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Recently separated - child contact issues(6 Posts)
My H moved out 6 weeks ago - married 17 years, together 21 - 2 DC's (10 & 5)
He works irregular shifts, including nights and weekends so arranging contact with the DC's has been a nightmare.
When we were still together, he got his shift pattern 6 weeks in advance, had at least 3 days off a week, and had every 3rd/4th weekend off.
Since he moved out he claims that he gets his shift pattern on a Thursday for the following week only - some weeks only has 1 day off a week, and has not had a weekend off in 6 weeks.
This means that either very late on a Thurs night, or early Fri morning I get a text saying "can have the kids for tea on Tues & Thu next week". I then have the Friday to sort out childcare for the other days - I work full time 9-5, Mon-Fri. Other childcare is provided by my parents and a local day nursery 1 day a week for the 5 year old - which needs to be booked in advance. My parents aren't in great health, and have various GP/Hospital appointments to fit around looking after the kids.
They have stayed at his house twice in 6 weeks - the second time, he HAD to drop them off at 9am the following morning (a Saturday) - he claimed that this was because he had to get to work, however i later learnt that he didn't start work until 3pm that day.
The days that he has them for tea, he picks them up from school at 3pm, and brings them home at 6.15 - the last 3 weeks one of his days has been the day that DD (5) is booked in to After School at the day nursery - which needs to be paid for anyway, so he hasn't picked her up until 4.30pm - therefore spending less than 2 hours with her on that day.
Selfishly, this also means that by the time i get in from work, i have 30 minutes before the children are returned. I can't plan anything in advance, I can't even go for a swim after work or a coffee/glass of wine, or socialise at all - which right now I really need to do for the sake of my mental health.
When he left I agreed that he could pay half the recommended amount of Maintenance as i didn't want him to be left short, and naively assumed that the kids would be spending a couple of nights a week with him.
I have asked him to start providing me with a copy of his rota each week so that we can agree mutually convenient days for access - rather than him dictating the days with extremely short notice. I have a feeling that he is arranging them around HIS social life rather than in the best interest of the children.
A huge part of me is resentful of the fact that he has the freedom to do whatever he likes, make whatever plans he likes while me and the kids have to fit around it - this is nothing new, it was always like that when we were together.
I also have advised him that i'll be asking for an increased amount of maintenance considering the small amount of time he is spending with the kids, and also the fact that he is refusing to contribute towards any joint debt (another story!!) - at that point, he produced a signed copy of the family based agreement which i had completed and given to him weeks ago stating the lower amount, and told me we had a 'contract' and he wasn't paying a penny more.
AIBU asking for his rota, and more maintenance??
Whilst I can appreciate his need for flexibility, the children require certainly and stability. You also can't sign away your rights to maintenance, given that he isn't maintaining his side of the agreement re. contact.
I recommend holding a joint meditation session to try and agree a formal schedule of contact and include a discussion of finances. You don't need a solicitor but you'll need to pay for the session.
Court is always an option but they'll want you to try meditation first.
As a last resort, you can impose contact times upon him and he uses it or loses it. I'd only go there as a last resort as the children should have a relationship with their Dad, even if he's a PITA.
Okay he is being a Fuckwit!
Now you need to plan.
You obviously cannot rely on him for anything. Don't waste your time and energy thinking about what he should do.
First organise your child care as if he won't be around. If your parents aren't up to it can you get a CM? Are there after school clubs etc which could be part of the solution?
Financially if he is not being reasonable then use CMS to get your child support.
I would also make sure I was getting on with the divorce.
Finding a decent babysitter do you can have some "me time" to stay sane would also help. And if you can afford it would be well worth it.
You can't make him parent. But you can stop him having control.
I would also cut down on communication. Have it only in writing and keep a copy. Use a phrase like "for the sake of the children" a lot. And stop being flexible, maybe even being "out" if he tries to drop the children off early. Set up a routine.
Thank you - mummytime, I sent off the divorce petition a few days ago as i want to be able to get on and sort the finances out - I had hoped that we could sort it ourselves, but he's not prepared to discuss finances at all and won't respond to anything i ask him about it. I have suggested mediation, but again had no response.
I have sent him a letter stating requesting the increased amount of maintenance, and detailing all the 'known' costs that i will incur for the kids so he can see that these are actual costs and i'm not asking for money for nothing. I stated in the letter that i'd like a reply in writing, and that if i get no response by x date then i'll be contacting CMS to request an arrangement through them.
He was supposed to have the kids yesterday afternoon - I went to drop them off, and DD (5) started screaming that she wanted to stay with mummy, and didn't want to go into daddy's house. I tried to calm her down, on the doorstep and reassure her - H walked into another room and closed the door - so i went into the house, sat DD on the sofa and continued trying to calm her. H came back into the room and said 'well if she doesn't want to stay, just take her home'. At this point DD ran out of the house and got in the car. I pointed out that he needed to try and help settle her and that I had plans - so i brought her back out of the car and went to step back into the house. H put his hand out and pushed me away, and said "you are not coming in here". I was shocked and said "what? why?" and he replied "i do not want you in this house".
DS (10) then pushed his way out of the house past his dad and screamed at him that in that case there was no way he was staying there either - so i ended up going home again with 2 very upset kids.
Spent the afternoon convincing DS that he still has to go to his dad's after school today, and reassuring him that just because mum and dad can't get along with each other, it shouldn't affect his relationship with his dad, and he shouldn't feel that he has to defend me, or be loyal to me as i want him to spend time with his dad. He just kept telling me he hates his dad, he never wants to see him and if i make him go there he's just going to sit upstairs the whole time and ignore him.
Part of me was cheering inside that he's seen his dad for what he is, without me having to say a word - but for the main part i just feel his pain - he's an over-sensitive kid anyway, and he's really struggling with the split.
I should point out here too, that it was H's decision to leave, and i have since found out that he's seeing someone else and had been for over a month before he left.
It's just all so bloody hard
My heart goes out to you OP. What you have been going through with the separation has probably ripped out your heart. I know this only 2 well. Just recently split with mine after 16 years together. Even though it was my decision, I cry constantly about it.
Its so sad that he is being like this about the kids. He doesn't seem to care and certainly isn't putting their needs/feelings first. Its so very selfish.
My only advice is to go and see a solicitor. They will advise you on what you can do from here. They will probably suggest using a mediation service so you can agree proper access arrangements and it can then be put into a formal arrangement. You need to make sure he is increasing his maintenance now he is no longer having the children overnight very often.
I'm sending you big hugs because breaking up is bloody awful and way worse than I ever imagined. To top it off, you have to deal with your children's upset too.
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