Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Ex refusing to commit to regular contact

(50 Posts)
Icandoanything Wed 13-Jan-16 10:06:03

Ex and I have been split since June 2013. From that time to August 2014 his contact with DS (now 6) has been sporadic to say the least. He ignored my emails and tests asking to arrange consistent,regular contact and would usually just text the day before or on the day to ask to see him. He has mostly been unemployed during that period so it wasn't down to work that he wasn't seeing son,he just chose not to.

In August he instigated mediation where we agreed days and times for contact. All went well until Nov when he got a job and said he couldn't see son anymore as he would be busy in the run up to Christmas and is given no notice on when he works (he was working nights at a bakery). He saw him once in December on Christmas Day for 2 hours. I have asked about contact in the New Year and he said things at work should calm down in Jan and he'd let me know.

Well surprise surprise,it's now the 13th and I've not heard anything. The maintenance hes paying has halved so I know he's not working as many hours as he was in Jan.On Tuesday I emailed him saying I was fed up of waiting for him to arrange regular consistent contact with DS and not to contact me again til he could arrange this and stick to it.

He's emailed me tonight to say hes paid in the grand total of £ 15 (woo hoo!) And that he wants to take DS to a football game on 27th Feb. I replied saying considering that was over a month away and that I couldn't comment on whether DS would want to go as at the point in time,he might not have seen as since 25th Dec. I said that arranging regular contact he could maintain long term was more important than a one off visit.

Am I doing the right thing sticking to my guns and asking for regular contact to be arranged as opposed to a one off visit every 3 months? My son doesn't ask after his dad but does enjoy his time with him but I feel an absent father may be less harmful than one who drops in and out of his life. And I refuse to go back to Adhoc contact as I don't think it did any of us apart from ex any good

pocketsaviour Wed 13-Jan-16 10:16:23

In August he instigated mediation where we agreed days and times for contact.
Does the proposed visit on 27th Feb fit with that schedule? EG would that have been his contact Saturday anyway?

If it does fit then I think you should agree it. As much as I agree with your reasoning that absence is better than sporadic, that's not how the law sees it.

Icandoanything Wed 13-Jan-16 10:20:19

Really? So the law would say I have to let ex see him, even if he messages me on the same day. That seems insane! Do you know if that's a fact or had your own experience with this? I want to do what I believe to be right by DS but I don't want to get dragged through the court.

Surely the contact we arranged at mediation is now defunct as he didn't stick to it? Or if that's the case, what happens if he wants him on a Weds afternoon in say 2 years when he hasn't seen him for ages!!

And the 27th Feb is a Sat, so no, his original day arranged in mediation was a Sunday.

Love2dance Wed 13-Jan-16 10:26:27

Oh dear. I think you're absolutely right to ask for consistency for your DS. No doubt he enjoys seeing his dad but there will come a time when he will begin to feel let down or that he is not a priority in his dad's life, leaving you to pick up the pieces. If possible this needs to be avoided and the best way to do it is to have contact which is both manageable for dad and meets your DS's needs and expectations. I don't think out and out refusal is the solution, as that might invite conflict between you and your ex later, but what about trying to get him to agree a minimum level of contact - enough for your DS to feel that his dad is an important person in his life who cares about him?

I think once a month is probably not really enough for DS but it may be realistically all his dad can manage (also his loss if his son comes to regard him like he would a member of the extended family rather than a parent). It's really disappointing that your ex just doesn't seem to appreciate that he cannot just appear in his son's life whenever he feels like it. I appreciate shift work makes things tricky, but if he planned things a bit better he would be able to tell his employers that on certain dates he is not available. I wonder whether this is an excuse for not getting organised. Are there any paternal grandparents around who can help? Contact doesn't have to mean loads of money being spent. A trip to the park, swimming pool or indoor play centre or the library needn't be too costly if money is an issue.

If your ex refuses to act in a way that meets your son's needs then you might feel you have no option but to say no to contact until your ex (with respect) grows up a bit and understands that he cannot expect a child to cope with ad hoc contact, but this would be a shame.

LittleLegs25 Wed 13-Jan-16 10:44:16

I have a friend who's been through this with her ex. Contact with him was always hit and miss, he wouldn't turn up when he said he would. Wouldn't see him for years then out of the blue would want to see him and then wouldn't see him again for another year or so. Their son is now 10 and doesn't see his dad at all as my friend had had enough of this playing with her sons emotions but he has a lovely step dad who loves him as his own.

I think you are doing the right thing, he clearly cant commit to his son because he's a selfish "man". Plenty of people work and still see their kids he's just making excuses because he cant be bothered, he isn't putting his son first he's putting himself first.

dottypotter Wed 13-Jan-16 11:16:53

you cant make people be more interested than they are!

I'm sure his son would love to go to a football match with him. You shouldn't be saying he might not want to go.
Things may improve, they may not but some childrens dads don't want to know at all and do nothing so its not as bad as that.

Icandoanything Wed 13-Jan-16 11:34:31

I know I can't make people be more interested,but that doesn't mean I have to be ok with my son being an afterthought.

And you're right,there are some parents who aren't involved at all,but that doesn't give me ex to wander in and out of sons life when he wants. That could potentially be as damaging or more than someone who isnt involved at all. Have you ever had someone pick and choose when they see your child and the child have no say in it?

And I said about him not wanting to see him because in the past,when contact has been sporadic and it's very upsetting. Again my ex picking when he sees him and son having no say in it.

TheTigerIsOut Wed 13-Jan-16 11:57:50

.I am afraid that your ex is loosing interest (and I'm sure he will blame you, even if you only said no to this game). But I think what you need to consider at this time is whether this very sporadic and unpredictable contact is for the benefit of your DS in the long term.

We had the door open for my ex to resume contact when he wished, with the only condition that it had to be arranged through mediation. There have been many times when we have hold our hopes high for him to consider it just to have them crashing, very painfully, when the ex can't be arsed. It would have been much less painful just to stop trying
and get on with our lives.

I don't think there is absolutely anything you can do to increase or have regular contact if the NRP is not interested

pocketsaviour Wed 13-Jan-16 12:15:37

So the law would say I have to let ex see him, even if he messages me on the same day.

No - I'm saying that if you have a contact arrangement in place, then you should be working to the agreed schedule. If he was to go to court for increased contact or to force contact, however, the court would likely take a dim view of you blocking contact because he hasn't been in touch for 2 months. Unfortunately the court tends to fall into the camp of "contact is always better for the child, and some contact is better than none."

TheTigerIsOut Wed 13-Jan-16 12:28:50

Yes, but given that he is not arsed to keep regular contact, it is extremely unlikely that he gets arsed enough to apply to court (too much bother and expense). So do not worry about this one.

Icandoanything Wed 13-Jan-16 12:31:59

Ah, ok thanks for clearing that up pocketaviour. It does seem incredible that that's the view they take. Sure drop in and out of their life, then when you WANT to see them, that's fine. Unbelievable really.

TBH Thetigerisout he's been losing interest for a long time, in my opinion, this gives him the life he wants. Free and single with no commitments except his son when he wants to showboat him. I've come to terms with this as I've had no choice and made my peace with it and just make sure that son is supported by my family and understands that we are the reliable and consistent ones. And he does understand this, even at 6. He never asks to see his dad, barely mentions him, he has become like this fictional figure who exists but doesn't really matter to him. Sad but I've done everything in my power over the past 18months to make him be interested in his son's life, and he just doesn't want to be.

I suppose what I'm wanting advice on is whether I'm doing the right thing to insist on regular contact and no accept adhoc. Yes, I could have said ok to the football match thing, but then where does that leave DS? Uncertainty of when he'll be seeing dad again. And everywhere I look seems to put emphasis on regular contact for the child.

If I thought for a minute, that seeing ex on an adhoc basis was ok for DS, I'd agree, but I really don't think it is.

dottypotter Wed 13-Jan-16 12:41:29

Your son could up up losing his dad if you don't drop it. you want perfection it does not happen like that. Nobodys life is perfect. you are the one trying to obstruct the relationship. Let it flow as it is and hope it improves for your son. It may not always be the same.

I don't see anywhere where he has said he will turn up and dosent. If parents don't live close by or one lives abroad then they don't see each other that much anyway. At least the parent is still there and your still on good terms. If you keep pushing it could rebound.

TheTigerIsOut Wed 13-Jan-16 12:41:55

It took me 3 years to accept that I was pushing for contact because:

1) i was afraid of being accused at court of blocking contact
2) You get it hammered into you that any contact is better than none

The question is, is that irregular contact positive for your son or isit just something that keeps his hopes high and his wounds open waiting fir the next unpredictable visit?

Thymeout Wed 13-Jan-16 13:11:24

He's gone from a father who lives with his child to a father who lives apart but sees his son regularly and now to a father who sees his son on special occasions or at random intervals.

This would be OK for other family relationships. Many children don't have regular times for seeing granny or cousins, but they are still part of their lives. How much would your son actually mind about this? You say he doesn't ask after his father but does enjoy his time with him.

I think you may have unrealistic expectations based on what would be ideal or what some other separated parents do. You can't make him stick to a timetable unless he wants to. I doubt if your son would enjoy contact with a reluctant dad, who feels he's been forced into it by his ex-partner.

It's infuriating, I know, but it might be better to be more resigned and relaxed about this, unless/until your son doesn't want to see his father because it's too long between visits so the relationship has weakened to the extent that he doesn't enjoy it when it happens.

drspouse Wed 13-Jan-16 13:35:46

What was the agreement in mediation in August?

If it was e.g. once a fortnight on a Saturday, then it sounds like he's saying he wants one of his February dates to be that Saturday. If you've agreed set days/times then I would say, every time he requests a contact, if it IS a Saturday then say "I understand you want one of your February contact dates to be the 27th from X time to Y time. This is slightly outside our agreed hours but I think DS will enjoy the football so I will make arrangements so that this is possible. As we agreed fortnightly on Saturdays I assume you will also be seeing him on X and Y January and 13th Feb. Please let me know if this is not the case. Unfortunately other days in Jan and Feb are not possible for DS and me".

If you can show willing by keeping the set days free, it's up to him to show up or not. No need to tell DS that those are days he's "supposed" to be seeing his dad but I would say that if he's supposed to have regular Saturday visits and this is a Saturday you should be making arrangements for him to go.

No need to put yourself out for any other random days that your ex plucks out of the air as he's already set the days through mediation.

Icandoanything Wed 13-Jan-16 13:44:10


The regular days arrangement ended at the end of November when he got a job and told me he wouldn't be free to have son at all for the forseeable future. Since the end of Nov he's seen DS twice, one time he had him for a sleepover and once on Christmas Day. He's now making no attempt to have or asked to have him on days/times that were agreed at mediation and is just asking for random days. He emailed today asking to see son today, and tomorrow as well. As I said, it's when suits him.

drspouse Wed 13-Jan-16 13:45:40

That wasn't very long for the regular arrangement was it? Why not suggest that you go back to mediation and have a new regular arrangement. After all, it was a very good idea the first time as it was HIS idea of course wink

Icandoanything Wed 13-Jan-16 13:49:05

Thymeout I think you're right about being more relaxed about it, but I don't feel I can do that as my ex is so unpredictable, I wouldn't put it past him to disappear for months then turn up demanding overnight visits or something else unreasonable. It's the constantly changing goal posts - adhoc, not seeing him for months, arranging mediation, sticking to regular days, saying he can't see him, back to's exhausting for me let alone how DS feels about it

Interestingly enough though, I have an eye appointment today at 5 and asked to DS earlier would he like to see his dad instead of coming with me. Or see him tomorrow. His response to both was, nah, I'd rather stay with you.

Icandoanything Wed 13-Jan-16 13:53:58

drspouse no, not long at all. He only stuck to the arranged days and times for a grand total of 9 weeks! Then we were back to square 1.

I have suggested mediation, I've told him not to contact me unless it is to arrange mediation or he has regular contact times/days that he can maintain long term. Ignored again though angry

I think what this all boils down to is that this is the last piece of control he can hold over mine and son's life. He won't commit because then we'll at least know where we stand. Adhoc arrangements, we're at the mercy of when suits HIM. And I think the only way to stop this control is to get him to deal with a solicitor I instruct. As expensive as this may be, I refuse to have 2016 be a repeat of 2015.

But I'm always open to less expensive ideas!

drspouse Wed 13-Jan-16 14:00:46

Has he specifically said he can no longer ever stick to the mediation agreed days? Or was it just "I can't do them for the moment because of working more over Christmas"?

If the latter, then present the alternatives of either going back to those agreed days or having another go at mediating some new contact days.

Icandoanything Wed 13-Jan-16 14:08:17

The original plan was for him to have DS Mon and Weds PM after school til 7 then Sunday 12-6.

When he first got the job it was, I can't do Mon and Weds anymore and can we swap Sun to Sat, which I agreed to. He had 1 sleepover on the Sat then said he was having no more Sats off until Christmas. I think I've asked him 3 times since about regular days and time after Christmas and he began by saying he'd let me know and is now saying he can't give me any notice, as he gets called on the day if there is work. Which again, isn't really suitable if you're a parent.

Bearing in mind his last CM payments have been for £17 and £15, I'm pretty certain he's not getting a call every day, so he's not even working full time in this job.

HermioneJeanGranger Wed 13-Jan-16 14:10:53

Can you suggest going back to the previous contact? It sounds to me like he said that work would be busy/unpredictable and that he couldn't stick to arrangements over Christmas. If he's a baker, it would certainly be the truth that his hours would be pretty haywire over the festive period.

E-mail him and say that now Christmas is over, it would be good to go back to the previous arrangements, or maybe change to a new set of days if they would work better with his job. If he won't do this, then he needs to go back to mediation.

Icandoanything Wed 13-Jan-16 14:12:19

HermioneJeanGranger done this 3 times already, his response is, I can't commit to any regular days as I don't know when I'm working, I get called on the day.

HermioneJeanGranger Wed 13-Jan-16 14:17:20

Hmm, tricky, but I know it is the case for a lot of people - is he on a zero hour contract by any chance?

Is he called by a certain time? Once he knows he's not working, could he collect DS from school or have him or tea/take him to the park? Or does that interfere with your own childcare arrangements/work?

Icandoanything Wed 13-Jan-16 14:23:16

I've no idea what his work conditions are, he certainly wouldn't Htell me! I only know his job because DS asked him in front of me.

I would imagine there is a certain time, but again, he wouldn't tell me as he would deem that as me knowing too much about his life.
He emailed this morning at approx 10am to ask to see DS today and tomorrow which doesn't really fit into his claim of being called on the day, as tomorrow hasn't happened yet.

I'd be reluctant to arrange for him to collect DS as he's cancelled contact at the last minute before claiming work called. I'm a supply teacher and work all over the city/county so if he asks to collect on a day the childminder would usually collect, then he cancels, that's going to end up messing her around....see, it's everyone bending to him again. Also, DS can get quite anxious and likes to know who is picking him up/dropping him in in advance. So no, less than 24 hours notice isn't really an option.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: