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What is reasonable access for a non-resident parent?

(7 Posts)
housemartin Fri 05-Oct-07 20:33:17

My ex, DD1's father, moved out when she was three. We have had a fairly amicable relationship and he used to come round several nights a week after work to have tea with us, as well as have her half the weekend. She's now 8, and he has her every Saturday night and Sunday daytime, and one evening/night in the week, He now wants to renegotiate the arrangements and I am coming under a lot of pressure to make a new agreement where he has her for one or two more nights per week. When we separated we agreed that she would live with me. Obviously this isn't set in stone, and I want to give him a reasonable amount of access, but I also want her to still live mainly with me, and I feel that more nights at his would be almost half and half, or even more time at his. What do other people do?

ChantillyLace Fri 05-Oct-07 20:45:04

Our arrangement to begin with was one evening a week at his and every other weekend but he had open access so he knew if there was something in particular he wanted to take them to, as long as he gave me at least a day's notice, it was fine. As the kids got older we changed the arrangements to one week at his and one week at mine. I have always been the main carer but we spoke to the girls about it and it was what they wanted. There was always an unsaid agreement that if one or both wanted to drop a night that was fine, we always told them that whatever made them happy would make us happy.

Why are you so worried about her spending more time with him? Is there someone else in his life that she would have contact with? Is that what worries you?

housemartin Fri 05-Oct-07 21:02:56

Hi Chantilly,

Good question! I am happy for her to spend time with him and his new partner (who I get on with better than I do with him at the mo!)

Lots of reasons, probably most of them selfish (hence the question). Firstly I would miss her terribly, and so would her younger sister.

Secondly, when he wanted to move out, I wanted to try to go to counselling and see if we could make things work, and he didn't want to. In a way, part of the deal of him moving out was that she would stay with me. He refused to work part-time so that we could share childcare, and my work has been so difficult to do part-time, especially with no chance of help when the child care fell through that I have finally handed in my resignation this week, the end of an 8 year professional low. He's not horrible, but he can be quite bullish, and any ground I give up now will be very hard to retract. (I think my daughter would rather spend more time with me, but she feels bad choosing in spite of our constant reassurances.)

housemartin Fri 05-Oct-07 21:04:30

PS. How old were your girls when they started doing the 1 week at one, and one at the other?

ChantillyLace Fri 05-Oct-07 21:30:27

I think the most difficult thing is working out just what it is that the kids really want! Mine were always worried about upsetting us if they said they'd rather be at one than the other. When we first started the week on - week off arrangement they were 10 and 12. Possibly it was easier for them cos they had each other - I take it dd2 is not his then? Makes it harder choice for dd1, not only is she going to miss mum then she has to deal with missing little sis too! Does she get on with his new partner? Is there any jealousy on the woman's part? I know my ex husband's partner resented my girls and that never changed so as the girls got older they saw him less and less. He now just takes them out for meals as they're much older but he did use to take them on foreign holidays but new partner never went.

At 8 your daughter is old enough to be asked, perhaps all 3 of you should sit together and discuss it. If you ask her she'll say she wants to stay with you and if just he asks she might say she's happy to see him more so as not to hurt his feelings.

She needs to know, and see, that you both want what's best for her and it really is ok to choose.

Babbled a bit there, hope that makes sense.

And I must say fair play to you for keeping it amicable! I've seen so many kids suffer with theie parents at each others' throats even after they've split.

I'll shut up now!grin

housemartin Fri 05-Oct-07 21:46:48

Thank you for that. I think at some point at the future I am anticipating that she may spend longer stretches of time with him, or even move in with him completely when she's a teenager. She may be old enough to decide what she wants, but sometimes I think she is more comfortable with being told - we have had lots of tears when she's been at his, decided she wanted to come back, he's brought her back and she's still very unhappy. That also causes a bit of strain for him and me as although we get along we can't do much wrangling over arrangements without falling out (Hence the desire to set a plan up.)

Good advice though, so thanks again Maybe when she's 10 I'll be more up for a half and half arrangement.

ChantillyLace Fri 05-Oct-07 21:55:38

Good luck to all of you.

It is hard and kids do tend to miss mummy more at that age. So she'll want to be with him but hate being away from you.

It will get easier for all of you. DD2 was always in tears cos she thought wherever she chose to be was hurting the other parent.

One day she will realise it's ok that she loves mum AND dad and that it doesn't hurt you (even if it does a little when she's away!) when she stays with him.

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