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Contact with alcoholic ( recovering) ex

(9 Posts)
Llareggub Thu 22-Aug-13 11:57:43

My exH and I live 150 miles apart and have 2 DCs. He is an alcoholic and has just completed his third residential rehab. He currently lives with his parents, with whom our DCs have a wonderful relationship.

I made the choice to move here to be closer to my family and the move has been good for me and the DCs. It also allows me to be financially self-sufficient.

ExH is talking about moving into a flat for recovering addicts. I assume it is some sort of supported living arrangement. I do not want the DCs in this environment.

Up until now our DCs have spent half terms and half of the summer hold staying with ex PILs. I trust them and would prefer this arrangement to continue for the foreseeable future. If ex requires supported living I cannot see that he will be able to care for 2 demanding boys.

We have nothing legal agreed and I'd like a reasonable plan in place to propose as I intend to proceed with our divorce. Whilst I get he is their father I want to limit unsupervised contact. Does this sound reasonable? He has attempted suicide a few times but I have no idea of his MH currently or whether he is drinking.

I definitely want the boys to have contact with ex pils.

Llareggub Thu 22-Aug-13 14:40:10


calmingtea Thu 22-Aug-13 14:54:41

I think it is fair for you to insist while his recovery is still so much in its infancy, that he sees the children at his parents house, supervised by them.

If you were to talk to a lawyer about it, I suspect that given all the things you state: 3 rehabs, suicide, halfway house, that the law would support you in this decision.

You say he has done 3 rehabs - do you mean a stint in primary, then secondary and he is moving on to tertiary care? Or he relapsed and went back into primary residential three times.

The problem for you as a parent, is you want and need to keep your children safe, and for him as an addict in recovery - he will be trying not to drink for today. You never have guarantees about relapse.

As part of my divorce, I moved away from my (functional alcoholic) xh (actually he moved first, I just relocated in the opposite direction), so he does not have weekly contact other than frequent phone contact. However, I stipulated in the application for the nisi that he see his children at his parents' house (currently where he lives which is in my advantage as currently he has no alternative).

I know many recovering addicts. When sober they are all truly wonderful lovely people. But. Relapse is a problem. I would personally say that once your STBXH has been in proper recovery and fully functioning in the real world, then is a better time for him to be having the children at home on his own. But that is a long way away. A year or two even.

calmingtea Thu 22-Aug-13 14:58:24

btw, has he told you he wants to have the children on his own? Or are you pre-empting? He might find it too hard, as surely he should be focusing on his recovery and going along to AA on a near daily, if not twice daily, basis if he is serious about it? (assuming he is following a 12 steps programme, which I think most rehabs do, and from what I know other people do to stay sober).

Llareggub Thu 22-Aug-13 15:12:28

He has admitted to alcoholism for nearly 7 years now. Initially he stopped for 3 years then relapsed massively. The last 4 years have been a neverending cycle of drinking, rehab, ODs and disaster. I have no idea what stage he is at now. This last rehab was 6 weeks and he is working with a support worker and AA.

I think I am pre-empting. He has a habit of running before he can walk and he has not shown much ability to put the best interests of our children first.

I am sorry you have been through this too. I do hope he recovers but it has been such a difficult time I don't have much hope.

calmingtea Thu 22-Aug-13 15:28:41

I think you just have to following your gut feelings on this and insist that he doesn't have your children on his own no matter what. I can't see it should be a problem legally, and his parents are likely to support you. You have such good grounds. If he stays sober for a significant length of time, then re-evaluate. But from what you say it is all part and parcel of your x's cycle. It sounds like your x has just done primary care if it was only 6 weeks, so it is not long to then be out in the real world where all his triggers are. And from the people I know that have been through recovery, even the ones that did long stints in secondary have relapsed sadly.

Unfortunately 'my' alcoholic x, is functioning and was "diagnosed with depression", so has an excuse for his behaviour and is still in denial. Even though he has been told by so many medical professionals, lost his family, lost jobs. I have far less evidence than you to back up my concerns, 'luckily' he is too apathetic and busy to try and see his children more than 3 times this year, and to be honest has no personal incentive to want to do so on his own, so only does so with the help of his parents. But I worry for the future. It is so hard when the children are so young, and you know there is a real risk that they could be looked after by someone who is drinking heavily and has an addiction. And it is not just the being drunk, but all the addict (dry drunk) behaviour and craziness.

Llareggub Thu 22-Aug-13 16:29:14

What worries me a little is that his parents are very trusting and probably think he is OK now. They are due another visit next week and I will be out of the country. Perhaps it is time to get things legally tied up.

SinisterSal Thu 22-Aug-13 16:32:04

Could you ring MIL and have a frank discussion with her? Is she pretty clear eyed about all this?
She may be trusting but if you could say to her These are my wishes, for the time being at least, will she respect that?

onetiredmummy Thu 22-Aug-13 17:54:27

I'm in this exact same position OP, have been for 5 months now smile

My ex lives in this shared accomodation too & it was his was his decision to stay with his parents whilst he has our kids. To my knowledge he hasn't drunk in months & he did his detox at his parents house so I assume they would have an idea of how to manage his behaviour and/or be the responsible adults if required. Plus his mum is a nurse which is even better. He has taken eldest (7 yo) to see where he is living as eldest had questions as all he knows is his dad has been ill & is trying to recover.

Before his detox it was getting to the point where I was considering stopping contact. He arranged to come & see boys every 2 weeks & often would not turn up, would phone on the morning & pretend he had car trouble then I would have to explain it to children who were all packed & waiting by the door pretty much which was traumatic for them. He lost his job through his alcoholism & is now unemployed & I get a grand total of £10 per 2 weeks for both kids through CSA. He would take them to the pub in the day most weekends. Its not a child friendly pub, its his mangy local.

However, since his detox he has not let the kids down once. We have rescheduled his contact for every 3 weeks & we agree this 6 months in advance as obv he has to agree this with his parents too. He has turned up every time & I have no suspicion he is drinking again. He is 100% a better father shame he couldn't have done it before our marriage fell apart

So yes, insist that another responsible adult is present with your children. Make it clear if you have to, that if you even get a whiff of drunken behaviour during his parenting timeyou will only communicate through the courts & he will have to go through courts for access in future. Depending on how old your kids are you may also need to be on the lookout for the old 'don't tell your mum or she won't let you see me' trick.

If you are on speaking terms with PIL then get them involved & let them know what you would like best & let them know that you will always listen to their 'side' of it smile

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