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Worrying about contact arrangements if (when) I split with P.(8 Posts)
I would love some help and perspectives on what would be reasonable in terms of contact for my P and DS if (or more probably when) we split up.
Some background: I'm gathering my strength to end our 10 year relationship. P has a horribly selfish streak which has eaten away at our relationship for years. I haven't had the strength to end things before, but I think I am going to be able to do it very soon.
The nitty gritty if how his contact with DS should work is worrying me hugely. I think if I can get a better grasp of how it ought to work I will be another step closer to freeing myself.
I own our home and work 3 or 4 days per week. I can manage (just) financially without P. He is a loving, fun, good Dad but leaves responsibility for everything to me. He is a sportsman, in a nutshell he has persued a dream for years which brings in almost no money and takes up an enormous amount of time.
I know contact arrangements absolutely have to take P and DS' needs into account and I know it is vital that I facilitate a healthy relationship between the via contact. However if I am to free myself from the selfish man-child, I will need to stand firm and insist on reasonable arrangements that are not all about him.
He 'works' 6 days a week, but takes days off when it suits him. He plays in competitions which can be on any weekday. He earns the bulk of his money (not much see upthread), on Saturdays when he finishes at 7.30pm. He often takes Sundays off (and spends it with his mates more than with his family). He collects DS from school once a week, unless a competition falls on that day. My mum collects DS twice a week, I do the rest.
So, how might contact arrangements work for us? I doubt he would or could give up Saturday's, so would DS need to see him every Sunday- meaning we don't ever get a full weekend together? I've I feeling he might request every other weekend, but that DS would spend Saturday and Saturday night with P's parents- I really don't like the idea of this, I have no concerns about his GPs but would rather he is with me that palmed off onto GPs every Saturday- is this reasonable of me?
I would think once (if) P finds somewhere to live, he might also have DS on one school night. But I expect he would want to make that day flexible to accommodate the changing dates of his competitions. How flexible should I be about this?
He refuses to take even a long weekend off for holidays in the summer, do I font think holiday arrangements would be much if dn issue- it will probably all fall to md which is fine.
I'm sorry this is to long, I'm aware that my post reads in quite a cold way- I'm not cold or calculating, I'm just trying to keep hold of my strength and explore the whole contact thing to try and take some if the fear out of it.
All thoughts would be very gratefully received.....
The contact arrangements should work to suit you primarily. You will be the resident parent with principle responsibility for care and therefore your schedule is the most important. Never mind that he won't give up Saturdays, long weekends or whatever selfish constraints he puts on it. Don't take that into account. If he wants a relationship with his DS, like every other responsible parent, he has to make sacrifices and put himself out a little.
I'd strongly recommend you talk to a solicitor. If he's as selfish as you describe you need someone who isn't prepared to indulge him and won't take any crap. With respect, you're far too close to the problem and far too keen to do what he wants to look at it objectively. You will also need the finished contact arrangements documented and agreed legally because he sounds the type to mess you around if things don't suit him. Inconsistency is very bad for children and therefore unacceptable.
So get legal advice and good luck
So sorry to hear about the (impending) end of your relationship. My STBXH is a workaholic AND a selfish man-child so I related to part of your situation. He used to head off at 7.30am for work and hardly got back for the kids' bedtime. He moved out early April and it was tricky the first month while he sorted out his work situation. I was very accommodating as even though the split was not what I wanted, I was determined to put my boys first. I did have to put my foot down early on once when it was his turn to have the boys and it was meant to be their first full weekend together and he emailed me to tell me he needed me to 'babysit' for a few hours on Sat (due to work) and also he was going to drop them off back to me early Sun to go to football with his dad. I was very upset for my boys and in tears and I sent him an email that stated how upset I was for the boys but that I would rather look after the kids than them being dropped off nilly willy if football/work took priority over his own kids.
Anyway, we did manage to sort things out in the end. He now has them every Wed/Thurs (funny he couldn't even dropped them to school but now he can so don't be surprised if your DH pulls it out of the bag when he actually has to make the effort to see DS...) and EOW. The holidays are not as equal, he will maybe have them 1/5 of the time but I made it clear that if that was going to be the case, then I will have to keep my current job with the flexibility it offers and not go looking for a better paid job, so he will have to make sure I have enough money to do so (I told him it's either he pays a CM to look after the DSs in the holidays when he is meant to have them or 'pay' me basically).
The only issue I would have with your contact plan is that you might end with days when your DH will have your DS all over the place and that makes it incredibly hard to plan things especially when school/play dates/homework comes into play. I know it really helps my DSs to know that they will daddy every Wednesday and when they ask if they are seeing Daddy this weekend, it's easy for me to say, no not this weekend but the next one. They can understand that quite easily.
I don't think it's such a bad thing your DS gets palmed off to his grandparents if it means he will get to see Daddy and build a relationship with his grandparents and that most importantly, you trust them to look after DS. My (ex)in-laws are now having to make more of an effort to see my boys and have them over to stay, which I think has been a great 'side effect' of the separation as in the past, they just weren't that bothered before. It's almost like a wake up call to them that if they don't make the effort, they might actually 'lose' their only GCs.
It's very hard but you will need to let your DS go in some ways... I find the thought of my DSs spending time without me and having fun very difficult at times as this wasn't a path I chose BUT on the weekends STBXH has them, I meet up with my friends and go out and generally do a 'no contact' policy so I don't make this any worse for them or me. It really helps at times like that to think 'What is best for my DSs?'
Also, it is up to your DH when you separate to build that relationship with your DS. You should do everything you can to facilitate that (within reason of course!). But if he chooses NOT to spend what you think is appropriate enough time with your DS etc, you cannot force him too either. I also know of a single parent situation where Dad has DC every Friday-Sat and mum has her Sat-Sun and it seems to work for them so it's something that is personal and up to you to work out... I find the EOW arrangement much better for us. Best of luck!
When they have been living together as a family unless the relationship had been abusive, the dad will get overnight contact alternative weekends christmases etc.
Thank you all for your advice and for sharing your own experiences.
I can see that I'm going to need professional advice. I just want to feel confident that I have a clear idea of what is, and isn't reasonable e.g. I struggle to think it would be ok for P to leave DS with his parents every other Saturday day and night, my feelings are that if he wants DS every other weekend he should be with him, not working- but I see that I'm probably not being reasonable....
Well there is not necessarily any harm in the kids being at GPs every other saturday. I'm not sure that is a particularly valid objection. Plenty of children spend lots of time at their GPs for various reasons. Of course the GPs may not want to have the kids two saturdays a month.
That said it should be up to both parents to make what adjustments they can to their own lives. From what you say it won't occur to him to alter his lifestyle to live up to the responsibility of looking after his kids 50/50 say.
It should not be up to you to have to chop and change every single week to accommodate his sporting life.
But while the kids are in your care it is your decision whether to stay in with them or get someone in to babysit if you want to go out or go to work, and that works for him also.
If he worked shifts as a paramedic that were changeable it would come down to you being flexible in how you split time or him making childcare arrangements as he saw fit during his 'timeslots'. (as long as there were not concerns over the safety of the kids).
It's a challenge finding a routine that works for all. I don't envy you. Good luck.
Tbh, I'd personally just offer EOW, a SET midweek overnight (consistency is key to making it easier for DC's), and half of all school holidays, with birthdays to be split and Christmases to be alternated.
If he cannot see them on his set midweek overnight, then that is HIS choice. Especially if he is prioritising a bloody hobby over his DC's...
So if you set Wednesday as his midweek overnight, and he has a competition one Wednesday, then he has to choose between his hobby or his contact. If he chooses his hobby, there shouldn't be any swapping around. It would be HIS choice to prioritise his hobby, HIS choice to miss out on that contact.
Would you put a hobby above seeing your DC's if you were in his position? No? That's because it's not what a responsible parent who wants to see their DC's does!
(Work is different, mind you).
Don't offer every Sunday - it soon becomes VERY restricting. EOW, and if he chooses to leave your DS with the GP's, ok it's not nice for you, as you could easily be looking after him, but it WILL be good for your DS - he would be guaranteed two days a month where he would see his GP's.
That one I think you will have to 'suck up' for the sake of not tying yourself to never having a whole weekend with your DS. When he's at school all week, you are going to want a whole weekend EOW.
And it WILL benefit your DS.
Holidays? Well, offer half, set weeks, at first I did it half of each week, then every other week, then we decided it was better for us when DS1 got older to have two weeks with one, two weeks with the other, one week with the first, then the last week with the second.
Don't forget to sort out about any special occasions - Mother's Day, Father's Day, Easter and Halloween often get forgotten about, but CAN be put into a court order. I found that having it in the court order that if Mother's Day fell on 'his' weekend, he was to be brought back to me at 9am helped, and we added the same in reverse about Father's Day.
I also had it put in there about alternating Halloween and Easters!
(Cover every base, I knew my Ex too well!!)
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