Need advice(16 Posts)
I've been with my DP for a year, and it's mostly great. We live together, and my DS 10 sees him as a step dad. DD 9 hasn't decided if he's her step dad or her friend and we've said that this is up to her. DP hasn't pushed a relationship on my DC, it all came together really naturally. We had discussions with my dc before he moved in if they wanted him to, and we check in with them on how they're finding living with him as a part of our family.
He has 2 DC, and access to them is difficult. I haven't actually met them yet, and he really wants me to. I feel that with the situation being as strained as it is with his XW, my presence at access would only make things more difficult. But I also see his point that he doesn't want her to control our lives and that they are his dc too. I feel that he thinks that I don't want to meet them, which is not the case at all. I just don't want to make it any more difficult for him during handovers than it already is. So, WWYD?
How old are his DC and what kind of contact does he have? It seems strange they havent been to their fathers home!
I understand you not wanting to make things harder but they should meet you, however I would say you do not have to go with him at handovers or meet his ex. Also, at first it may be best if you meet them alone without your DC present.
I don't really understand what you mean. Where does he go with his children as you haven't met them - he obviously goes somewhere - a relative of his maybe? What are the contact arrangements in terms of frequency etc. Have they agreed between them or is there a Court Order. Why are things so strained - because the ExW doesn't want him to have the children, or doesn't want them spending time with you, or maybe a bit of both, or something else.
What age are his children? I agree that you need to meet them and get to know them, taking it very slowly as your DP has done with your children. You will probably have to prepare to cope with the ExW trying to turn the kids away from you, and sometimes this is "successful" - no you shouldn't be there at hand over time, but it strikes me as a bit weird that he goes off with them on his own - is it because the ExW has said he's not to take the kids to your place, as this is often the case. If so your DP needs to challenge that and use his contact time with his children as he sees fit.
But as an aside, good luck! I'm a SP but thank god they're ALL (mine and is kids) are all grown and have families of their own and I went through all manner of upset and unhappiness in the growing up years. I think it's better now, more "out there" as they say, whereas in my day there was no MN (!) no reading material either - SP was not talked about - I was pretty much on my own apart from a close friend who supported me.
Contact is at his parents house and there is a court order. Although exw often ignores it and cancels contact. The kids are toddlers so too young to voice what they want. Exw often ends contact early as well.
She doesn't want him to see them at all. But he comes back from contact, and from what he has said they love being with him. I put together an activity box of toys, books and arts and crafts for them so I have seen some of the things they have done together.
His exw doesn't seem to have any particular problem with us being together, but she does know that I haven't met them, so maybe that has something to do with it.
Does the court order stipulate it needs to be supervised by his parents? This sounds a little concerning to me.
In either way she can't just cancel contact or end it early because she feels like it, it's a legal obligation he should go back to court. These are his children
It is irrelevant about how she feels about you, it is his time what he does with his children is down to him not her. Same as what she does is nothing to do with him.
Without knowing the entire situation it's difficult to comment but depending on the court order I don't see why your partner isn't involving you
He is going back to court, which in itself is stressful for not just him, but me, his parents, his sister. The court order doesn't say that a supervisor needs to be there, but that he has extra help. His sister is there to help. There is no stipulation that it is only his sister. Anyone can come to see them, but his exw has said that she's very unhappy with anyone else other than him and his sister being present, but that she realizes that the judge is unwilling to make this a condition of contact.
The contact is supposed to be twice weekly, but she doesn't stick to this either.
My fear is that while there isn't a great consistency anyway, that my involvement however small, would only cause her to become even more inconsistent in his contact. He thinks that we've given enough consideration to her potential feelings on this already, that we should just go ahead with it. I do want to meet them, and I don't want him to think that I don't but I don't want her to make things more difficult for him and his dc because of it. Am I making any sense?
It seems strange for the court order to stipulate he needs help with looking after the children. There must be something you aren't revealing (which is fine, by the way, you aren't obliged to tell everything to a bunch of strangers on the internet). However, it does alter the advice I would give. If I thought this was just the ex being difficult, I would advise you to start getting involved but as this seems to be a complicated situation, I think you are right to be wary and maybe stay out of it until after the next court decision, when hopefully things will be more clear and settled.
This man is living with your children after only a year. I would want to know exactly why he needs to be helped with his own. This makes me feel quite uneasy and like you may be missing a big piece of the jigsaw.
The help was initially because there had been six months of no contact before the first court date, he agreed to her insistence of her presence and his sister's. He felt that if this would help for things to progress then it wasn't a big deal. The court then altered the order so that she wasn't present, but as she has been so inconsistent for contact, every court date she argues that there is no routine yet, and that his sister should stay as another pair of hands. He thought that she would eventually become reasonable, and wanted to agree to everything she wanted so that he hadn't done anything to damage this possibly optimistic future.
I'm usually the one who actually writes the emails to his solicitor, and they've said that essentially because the only thing he's pushed on is more time and more consistency, he's presented to the court that he's ok with her restrictions.
He also makes me read texts she sent, and texts he's sending to her. He has me check them for tone, and anywhere that they could become confusing. I feel so bad for him, because he wants this to go as easily and as civilly as it possible can and he's trying everything to make sure it does. Although I do think that he has given in to her a bit too much.
The court have ordered an assessment report for both parents but this can't be arranged because everything is so inconsistent.
In terms of us with my dc, we settled into a family routine really quickly and with very little effort. My decisions are final and he backs me up on everything, but I do ask for his advice because he is involved - he lives with us and his opinion is important to me. I don't always agree, and he doesn't always agree with me but he goes with whatever I decide because they are my children. Their father has no input by his own choice.
Their school does swimming lessons and he's going to be one of the 'parent volunteers' next year. He has been vetted for this, and the three of them are beyond excited about it. He's actually looking forward to sitting on a bus for 45minutes, each way, with a bunch of screaming children.
At every court date, three in the last four months, the judge has repeated to her that she needs to follow the court order and that his sister is not a supervisor supervising his contact with them, but a bit of extra help should he feel like he needs it. As soon as she's not in court she's back to doing whatever she feels like.
There is no missing piece of the jigsaw to explain her behaviour. I mostly see his emails before he does - I'm online more, and honestly, I'm just better with technology. I've seen everything from his solicitor, I've seen all the correspondence sent from hers to his, and I've seen everything from the court.
Can I say OP that you sound like a very caring, level headed woman who is trying to do her best for DP and his children. Like others, I picked up on why he needed help with the children, but you have explained that. I do wonder why there was no contact for 6 months before the first court date. You say the children are toddlers, so presumably under 3 years. As I'm sure you know 6 months is a long time for there to be no contact with such young children, as their recall is very limited. I am assuming this was because the ExW was refusing contact and he didn't want to rock the boat.
Please don't think I am judging you in any way but your DP and his ExW must have split up when the children were very young. Again you don't have to divulge information to a boat load of strangers but I do wonder about the circumstances of the split, and whether this has contributed to the ExW's attitude. Although having said that, it is by no means unusual for couples to get into conflict about arrangements for the children following separation/divorce.
Given that your DP takes the children to his parents, could they not provide any help that he needs, though it's hard to imagine why he would need help - I think this is the insistence of his Ex isn't it.
I don't understand your comment that the court has ordered assessment reports on both parents but this can't be done because everything is so inconsistent. If a judge Orders a report then a CAFCASS social worker would be required to carry out the assessments. (I'm a retired social worker and for the last 5 years of my career I worked independently and carried out a/ments in private law in the family courts. Does DP have to represent himself in court, given that legal aid is no longer available and what about Ex - does she too represent herself. I only ask because it is of course unfair is one side has a lawyer acting for them and the other side doesn't.
What are the contact arrangements now - sorry you might have said - is it hours, or overnight and how long. Presumably there is a CAO been made, or maybe not, as you talk of another upcoming court case?
I'm sorry this is going to sound pessimistic but if your DP is trying hard not to rock the boat and waiting for her to be reasonable, he might have a very long wait. I can see both sides to these cases and I think one of the main areas of conflict is when one of the parents wants to introduce the children to his/her new partner. The stats aren't very comforting either for people in your position (and I'm not giving exact figures) as a very high percentage (around 70% I think) of fathers lose contact with their children after separation/divorce, for a variety of reasons. I think many of them just give up as the mother of the children is behaving like the one in your case.
Judges do get very impatient with parents trying to score points over each other, (I know your DP is not doing this) and also with mothers who do not adhere to Orders made by the court. Having said that, it is of course contempt of court to go against a court order, but which judge is going to pass a custodial sentence on a mother, depriving the children of their mother etc,. so they do tend to "get away with it" but not always. I have known cases (very rarely) when a mother has been given custodial sentence. It isn't the answer of course and I honestly don't know what is - it's a minefield, as I am sure you are aware.
They both have solicitors. She changed hers four times which made things take a bit longer. The new ones weren't well enough versed in the case and needed a few more weeks to prepare.
The court order is for two hours one day, and two hours on the following day, to increase progressively to overnight contacts.
She was the one who wanted to divorce. And she did stop contact for six months, after they separated. Last year she stopped all contact for three months because she said the court order didn't cover that period. After two weeks of no contact, he asked his solicitor to bring it back into court. It was three months in total before that actually happened.
The judge asked that contact was as regular as possible to facilitate the report, but how can anyone report on their observations of his interactions with them when she changes the dates, the times and cancels contact whenever she wants.
While I don't know if I should meet them right now, because of how I think she would react, I do pick up toys, games and books for them if I'm shopping. Just like I would for my own. I made up an activity box for them to use, so I replace whatever they've used - stickers, paper that sort of thing. He shows me their artwork when they've done some, and I said that we'd frame some and hang them in the hall, with my DC's art.
I also said that I want to decorate my 'spare' room for them, so that even if overnight contact here with us is some time down the line, they never have to wonder if they had a place in our home.
Also, she brings them to his parents because she needs to check who will be there, if he has appropriate food, toys, etc.
Honestly, my first thought was that she had untreated pnd, but he said that she's always been like this, with everything.
At this stage, contact was supposed to be four hours on each contact day. But she can't even stick to the two contact days, never mind increasing the hours.
Before my DP had a CAO in place, he agreed to loads of unreasonable 'assurances' in order to progress contact and to speed up the process.
Your DP needs to make a record of all the times she cancels/reduces contact time and file for enforcement.
If the contact order does not state a specific place that the contact takes place at then when ex drops off his DC and leaves he should take them somewhere else for contact and return at the specified pick up time/location. I dont think that that she can dictate what he does or where he goes with DC in his contact time.
The ex sounds very controlling/ protective of her DC. This would make me think that she will never be ok with you meeting the DC. You sound like a very thoughtful person and that you want to do whats best but honestly she will never be happy with you meeting the DC at whatever stage, regardless of whether they are currently going through court or not.
If your DP is ready for you to meet his DC and you feel ready then I think you should just go ahead and do it. You need to think about what is best for you and the family that you are building with your DP. The longer you leave it, the bigger it will become.
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