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Calling non resident parents... sorry long...

(11 Posts)
Lala1980 Tue 26-Feb-13 20:22:35

DP needing advice re. his ex.
DP is non resident parent. DSCs live with ex-wife and stay with DP every other weekend plus a week in school holidays.
This is as per a legal agreement following the divorce as DP is a farmer and works very long hours and can't guarantee being able to have them more, and has to work to be able to support them. He pays properly as per the CSA, but cannot really afford more than this.
Since the divorce, the ex-wife has become seemingly strange in her behaviour. Refusing to get a job when the youngest started school as it was more financially benefical to be on benefits, went from being quite normal looking to being covered in tattoos and piercings and hanging around with an odd crowd (drinks/drugs), doing cheap cash in hand "alt-modelling" i.e. cheap looking topless shots that look like they were taken by some pervy photographer in his living room, and generally refusing to cooperate and communicate with DP. At this point, can I add that DP did not break up the marriage - she had an affair, and he has (totally as far as I can see since I have been with him) been very fair, reasonable and almost too lenient on her when she makes demands on him last minute that he cannot possibly fullfil as he works full time (like an hour's notice that she cannot pick the kids up from school). When it is her weekend off, that is just that - even when one one child went into hospital on her weekend off, she wouldn't change her plans to be there for him).
DP if desperately worried about the kids as he sees her as becoming unstable, but she refuses to communicate with him about the kids. He would love to be resident parent and has offered to be as we live on his family farm, and despite his working hours he has a strong family support network of family also living on the farm. Unfortunately, cannot afford legal battle to try and change the current legal situation, which was the best thing at the time it was arranged.
This week, DP and ex-wife had a meeting at the school regarding one of the kids. Apparantly ex-wife kicked off in front of the head teacher saying that DP never helped/supported her, and that she was exhausted and depressed and couldn't have a life of her own as the kids are with her a majority of the time (yet she's always turned down DP's offers of support as she'd lose her benefits). Headteacher said social services should be contacted as the ex said she wasn't coping. She is claiming DP does nothing to help but she never responds when he offeres to help her. Either that or makes requests on completely unreasonable/impractical timescales.
DP thinks social services being involved is a good thing as it will only serve to sort out what is best for the kids.
What is the likely turnout for this situation? Does anyone have similar experience of being non-resident parent and having an incommunicative ex-RP? Is it likely DP would be awarded the kids? Or does the mother always get the kids regardless of whether she is a "fit" mother? Any advice or experiences appreciated...

mumandboys123 Tue 26-Feb-13 23:19:41

how is she 'unfit'? there is no law that says she has to work for a living - plenty of perfectly good parents never work for a whole host of reasons. Cash in hand is dodgy but how does it affect the children's welfare? if she is involved with a 'dodgy' crowd, how is that impacting on the children? is she drunk when they are in her care? is she high on drugs when they are in her care? are you able to prove that even though she hangs out with a 'dodgy' crowd, she is in fact abusing alcohol and/or drugs?

An 'offer of support' that involves the loss of benefits is hardly 'support', is it? when I ask for support, I expect someone to help me, to lighten the load. I don't expect them to take over completely - ie. have the children live with him. This isn't 'support'.

If the head teacher is concerned about the welfare of the children then that is a different issue. It would be worth your partner having a private meeting with the school and asking bluntly what they consider the issues to be. Are the children in school on time everyday? are they clean? are they over-tired? do they seem happy? have they said anything of concern? is their homework being done? If the school is concerned I would expect them to talk to Social Services themselves. Your partner should find out if a referral has been made. He can then contact Social Services if that is the case and take things from there.

If there is good reason to believe that the children are at genuine risk then no, mum won't get to keep them. However, what your DP considers 'risky' and what the authorities consider risky is likely to be different.

elliebellys Wed 27-Feb-13 13:34:03

totally agree mumnd boys.lala im a bit confused on your post tho,you stated your partner cant really have more time with the kids cos of his work,so how can he provide full time care of them?

Lala1980 Wed 27-Feb-13 18:14:41

Thank you for your responses guys!
Firstly, please bear with me as I am a non-parent and someone who has always worked for a living and never been on benefits so I am not familiar with the system etc.
Elliebellys - DP's hours can be so changeable due to weather, time of year, the farming calendar etc - however, his parents (DSCs grandparents), brother, cousins, uncles etc... live on the farm too and DP's mother is retired and can offer child care if DP does have to work - there is a really strong family support network here with responsible adults that the children know and love.
The other thing I forgot to add, mainly in response to mumsandboys123, is that DP with the current situation gives all the £ he is supposed to and can afford. Having the children here much extra without getting some sort of "discount" on maintainance and/or gaining some benefits ourselves would be hard with 4 additional mouths to feed...
Really trying to understand the situation and not antagonise - want what's best for the kids ultimately...

elliebellys Wed 27-Feb-13 19:18:28

lala,it seems to be all bout money.its no good havin a pop at the ex.she has stated she is struggling ,your dhs family can have them if needed ,even a couple of extra hours could make a difference for their doesnt need to cost your dp that much.has she stated what shes struggling with?

Lala1980 Thu 28-Feb-13 20:31:52

It is hard as money is tight. DP has offered to help with time repeatedly and she does not take him up on it but moans to everyone else she has no support... I guess the only way is to keep offering and hope she take him up on it?

mumandboys123 Thu 28-Feb-13 21:21:31

how is he offering? I know that sounds a stupid question, but let us know and maybe we can offer some kind of alternative.

It is unlikely she would want her to ex to thinks he wasn't coping. Somehow he probably needs to make her feel like she's doing him a favour, rather than the other way round?!

Mintberry Thu 28-Feb-13 21:29:26

From what you've said, perhaps if you took her to court you might get a bit more time with your step son, but it really doesn't sound like a big enough reason for a court to give your DP custody. It would be a massive upheaval of your SS's life. A few tattoos and ignoring her ex's texts, however much it may annoy you guys, doesn't mean it would be the best thing for the child to be taken from his home/mum.

If it really did turn out she had a drug problem, or neglected them, then that's another story, but you can't just insinuate, IYSWIM.

allnewtaketwo Fri 01-Mar-13 06:09:20

Mumandboys I completely disagree that he should ask her in a way that suggests she is doing him a favour. Faking a subservient agreement (when he is actually trying to help her out) is ridiculous. I strongly suspect she doesn't want him to help out because she doesn't want any less maintenance. Yet if the child is with him, so it would cost her less anyway, do that's nonsense (unless you think she's profiting from the money)

theredhen Fri 01-Mar-13 07:34:36

Your dp can self represent in court with the help of a Mckenzie friend. If he joins families need fathers, he will get lots of help and advice.

Cafcass would get involved and talk to the children and both parents.

Could your dp talk to social services about his concerns before trying to get custody?

As a step mum to 4 (3 non resident) for your sake, I'd try and get things more stable at mums with good consistent contact before going down the full custody route though.

mumandboys123 Fri 01-Mar-13 16:27:20

allnew - I see your point. I wasn't suggesting he is fake in anyway, more that the wording of the thing can make people feel better about what is happening? Kind of like the difference between the words 'bribe' and 'incentive'. Depends on where you sit, pretty much the same thing, just one words feels 'good' and the other doesn't!

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