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Help! Willing Father to heartbroken and unwilling Mum!(20 Posts)
Hey Mumsnet I've come here to look for some advice. It's a long story I'm sorry! My boyfriend and his ex-girlfriend broke up around the time that she fell pregnant. They had been rocky for a long time and she was apparently on the pill, but she fell pregnant and this ended up causing him to be honest and end it. He said if she was to keep the baby, he would of course support her and wants to be the father. We met just after this happened.
She went off the radar for the entire pregnancy - him and his entire friends/family were blocked, number changed, email address changed, moved address etc. He tried contacting her the whole time but met dead-ends. He then found out the baby was born through Facebook.
Since being born, she has allowed him to make contact, but most of the time just to scream, swear, shout, cry and say he'll never see his son. He never rose to her anger, let her say what she wanted to say and eventually he met his son (at 3 months old). He now is allowed to visit his son once per month, if he pays her £200 in cash. He agreed to this because it is better than nothing.
Now, 3 months on, she still continues to scream and shout and tell him he will never see his son again, so long as he has another girlfriend. She blames him (and me) for everything etc etc. She cancels plans for him to see his son and then 2 days later says he is allowed. She has never named him as the father (and he definitely wants her to) and has even given her son the middle name of her ex-boyfriend.
He absolutely desperately wants to be a father to this child but she won't let him - she won't name him as the father (although does promise this often and then retracts it as punishment). He has to tread extremely carefully with her in fear of being blocked again so he never speaks his mind or asks for anything - he just takes it and lets it break him down silently.
I want to help him and I want him to have rights as a father, but I can't meddle in their relationship. What do we all do?? I thought some fellow mum advice might help. Thanks
He needs to go to court for a declaration of parentage (this will be straightforward, though a DNA test may be required) and for a contact order. He should take legal advice, but can self-represent in court if costs are an issue. The case will be held in private.
However, even with a contact order his ex can refuse to comply - there's usually not much by way of punishment, so he should think deeply before taking a route which will probably anger her further.
The £200 is child support, which he should pay whether or not he sees the child.
If I were him, I would go formal - lawyers, mediation, etc - and ask for regular access through the courts if necessary.
I would pay child support according to cms calculator (or more) on the dot, without quibbling, every month - and once formal arrangements are made, without fail turn up to access on time.
Oh I forgot to mention the child support bit, he wanted to pay her child support either way but she returned his bank transfer saying it would effect her benefits. He tried hard to get it done officially so there would be a proven record of it but she will only take cash. He's paying it in cash because he wants to support her (not because he is legally obliged because until he is named as the father he isn't) but he'd rather it was done officially!
Child maintenance isn't taken into account as income when it comes to claiming benefits if that helps so either she has that wrong or is deliberately trying to avoid there being any evidence of his support so far.
why hasn't he started steps to get child maintence and access formalised already?. I would question how serious he is about being a dad. Also, If there is no record of payments given could she claim he hadn't paid and ask for it to be backdated?
He needs to take it seriously and do the things pp have suggested. If he is serious about having a relationship with his child, through official channels is the only way.
If he doesn't and this child finds him in the future it'll look pretty shit if he never tried properly. And it'll probably make it hard to convince the child that he did care/try.
Yes, it's not true about it being counted against benefits. I am not sure how he can have 'tried hard officially'. Informally yeah, officially no. because that would have come out
And if he knows he's the father (which he accepts, from what you say about him breaking up with her because she fell pregnant by him) then there's no need to cast shade on it by saying he's got no legal obligation to pay child support yet. Legal obligation - eventually, moral obligation - right now. I know which person I would rather be.
Thanks for your answers. I think he hasn't gone formal because he's really hoped that being nice would mean he could be the father AND have a good relationship with her. He knows if he goes formal then she'll fight it and withhold their son from him again, so he wouldn't be able to see him until the legal stuff was sorted. And then there's the cost of court, he doesn't earn much money so really hoped to sort it without courts.
I think it's gone on too long though. She won't accept any gifts from him except the money which just to be clear, he has been trying to pay her since way before he was even born. She said he can't see his son unless he pays in cash so he felt he had no choice but to oblige.
She's just still very much in love with him and totally heartbroken, she still wants him back and this is why it's so sensitive. She's made him feel so guilty for leaving her that he honestly believes he deserves all of this wrongful treatment from her!
Well it's somewhat horrible to fall pregnant and then your bloke turn round and say "actually, it's over". I can see suddenly realising this is not the life you want when faced with having a baby with someone unexpectedly - however it's pretty shit from her point of view.
Of course. No one can dispute that. It's awful. But it's happened now and this is about this little boy getting the willing dad he deserves.
Being nice and respectful can go hand-in-hand with being assertive. He needs to find out the facts himself about what procedures he needs to follow. Then he can lay it out for her calmly and kindly, and then she will make her choice of whether to handle it between them or end up going the legal route.
If she's already screaming at him regularly and withholding contact (once a month is hardly contact) then it can't really get any worse. Better to try to get it sorted while the baby is small and won't be aware of issues.
But if he's no idea what the systems are, such as thinking her benefits are affected by child support etc, then he's not helping himself. He needs to be proactive, find out what his next steps are and responsibilities, perhaps aim for mediation.
I'd change the cash payments to bank transfer into her name asap. He needs to have an official record of making maintenance.
Can he not ring up CSA and get it started?
That way he's paying the correct amount AND they can hold onto the money he pays in until the mother contacts them with bank details?
He needs to realise and understand that she will keep using access to his dc as a means of controlling him. There is no guarantee that he will be allowed a relationship with his dc.
The formal route may take longer but it's the only one that his ex can't really control.
If she withholds contact for the duration, then that can only strengthen his case.
There are ways around the finances side. If he isn't eligible for any legal aid then he can always self represent, plus there are support groups out there that he can get help from.
It would be easier if he got the ball rolling now. He probably won't be able to get overnight/long unsupervised access until the dc is ready to be weaned onto bottles/solids (i'm assuming it's breastfed at mo).
I would suggest that if someone else is already paying child support through official channels, that would be a good reason for her not wanting it to be 'official'. I obviously have no idea if that is the case here.
Your boyfriend needs to grow up, get this sorted legally and stop pussy-footing around her.
Lots of good advice here, have PM'd you as well.
Thank you everyone. You've helped me so much - I'm so glad I came to Mumsnet!!
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My partner has been through a similar situation, the absolute only way forward is through the courts.
Everything must be done the official way through the correct systems, there a lot of years ahead for life to continue this way.
It is a sad situation and I'm sure the mother is very hurt and angry but you are right this is no longer about the parents relationship, the child's interests are at the heart of this now and he must follow procedure, this may mean some time where she will withhold contact but in the long run that won't be an option for her.
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