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When to tell 5yo SD (and her Mum) that we're having a baby?

(60 Posts)
Angelina77 Tue 05-Nov-13 12:41:10

I'm only very early on but I've been wondering about this since before I got pregnant. My partner's relationship with his ex has been quite fraught and they are still in mediation for their divorce, mostly finances as the access has been loosley agreed. He's been paying £500 in maintenance for 18 months but soon we won't be able to afford that and she's going to need to know about the baby.

He's probably going to have to tell her within the next month in the final mediation meeting but we're worried that she will then tell SD and we would rather it came from us.

So, should we tell SD soon, when she's with us and then let ex know over the phone before SD goes home? Is that a really bad way to handle it?

Anyone else in the same boat?

purpleroses Tue 05-Nov-13 13:12:57

No, that's the ideal way to handle it. I would tell your SD yourselves when she's with you. And at the same time, either email or phone her mum to let her know. That way, you get the pleasure of telling SD, but her mum gets to hear it from you (rather than second-hand) and has at least a little time to get used to the news before she next sees her DD.

My ex told me before he told my DCs that his DW was pregnant, but I think he knew he could trust me not to tell them.

pootlebug Tue 05-Nov-13 13:15:26

We did it exactly the way you suggest - told him in person when he was with us, and told his mother whilst he was still at ours so she'd hear it direct, but not be the one to tell him.

needaholidaynow Tue 05-Nov-13 13:16:05

With my first, DSD's mum found out because she snooped at my FB page.

With my second, DP told her a few weeks in to the pregnancy because why should we hide our lives from her
and tip toe around her just because she's his ex and the mum of his daughter? He's entitled to have more children!

You both have a life together and are entitled to have children together too, and those decisions are nothing to do with his ex wife. Just like I bet she'd happily have more children without considering your DP.

Don't even consider it bad news when you're telling her? Why should you be nervous or apologetic? If she doesn't like it tell her it's her problem not yours. smile

MillyONaire Tue 05-Nov-13 13:18:23

We read somewhere that it was important to tell the ex partner first. In our situation this was completely the wrong thing to do. She immediately told DSD and they both wept and wailed (a lot of but I thought you'd get back together) on the phone to dh (they lived in another country) until I eventually heard dh tell dsd that he was sorry we were having a baby shock. Mind you, his ex already had two younger children with two subsequent partners and dsd was in her teens. We had also been married 6 years too so I don't know quite why they were so upset confused. I think purpleroses advice sounds quite sound.

Angelina77 Tue 05-Nov-13 13:20:56

Thanks all, that's reassuring. She has met someone else and moved on but can still be very controlling over anything to do with SD, perhaps understandably, so I do worry she will fill her head with rubbish about the whole thing. Nothing we can do about that though.

I'm a bit nervous to tell her until as late as possible though, in case anything happens (2 MCs in the past, one very recent) but we wont have a choice because of the mediation. Hopefully he can delay the appointment until at least the 12 wk scan (nearly 7wks atm).

Angelina77 Tue 05-Nov-13 13:23:37

Milly how awful, that's the sort of thing that would worry me about telling his ex first, in the heat of the moment she might be inclined to say upsetting/confusing things to her.

PukingCat Tue 05-Nov-13 13:46:50

Why do you have to tell her soon because of the mediation? If you didn't know you were pregnant (which happens) then you couldn't tell her.

Is it to do with the maintenance?

Angelina77 Tue 05-Nov-13 13:59:08

Yes, she wants him to agree to carry on paying her £500 per month for a year, and then drop down to £400. CSA says he should be paying around £260 dropping to £230 when we have our baby. We want to go through CSA but he's expecting her to refuse on the grounds that we've got tons of cash and are just being tight-fisted.

They will have to agree something in the next meeting and I think he will have to tell her about our cirumstances.

troublegirl Tue 05-Nov-13 14:04:40

in mediation agree to pay amount stated by CSA. its a % of wage
she wont like it but not really anything she can do about it. no need to mention pregnancy.
she's going to be mad about drop may as well drop sooner rather than later and not link it to expected baby

Angelina77 Tue 05-Nov-13 14:18:22

troublegirl maybe you're right, but she has mentioned that her solicitor has advised her to use 'tactics' to get as much as possible. I don't know what that means but if she is really spiteful it may end up in court, which he will have to pay for.

MiniMonty Tue 05-Nov-13 15:27:52

I hope I have some good news for you having been through almost exactly the same thing myself (as Dad).

First, you are no longer a step parent - from this day forth you are a Bonus Parent ! Might sound silly now but if you stick to this, as time goes on, all kinds of things will subtly change. Labels are important, especially to kids.

Re: new baby - the ONLY important thing is to manage the feelings of DD so she knows she is not being "replaced" by the new baby. I would tell DD while she's with you, make her feel special that she's the first person to know, always, always use "brother/sister" and never "half brother/sister". Ask her what she thinks about this name or that name - in short, ensure her happy involvement, make sure she's more excited than worried - this will help as things progress and the baby starts to seriously make demands on time and attention. Then tell Ex over the phone the same day. What she thinks or says matters not a jot.

Re: money, talk to your lawyer but I don't think there is any mechanism for her to refuse the CSA calculation. If she wants to argue about it in court she will have to make, and pay for, that application herself and costs are only very, very rarely awarded in family cases. This wouldn't be one of them.

Don't worry about "tactics" because despite what you might hear or see on TV, actually, there are none (and it's really not the kind of thing a lawyer would say). The process is strictly governed by a tight set of rules. The only 'tactic' is either to co-operate, which is seen as being in the best interests of the child, or not.

If he agrees without fuss to the CSA calculation he is seen as reasonable and co-opertive by the mediators and this is the only offer he should make in mediation. Agreeing to the CSA calculation absolutely gives him the moral high ground and although he has historically paid more there is no legal or moral obligation for him to go on doing it once a formal calculation has been made by the CSA.

The mediators will suggest, firmly, that she accept the offer of agreeing to the CSA calculation and if she refuses that will be recorded by the mediator whose report can be used in court (should it ever get that far).

In the meantime, just pay the amount asked for by the calculation and keep the difference between the old payment and the new in a savings account. This money becomes either a legal war-chest, or, once things settle down, the price of a modern push chair !

If her lawyer writes nasty letters about money you have no worries - you are complying with the law and the spirit of mediation. Your lawyer will say that if she wishes to pursue it she can make an application to the court - but trust me, she won't.

Good luck with all of it.

Angelina77 Tue 05-Nov-13 15:36:57

Thank you minimonty, I like "bonus parent" very much - especially as SD likes Disney and Disney don't like step-mothers too much!

I agree totally about letting her be involved and to not say half-brother/sister, I want her to be excited about the baby's arrival, and I'm sure she will be.

purpleroses Tue 05-Nov-13 16:29:17

I'd suggest your DP uses whatever other excuses he can think of why he wants to pay only the CSA amount, but avoid using the new baby as the reason of at all possible. Though really he shouldn't have to justrify it, as that's what the CSA consider reasonable, no further discussion should really be needed. So mediate asap, and tell about the pregnancy after the 12 week scan.

As a mother who's ex has a new baby, it really isn't something you get excited about (even though your DCs may be VERY excited) - you see it as a threat to their relationship with their dad, something that means he'll have less time for them, less money for them, etc. So in your situation I'd do whatever I could to separate the discussion about money from the news about the baby and ideally get things as formalised and agreed as possible before telling her. You could easily get to 16 weeks or so without having to tell if you don't want to.

And don't get too hung up on words - by all means refer to the new baby as her brother or sister, but her mum may refer to it as a half brother or sister and DSD may use either term, hopefully without feeling she's upsetting anyone by doing so. Most of the time you won't need to use either term, you can just call it "the new baby".

Angelina77 Tue 05-Nov-13 16:57:00

purple yes, you're probably right. I know she won't be happy about going through the CSA though, she will say she can't afford to live on that. She does have to continue paying for the house and she's not working so ordinarily it would be a struggle. We know that her (very rich) Dad is supporting her though while she is studying to become a teaching assistant. Initially BF suggested paying the £500 for a year then go to CSA but even that she wasn't happy with.

I don't think she would have any qualms about refusing to agree in mediation and forcing it to go to court because she knows he will have to pay (he accepted the terms of divorce) and that's her trump card. Maybe if she knew the full story she just might be more reasonable.

PukingCat Tue 05-Nov-13 17:02:06

I agree that separating money discussions and the baby stuff. I see no reason that your dp should be paying more than csa say. I would get him to ask what tactics she has in mind, because as far as I am aware the c/a work it out based on figures and those figures are fact, so how could she possibly convince a court that she should have more. I wasn't aware that csa stuff went to court anyway. Are they still divorcing? Is it all very recent?

PukingCat Tue 05-Nov-13 17:02:20

csa not c/a

PukingCat Tue 05-Nov-13 17:06:18

Who owns the house then? I didn't think you could just expect to get more money out of an ex because you can't get by on what you get. I thought it worked the other way around, you adjust your spending and lifestyle to what you get. But what do I know.

The baby thing might just make her worse!

It sounds like your dp is being very reasonable.

Stepmooster Tue 05-Nov-13 17:36:43

Hi OP DH and I became pregnant and married before his financial settlement with his ex. We got to second hearing and had to disclose all finances on Form E (mine too his ex request). Part of the settlement required DH providing copies of CSA calculations for when baby would be with us.

We've just had another DC and we are only just going to start paying out at CSA recommended levels in January. This is so we can save up to move closer to DSS.

At time of the pregnancy it got disclosed by our solicitor to ex's solicitor. Her request to have all correspondence that way. Although bloody stupid way to do it. We told DSS in person but he probably already knew.

I think having our DD and now DS has finally made the ex realise DH has moved on. She seems to have accepted it and stopped being bitchy.

Angelina77 Tue 05-Nov-13 17:39:46

They are still divorcing, yes. The mediation is to agree access and finances, if they can't agree in mediation it will have to be decided in court.

They have a joint mortgage, the lenders won't allow the mortgage to be transferred to her because of her income (or so she says). The only way he will be able to get out of it is if she sells the house but he doesn't want her to have to do that, understandably. She won't want to do that because she is insisting there's no equity in it (unlikely). That puts us in a difficult situation but that's another story.

Angelina77 Tue 05-Nov-13 17:42:21

Stepmooster did your husband have to pay an amount the ex decided until the point you started paying CSA? Was your income taken into account for the CSA calculation? I thought it was just his. If she can do that she definitely will.

Wallison Tue 05-Nov-13 17:51:17

Why does your partner only want to pay the CSA amount? You do realise that that's the absolute minimum he can get away with? 10% of net income isn't a great deal to put towards the cost of raising your own child.

Angelina77 Tue 05-Nov-13 17:55:22

Because it's fair and is adjusted due to personal circumstances and no-one can argue about it. We will continue to spend what we can afford to on SD when she's with us. And it's 15%, not 10%.

Wallison Tue 05-Nov-13 17:56:35

It goes down to 10% once the baby is born though, doesn't it? I dunno, I just think that these men who go off starting new families with other people should consider the children they already have first.

Angelina77 Tue 05-Nov-13 18:01:12

wallison you're right, couples who separate should never be allowed to have any more kids. What were we thinking?


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