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Looks like I'm about to get divorced, advice on 'shared parenting' pls

(18 Posts)
YoVicko Sat 29-Aug-09 18:32:44

Looks like I'm about to get divorced after being separated for a year (though not properly as even though he was living with the OW, he was shagging me behind her back, stupidly giving me hope he would come back)...

Anyway - he's now talking about divorce and marrying the OW - he wants 'shared parenting' and wants to have our DS 6 nights in a two week period. Does anyone have experience of his and any advice?

I will being going to a solitor next week but does anyone know if this will give him any claim to any of my assets (my flat, my savings). He hasn't got any assets of course, because although he earns quite a bit more than me, he's spent every penny except for the housekeeping on having a good time without me! He also wants to reduce the amount he's paying me - presumably so he can start playing happy families.

Grateful for some advice please.

mathanxiety Sat 29-Aug-09 20:49:18

Far better for the child to only see th DH on weekends (every other weekend), especially if the DS is in school and the nights with DH would be school nights. Going back and forth constantly is not good for children, they end up feeling they have no permanent 'home' and I would imagine it would be hard on a 6 yo to see daddy playing house with a 'new mummy' so soon after the final split. It's important for the child to understand that you are always his mother no matter who his dad is with (the OW will probably not be the only new woman in DHs life by the sound of it). Maybe if the relationship between your xDH and your DS is friendly the DH could give your DS dinner one weeknight, then bring him home to you at an agreed time that's not too late. But I would fight for as much stable home time with you as possible for your DS. As far as what he will pay you -- I would think this is based on his income not his 'expenses'. Since he earns more than you, he would be the one paying support, I would think.

NanaNina Sun 30-Aug-09 11:03:53

YoVicko - are the contact arrangements your X is proposing very different from what has been happening for the past year while you have been separated? Contact will not give your X any claim to any of your assets,especially as he earns more than you.

I am an independent socialworker and get involved with many private law cases involving contact arrangements. I know it is difficult especialy in cases like yours when the X is off playing"happy families" but if you want to ensure that your child comes through this as emotionally unscathed as possible, then it is absolutely imperative that you and your X reach agreement about contact and do it with good will (yes you may well have to act the part but it will be worth it for your child's sake) -contact arrnagements will need to be re-negotiated over time as children's interests change as they grow older. There is nothing more damaging to a child than to experience his parents fighting over contact and I see hurt and emotionally damaged children all the time as their parents fight over them.

I think if there is agreement and good will on both sides, the frequency of contact is of less importance. I think children will cope with whatever arrangements are made if they know that both parents are happy (or OK) about the arrangements. I know it's a tall order (especially in cases like yours) but it is the only way to protect children in the long run. Needless to say it is also essential to protect your child that neither you nor your X slags the other off in front of the child. Children are very very good at finding out about the absent father's feet of clay (if this is the case) when they are old enough to understand these things. How old is your child by the way?

I know of one awful situation (nothing to do with my professional work which is confidential) but a friend of a friend where the parents have fought over contact for the past 7 years. The little boy aged 8 now even has 2 sets of clothes which he has to change into at both of his "homes" - he is a very angry child with behaviour problems at school and home as a direct result I think of all the tension and fighting about contact.

Could you and your X go to mediation where you will be helped to make agreements about contact in the best interests of the child. Please please try to keep the matter out of the courts,because in my experience that is the "road to ruin" - you are at the mercy of CAFCASS social workers, some of whom are excellent others who don't really understand children and make recommendations to the courts with which you may be in total disagreement.

I think other women in your position (as one already has) will be advising you to "fight" for this or that and I well understand this as there is usually so much hurt and anger around, but it will makes things so difficult for your child, even though he may not say so. Children who are torn between parents have divided loyalties and usually bottle up their emotions and keep silent as they know they cannot talk to either parent about how they are really feeling.

I do understnad how difficult this is for you as you will be feeling hurt and angry about your X etc and your own needs may be uppermost in your mind which is not surprising, but do try to protect your child from the possibility of emotional harm which could affect him throughout his lifespan.

BonsoirAnna Sun 30-Aug-09 11:09:23

My DP and his exW have always done shared parenting - in fact, during term time, the DSSs are with us for six nights in every fourteen (during the school holidays we do 50:50, and they spend extra nights with us when their mother is on long business trips).

This has been and continues to be a very good arrangement for all concerned. However, I should emphasise that we chose to live 5 minutes' drive or a short bus ride or sscooter trip from the DSSs' mother's house, so that the boys have complete continuity of social and school life, whichever home they are at.

YoVicko Sun 30-Aug-09 12:01:35

Thanks everyone. Thanks NanaNina, I completely agree with you in terms of not wanting our 6 year old to suffer - he and his dad adore each other. Currently my ex has had our DS one week night (he does live nearby). I worry that he and the OW will move and that our DS will either lose contact with his dad or that if they have kids he will feel a bit left out.

BonsoirAnna - how did you come to the arrangement? were you the OW when your DP and his ex split? Was it all amicable aroud the childcare arrangements?

BonsoirAnna Sun 30-Aug-09 12:06:57

No, I wasn't an OW. I didn't have anything to do with the initial agreement on shared parenting, though I have got more involved over time as I have been affected by it and sometimes need to defend my own interests! My position has always been that I will support DP whatever decision he makes, providing we have a regular arrangement for having the boys (I cannot possibly cope with an open-door policy and it isn't good for children to think that they can swan in and out of two homes as they please).

mathanxiety Sun 30-Aug-09 23:32:38

A lot of your demeanour during the custody discussion will depend on how your DH behaves. Hence 'fight' in my post, based on my own experience of dealing with an oppositional man who had previously threatened to 'take the children away from me'. From what the OP described, she is dealing with a man who two timed both her and the OW, and who wants to have his cake and eat it as far as money goes too. This does not seem to me to be a man who is capable of seeing things from the point of view of anyone else. In fact, he seems to do his thinking with a part of his anatomy that is not between his ears, and self-interest comes first. If you suspect the DH and the OW will not stay in the area, then shared parenting will be difficult. If you suspect shared parenting is just being proposed in order to save face for your DH or any other reason aside from the interest of the DS, then try to get him to agree to what's best for the DS instead. How is reducing the amount of money he gives to you in the best interest of your DS? I think he is selfish, and that's his motivation.

MrsMerryHenry Sun 30-Aug-09 23:41:33

No advice, just <<hugs>>

Hope people give you lots of support and lovely surprises during this horrible time.

mmrred Sun 30-Aug-09 23:47:01

My XH had a real wobble when we first split up, and didn't see DD for several months. He worked out his problems, though, and we sorted out a shared care agreement that wasn't exactly 50/50 but meant he was still a part of her everyday life, rather than a fortnightly babysitter.

I challenge Mathanxiety to provide any evidence for the assertion that it is 'better' for a child to only see a parent fortnightly. I think phrases like 'playing house' are just silly, TBH.

Nananina's post is excellent, couldn't agree more, but would also add that OP's open mind, despite all the hurt, is a great indicator that things will work out OK.

alypaly Mon 31-Aug-09 00:08:37

keep it amicable for the childs sake.
has he actually abandoned the family home or is he still living with you

alypaly Mon 31-Aug-09 00:16:40

i got a legal and binding contract drawn up about how much he wud pay me and the boys,if i was single,how much if i was co habiting. I also got shared joint responsibility signed and sealed in a court of law a a legally binding document which prevents the other person from taking the child out of the country without the others permission. We went thro it all together,finances, they were both privately educated and he cannot reduce the standard of living just cos he is leaving. But if he doesnt live with you anymore things may be different. I actually paid my ex 10k to go, as i felt this was a fair amount as he had contributed to my household bills for 7 years. My house was mine way b4 i met him...but although he did the dirty on me a was totally fair with him. The boys and i have reaped the benefits over the years...he never renaiged on any monthly payments and our meetings are always totally amicable.... which has ultimately lead to the boys being very level headed and has never emotionally scarred them

NanaNina Mon 31-Aug-09 11:16:40

YoVicko - I would try not to worry too much about what might happen in the future i.e. x and OW moving and X losing touch with your son and the implications of other children coming along. Glad to hear that your son and his dad have a really good relationship- that's a good start! It sounds from what you say that your X wants to significantly increase contact so maybe he is worrying that he could lose touch with his son,and if that's the case then I think that is a good sign.

If your X and the OW have children this will of course make a difference to your son's position with his dad and in that family - it can't not really. One good thing though he is going to be least 6/7 years older than any children that might come alone and he willnever lose his position as his dad's eldest child. However you can't really predict what will happen and to be honest I think you have enough to worry about at the moment.

I have experience of being a step parent and of living with a P who was/is step parent to my son. They are all grown up now but it was not easy and there was quite a bit of tension and stress. However that's another story. I was young at the time and didn't handle it all very well. Also there are now a lot of books about step parenting and other info that was not available when I was in that position.

I think the important thing is that whatever happens you will be there for your son to offer him the security and stability and unconditional love that he needs to thrive throughout his life. You can't control what happens with his dad or the OW but you can make certain that he knows that you will always be there for him. The very fact that you are thinking ahead and worrying how your little boy might be affected is proof positive that you will always seek to put his needs first. You sound like a very insightful and mature person and I wish you every success in the future.

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 31-Aug-09 11:33:09

Message withdrawn

BonsoirAnna Tue 01-Sep-09 08:12:15

"School holidays and Christmas should be split 50/50."

We have come to the conclusion, after several years amicable experience, that while over the whole year children should be spending 50% of their total holidays with each parent, splitting holidays down the middle is a nightmare scenario!

This year, the DSSs are going to spend the whole of their two-week Christmas holiday with their mother and the whole of their two-week Easter holiday with us - so that we can actually go away and do something!

And the summer holidays are no longer allocated July/August on alternate years but rather split into more shorter periods.

queenrollo Tue 01-Sep-09 09:07:39

i am in a fortunate position of getting on very well with my ex. DS is now 4 and our arrangement is that i have him Fri-Mon as his dad works away at weekends. To begin with we stuck rigidly to this and now we can be a little flexible over our arrangements without it unsettling DS. We operate the same routines and discipline across both households and DS has tweaked this himself (bedtime for example has differences in each household which were instigated by him), his possessions are his and he can move them between households as he sees fit. At the moment i don't speak to my son (on the phone)on the three days he is at his dad's because we have found this is too upsetting for him, but he knows he can phone any time he wants and occasionally does (sometimes it's an emotional call, sometimes to ask me silly questions grin) We are Home Educating so we don't have school to work around which i understand will make sorting arrangements more difficult.
Being consistent about the arrangements is very important in my opinion. It may make life for the adults a little difficult to begin with, but giving a child emotional security takes priority in my opinion. Once the child feels secure about his situation a little flexibility now and then is possible.

I can't comment on money as X and I have no financial arrangement, we just make sure between us that ds has what he needs.

You know your son best, and will have to make a judgement as to what will work for him. If your ex is serious about shared parenting then he will take on board that finding a way of doing it which suits your son is the most important aspect. I hate the fact that i am away from my son for three days every week, but my son is happy and that's what i want most in the world.

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 01-Sep-09 13:54:05

Message withdrawn

BonsoirAnna Tue 01-Sep-09 13:56:55

Yes I agree - I just was pointing out that it is best to be creative in your use of 50/50 if you don't want (as was going to happen to us this year) to get completely stuck over holidays because handover was going to happen on 26 December - which meant we couldn't leave the country for Christmas.

And it is much cheaper to take an Easter break Tuesday to Tuesday or Wednesday to Wednesday than Saturday to Saturday. Being forced into spending a lot of extra money on flights when all the boys would do with the rest of the holidays was hang around at home was very annoying!

Hassled Tue 01-Sep-09 14:07:49

I did this with oldest 2 DCs and ex-DH, after an initial period on my own with them. He had them Sun, Mon and Tues nights, I had the rest of the week. We were both working FT so I wouldn't see them at all between Sun and Wed evening when I picked them up from after school club. Having had them pretty much all to myself for a long time before that, I found it really hard and it did have practical problems - handing over school uniform/PE kits etc. Eventually I went PT so I picked them up from school and Ex would collect on his way home from work.

From the DC's POV, it worked really well. It helped Ex and I become the good friends we are today, and even now (they're 22 and 20) they tend to stick to Dad Nights and Mum Nights when they're around. It can work out well, but does take a lot of effort. I do believe that if you can make it work it's the best thing for the children.

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