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Does a man give up his right to be a father if he is abusive towards his pregnant partner?

(30 Posts)
Ihatechoosingausername Thu 13-Nov-14 13:41:20

A friend and I are having this discussion at the moment. Her point of view is that a man gives up his right to be a father to the, as yet, unborn child if he has been abusive towards the mother. No contact. He is to be ignored and move on.

I believe that if he has shown an interest in being a father towards the child, he doesn't give up his right BUT he has to go through further 'tests' as such to show himself as capable, which will in all likelihood involve social services and visits at contact centres (and no contact between mother and father).

What do you think? Am I being too soft?

Could a man be a bad partner but a decent father?

BeCool Thu 13-Nov-14 13:42:25

what about the child's rights?

MissMarplesBloomers Thu 13-Nov-14 13:44:51

I doubt it.... but the child deserves the chance to know the father, and the relationship is/could be quite different.

Contact is supposed to be for the benefit of the child but IMHO if the father can't respect the mother of his child even if he doesn't love her, he should be left out of the equation.

Each case to be taken on merit & individual circumstances I guess?

Difficult to generalise.

Ihatechoosingausername Thu 13-Nov-14 13:45:23

Does that mean that the baby has a right not to have contact with her father if he has been abusive?

Ihatechoosingausername Thu 13-Nov-14 13:49:17

My baby is due today and my ex has been in contact to ask how things are going. I am awaiting a call from my social worker for advice on how to proceed but I'd like people's opinions on the matter

Ihatechoosingausername Thu 13-Nov-14 13:50:41

I don't know whether I have a bias towards letting him know because we used to be in a relationship. I could be making the wrong decision for both me and the baby

outtahell Thu 13-Nov-14 13:53:18

Legally, no. Morally (IMO), yes unless he has successfully changed himself through therapy. That kid is going to see how his/her daddy treats his partners and will either think it's okay for them to treat people that way, or that it is okay for people to treat them that way. And that's if the father doesn't decide to abuse the kid directly.

zippey Thu 13-Nov-14 13:54:05

As long as the person is not a realistic danger to the child then she or he has the right to bond with the child.

Lweji Thu 13-Nov-14 13:54:07

One of the main problems for you atm is parental responsibility.

If he is named on the birth certificate he has responsibility automatically.

Then, it's up to you. If he has been abusive and you don't want contact with him, then don't. If he wants contact with the baby, then he should seek it and if necessary arrange for someone else to do handovers, or you could insist on supervised contact, that he arranges.

If you think contact is detrimental to the baby, then don't allow it and let him seek it from the authorities.

Lweji Thu 13-Nov-14 13:54:28

Do you have records of the abuse?

BeCool Thu 13-Nov-14 13:58:15

In your position I would not facilitate/push the relationship. However if the father decides to purse contact, he will legally be entitled to do so.

My XP was EA, though I didn't see things at the time. I bent over backwards to ensure he had a relationship with DD1 (we were estranged around the time of her birth but later reconciled), thinking I was doing the right thing.

Ultimately, it has been the right thing for everyone apart from me. It's hard to know but I think I would be in a much better place myself if I had just walked away and left everything up to him to instigate as he may not have pushed it (lazy). I was being "too nice".

Having said that he is a good father, it is nice to have a break every 2nd weekend (and I need them), and the DC love him.

Your XP does have legal rights to contact though if he wants to pursue the matter. I'm not sure what kind of abuse would negate those rights - it may just mean he would have supervised contact.

Best of luck for the birth (exciting)! flowers

Gen35 Thu 13-Nov-14 13:59:51

In your shoes I'd do what Lweji said, refuse contact and force it to be properly regulated by the relevant authorities, that way you don't have to police his parenting or decide on contact. Brace yourself, they will quite possibly allow contact, but better if you don't have to manage the contact.

BeCool Thu 13-Nov-14 14:00:50

DO NOT let him come with you to register the birth as chances are he will put his name on the birth certificate - which will make things more difficult for you. If you are not married you can't name the father anyway without him being there (in England at least).

If he wants to be on it, make him go through the proper legal channels to do so.

Ihatechoosingausername Thu 13-Nov-14 14:03:32

Lweji He won't be on the birth certificate

I don't want any contact with him but I don't want to prevent him from having a relationship with his child if he do so chooses (and he does seem to be choosing so at the moment as he has been contacting me). But if he does have a relationship with her, and he is abusive, would that be my fault for letting him have contact with her when I knew his history?

I plan for contact to be organised by the authorities and should hopefully be advised how to do this when the social worker calls

There are records, social services had a case open but they closed it a while ago when they saw no reason to proceed.

bearleftmonkeyright Thu 13-Nov-14 14:06:06

One of the biggest things that stands out from your post is that you are not sure. Once your baby is born things will be mich clearer. If you are in danger from having contact with your ex then you absolutely should not be in contact with him. But you have given little away. In the main of course itis best for Fathers to be fully involved Your situation is complex and one where a general opinion is not helpful. But I would say go with your gut instict and do not be pressurised. Your job is to protect your child and you have to protect yourself. Can you tell us more about the relationship with your ex?

EhricLovesTheBhrothers Thu 13-Nov-14 14:39:56

He doesn't give up his rights, no, but it doesn't follow that he is safe to have regular unsupervised contact with the child.
The child has the right to know their father and to have a relationship with him, IF that relationship is non abusive and furthers their well being and positive development.
If the father is abusive or neglectful towards the child (including using contact to further abuse the mother) then arguably that contact is not in the child's interests so should not be promoted.

Matildathecat Thu 13-Nov-14 14:50:39

Depends very much on the individual history but I would be making him prove himself worthy of the privilege over and over again. I would not be doing any of the running and he would have to be consistently brilliant. If he failed or became flakey that would be it. No second / third chances. You simply don't fuck around with children's lives and emotions.

He would also have to accept that he had been abusive and be utterly respectful of me and my wishes.

I'm a hard woman wink.

pompodd Thu 13-Nov-14 15:03:49

"But if he does have a relationship with her, and he is abusive, would that be my fault for letting him have contact with her when I knew his history?"

I sort of know what you mean, here. But of course he would be at fault if he was abusive to her because he had committed the abuse, wouldn't he? I'm sure you know that but the way you phrased the question makes me think there are still issues you might need to deal with in relation to how this man treated you.

Ihatechoosingausername Thu 13-Nov-14 16:20:11

bearleftmonkeyright I don't know where to start on the relationship with the ex. It was messy to say the least, though I believe it became worse once he stopped taking his medication for Schizophrenia. One of the conditions that I wish him to fulfil before allowing contact with the baby is that he starts taking his medication again (which he has said he has done) and stop using drugs (which he has also said he has done). I have no proof of either of these and I hope that social services will have something in place to 'test' this. (His nurse should be able to say whether he has taken his medication, and he could potentially take a drugs test before contact to fulfil the second criteria).

pompodd My friend was so 'black and white' with this issue that it made me feel I could potentially be a bad mother for thinking he should be allowed contact with the baby.

GoatsDoRoam Thu 13-Nov-14 16:23:50

I don't want any contact with him but I don't want to prevent him from having a relationship with his child if he do so chooses

Then do nothing, and wait to see if he explicitly asks for contact. Then do it in a way that preserves the baby's interests - ie. supervised contact. Organising contact through third persons/authorities is no bad thing, in your case.

Him sending you a "how's it going?" text is NOT expressing eagerness to be a father. If he's abusive, he just wants a way to keep pushing your buttons: a baby is ideal for that. It's not the baby's interests he's looking after, in all likelihood, it's his own. His interest is to have a continued hold over you. Not to bond with a baby and be a good father.

Maintain that no contact.

If he really wants to a be a dad, he'll jump through legal hoops to get access to the child even if it means no access to you. But really, it's access to you he most likely wants, so that he can continue to manipulate you.

Ihatechoosingausername Thu 13-Nov-14 16:46:34


But really, it's access to you he most likely wants, so that he can continue to manipulate you.

Yeah I believe this is the case. I think that as long as he's told the baby's arrived (by someone not necessarily me) then I feel I have done my bit. From there on in how he chooses to proceed is none of my business and I'll have changed my contact number by then.

bearleftmonkeyright Thu 13-Nov-14 16:50:46

I think goats is right,. Just think about yourself and the baby for the time being. I would be guided by social services. He has to prove he is fit to be a parent. I hope you're ok.

Lweji Thu 13-Nov-14 22:26:24

Keep in mind that professionally, social services may not be able to tell you not to let him see the baby.
Exercise your own judgement and read between the lines.

ifeelguilty Fri 14-Nov-14 07:21:50

Becool I was in a similar situation as you. Did all I could to keep the peace.
Cancelled and ran late to many appointments and events because exp didn't care that I had a life and wouldn't text/email/phone to let me know he was running 1 hr/2 hrs late.
He was EA when we were together and took advantage of the way I felt about my Dc's having a relationship with their father. It's always been important to me so I dropped everything to accommodate him, he wouldn't even commit to every other weekend until last year and our Dc's are 15&10.
I wish I'd not bothered to be so flexible and accommodating because although my Dc's adore him and I know he loves them, he recently broke my fingers and hasn't even attempted an apology. I did not report him because I do not want the Dc's to know that he did it. We split up 8 years ago and have both moved on (exp doesn't know Ive moved on but noone knows tbh) he has no respect for me at all. So I blocked him on all channels. I'm not discussing anything with him at all. He knows the routine, I've not stopped his contact with the Dc's just made it clear that he shouldn't attempt to cross the threshold of my house or try to touch me again. I won't be putting myself in a position where he can abuse me again. it's been almost 17 years of his abuse and I say fuck him. He can get a lawyer and finally realise just how easy I've made his life before and after we split up. His own sister told me he was taking the piss, but not wanting to rock the boat I allowed him to spend time with the Dc's in my house (I'd leave most of the time) so they would not feel even more unsettled than the break up had already made them feel.

My advice is that as long as the parent with PR sets clear boundaries and the other parent is not a danger to the child then yes the other parent should be able to have a relationship with the child. Just set clear boundaries from the beginning and stick to them. I regret not doing this myself.

I don't mean to hijack your thread op.

FolkGirl Fri 14-Nov-14 08:00:05

OP, the parents don't have any rights only responsibilities. Your child will have a right to a relationship with its father, and you both have a responsibility to facilitate that.

If he chooses to renege on that responsibility, then that is up to him.

You have a responsibility to protect your child and so, if you believe he will be a risk to the child, you can contact SS for advice/intervention.

I always maintained that I would facilitate contact between my son and his father if his father wanted it, but that I wouldn't be a mother who constantly 'pretended' he was involved when he wasn't. He never has been. But I also had a responsibility to protect my son, so when another family member sought contact (I suspected to meet their own needs) 6 years later, I put a couple of reasonable caveats in place and they didn't pursue it.

Your child is a person in their own right, not a possession to be shared as is seen fit (not suggesting that's how you see it).

The parent does not have a right to a relationship with the child. The child has a right to a relationship with the parent.

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