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What does shared residency actually involve?

(192 Posts)
nicknamegame Tue 01-Oct-13 22:29:56

I don't wish to start a thread about a thread as I know it's not the done thing, so if you want some background - I posted on AIBU last night.

Basically what I'd like to know is what a shared residency order actually involves in terms of decisions made regarding the child. I know that issues such as schooling etc needs to be joint, as well as medical care, but what about changing the child's appearance? My dd's hair has been cut quite short without letting me know and I wondered where this all falls under the 'shared' residency. (If it does at all)


Anyone have an order that they can shed some light on regarding these matters? (Perhaps it's a legal question I need to ask, apologies if so)

ChinaCupsandSaucers Tue 01-Oct-13 22:46:02

The is No difference at all.

Shared residency doesn't change the status of the parent - it is a legal acknowledgement that the DC has two homes, that is all.

Actually, that's not entirely true - a parent who has residency (in your case both of you) can remove the DC from the country for 4 weeks without permission from the other parent.

Nothing else.

As I said on your other thread, anyone named on a residency order is automatically granted PR if they don't already have it.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Tue 01-Oct-13 22:48:10

And, even a NRP with PR can change the DCs appearance - haircuts, piercings, braces, surgery....unless you get a specific issue order, you can't prevent your DDs dad from consenting to these independently of you.

nicknamegame Tue 01-Oct-13 22:53:06

How do you think a judge would view these things though china? I always let my ex know if I was cutting hair- he would offer an opinion etc and I've even sent photos in the past. To lop off her hair (not him, her sm) without consulting the other parent- isnt it considered bad form?

Sadmummy13 Wed 02-Oct-13 00:01:34

Just wrote a massive post and lost it grrr! In short OP, I hope you get help as I also read your other thread (I would never dream of cutting dsd hair OR get her her first shoes. Is your dsd's SM a mum? Dose she realise the importance of there milestones?). I didn't post on your other thread as it's not always SM friendly. Most SM's would see this as a massive overstep. Not much help sorry thanks

ChinaCupsandSaucers Wed 02-Oct-13 07:50:39

Bugger - just lost a long reply.

I don't think a judge would look favourably on a specific issue order relating to cutting a DCs hair, sorry.

But there are things you can do. My strategy was to involve as many professionals in DDs life as possible, in order for them to conclude for themselves what the situation was. I didn't slag ex off, get upset or even place blame.

First, ensure that all the professionals involved in DDs life already are aware of you. Dentist, GP, childcare, brownies, optician etc. Ask your ex for the details of who DD is registered with (you might have to get a solicitors letter if he's stubborn), then you write to all of them, including DDs school asking them to seek your consent for treatment/trips etc in addition to her Dads. They don't have to, but most will, to avoid litigation.

Go to DDs school. Tell them you and her Dad are high conflict. Say you are worried about DD. Don't criticise him. Don't blame him. Just present the facts - you've been to court, but things are still fraught and you and her Dad can't speak to each other. Ask them what they can offer DD to help her deal with this. He'll condemn himself in their eyes if he resists play therapy or anything else that THEY recommend.

Seek mediation with your ex - again. If you can't face it, seek counselling for yourself to equip yourself with the skills to deal with him. If he refuses, keep a record and try again at a later date.

Visit The Family Separation Clinic for help. Make an appointment.

Minimise your DDs stepmum in your mind. If your DD says "stepmum says....", ask her what daddy says. Think of this as an issue between you and your ex. He is responsible - not your DDs stepmum.

The more your ex tries to push you out of your DDs life, the more you can become involved. Unless the court order specifically prevents it, attend parent assemblies/concerts/ceremonies even when DDs in her Dads care. Stick to the strategy and he won't be able to exclude you from your DDs life.

Xalla Wed 02-Oct-13 15:42:34

My DH had it written into the Parenting Agreement attached to his SRO that neither parent could 'drastically change the appearance of X or pierce her ears without the agreement of the other'.

His ex has since done both and realistically, there's nothing he can do about it.

An SRO is certainly a nice thing to have but I can't see from my DH's experience, that it holds much weight with anything other than the leaving the country for over 4 weeks without permission thing.

nicknamegame Wed 02-Oct-13 17:02:19

Thanks for the replies guys.
China, great advice there about how to avoid alienation. I know you've been there.

The thing is...I'm not annoyed about the cut in itself. Dd asked for it, likes it and its fine. But for me to see it at the school gates and do a very bad job of hiding my shock from dd, that's when I feel pissed off. My reaction upset her - she isn't daft and knew I was upset despite me smiling and saying it was lovely. Why put her in that position? And why is sm cutting my child's hair then telling dd to hide it from me on the phone? Inexcusable.
My sol said judges can get pretty annoyed at steps taking actions like this while keeping the parent in the dark, but sol also said I should not react, so I won't. My only worry is what's next? SM seems to have set herself up in competition with me on issues to do with my child's development and its hard to let it all go. Funny enough, neither of them are competitive when it comes to doing anything like homework, enrolling her in a club, buying school shoes or contributing to her enrichment outside of the 4 days she is there. Go figure

ChinaCupsandSaucers Wed 02-Oct-13 19:26:31

My only worry is what's next? SM seems to have set herself up in competition with me on issues to do with my child's development and its hard to let it all go

So sit down and think about what your ex might do next, so you are forewarned. Ear piercing? Talk to your DD about the school rules and how if she does want them done, then it has to be at the beginning of the school holidays. Milestones like buying bras, sanitary wear etc? Prepare yourself in advance - take her to look long before she 'needs' them - anticipate what your ex might decide your DD needs and act on it in advance.

and stop referring to her - change your mindset and attribute these actions to your DDs Dad. Stepmum has no power or authority. If, for instance, she took your DD to have her ears pierced without your ex there then you could report the shop for assault because they didn't have permission from a parent. Hold those thoughts in your head and be prepared to act on them if necessary.

Your DDs Dad is allowing this to happen. He is not an innocent woodcutter who has no choice but to defer to his evil wife when she demands he dumps the DCs in the forest.

nicknamegame Wed 02-Oct-13 20:59:58

Thanks for that. I absolutely agree that be is no innocent party. He lets it all happen and I've tried dozens of ways over the years to make him see that he shouldn't encourage her to take on the role she does but he basically tells me to piss off. I blame them both equally- the question I posed here was one to do with the SRO and whether it was ok for the other parent to child's appearance. I accept that he will say he gave sm permission and that's all that's needed.
It's an utter nightmare to be honest but I know you're right. I've thought about all those things you mentioned re first bra and stuff, everything about Sm's behaviour over the years (including cutting her long hair off) tell s me she will be wading through those developmental milestones like a bull. It's such a crap thought to have to pre-empt them all but I know you're right.
I'm gonna print off your action plangrin

purpleroses Thu 03-Oct-13 07:42:20

How old is DD? Is she old enough to take the lead herself in terms of her appearance? Eg make her own decisions, ask you directlty if she knows you'd like to be involved, etc. But yes pre-empting things that are likely to become issues is probably a good idea.

purpleroses Thu 03-Oct-13 07:45:33

Btw - most reputable shops won't pierce ears without a parent there but there's no actual law in this area. I don't think you could get DSM into trouble over that assuming DD was keen.

nicknamegame Thu 03-Oct-13 11:02:47

DD is 6, not old enough imo

I don't believe sm even asks ex for permission for anything to do with dd, she is very much the boss in their house and dd knows it.

purpleroses Thu 03-Oct-13 12:18:11

Oh that is rather young. My DD is 10 and has changed loads in the last few years though - I think by that age you might find your DD asserts her own views on things a lot more, which could help.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Thu 03-Oct-13 12:23:29

nickname All the more reason for you to emphasis his role in your DDs life - if noone is challenging Stepmums assertion that she is the boss, then your DD hasn't got anything else to believe, has she? You can big up her Dad to her, suggest she asks his opinion, encourage her to share things that she has done while with you, generally emphasis how you and he are the most important people in her life. I know it sounds counterintuitive, because you are angry at him, but if your DD begins to see 'Daddy' as more important than stepmum, then she could change the dynamics at her Dads house all on her own!

I appreciate its hard not to see her as the enemy - but whether or not stepmum actually seeks permission from your DDs dad is neither here not there - keep in mind that he is the one with PR, not her.

Is it possible that your ex is in an abusive relationship? There are some red flags there; all his correspondence going to his DW, for a start.

daisychain01 Thu 03-Oct-13 14:03:10

Nickname, do you know what the motivation might be, behind the SM's actions. I am sorry you are going through this, it sounds awful, but do you know why she is taking such an excessive approach? Have you ever been able to talk with her, or has the situation been so fraught that the opportunity for dialogue just doesnt exist?

Just so you know where I am coming from (and its a very different circumstance from what you describe) I have been hated by my DSSs mum from literally day 1 As far as she has been concerned, her mindset has always been that I am "a nobody", just there to steal her child away from her. Several years ago, I arranged to meet her and she may as well have spat in my face, she just never gave me a chance. Yes, I have always wanted to have a loving relationship with my DSS, not steal him away. Instead, I was told I shouldnt have anything to do with him, nor even try to get close to him " he isnt your's". How unrealistic when I was in the relationship with my DP and needed to ensure DSS - as an only child - did not feel left out in the cold. DP secured 50/50 shared residency, EOW (this was the year before he came into my life) which has panned out really well for DSS, he has a strong bond with both parents, and after some fraught times, everything has settled down.

It is a very difficult line to cross for SPs, some people are happy - or have been forced- to remain "one step removed and others have the opportunity to be involved, and in doing so it can seriously over step the mark (and depending on circumstances, it is interpreted that way - each situation is unique). Sometimes a SM feels unable to get involved and the mum is critical they don't care!

When emotions run high, people do ill-considered things and perhaps even over-react/over-compensate. Maybe she is doing that. I am hesitant to think of her as wicked and evil, I think there could be explanations (does she have her own DCs? Could DD be the daughter she never had?). She sounds like she is controlling things excessively and needs to pull back.

I promise I am not trying to excuse or minimise the behaviour re hair cutting etc but trying to understand. Maybe your bottom line is that you dont want or need to understand (which I fully appreciate given the circumstances you describe) and you just can't stand the woman! I dont blame you, she is seriously tredding on your toes. I am sure my DSSs mum thinks I am "not needed on voyage", just being in his life, full-stop, but I wouldn't feel right being the remote, non-involved "blob" that she would rather I were.

Fwiw, re haircuts, DP has always taken DS for haircuts whenever required, no permission sought. He needs to have rather short tidy hair for his cadets activities, so one might argue he ought to text DM each recent years I have taken him to the same place if DP cant do it and it would quite frankly be "red rag to a bull" if I sent her a text (full stop! definitely a no-fly-zone). A complete change in hairstyle, especially for a girl, is a very different kettle of fish, so you have every right to feel upset and shocked at the lack of respect shown to you.

These are just a few thoughts and perspectives, nothing more than that - china's advice is brilliant!

daisychain01 Thu 03-Oct-13 14:05:40

Sorry this paragraph was about your situation btw

When emotions run high, people do ill-considered things and perhaps even over-react/over-compensate. Maybe she is doing that. I am hesitant to think of her as wicked and evil, I think there could be explanations (does she have her own DCs? Could DD be the daughter she never had?). She sounds like she is controlling things excessively and needs to pull back.

nicknamegame Thu 03-Oct-13 18:11:09

Daisy and china - thanks both for the advice, it's really appreciated.

Someone on the other thread said something similar about referring only to myself and her dad and that is what I'm going to do. SM is given far too much weight in terms of her opinions and thoughts in our house and I am determined to try and nail it. This is not so I can airbrush her out of the picture, but anyone who knows my situation will understand that it's so I can my place as dd's mum.

Daisy- in past years I got on better with SM and we talked (albeit it was strained) about her overstepping but she was having none of it and we never saw eye to eye. It is now though, completely irreparable after a court case which they launched last year. It didn't get them anywhere, they spent an awful lot of money trying to put me in a box but it didn't work. There's a back story to that but the premise is the same - she is just very very controlling.
I've tried long and hard to imagine that she is just trying to help, I've pleaded with her for example not to show up at a school helping day for parents as she knew I was going- she came anyway and brought a friend, and both of them fawned dramatically all over my child in front of everyone and I was simply mortified. She toilet trained her without a word to me, then gave me instructions for how I needed to carry it on. Dd wasn't ready so I put her back in nappies and got loads of grief from sm and ex. I could tell you a million similar stories but honestly I think she has traits of narcissism. She is very academic and high flying in her career, when I first knew her she used boast incessantly about how everyone was jealous of her (quite elite, specialised) job, and I dunno....something about her just struck me as odd. There was something of a superiority complex there and to me, this shows in her lack of a common sense approach to how she handles my dd.

Btw- has children of her own including a daughter.

Xalla Thu 03-Oct-13 19:00:11

I think the showing up at parents days at school is completely out of order for what it's worth especially if you've asked her not to and are going yourself; I'd speak to school about that. It's totally unnecessary.

I've been for my DSD but only when neither of her parents were able / willing to attend and wouldn't dream of going if either parent were. Actually it would be a relief not to have to go. Taking a friend is also totally inappropriate. That strikes me as very odd.

Like others, I've taken my DSD for haircuts but only ever trims and only because our other kids were booked to go when DSD was with us (DH has 50/50) so I had to include DSD. Her Mum never took her and she always wanted to come. Again, I would have preferred not to have to have taken her.

I was expecting you to say your DD's SM didn't have children of her own. I admit I'd assumed your DD was the 'daughter she never had' too. She sounds quite unhinged.

daisychain01 Thu 03-Oct-13 20:08:40

What you describe is beyond the pale, nickname, wow, she is going way beyond the normal behaviour. And I am very surprised that she has DCs herself. Under normal circumstances it is lovely if a blended family can become "seemless" to enable those children to all get on together, but it seems she is trying to "manufacture" the situation, rather than let it happen naturally and find its own level.

I will admit I would find it hurtful if I was told not to go along to DSSs open evenings, because I want to know about his progress. I have been to them when they fall in our care period, mainly because DP doesnt want to go by himself with me sitting at home. But to go along with friends like it is a night of entertainment is deliberately vindictive sad

Your post has definitely made me examine my own motives, and try to see things from DSSs mum's point of view.

nicknamegame Thu 03-Oct-13 23:21:52

Daisy, you don't sound remotely incapable of understanding boundaries so don't worry. I think what you've just described (xalia too) are just the actions of a caring step parent. I would love to have one of those for my dd! (Well I do believe sm cares very much for dd, so that's not the issue- it's the other bizzare behaviours)

Ex isn't paying much maintenence for for dd anymore - he cut it down to £100 last year ( I commented on a thread about it last week). He used to pay £200. I mention this because in past arguments ex and I have had about overstepping or similar, the first thing to be brought up by sm was how they (yes, she said 'they') were 'paying me over the odds, and more than they legally needed to'. They lead a very comfortable life (by virtue of her I should add), yet she had some strange view of how this £200 was providing me with some kind of lifestyle that they could take away if they wanted. Very odd.
As it happens, they did cut the maintenance in half so I more or less support dd by myself. The reason I mention all this, is that they have been and continue to be ferocious in defending what they see as their 'rights' over dd, yet seem rather selective about it. Ex does not buy her shoes or coats, and if he does, he and sm strip them off her before she leaves. Ex didn't buy her so much as a pencil for starting school, and he knows she needs trainers for sport but won't offer. He ignores homework most weeks, however if there is something for school that needs to be 'showcased' in any way (costumes, hats, dressing up) SM is ALL over it, weeks before it's due to prevent me from having a chance.

It's exhausting!

Mueslimorning Fri 04-Oct-13 06:52:03

If it's any comfort to you, nickname, my dh exw is the same.
Very entitled personality, (based on her dads job!) and her dc were entitled overbearing rude snobs when we met, just like mummy...
However, I grew up with the saying "don't keep up with the joneses, drag them down to your level, its cheaper."
After 4 years I overcame my own insecurities (maybe she is better than me? Maybe her spoiled kids are better than mine?) and realized my very down to earth parenting has become much appreciated by dsc.
Stand your ground and have a bit of a giggle with dd about sm and her need to showcase. No need to be bitter about it and give dd a bad feeling, but maybe dd already senses something is amiss?
Next time an event comes up, place bets with dd on how quickly sm is going to react, or how many of her cronies are going to turn up. The ability to laugh about it can sometimes take out the sting and might also have dd relax about the matter, too.
I used to feel downtrodden and can't believe how effective I've been just by sticking to my own priorities and being authentic in my affections. It does take a while so I wish you courage.

daisychain01 Fri 04-Oct-13 07:14:06

Muesli it probably isnt a good idea to involve Nickname's DD in any of the situation in terms of placing bets, playing DD off against SM etc. It only serves to colour DDs view at a tender age of 6 in a negative way. At that age she is far too young to be selective in the way an adult can be. Maybe best just to focus on their own relationship, build that up without discrediting the SM so that DD doesnt feel conflict if she is having to live with her and DF. Its a dangerous path to go down IME..... But I can tell from your post that you have had some awful experiences of your own sad

Mueslimorning Fri 04-Oct-13 08:01:37

True, daisy, and thankfully I never had these problems with ds sm, she is v supportive and we talk a lot and I came to realize she's a better coparent than his dad.
Dh exw was always a differnt matter the way she stuck her nose Into our business and it felt like a marriage of three.
It was sometimes v upsetting to see dh crumble to her whims and putting on an armor of humour helped me a great deal.
Only nickname knows to what extent she can use humour with her dd to get over tension. I did want to stress the not being bitter part so as not to cause discomfort. It a fine line. Hopefully others have better suggestions to help nickname cope, although i do agree with you of course on building up a good relationship with dd, I just assumed she had that but was looking for ways to bear up.

Bonsoir Fri 04-Oct-13 09:05:49

I'm a stepmother and my experience is that working out what you can and cannot do for a stepchild is 100% dependent on the personalities involved! There are no rules.

I started out not wanting to parent my DSSs because I thought it was their parents' job to do so, not mine. I happily made them meals, decorated their bedroom, washed their clothes etc when they were little but didn't think it was my role to bring them up. Gradually I realised that many things weren't happening in their upbringing and pointed this out to my DP. He was able to see what sort of parent I was to our DD, and this highlighted the discrepancies with the sort of upbringing the DSSs had had when they were small. Very gradually DP learned to plug the gaps that his exW left and together he and I worked to ensure that the DSSs would have similar life opportunities to those we wished to offer DD. DP's exW was perfectly happy to let us do everything providing she could show up at parents' evening and get the compliments.

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