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Splitting up with DP, with a 6mo son - could anyone advise on practicalities?

(16 Posts)
LoveAndSqualor Mon 15-Sep-08 10:23:25

Would really appreciate any pointers from anyone who's been through this ...

DP and I have finally agreed to split up after a very difficult few months (years, in fact - DS was very unplanned - I was taking the pill shock). Things are relatively amicable at the moment - our house belongs to DP and his parents, so DS and I are moving out, to live with my sister (rent free, so I can save up a deposit and buy somewhere in around a year's time).

We want to arrange things between us without involving solicitors, and are agreed on most things (amount of maintenance he'll pay me, when he'll have DS) - so what I really want to know is, how do you do this? Is there a template agreement we can fill in and sign? Will this be binding? Do we need to officially apply to have joint custody of DS (and if so to whom?).

I'm completely clueless, and not a little overwhelmed. Any help very gratefully appreciated smile

LoveAndSqualor Mon 15-Sep-08 10:39:28


snowleopard Mon 15-Sep-08 10:47:24

Sorry I can't help with legal advice, just bumping for you. It sounds as if you're managing it very well but I imagine there are legal issues to sort out. CAB might be able to give you a good rundown.

LoveAndSqualor Mon 15-Sep-08 10:56:34

Thanks, snowleopard - good thought, will try CAB. It's the legal side of things that I'm not clear on ...

GypsyMoth Mon 15-Sep-08 11:52:46

you can both sign a parental responsibility agreement,think its through solicitors. but won't be legally binding. you only need the court route if things become messy between you. usually that happens when new partners come on the scene!!!!!

mumblechum Mon 15-Sep-08 12:05:51

You should probably do a separation deed. Essentially, it's a contract which both of you sign & have witnessed and it is binding, ie enforceable.

I know you don't want to do anything through solicitors, but it would probably be worth it to ensure that all bases are covered.

I generally charge about £300 for one as straightforward as yours sounds, but you may be able to download a proforma. If you do Google "separation deed", make sure it's an English version.

LoveAndSqualor Mon 15-Sep-08 13:11:27

brie5 and mumblechum, thank you both. Mumblechum, that's exactly the sort of info I was after - thanks. Will have a look on google. I'm happy to go through solicitors, though DP (a solicitor himself!) is less keen. I'd really like to have things as straightforward and clear as possible. Thanks again for advice ..

WideWebWitch Mon 15-Sep-08 13:32:32

Hello darling
posting this so it's on my threads I'm on for later when I'll have more time, so this evening.

LoveAndSqualor Mon 15-Sep-08 15:32:38

thank you, wonderful woman. really appreciate it xxx

WideWebWitch Mon 15-Sep-08 19:28:02

Hi L&S, I can tell you what worked for us that weren't 'rules' at the time but looking back, were things we just did and that made for an amicable divorce. So my advice isn't really about practical stuff so much, as about emotional and other stuff. I'm afraid I'm going to just give you everythign off the top of my head so not much logic or order to this:

- I've always tried not to criticise ex dh or to ever say anything negative about him to ds. There have been some times when I have but only if I've said it to ex dh's face too, eg I think he lets ds have too many late nights at the weekends. It helps that ex dh is a thoroughly kind, decent and nice bloke, just not the right bloke for me. It sounds as if your case is similar in some ways. I got pregnant and we tried to make a go of it too (and failed) but I really have no regrets, my ds is wonderful as is yours, I'm sure.

- I've maintained (extremely but helped in my case by liking her enormously) good relationships with my ex ils and they have a very good and close relationship with ds (and dd, who isn't biologically related to them). I know your ils are erm, dour? Is that the right word? So maybe you aren't as close to them as I was to my mil but that's no reason why you can't keep them involved in your ds's life. He gets doting grandparents, you get lovely childcare.

- Maintenance. Don't under agree to this. Consider that your life will be extremely constrained because you will have to pay childcare AND work AND manage a house on your own whereas your ex will merrily skip to work every morning unfettered. I know that's the price you pay if you have residence (which is what it's called these days!) but it's still EXPENSIVE! He should contribute to childcare if you can get him to plus maintenance towards the costs of bringing up your ds. It is a different proposition, having to house and feed and look after yourself AND a baby and so your expenses are higher and it is fair enough to expect your ex to recognise that. FWIW I get £600 a month from ex for ds and realise that it's a lot more than some people get but actually, the costs have been WAY way over that. I was a sahm for 3 years, I have always needed another bedroom for ds, I've had to pay childcare etc etc and while I don't remotely resent it, not AT ALL, I am so pleased ds lives with me, it does all add up and frankly, £600 is a drop in the ocean imo!

Try to agree some ground rules about your ds seeing his dad, we've done every other weekend for 8/9 years (ds is nearly 11 and was 2 when I left ex) and a couple of weeks in the holidays. It's all v flexible and friendly but at the beginning I think it's good for children to know where they are.

Don't move 200 miles away from your ex. I did this and it was blindingly stupid move. However, I did meet dh#2 there so there was s silver lining but only after years of shlepping up and down the M5 (from Devon to Bristol, and ex would go from Ealing to Gordano) for a few years. Bloody MAD, what WAS I thinking? So do think about convenience when you think about where to live.

No idea about the legal or paperwork stuff except that we were married and eventually had to complete divorce paperwork, all relatively painless so I feel sure you can split up as a non married couple in a painless, (paperwork-speaking) way.

Also, be prepared to think about wanting to go back if you have some times of hard slog where you just don't want to be alone and wonder if it would be better to be in a less than great relationship than to be alone. I nearly did this and it would have been the wrong thing to do but it was SO tempting when I felt so alone and ds wasn't sleeping and it was just bloody hard etc. I'm glad I didn't.

Make sure you have plenty of support from friends. TELL them if you need them, they might not know otherwise.

FWIW, I have been very happily with dh#2 for 8 odd years and we have dd, who is now 5. Ds and dd are very close, despite the age gap and we are all, in the main, very happy. Our blended family works well and we all love each other. Dh is lovely with ds and has been a huge part of his upbringing and dh and ex dh get on well and are friendly. Ex dh spends plenty of time here and ds sees that we all get on (and ex will back me up on the big things and vice versa).

And do post here when you need to, it's such a useful thing to do. I wish I'd had it back then!

Good luck xxx

chutneymary Mon 15-Sep-08 20:15:57

L&S, is DP registered on DS's birth certificate? If so, he has already got PR so that's one less thing to cover.

I think it would be worth seeing a sol to chat things through (even if you eventually do the sep deed yourself) as there are lots of bases to cover. For example a sol can tell you fairly easily what the CSA would order DP to pay for DS's maintenance so you can gauge if what you have tentatively agreed is reasonable. In addition, you might want to have a chat about the arrangements over the house - DP may own it on the deeds but did you make any contributions to it or have any discussions with DP about it?

Agree with WWW about remaining as amicable as possible with DP and the outlaws. I know of a couple of girlfriends who have maintained a great relationshop with the MIL and now have babysitting, weekends away (occasionally) and importantly back up when you need it eg for DS's illnesses which prevent him going to CM and need you or DP to take time off. I know that they aren't the easiest people, but they will be in your life for ever so it's worth gritting your teeth to get on with them.

Couple of my friends have used simply childcare with great results - worth a look.

If I can think of anything else, I'll let you know. Chin up and keep posting. All of us on the boozers' bootcamp thread are rooting for you.

LoveAndSqualor Tue 16-Sep-08 19:20:28

www and chutneymary - thank you both so very much. CM - DP is indeed on DS's birth cert, which is good. May well talk to a friend of mine who does family law just to get an overview without formally seeing a solicitor, if you see what I mean.

WWW, what you say confirms many things I've been thinking. In terms of maintenance, DP and I are splitting childcare 60/40 (which about mirrors our salaries - he earns a little more than me) which will mean him paying getting on for £600 before we've got on to the rest, erk. I'm now in the process of working out exactly what I spend on DS in a month, so we can split the difference of that after child benefit too. One thing I was wondering about was hidden costs - stuff like electricity for having the washing machine on constantly and so forth. Did you factor that in? Wise words, too, about the ILs. Hoping we can keep things as smooth as possible ...

It's so wonderful to have MN to ask these questions and get such useful and kind advice. Doubtless I'll be back on many times over the next however-long-it-takes. Thanks so much.

What you say about thinking you might want to go back really strikes a chord. In my experience of break-ups this tends to happen anyway, so thanks for the warning - it's good to have it at the front of my mind so I can watch out for it. The key thing is to keep things stable for DS, so us wobbling back and forth just mustn't happen, I think.

It's wonderful to have MN on which to ask these questions and get such thoughtful, kind and helpful advice. Doubtless I'll be back on many times in the next however-long-it-takes. Thanks so much.

Ewe Tue 16-Sep-08 19:28:37

L&S - no advice as I'm in exactly the same boat, XP (I still hate typing that) properly split a month or so ago and I have DD 6 months, just wanted to send you my best.

It is bloody hard but my DD makes it worth it a million times over. We put together a parenting agreement type thing that we are largely sticking too but we do give one another flexibility within it.

LoveAndSqualor Wed 17-Sep-08 08:52:51

Ewe, so sorry to hear you're in this situation too. Agree that the DC do make up for it - and make it easier, in a way, as well as making it harder. I guess we'll go down the parenting agreement-with-flexibility route - do you mind me asking how you drew it up?

All best - thanks loads for the good wishes, sending some back your way smile

Ewe Fri 19-Sep-08 22:34:22

I googled loads to try and see what other people did/what it needs to cover, basically the key points were:

Contact, both day to day stuff and birthdays (hers and ours) Mothers/Fathers Day, Xmas etc. Try to give a weeks notice for changes in these.

Financial stuff, so agreed maintenance, split any large unexpected costs (of which there shouldn't be many at this age).

We committed to not relocate more than a 45 journey (in rush hour) away from one another.

Compiled a list of people who could babysit/have DD alone, both of our family & certain friends.

We agreed six months of exclusive dating before introducing any new partners. We agreed I would not bring men into our home, not that I can ever see meeting anyone being likely!

How we would deal with her being off sick from nursery i.e alternating days off work etc

Obviously that's it summarised, the actual document is fairly long. We're bpth trying to be flex about it and we'll review it 6monthly or as and when changes, like school etc, come up. I wrote and we discussed a couple of things, came to a solution, I redrafted and we signed. Not that I think it has any weight legally!

It is hard I try and focus on the fact that DD will not have to put up with her Mum and Dad not getting on which is horrible, and, at least it has happened now as opposed to later. Makes it easier I think!

mumoverseas Sat 20-Sep-08 09:55:31

As you are not married (I assume?) you do not need to get a separation agreement. As DP is on DC's birth certificate he will automatically have Parental Responsibility (which is defined as a bundle of rights and duties to include the right to be included in decisions such as DC's education, religious upbringing, medical treatment etc). The law changed a few years ago so that if an unmarried father was on the birth certificate he would automatically have PR. Prior to this, the parties would have needed to enter into a parental responsibility agreement which you'd both complete then lodge with the Court. By the sounds of it you don't need that though. If you've sorted out maintenance, thats great so no need to involve the dreaded CSA. Starting point was 15% of his net income (gross less tax, NI and pension contributions - unsurprisingly, many men suddenly increase their pension contributions prior to a csa assessment) for one child. CSA are supposed to be bringing in a new assessment scheme for new/first time applications but not sure if its in yet.
Ref residence/contact (previously called custody and access) you don't need to involve solicitors or go to court if it is all agreed. Since the Children Act 1989 there is the 'no order' principle in that the Judge will only make an order if absolutely necessary and if the best interests of the child/children. Therefore, if no dispute as to where your son will live and with regards to contact between him and DP then you don't need to involve solicitors and the courts. Hope this helps.

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