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Newly seperated mother with two children - any advice on custody and visit arrangements would be greatly appreciated.

(9 Posts)
Alifroggy Sat 27-Jun-09 13:51:42

I separated from my husband 4 weeks ago.
I have two boys aged 7 and 4.
My husband wants to be as involved and see as much of the children as possible (which I am very pleased with for the sake of the boys.)
So far he has had them 2 or 3 days/nights a week and including the last 3 weekends in a row (due to already arranged engagements like a christening)
I have always said to him I will never deny him access to the children and am happy to go nearly half and half (pref a little bit longer with me as mine is their main home)
I have made it clear to him that I am not dealing with all the school and discipline of the week for him to have them at the weekend for jollies, and he agrees with this.
He suggested yesterday that we have them half the week each, so thurs-wed one week with him and then the next week with me, so we would also get alternate weekends.
The thought of this terrifies me and I said no. I can't stand the thought of going 6/7 days without seeing my children and would prefer to do it a few days at a time.
Am I being unreasonable? I will alow him pretty much 50/50, but I'm just not happy with it being in week long chunks.

I would really like to know where I stand having just seperated, and if anyone could advise me on my rights I would really appreciate it.

1, As we have separated, do I automatically get custody and residential rights of the children as the mother?

2, Without going to court, what access do I legally have to give my husband to the children?

I just don't know where I stand with all of this, any help, pretty please with a cherry on top.

mamas12 Sat 27-Jun-09 14:01:35

It is trickey I know all I can tell is what I and anyone else have in place.
There is no one set time line that fits all families to incorporate different ages.

So mine go to him two weekends in a row and I have the third.
He has them two halfterms out of three and half the holdays

The weekend thing is not ideal atm as I need to buy clothes for them (he won't) so I need to negotiate that but that's how it goes with us
I may also add that I have kept it organic inasmuch as if something comes up with him or me we swap

You need to do what you can do now and then change it gradually in the future.

lostdad Sat 27-Jun-09 20:17:03

Without being funny is `giving' and `allowing' access the right qay of looking at it?

They are both of your children. It would be the same if your ex told you what he would `give' or `allow' you - you'd quite rightly be distinctly unimpressed.

Just because you're not together doesn't mean one of you `gets the kids'. They have a right to two parents.

I'm not trying to sound harsh here as you're doing the right thing - but please don't get into the above mindset, because the road to hell is most definitely paved with good intentions.

If you need structured discussion, go to mediation. Google National Family Mediation. Disputes over children the most common and the most nasty. Mediation will allow common ground to be found between your and ex. There'll be hiccups at first, but you and your ex will be able to work together, trust together and give your boys the childhood they are entitled to.

Good luck.

Hassled Sat 27-Jun-09 20:26:33

I can't help re the legalities - but I do know it would be easier and cheaper if you could agree this with your ex outside of the courts.

I think you're right re the week long chunks - and it will work both ways; the children will miss both you and their Dad over a week long period. It will be hardest on the kids, and this is maybe the point you need to be making to your Ex. A week is a long time to go without either parent.

The arrangement I had with Ex re my oldest DCs was that he had them Sunday, Mon and Tues nights. I picked them up from after-school club Wed and had them until the Sunday morning. I missed them like hell at the start of the week, but we did all get into a routine. Eventually I went to PT work, and had them after school everyday, and ex would collect on the way back from work on "his" nights.

As they got older, the children went between the 2 homes pretty much as they wanted - but even now (22 and 20) they tend to stick to Dad Nights and Mum Nights when they're around. Good luck with it all.

nooka Sat 27-Jun-09 20:48:42

We did part weeks, so dh had Sat night - Wed morning (ie he took them to school) and I had Wed afternoon - Sat evening, the alternate week we swapped on Sunday morning instead, to keep things even. It worked pretty well for us, gave regularity to the children, and meant that after school activities etc could be arranged by one parent without being a hassle for the other one . Also it was easier for work, as we both played with our hours to work long hour when we didn't have the children and short ones when we did. So they had some benefit too. We also stayed living very close by, which I think is essential for this sort of arrangement to work.

On a legal front, the presumption is that the children will make their main home with the parent that is the primary carer (mum or dad). How much time they spend with each parent is not subject to any legal format, but would be decided on a case by case basis depending on what was felt best for the children by the court. Without going to court there is no legal involvement at all - you only need to go to court if one of you is unhappy about arrangements, and negotiations fail. You can if you choose get a separation agreement drawn up by a lawyer, but again there is no requirement to do so, and whilst you may wish to, I think that most people's experiences are that unless you both think it is a good idea legal involvement is quite contentious and stressful.

If you and your dh still get on OK I would sit down with him and draw up a schedule that you are both happy with, and you think will work for your children. The more regularity there is the happier your children are likely to be, and the easier your life too - predictability is really helpful I think.

Alifroggy Sat 27-Jun-09 20:52:59

Thanks guys, I appreciate what your saying. It is just so hard to get used to.

Lostdad, have just read back through my post. I totally get your point, I guess it's just really hard not to get posessive of the children as we are both so used to seeing them everyday. If I were to be totally honest my ideal would be for their dad to have them 1 or 2 nights a week. But I understand this isn't fair, as their dad wants to see them as much as possible. I keep saying to myself that I have to think how he feels, and put myself in his shoes, and if I were to only get them 1 or 2 nights a week I would be devastated, hence we are going to do pretty much 50/50. Just not sure what the best way to do this is.

I have never ever thought about what would happen if we split up, I guess you never think it will happen to you! Until it does.

However I strongly believe that we will all be happier, mum, dad and children when we get used to it.

Took me a long time to realise that it really isn't the right thing to stay together for the kids - in the end it doesn't make anyone happy!

ElenorRigby Sat 27-Jun-09 21:21:25

DSD used to love spending more or less a week with each parent (6 nights with her dad, 8 with her mum) it worked really well for her, she was very settled and enjoyed spending a long time dad and a long time with dad. She was 3 1/2 at the time.
IME in that type of arrangement the children and parents get both the fun and routine times.

BonsoirAnna Sat 27-Jun-09 21:24:41

I think that a week at a time is too long for your 4 year old to be away from you, and probably too long for your 7 year old to be away from you.

My DSSs (14 and 11) spend every other weekend (Friday after school to Monday morning) with us, and every Tuesday and Wednesday night. They spent alternate weekends with their mother, and every Monday and Thursday night. School holidays have usually been split in two, down the middle, but that is now evolving as they grow older - for example, they are going to spend all the Christmas holidays this year with their mother (and go to the US) and all the Easter holidays with us.

lostdad Mon 29-Jun-09 07:59:46

This situation is the hardest one you'll experience Alifroggy and the most important (but you already know that). You're right, being possessive is natural and any parents wants to be with the kids as much as possible - and as you say, it's something you don't give any thought to because it is, at the end of the day, unthinkable.

Like you say...until it happens.

You've got challenges to overcome, true. But there is no reason why your ex and you shouldn't be allies in raising your children. Afterall - you share common cause when it comes to doing the best for them, even if you differ on how to do things.

As it's something people never give thought to do this, achieving the above takes a lot of effort, thought and patience. A good way to go about things may be to call Families Need Fathers to start with. Ignore the name - it's a parenting organisation and doesn't involve blokes strapping themselves to bridges dressed as superheroes. It works with the government, court system, CAFCASS, other charities, etc. to enable children to have a good relationship with both parents even if they have parted. They will be able to give good practical advice - things to do, things not to do. They'll help you avoid the pitfalls and the slippery slopes that involve things like long, protracted court battles (in which everyone is a loser).

You and/or ex calling them could help out a good deal. There's no reason why your children cannot enjoy the benefit of two good, committed parents.

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