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Court Order worthless

(38 Posts)
NotaDisneyMum Thu 28-Mar-13 07:20:49

DP has already been asked by his ex to vary (significantly) the contact arrangements in place for the summer holidays this year. Her proposal reduces length of the blocks of time DSS spends with us, but doesn't reduce the overall number of days iyswim.

If DP refuses, then we know that DSS will spend days at a time in the sole care of his grandmother, for whom he is being given increasing caring responsibilities when he is with her.

It seems like the court order is worthless after all angry

theredhen Thu 28-Mar-13 07:51:50

There's two ways of looking at this either you think about what's best for dss short term. Ie. you agree to proposed changes and ensure dss isn't put in the position of being a carer. Or you refuse to budge and insist on sticking to court order which might mean going back to court for enforcement and will probably mean dss ends up as carer.

However, do you know he definetely won't be used as a carer if you agree to this?

If you do agree, there will be more requests to come for changes to contact because you will have set the status quo.

NotaDisneyMum Thu 28-Mar-13 12:08:03

He'll be caring for grandma at other times anyway - but his mums request is undoubtedly linked to her shift pattern, so if DP refuses to agree to the changes, the amount if time DSS is being 'looked after' by grandma will be greater.

It was ex's work patternthat led to the court order in the first place. When they spilt, DP 'had' the DCs when mum was working - but she did consider it 'childcare' rather than valuable contact. She'd often call in sick to work and tuen up to collect the DCs unexpectedly, and if she did consecutive night shifts, she expected the DCs to go back to her for 2 hours after school in between - carrying the associated luggage to and from homes/school each day.

DP would happily arrange contact around his ex's work as long as its stable and agreed - not considered the last resort for her, which she wil do anything to avoid. The court totally disregarded her working because she was on long-term suspension when the case was heard and she didn't raise it. She's been relying on her mum for years now - who is getting increasingly frail. DP thinks its one of the motivators behind her discouraging DSD from going to college - he thinks she promised grandma that when Dsd left school she'd no longer have to look after the DCs; but if course, if Dsd goes away, Mum is left with the problem of who cares for DSS when she is working/sleeping.

flurp Thu 28-Mar-13 12:33:41

How old is he?
I guess you have to agree to her request as the alternative isn't good. Seems a bit like blackmail to me though. sad

NotaDisneyMum Thu 28-Mar-13 13:02:06

He's 9 - and struggling with a lot of aspects of life at the moment; DPs doing what he can but his ex refuses to acknowledge that there are any issues and if there are, they're all DPs fault and DSS would be fine if he didn't have to see his Dad regularly. sad

It is 'blackmail' - she's found a way to get what she wants (DP being a babysitter when she needs one) even though a court order is in place.

purpleroses Thu 28-Mar-13 13:07:15

Depends how much it would put you out to meet her requests tbh. It's only March now, so she is giving you reasonable notice of the requests. And what she'll do for childcare if you refuse is something you'll have to leave to her, really, unless you have serious concerns for DSS's wellbeing.

I don't think it makes the court order worthless. They're never intended to rules people's lives for evermore - either parent can ask for a bit of flexibility, and you say she's respected the total amount of contact time awarded. Think I'd be inclined to go with it, unless there;s a holiday or something that you've booked or want to book which can't be done with her rota suggestion. You could say yes, but ask for any swap around that suit you in return at the same time.

I don't think it's that unreasonable to expect your DP to care for DSS when she's working if possible though. If I need to go away for work or will be back late, I usually ask my ex to have the DCs. And I kind of expect him to say yes unless he's got good reason not to. That's what you'd do if you were still living with someone, so can't see any reason not to arrange contact around (both) parent's working arrangements, unless, as I said, the detail of what she's suggested doesn't work for you.

allfornothing Thu 28-Mar-13 14:20:18

I also don't think it's unreasonable to alter the arrangements, as you say - she has no one else to help her, what can she do?

mumandboys123 Thu 28-Mar-13 15:22:56

Notadisneymum - I am not sure that a parent can technically 'babysit' their own children.

Presumably mum has to earn a living to keep a roof over hers and her child's head? If that's the case, then why is it unreasonable that your partner takes some responsibility for caring for the child during the school holidays which are a difficult time for any parent to deal with (unless they work in education)? Is your partner able to accommodate the times that she has asked for or will it mean a reduction in income for him (or is it you that will have to care for the child rather than him)? Will it cost him anything additional to have the child at the time that mum would prefer rather than the previously agreed times? does it mean that you won't be able to take a holiday you had already planned if your partner agrees to the new timetable? Do you not consider it reasonable that some flexibility is agreed between parents regarding contact time?

NotaDisneyMum Thu 28-Mar-13 17:51:06

I appreciate I've not given the whole backstory, but there is no way DP will go back to a situation where his contact with his DCs is solely dictated by a copy of a shift-pattern rota pinned up on the fridge.

DP desperately tried to avoid court, but when his ex turned up on the doorstep on NYE, the day after the DCs had arrived, and told them, yet again, that 'Daddy doesn't need to look after you now, I've managed to swap my shifts' he decided a court order was the only option.
DPs proposal was that he picked the DCs up from school on the days that their mum was working, and dropped the back the next day. If she was working consecutive nights, then they'd stay with him - she never did more than 4 nights in a row.
It was his ex who assured her solicitor that her work commitments were not a problem and that she could care for them 24:7 so DP ended up with every other weekend. Of course, as soon as ex was reinstated at work, then she had to find a solution - and she never spoke to DP about it - still doesn't.

So, now the arrangements she has put in place rather than allow their Dad to care for them are less than ideal for the DCs, she wants DP to flex the court order to suit her work again. DP is dned if he does and damned if he doesn't - but I won't allow my life and that of my DD to be dictated to by his ex. I'm scared that if DP does agree to this, it will be a matter if days before she changed her mind and tells DP that she "doesn't need him to babysit the DCs anymore". Those are her words and accurately reflect the role that she considers my DP has in her DCs lives sad

NotaDisneyMum Thu 28-Mar-13 18:15:08

Actually mumandboys you make a very good point - all DP has to do is say that he can't guarantee he'll be available for all the dates she's listed but not to worry because I can look after DSS if he's not there and she'll do anything rather than agree to that.

I appreciate I may seem inflexible, but the court order was put in place after she withheld contact when DP proposed the arrangements around her shifts that I've outlined above. This is not a woman who considers her DCs dad to have a meaningful role in their lives.

allfornothing Thu 28-Mar-13 18:24:45

NADM, I hear your pain- she is calling the shots here, but the way I see it ( and I appreciate I'm being a bit black/white here) is that if your nights aren't being cut, it doesn't matter one iota whether she thinks your DP's role is worthless, because those are her thoughts and you can't change them. I'ts pretty obvious that she knows deep down their father isn't a non-person because she's asking for his help. Her actions are contradicting her words, so maybe take some small comfort in that?
I've learned the hard way you can't change the way someone thinks, bug you can change the effect those words have on you.

NotaDisneyMum Thu 28-Mar-13 18:52:18

No -she's not asked for help - she's told him she wants to change the court ordered contact. It is DSD who has told us why - that she and Dss look after grandma and that her grandma has told them they she has had enough and doesn't want to do it anymore so 'their Dad will have to'.

Maybe I wasn't clear - ex hasn't asked for anything - she has told DP what she wants to do over the summer regarding contact with no explanation.

allfornothing Thu 28-Mar-13 19:52:40

But however she presented her case to you is irrelevant because there is a court order that she has to abide by- you and your dp hold all the cards regardless of how she has made her request and I think you shouldn't get hung up on the fact that she 'told' you she wants to change it. If you want, you could make her stick to the order and disregard anything she says - but in all honestly, if she is struggling with her elderly mother, and care of your Dss while try into hold down shift work, then I'd say for your Dss sale that you should try to support her. If you feel that she is taking the mick again further down the line, you can always use the court order to make her tow the line- you at least have that security there. As it stands though, it seems to me that you're acting out of principle, and I think that when people get 'stuck' on principles there can be wider implications, namely your Dss.

mumandboys123 Thu 28-Mar-13 20:12:25

I'm sorry it's so difficult. I think I have to agree with allfornothing on this one, however. Just be flexible! There is an impact on the child here - if mum can't work, ultimately she will lose her job = impact on the child. If mum keeps leaving child with elderly parent, he's perhaps not getting the care he could (although I have to say, my mum is elderly at 77 but is invaluable as help to me in a way my ex has never been and as long as she appears to be coping and the children enjoy being with her - which they do - I will be using her to help me out when necessary!) = impact on the child. Presumably, the child will be better off spending the time with dad? If dad isn't getting any less time and there is no impact for you as a family (financial or having to miss a holiday, for example) then it's being stuck on the principle as allfornothing says....not healthy. Least alone the child.

NotaDisneyMum Thu 28-Mar-13 21:22:41

Thanks ladies - you are of course right, It would be best for DSS if DP takes the high ground, and concedes to his ex's request because DSS will be better of with him than with grandma. It's a pity that DSS mum doesn't see it the same way and accept that DSS will benefit if DP had a more equal share of parenting.

But, it's not up to me, and whatever DP decides will impact on me and DD as well.

allfornothing Thu 28-Mar-13 21:34:55

You know your Dss will benefit from being with his dad, your dp knows it, and deep down, so does the ex, otherwise she wouldn't be asking. I know it irks, but let go of the idea that you'd like her to recognise dads role in his ds's life, because she won't do that. Console yourselves with the fact that what she says is not only contradicting her actions, but it's also irrelevant. Neither of you need her to concede that you're important in dss's life- you knowyou are.

In spite of all this,I do think she sounds like she's having a hard time of it, it's not your responsibility to buffer that- but she is alone, doing shift work, with a child and elderly mother to care for. I know you don't feel so generous towards her for what she puts you all through, but it is a lot for one person to handle on their own and it will be Dss who will benefit from your help.

Believe me, I've wasted years of my life seeking recognition from someone who was never going to give it to me. Just know that you're doing the best you can.

NotaDisneyMum Thu 28-Mar-13 21:46:08

allfor I would have enormous sympathy for the DSC mum if she acknowledged and accepted the myriad of support that has been offered to her.
She drives scores of additional miles a week to ferry her mum to and from her house to 'look after' the DCs overnight - when they could make their own way here, less than a mile away, and make their way to school in the mornings.
DP would happily arrange his schedule to have DSS while his mums working over the school holidays - but his ex prefers to rely on the DCs grandma despite the reluctance that grandma expresses to the DCs about doing it.
The schools have offered DSS and DSD support to help them deal with the additional responsibilities of caring for grandma (and DSD caring for DSS) but she has denied that they need that support.

How can you sympathise with someone who is having a hard time when they refuse to accept help but choose to subject their family to a struggle by doing it alone?

NotaDisneyMum Thu 28-Mar-13 21:53:36

Her life is difficult because she refuses to accept any support that will expose the DCs to more contact with their dad.

allfornothing Thu 28-Mar-13 22:03:49

In all honestly, what you've just said hasn't changed my position- she sounds under massive pressure, and doesn't feel (perhaps due to previous litigation etc) that she can ask you guys to take on more care of dss. That's a shame and certainly not one I'm saying is your fault- but it's still happening none the less.
I never ask my ex for any additional support because he holds it against me relentlessly and even though I have hugely struggled in the past, I wouldn't let him know about it because of how he interprets it ( ie, that I'm not coping)

I also think you've kinda lost sight a bit about the fact that the grandma is her mother and not someone who she views in the same way you do. You speak about her being a burden on the children etc, and support that school have offered, but can you see that perhaps the ex doesn't see her mother like that? There are tons of families who look after older members of the family and the children muck in along the way- I'm not sure I'd be delighted if a third party was suggesting I or my children need professional support in dealing with what many families see as part of normal life.

I get that she has been an arse to you- I really do, but i honestly believe you're over thinking some aspects of their family dynamic. The fact that she goes to extreme lengths to get childcare (and to avoid asking dad for help) might just be because of your fractious history, rather than because she doesn't care about the children's well-being.

NotaDisneyMum Fri 29-Mar-13 12:47:52

DPs response is one I hadn't considered!

When his parents last saw the DSC, they picked them up from grandma and she (grandma) took the opportunity to play the victim complain about how hard it was for her to look after the DCs during the long school holidays.
DPs parents reminded her that the DCs have two sets of grandparents reassured her that they would be delighted to have the DSC stay with them for some of the holidays, and all their Mum had to do was ask next time she called (they speak regularly as DPs parents fund some if the out of school activities that that DSC take part in).

So, DP is going to suggest that his parents call his ex and make the offer directly, and take it from there.

allfornothing Fri 29-Mar-13 14:49:46

Play the victim? NADM on one hand you're saying the grandma is struggling to care for the dc's and next you're saying she plays the victim. I think no matter what, you've got your views on the ex and her mum, and you're not going to shift from those views or concede that they're in a difficult situation. Good luck with it all.

NotaDisneyMum Fri 29-Mar-13 17:29:47

allfor Taking the high ground is bloody difficult when the DCs mum is reminding them and DP weekly how she doesn't want the DCs to see him and why won't he do the decent thing and leave them alone.

She has screwed up her DCs - even if you conclude that DSD choice not to have contact with her Dad for two years was solely because of me, how do you explain the fact that she has now re-established contact and is seeking her Dads support to deal with the circumstances her mum puts her in? She has asked for help; from her Dad, and from the school - and her Mum has sworn and yelled at her for doing so - and dismissed and denied the circumstances exist.

Yes, I'm sure I should be sympathetic and supportive towards DPs ex - she is a single working mum with an elderly mother who requires care and support. But you know what? I call that Karma; consequences; the natural conclusion to the choices she has made with no thought or consideration to her DCs. If that makes me a WSM, then so be it.

allfornothing Fri 29-Mar-13 17:56:15

But don't you see that your 'karma' will have yet another negative effect on the children who you say are screwed up enough? Honesty I understand that you feel no empathy for the woman, and nor should you be expected to- but I'm struggling to understand where you're coming from when you say you won't help out in the name of karmic retribution. That's not a healthy way to's very sad for the Dss in particular.

NotaDisneyMum Fri 29-Mar-13 18:04:27

In not saying I wont help, exactly the opposite. As it happens, we avoid me having sole care DSS because he gets so stressed at the time, and interrogated afterwards should his mum find out (and he feels the need to report back to her at the moment).

What I'm not prepared to do is dance to her tune. If she's prepared to sit down with DP, discuss the issue and agree a solution that suits both her, DP and most importantly, the DCs then I'm right behind him. If she makes demands with no explanation, and expects our household to defer to her just because we've concluded from the DCs they 'she's having a tough time' then I'm afraid I'm out. There is no way I'm putting my DD through they again.

allfornothing Fri 29-Mar-13 18:38:16

Right, so going back to your op- your court order is not useless. But then you already know that.

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