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istic soon-to-be ex husband: advice needed!
Where do I start? I have a controlling and emotionally abusive husband, with whom I have two small children. I'm concerned he is manipulating our childcare arrangements in a ploy to get the house and all benefits. He has also booked a foreign holiday behind my back (I had discovered secret plans for this accidentally, months ago and told him then in no uncertain terms that he was not taking our kids overseas). I also have concerns about our children's emotional needs not being met by him when in his care.
We separated late last year and he moved out a couple of months ago. We live in Scotland. We have an agreement whereby he has the children 3 nights a week. It was a verbal agreement with proviso (on my behalf) that the kids emotional needs were put first. He has decided against my wishes that he will have the girls three continuous nights, rather than a night here and there throughout the week to make it easier for the girls.
I am their primary carer and my husband is away a lot, therefore I am the constant in their life, always around, whereas the times my husband is around can be fairly inconsistent. He has been away for a couple of weeks in June and in this last two months he has only had them for 12 overnight stays. He is now trying to change the goal posts, he usually has the kids from teatime on a Saturday (when he's not too busy with something else that is more important than having his kids, such as a football match or a weekend away drinking).
On Thursday evening this week I received a text telling me that he was going to pick up the kids at 11 on Saturday. I responded saying no, as that was not his usual time to pick them up and he'd given no indication of why he wanted them earlier than the usual time he has them that day. We had a very good friend of the kids' birthday party to attend (which he was well aware of); he then texted back to ask me when we'd agreed that I was allowed to have the girls all day on Saturday and that he has plans too and why should my plans with the kids have priority over his- plans which he hadn't mentioned before.
He then sent me a very long email, in which he told me I got to spend more time with the girls on recent Saturdays (he has them from Saturday teatime until Tuesday morning, when they go to nursery. I pick them up at 5 on Tuesday after work). He accused me of using the children as a weapon and has told me that he now wants to see the kids every other Saturday, as well as his usual 3 nights. He then texted me on Friday night, repeating his demand that he would pick them up the following morning. I ignored this text, and the email- and then made plans to be out of the house the following morning in order to side step the issue and avoid any confrontation in front of the children.
When he did pick them up later that day, he entered with his phone on record, saying 'I'm taking the kids'; my oldest has already told me they did not want to go to their dad's that night, they then repeated this to him at this point. He completely ignored this, simply saying that I was not being supportive of this transition from my care to his. Rather than comfort them, he told the kids they would be away for three nights at his. I told him as calmly as I could that I wasn't going to force them to do anything they didn't want to, and he ignored this, repeating the accusation of 'unsupportiveness'.
During this exchange, he told me was taking the girls on the family holiday next week for 8 nights, which makes me believe the holiday was never cancelled and that he always intended to take them, regardless of my wishes; he has also applied for passports without my knowledge or consent.
Thank you for sticking with it this far; I have appointed a solicitor to deal with the separation and to negotiate custody arrangements. I would really appreciate any thoughts and input from you at this point.
When did you appoint a solicitor? The solicitor needs to get on the case ASAP, so that the dc can know what to expect.
At the moment, arrangements are as hoc and confusing, and very strained, which is not helping your dc.
If your stbxh frequently works away, I can't see an alternative to some 'give and take' on both sides, regarding contact. Again, the dc are the only consideration here. Ground rules can be laid regarding the amount of notice given and the maximum duration of stay, which will depend on the age of the dc.
Ignoring his text was IMHO understandable but unwise. It raises the level of conflict and, in my opinion, makes things worse for your girls because your stbxh will understandably be on the defensive in those circs. You are better off saying 'no'.
Are the dc safe and adequately cared for with him, OP? Is there any DV or outright neglect documented anywhere? If not, 'putting the dc's emotional needs first' is open to interpretation and you may need to let him get on with it, even if he's quite crap with them (my ex is).
Your top priority is to hammer all this out with your solicitor. If your solicitor is not proactive, find one who is.
Thanks for your response, Handywoman. I may have been unclear- I responded to the first text by saying 'no', and that we should stick to our usual agreement. I ignored the argumentative texts and email afterwards.
I absolutely agree with your points, and that we need to have a set schedule where possible, taking into consideration that he's away some of the time.
There has been abuse towards me in the past (emotional and physical) and he has admitted wrongdoing in this regard in a couple of emails and texts. He hasn't ever shown any abusive behaviour towards the children, other than ignoring their emotional needs and shouting and swearing at me in front of them. One did see him push me into a door, unfortunately.
He does his best to make sure everyone sees him as Superdad- and while I know from experience this isn't the case, I'm not concerned they will be physically harmed in any way.
I wonder if there is any block that you can put on their passport - any way you can contact the authorities and make it clear you're concerned that your children will be taken out of the country against your wishes? Or perhaps the specific flight company they're booked with?
If I were you I would go away camping for the first couple of nights of that 8 day holiday. After all, you said no to the foreign trip/so it's not happening, right?
And get a SHL quick.
My post wasn't clear: I meant you and the DC should go away somewhere yourselves so he can't take them.
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