unplanned, and you were not in a serious relationship with the dad. That's all I have to go off when commenting, and I suspect there would be plenty of people who would want assurance that a child was theirs if conceived outside a committed, serious relationship. Only you and he know what that relationship looks like in practice - I'm just offering you a perspective based on the way you described the relationship, and encouraging you to put yourself in the shoes of the father here. It is clear that you are 100% confident of parentage, but it is also clear that he is not, given his request for a paternity test. The best advice I can give you here is to recognise his need for that reassurance, and that he may be cautious about forming too close a bond or committing large sums of money until he is also 100% certain of parentage. None of which excuses his running away part way through the pregnancy, which is not the act of a decent man.

Your question about why I would assume that the involvement of a Dad is beneficial is an important one. There is a wealth of scientific evidence that children with involved fathers have better life chances. Generally, they:

- are less likely to live in poverty
- perform better in school
- have higher levels of self-confidence, and lower rates of anxiety
- are less likely to offend or spend time in prison
- are less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol
- are less likely to be sexually active as teenagers

If you need convincing, you may want to try googling social research providing scientific evidence of the impact upon children of paternal involvement. There are some really good, scientifically robust studies out there.

Given all of that evidence, the default assumption should always be that having an involved father is in a child's best interests. That's why family courts go to great lengths to ensure that fathers are given the opportunity to be involved, and it is why they take a very strong line with mothers who attempt to cut the father out of the child's life, or who use the child as a financial bargaining chip.

Of course, there can be individual factors that mean some individuals do not have those positive effects on their children, or who can be actively harmful to the child's wellbeing. Abusive fathers buck the rule - it can be in the child's best interests to not have involvement. You describe the father as narcissistic and erratic, but none of us know the specifics. A family court would start from the same basic assumption that I have - that the involvement of a father is a positive thing, unless there is a very compelling reason and evidence as to why he shouldn't be involved.

You say I'm not suggesting something different to you.I would argue that I'm suggesting something very different - a massive shift in the way you look on the father, and therefore the way you engage with him. Everything you said was about you - how you didn't enjoy spending time with him, and how it was inconvenient for you to arrange contact. I'm urging you to set that aside, and focus on the best interests of your child instead. That would change your whole mindset, and the whole tone of your engagement with the father. And I'm saying he needs to put the child's interests first as well - it's about both of you coming at this with the right attitude.

That advice is not about any axe that I have to grind - it comes from a hard-won perspective of always approaching disputes with the mother of my children from the perspective of their best interests. Not hers, and not mine. If you ask for advice on here, you have the benefit of listening to people who have been through that difficult journey and come out the other side. It is up to you whether or not you heed any of that advice.

sue51 Wed 13-Jun-18 17:53:15

What SMSD said is true. That does not detract from the fact that instead of helping with a fair share of cost, the Father expects Little miss to pay for the costs (lunches, whatever) at a time when her finances are stretched to the limit. Pregnancy and the first few weeks of a baby's life are costly, there should surely be an interim payment set down by law before contact and regular maintenance are established. Contact is good for most children, so is eating and maintaining a roof over their head.

Starlight345 Wed 13-Jun-18 19:43:27

The fact you don’t enjoy contact is not the point . Whether he believes he is the dad or not . He is liable for costs if he is the dad. ( I am not assuming he isn’t)

You will be building up areas.

Contact is beneficial . He gets to know his child .

The other side you don’t have to pay for anything for him . Not his lunch a drink.

If this man has no real interest in your Ds it won’t last long however you do say he was good with Ds so maybe he will be.

Been a good dad and a good partner are not the same thing

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