Extra Contact issues(23 Posts)
Just after a bit of advice really. Have two DSD'S- 11 and 13 yo. DP and I have been together since they were small and also have a dd who is 2yo.
Ever since I have known DP, contact and maintenance has been set up by means of a court order and the CSA. He has paid on time without fail, paid extra when he can, and has kept to the contact order (EOW) bar the odd occasion which was fully agreed with by ex. She by turn has also occasionally asked for variations on the contact order which we have also agreed to when possible. When we can, and mostly in school hols, we have also asked for adhoc additional time which ex has facilitated when convenient. In recent times, we have all been more flexible because of the DSD'S ages. All in all, very amicable but DP doesn't really communicate with ex in any more detail other than basic dates etc.
Recently though, we have had several last-minute requests from ex to have DSC on odd days here and there during the week, including school drop-off's and pick-ups, after-school stuff they've needed to attend etc etc as she has wanted to go away. This hasn't often been possible for us due to work commitments, and also sorting out DD etc. Basically, our 'weekday' routine is geared up to fit round working, dd and childcare as has been the situation for years. Weekends are geared up for having the DSD with us as well.
Of course, It is not a problem to have the DSD's for extra time- we have done so many many times when we have planned it carefully, but the issue is with the fact it is last minute, and usually involves stuff within work hours.
We can sense that DP's ex is becoming frustrated when we do have to say "no" and I am just wondering whether it is anything she can enforce? Are we entitled to just say no if we really can't manage it?
Just as extra info, when DP and ex split, she was adamant that she wanted the DSC for the majority of the time. DP agreed and thus the contact order was arranged. ex is remarried, with lots of family living close-by and in previous years we have been bottom of the list when she's needed to go away. Both DP and I also agree (for lots of reasons) that it is unlikely to be the DSD's requesting extra time with us.
We used to have a similar situation with DHs ex and the simple answer is no, she cant make you have extra time with the children. Even if your DH wanted to have them for less time than set out in the contract order, she cant do anything about it (but she could possibly claim higher CSA payments if youre having the children for less nights per week).
And tbf - it's been a long time things do change.
I think he needs to sit down and discuss with her - can they bus to yours etc?? I expect my DCs to provide a degree of flexibility - he is still dad.
Can you not just tell her you're happy to have them, but need x amount of weeks notice? That sounds fair enough.
The Court Order is the default position if parents cannot agree - and if you've worked hard to create a routine that accommodates that Order, then any expectation from the DCs mum that your DP should be available for additional contact at short notice is unreasonable.
If the DCs mum is unable to fulfil the responsibilities that the court order places on her, then she needs to be upfront about that - not hiding behind excuses of I thought you'd like to see them more or similar - if she believes that the DCs will benefit from more contact then it can be arranged in advance, surely?
Thanks for the replies. We live at the back of beyond with no bus stops even remotely near so very dependent on cars. We have often had dsd's for extra time here and there but pre-planned and organised several weeks in advance. The sort of thing that's happening is a text say on a Monday, saying can they come thurs after school and be taken to school on Friday. Don't mind in the slightest that she's asked, but I sense a bit of resentment building up because the answer in these sorts of situation is often no. It belongs to another thread really but quite sure Dsd's would not be asking for the extra time themselves as they have been keen to cut short contact when they can. We are really happy to be flexible, and particularly at weekends when we've changed contact willingly to fit in with parties, seeing friends etc but its really hard to be flexible in he middle of a working week with little notice. I think perhaps a chat between dp and ex would be good, but do wonder how she'd respond hence why I was curious whether it could be enforced.
Could they be dropped off early at school?? (if they are both in same school?)
No it cant be enforced.
Yes have done this once or twice but dsd's weren't keen as was very early really. It also even then didn't allow enough time to drop dd at nursery and then be at work so ok for rare occasions but not last minute.
Do you know why she's doing it? Has she recently taken a new job with longer hours or something?
I think you're fine to say no, and it's probably helpful if you offer a brief explanation of why not (eg won't be back from time that day) or offer a compromise (eg you can have them but she drops off at yours, or offers to pay for a taxi to get to school the next morning) - ie try to show willing but don't feel you have to say yes to every request.
I speak both as a step mum, and as a mum of DCs who quite often asks her ex to have the kids for odd extra nights here and there. 90% of the time it's because of work comitments, and ocassionally because DP and I want to do something together. I accept that my ex can say no to requests but accept it more easily if he gives a reason. Even if your relationship's amicable, it may be better if hte answer comes from your DP rather than you, as I have had conflict with my ex when it feels like his DW is calling the shots and opposing contact.
Nearly all requests have been for social reasons rather than work. Not sure why we have been asked more often recently. Agree that is better to come from dp the majority of the time if the answer is no.
If it's social reasons, then presumably it's their mum going out in the evenings. At 13 and 11, are they old enough to be left alone? I would have thought if not, that they soon will be - assuming they're reasonably sensible girls. That ought to mean that their mum can have an evening out without needing to disrupt everyone's routine and move them to a different house. Is that something your DP could discuss with her? Your DP or you could always offer to be at the other end of the phone for them the first few times.
Would agree that it's not in their best interests to be dumped between houses on a frequent basis at short notice. Nice to help out once in a while, but not helping the DSDs if it's happening a lot.
A dad isn't just for the weekends and I don't see why her reasons are Anyones business but her own, nor do I think the girls not liking being early for school (so long as it's not ridiculous aka 6am) is relevant.
I speak as someones who's SCs and the ex were a complete and utter nightmare.
I think their dad - now he knows there is an issue, needs to sit down with mum (or a civil call) and identify a way forward. The past is just that and if she wants him to have them more than eow and hols, and given their ages (ie they don't need constant chaperoning) he should be looking to try to accommodate it - even if it means dropping them home earlyish.
(and Monday for Thursday doesn't seem last minute to me)
I think she is being a bit unreasonable. Why can't you all agree on set days during the week when they are with you so you can all plan your lives accordingly.
If your DP and his Ex can't communicate then there is always the mediation route and see if you can alter the current rota.
I think it's a bit shit to expect you to drop everything when you've been told exactly where and when you are supposed to have the girls IMO
A dad is a dad and not a convenient babysitter, some rp don't seem to realise this.
No Dads aren't just for weekends.
So he could be given more contact on a regular and more official basis.
Capslockon - regardless of the reasons behind these recent requests for extra contact ....... I'm assuming your DP pays maintenance on the basis of your 'standard' arrangement, if you were to start having the children for extra nights on a regular basis, it might be an idea to review the maintenance calculation, as it would mean your DP may have to pay less each month.
My DH's ex used to want DH to have DSS for as much extra time as possible, but if we ever had him for even a few hours less than the standard arrangement, she'd make noises about the CSA. DH always used to say that if she wanted to claim more money for times when we had DSS less, then he'd ask for a rebate on the weeks when we had DSS more - she wasn't entitled to have it both ways!
Thank you for the responses. It's good to have input from both sides of the fence. Dp is I suppose a 'weekend' dad but only in the sense that it is when we have usually seen the girls. This in itself was what was wanted by his ex although I do appreciate that things change. However, he is not in weekend dad in terms of how he perceives and thinks about the girls. They are taken into consideration with things we decide or do during the week and we are on contact with them via telephone and Facebook too.
Only a short while ago, there was an issue that became obvious to us about elder dsd and school. Dp telephoned his ex to discuss as he did feel it was significant. He was told firmly that he was not to parent her during her time and she wouldn't parent them during his. He was really upset by this. It was wasn't a big shouty argument- as I said- they try and remain amicable, but it was just a matter of fact statement on her part.
The point is that ex seems generally fine with the fact that we have our set contact times, and on the occasions we have been asked to do a night mid week, it has been so that she can go away overnight with her DH. I really don't mind at all being asked, but unfortunately we don't have the type of job where we can get an afternoon or Morning off at short notice. It's different if someone is ill of course, but time off is booked in advance with lots of our holiday being used in half terms and other school holidays so we can facilitate contact then too.
It would be DPs dream to have a really flexible job or work from home but at the moment it is about paying bills, making sure all three girls don't go without.
I think you have every right to want to make plans for your own life and home, even if that is just a quiet evening in without DP ex thinking she can overrule that on a whim.
Don't be made to feel guilty for not being a drop everything and accomodate babysitter.
If the kids want more contact, it can be on your terms, but it doesn't appear that this is about the kids anyway.
I don't think there's anything wrong with her giving him first refusal, but she shouldn't expect it iyswim? I agree that Monday for Thursday is far too little notice for a non-emergency though - is there any chance of doing a regular week night say once a month?
How does she react when/ if he says no? If she is fine about it then she may just be giving him first refusal which is something that a lot of seperated parents do and something that can benfit the children.
Personally I take the view that where possible, parents should use their own support network if "babysitting" is required because to me, anything else seems a little like using the ex as a convenient dumping ground. But I can see both points of view. The key thing here is communication. They need to both understand if this is a first refusal situation - and can that work without bitterness if the other says no. And also (although I appreciate that this rarely happens) they need to agree not to point score.
What makes me think that this is unlikely to happen is the weird phone call about not parenting the child in the other parent's time. That is just silly. I comepletely agree that one parent can't enforce their rules on the other house and why should they. But if it is a general welfare or behaviour issue then the children absolutely come first and of course the two of them should speak and come up with a plan. It s a huge diservice to the children if she can't be adult enough to do that.
It sounds to me like Mum could do with some evening time to herself, but maybe doesn't quite want to make it official - possibly for maintenance reasons, possibly pride... possibly something else. But as the children are approaching an age where things do come up fairly last minute, she might be finding that they are less "portable" and she does need more inout fromtheir Dad. But if this is the case she needs to communicate or the previously amicable arrangement will go down the toilet very very quickly, which would be a shame.
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