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Do you think this is right/fair ?? (BM refuses to meet DP for contact handover)

(52 Posts)
Catsmother Mon 04-Jul-05 16:23:36

Forgive me if this isn't the right board, as it's not strictly directly about the skids, but more about their impossible mother.

When she & DP split up, she moved back to her home town - 140 miles from their dad. She could have stayed here had she thought maintaining relationship between skids & their dad important enough, money wasn't an issue then, and she had a very well paid job, but, wanted to go back where there was "more support" (dismissing DP of course). At the time, she promised that the distance wouldn't be too much of an issue as she would continue to facilitate contact etc. by meeting DP halfway ... and this is how it was, largely, though in retrospect, DP often drove all the way up there to see kids anyway ... on premise of mummy & daddy staying friends for the kids' sake and spending a "normal" weekend together (nothing of course to do with saving her any effort or him paying for the weekend's entertainment ...)

Anyhow, as I've explained recently, BM went ballistic - totally doolally & evil - when DP met me 2.5 yrs after their split. Ever since then, amongst other problems, she has messed about with communication and contact, culminating so that in the last 2.5 yrs (we've been together 4) she's refused to meet DP at all for contact handovers. He has had a catalogue of stupid, ridiculous and contemptuous excuses ranging from the obvious "I don't want to" to "I'm doing my hoovering" or "I'm tired". The car has also been blamed, yet she will be driving it elsewhere the same weekend, likewise, she has cited inaffordability as a reason, yet refuses petrol money ( we couldn't afford to offer this regularly but DP tried to call her bluff) .... so, the only genuine reasons are spite, laziness, power, control, awkwardness and selfishness.

To put this into perspective, BM works locally 16 hrs a week, finishing at 1. DP leaves at 6.30am every morning, gets home just before 8 every evening so is shattered by the time he has to get his kids on a Fri evening. The return journey is anywhere between 4.5 to 5.5 hours depending on traffic, so means that kids get back here and into bed about midnight. When this has been pointed out to BM - i.e. the adverse effect on skids of getting in so late and the fact they're being driven by a tired driver, her reply is "get them on Saturday then". This option of course, effectively cuts down DP's contact time with them, doesn't make him any less tired as he'd get up very early Sat, nor does it address the moral issue of him having to make all the effort and bear all the expense despite her moving.

Strictly speaking as she moved, I feel she should bl**dy well drive the skids to their dad's and collect them, but DP being more resaonably minded is prepared to meet halfway. That'd mean, on average, a 2.5 hour drive for each of them. Alternatively, given she is free in the afternoon, she could drive them down, and he would drive them back. BM refuses to consider this period. DP estimates that the cost of doing the extra driving amounts to about £60 amonth, plus wear and tear .... he does 12000 miles a year just to see his kids before any other mileage anywhere else at all. Hence his car is depreceating far more quickly than it should to boot.

My heart is in my mouth when he sets off to get/return the skids as he's so often "unfit" to drive. Every fortnight DP goes through this charade where he asks BM if she's meeting him ..... he knows what the answer is going to be, but refuses not to ask, because that would indicate that he is accepting of, or condoning her actions. Well, I shouldn't be surprised but this weekend has taken the biscuit and shown her up for what a completely callous bitch she really is .....

.... DP had already fetched skid2 but prior to taking her home yesterday texted ('cos BM won't answer her phone to him) to say that would she please meet him as he felt extremely tired and was worried about a long motorway trip. DP, though he is always tired due to his huge long commute, has never stressed this quite as much before as he did yesterday. Her reply ? ..... "you should have thought of that before taking skid2" !!!!!! ..... WTF ??? .... DP repeated (still by text) he was very worried. BM said "you shouldn't have taken her then". Eventually DP did by some miracle actually speak to her and she still refused to meet halfway, quarter way or indeed 100 yards down the road, she told DP to bring her back "later", or this morning. When DP said he couldn't do that as he had to go to work, BM said "not my problem" .... DP asked her "so, you're happy for me to drive our daughter in this state then ?" and BM hung up.

So - DP had, as usual, no choice .... yet on this particular occasion, BM had been forewarned he was dreading the drive, and still chose not to help, i.e. preferring to place her daughter at risk, rather than "do DP a favour" (as she'd see it). I AM LIVID - beyond livid with this vile woman .... how can any self appointed "wonderful mother" (she thinks she's Saint Mummy) happily sit back and see one of her children in a potentially dangerous position. DP was in an awful quandry about what to do, but, couldn't take today off at short notice, nor could he have had skid2 back in time for school today unless he'd left at 4 in the blinking morning .... great idea for someone tired.

Excuse my french, but what an absolute f**king bitch !

Am I wrong to feel so mad about this ? More to the point has anyone else been through, or is going through something similar ? What can we do ? All attempts to speak reasonably to her fall on deaf ears - she is an expert door slammer and phone hanger-upper. She will not be swayed by any argument that late bedtimes aren't right for children so young, nor does she care if the skid's contact with their dad is affected/cut short because of long journeys. As for the time & effort DP expends, she revels in that .... "tough, you want to see them, you get them" is her attitude.

It is all so totally wrong .. certainly morally, & especially given the background to the distance concerned. I also wonder if it's legally wrong too ? .... I was under the impression that it's the responsibility of a "parent with care" to facilitate - i.e. do nothing to obstruct - contact with the absent parent & the kids ? .... though obviously, I'm well aware that "possession" being "9/10 of the law" makes it easy for bitches like her to wreak havoc should they wish.

I am sick of us having to pay - literally and emotionally - for her selfish decisions. She may be happy to be totally selfish and place her children, through her non co-operation, in a undesirable/dangerous situation, but I am not at all happy at the thought of DP having an accident through being forced to make a long drive in all weathers, and our baby being left fatherless.

Yesterday just said it all .... whatever DP said, whatever worries he expressed, the evil B just blanked him.

Does anyone have any suggestions ? .... bearing in mind that letters and conversation is not going to work. Does anyone know if a parent with care can be ordered to meet the absent parent in the circumstances I've described ? Could this form part of a contact order for example ? I do appreciate that contact orders can be hard to enforce, but I think legal recognition of what she's doing as being totally wrong would be a good start.

Thanks for reading .... will be interested to hear anyone else's thoughts and/or suggestions.

mytwopenceworth Mon 04-Jul-05 17:01:49

sorry dont have any useful info, but just bumping this for you.
fwiw, i think shes got a problem that hes got another relationship - i dont want him noone else can have him, and shes using the kids as weapons to hurt him. i dont know if you could go to court to ask to meet halfway or if it is the responsibility of the 'absent' parent to fetch and return?
but maybe you could go for custody or joint custody or tell her you are, citing her unreasonable attitude? maybe that might make her play ball, or do you think it would just cause more hassle?
speak to your solicitor, they will have proper experience and knowledge of dealing with things like this.

Catsmother Mon 04-Jul-05 17:09:25

Thanks for replying .... DP would love to have kids but TBH, don't think he has any grounds for applying for custody. This'd be such a big step that he'd have to convince a court she was an unfit mother .... yep, we think she's got severe problems in "coming to terms" but don't think that'd stand up in court, believe you'd have to prove alcoholism, drug abuse, neglect, cruelty, or illness making BM unable to practically cope.

Were DP to suggest this, she'd go even more ballistic, and probably step up a gear trying to convince skids that their dad doesn't care about them. Of course, you also have to factor in how skids would feel about leaving their mum - and the subsequent f/t relationship with their dad.

So nope, don't think that's the answer....

I can't see how it should be absent parent's responsibility to fetch and return if they weren't responsible for distance in 1st palce, especially at such significant cost. Of course, parents like DP have no real "choice" in matter if they want to see their kids. But, why on earth should they have to pay to do so ?

ggglimpopo Mon 04-Jul-05 17:11:11

Message withdrawn

littlerach Mon 04-Jul-05 17:15:31

Well, we have the same situation but it is less distance, about 80 miles each way. Yes, DH does all the travelling, she does it once evry 3 months if we are lucky. Last time she was upposed to collect them and was 1 hour late, which we later found out was on purpose.
It cuts into all the time we have together, and DDs don't see their half siblings for very long at all as it takes the morning of the Saturtday to get them here, and the pm of Sunday to get them back.

TBH, we just do it for a quiet life, but it is annoying.

mytwopenceworth Mon 04-Jul-05 17:16:25

not saying its right that it is the absent parents responsibility to do all the leg work, but just from what ive seen of divorced friends and tales of contact, seems to be the way it works. like i said, maybe an appt with your solicitor is the way to go. doesnt sound like she wants to be reasonable anyway, so you may have no choice.

Catsmother Mon 04-Jul-05 18:55:24

Gosh ... if we even got a bit of consideration every 3 months we'd be gobsmacked !

emily05 Mon 04-Jul-05 19:09:00

I have to be honest that if dh wanted to see ds and I had him all the time I would see it as his responsability (sp?!!) to pick him up for visits. Looking after children full time as a single parent must be hard wrk.

But obviously there is a lot more to the situation. I would try and sort this out amicably - but as that seems off the cards and if you are really that upset about it perhaps ask you dh to seek legal advice to see how the law views this. sorry couldnt be more help.

TwinSetAndPearls Mon 04-Jul-05 22:08:46

before I say anything I must declare my bias as a divorced mother who moved to the other end of the country after divorcing so I could be near my family, I also know that I am described by my ex's family in similar tones to the ones you have used below.

If it is such an issue could you not move to be nearer the children? Until you become a single parent it is hard to realise how much you rely on your own family, support network so I can understand ( although obvioulsy I do not know the ins and outs of your situation) why your dh ex moved away.

I don't think that the parent with care can be ordered to meet you half way, when my ex used to travel from London to see our dd I assumed it was his responsibilty as he always had the freedom to move closer to us ( which he has done recently) the only contribution I made to assist him in his travels was that my maintenance was reduced to allow for his travel costs.

gigglinggoblin Mon 04-Jul-05 22:34:29

i have a friend who is pretty much in your dps situation. he is supposed to do the collect/drop off but i cant see any reason why it cannot be put in a court order that she must help. i do have a friend who is a single mum who drives her son 50 miles to see his paternal granny every 3 weeks (not court ordered, she is just reasonable). your dp might not have grounds for custody but if he has a court order which she does not stick to then he will have grounds. last time friend had to go to court because his evil x was messing about with contact she was told by the judge that she either stopped being a cow or he would be awarded custody - and he hadnt even asked for custody (would love it tho, obviously). see a solicitor. its expensive, but very worth it in the long run.

Catsmother Mon 04-Jul-05 23:08:27

Thanks for further input ....

No, moving closer to kids isn't an option, for many reasons. Most importantly, DP's work for one - even if he could get a job in his sector there, it'd be paid a lot less and there's no way we could manage on any less at all. House prices there are more or less same as where we are so couldn't benefit that way either. I can assure you that any decrease in DP's wage would not be well received by BM and the resultant lowering in maintenance would cause heaps more problems. DP's friends and family are round here. Then there's me .... though I realise that as a mere "second" partner it is sometimes considered sacreligious to express my wants and needs ! I wouldn't want to move somewhere I don't know a soul and uproot my son. As it is, my son faces a 3 hour commute himself to and from his school 'cos in order to afford a home big enough for everyone - skids included - we had to move 15 miles away from his school.

The thing to remember in this is that the original move away by BM itself uprooted their oldest child from school at the time, and took the kids away from their dad. As the other parent surely his relationship with them is the most important - compared to other relatives ? DP has always been a very responsible and involved parent and would have gladly shared care and offered practical support had she not moved. Ironically, the "support" BM spoke of to justify the move, i.e. her parents, aren't, by all accounts that forthcoming anyway. Both DP and his mother believe this was a bit of a smokescreen , as she'd have had more support by not moving & simply wanted to go back to where she felt more comfortable. Plus, when mooting the move, she promised DP that contact would be encouraged and helped. It doesn't strike me as right that you can make such significant promises which you then renege on when you are p**d off 'cos your ex dares to have a new serious relationship (even if you yourself have umpteen new partners !)

It would seem a very extraordinary scenario to me if DP and ex had split up, and then they both move 140 miles away .... basically 'cos that's what BM wanted ???!!! Whoever's heard of a divorced couple doing that ?

Personally, I do understand only too well the difficulties of being a single parent as I was one for seven years. My ex - my son's dad, who earns six figures (!) moved 70 miles away from us, and I still tried to play fair with meeting him when I could (as I worked full time) because to force him to come all the way & back would have sometimes had adverse implications for our son and that was my main concern, not scoring points !

BTW, I do understand why some parents with care might have to move away - for financial reasons, or if violence was an issue. Those cases are entirely different to this one though. DP feels as if she moved away under false pretences and of course, when she mucks about with contact, never mind meeting (or the lack of it) the distance makes it so much more difficult to deal with.

TwinSetAndPearls Mon 04-Jul-05 23:59:12

Sorry, if I offended you CM, I didn't know you had a son of your own and of course it would be unfair to uproot your son.

I can undertsand that this is such an awful situation for everyone especially the children as their is so much anomosity between all parties.

I just find it hard to understand why a woman could be so unreasonable without cause, naivety on my part perhaps. But wanting to see the good in people is a naivety I would like to keep.

MamaMaiasaura Tue 05-Jul-05 00:21:57

CM - sheesh.. I would be upset too. I am not a SM but a BM and as BM would be concerned with the following:

1. ensuring ds has good contact with xp which includes him going there happy, relaxed, fed and rested etc
2. ensuring that despite differences xp and I may have that we are amicable. This isnt false either.. we both love ds and want what is best for him
3. Any grown up discussions done when ds not present
4. make sure ds is happy, safe and secure.

How old are skids btw? Are they old enough to have a say & if so have they said anything? Have you ever spoken to bm? Also it is a good idea to keep a dairy of events, may seem longwinded but may be of use in future iyswim. it is a shame she is so unreasonable.. did we speak on another thread the other day?

vicimelly Tue 05-Jul-05 00:34:43

Agree on all points with Awen, I'm a BM too and could never imagine doing something that would effect dd in such a way, regardless of how much of a problem I may have with ex!
I live a long way from ex, although it was him that moved away so not quite the same, but we work together to make visits as easy for everyone as they can be.
I really don't have any useful advice, it sounds like your dp's ex has a lot of issues with your relationship. I'd tend to agree with others in that if she is this unreasonable the best thing to do would be to speak to your solicitor and see if there is any legal route you can take.
The one thing I would say is that I would expect maintenance payments to reflect the costs of travel for your dp to see his children.
The maintenance I get from ex reflects the costs of his visits and I think this is perfectly reasonable, him getting here is expensive and I want dd to have a relationship with her daddy.

Sorry I couldn't be more help

Good luck


Catsmother Tue 05-Jul-05 10:14:02

Hi Awen ... yes we did speak, I expressed admiration I think if memory serves, for the good working relationship you've got with your kids' BM !

Like both you and Vici, I'm also a BM, so do feel I have an insight into both camps as it were and IMO, the situation definitely doesn't have to be a battle, or a war (in our case). As I've said before, as a BM, my biggest concern has always been the effect of any warring/awkwardness on my son ...... I may have all sorts of issues with his dad, but they're between us, not the child, and I would have hated our son to end up with an inferiority complex himself if he had thought "I've got a bad dad, therefore what does that make me?" (say, due to my spiteful interference). Sure, I readily admit that I've muttered and sworn under my breath many times at having to transport DS to ex, but the alternative would have been DS going to bed very very late, or reduced contact, or both.

The skids are almost 8 & 11. They have commented on the issue, after all they can hardly be ignorant of the fact that mummy never meets daddy - they have apparently even told her on occasion they think it's unfair, but DP has heard her wriggle out of it when thus challenged, with yet another ridiculous lie and DP (swallowing hard and biting his tongue) cannot really explain to skids in detail why mummy is lying. She effectively holds all the cards and knows it.

God no, I've never spoken to BM ... have a feeling that this would be seen as extremely provocative and make things worse. Yes - DP does keep a diary .... of exchanges, texts, emails etc. It really does reveal that she thinks only of herself and not the skids. Think that legal action is the only option but do wonder what exactly can be achieved and enforced ? If anyone has any legal experience of this I'd be very pleased to hear.

LittleStarsweeper Tue 05-Jul-05 10:16:44

Awen, you still there? quick hijack, you may be needed on 'depressed child' thread.

aloha Tue 05-Jul-05 10:21:33

I would strongly advise you NOT to go down the legal route. My dh did because his ex threatened to reduce his contact from three weekends a month to one DAY a month. I have to say it was absolutely horrific. Very, very stressful, upsetting (I used to shake with nerves when solicitors' letters came) and also horribly, ruinously expensive. Also, I doubt very much that she would ever be ordered to bring the kids to you, and even if she was (which she won't be), she just wouldn't. What's her incentive to do so? She would just say her car had broken down or that she was ill or the kids were ill etc etc. I am really sorry for your situation and for your dh (I am a stepmother too) but please, don't go to court - I've been there and it really isn't nice.

MamaMaiasaura Tue 05-Jul-05 10:22:11

Just logged on - will go look

LittleStarsweeper Tue 05-Jul-05 10:23:19

oh Catsmother, this could of been our story. Kids live 250mile round trip. My DH explained to the children without putting their mum down and the next time BM was unreasonable he threatened not to have the children. She soon sat up and thought about it, after all no babysitter whilst she went out on the RAZZ was mighty inconvenient. Soon resolved itself. Do not let BM bully else you will never get a moments peace.

MamaMaiasaura Tue 05-Jul-05 10:24:47

CM - I am the BM. Have good relationship with SM.. would say I was speaking from 'the other side' although in my case there are no sides except for ds's

littlerach Tue 05-Jul-05 10:26:09

I have to agree with Aloha, as it is usually best to keep things out of the courts, it causes much more stress for everyone.

The only other thing that could be suggested (but is not a practical solution for a good r ship!) is to reduce contact time to a family centre. This happens to a friend of mine whose ex has had little to do with the children since they were tiny. For various reasons she wasn't happy about them travelling all the way to see him, so they meet in a family centre every other week. But it isn't for long periods of time. So really not a good solution!

Catsmother Tue 05-Jul-05 10:30:34

Oops sorry Awen ... got a bit muddled there. Appreciate everything you say about legal route, have spent hours agonising over repercussions & expense. It feels like a Catch 22 situation.

Unfortunately LittleStar, DP is between rock and hard place. He obviously wants to see skids and if he said he wasn't going to unless she met him , it probably wouldn't effect her that much as she'd dump them at her mum's .... though I do wonder how long & how often she'd be prepared to have them. Also, can guarantee that being a nasty spiteful person, she'd tell skids that daddy didn't want to see them, couldn't be bothered etc.

MamaMaiasaura Tue 05-Jul-05 10:30:37

Regarding legal issues, I went to court for ds. Xp gained residence and I had a contact order. This was one of the hardest parts of my life to date (the worst being was when ds acutally went ) However, going the legal route made things alot clearer regarding rights and the rights i have regarding ds. Although this is now irrelevant as ds now lives with me fulltime. I ensure and can see importance of contact time he has with xp - but is this because i have been the parent with contact?

Does xp have parental responsiblity for children as well? I know the legal route can cause problems and it is much much better to work it out together but with family cases as this the courts would try mediation first anyway.

hth x

Catsmother Tue 05-Jul-05 10:32:07

Ooops, I really am in a state this morning. That was Aloha, not Awen who advised re: court. Sorry !

SadSam Tue 05-Jul-05 10:32:12

Hi Catsmother, as you know I am in a very similar situation to you.

DP's kids and BM live nearly 200 miles away and he has to do all the travelling as BM was banned for drink driving a few years ago and now even though she has her licence back she does not have a car. We have said that we would have the kids more often if she would bring them to us once in a while or if she would at least meet DP half way, however she will not.

She has often said that he should move closer and that it was his fault he lived so far away (he moved here a year after they split as he got offered a really good job that he couldnt turn down). He had to take this job to afford the CSA payments as before he was in the military and although a fantastic job it doesnt pay well, certainly not enough to pay even a quarter of the CSA payments.

If DP is caught in traffic and a little late picking kids up then she goes bolistic and seems to have no idea of the perception of travel / time / petrol costs etc. She has never even left the town she lives and refuses to even go on the motorway!

I agree totally that it would appear they are like this because they dont like the fact their DP/DH has moved on, unfortunately though it is the kids that suffer because of it!

I hear the comments from BMs that it is the responsibility of the DP/DH to do all the travelling as the parent with care has them full time, but I am afraid I cannot agree. Our BM gets all the benefits under the sun, gets rent paid for a 3 bedroom house, pays no council tax, has bills subsidised, works cash in hand(without declaring it) and spends all her money on clothes for herself, booze and fags. The children are still wearing clothes that we bought them 2 years ago and when DP picks them up in the evening they have not eaten! We however, pay nearly £400 per month CSA (quite rightly too), our mortgage has just gone up to £1000 per month (due to a 3.49% fixed payment coming to an end), pay council tax, pensions, bills, petrol (over £100 to have the kids once a month alone), taking the kids out each month cinema, theme parks etc. (BM expects it and says we are mean if we dont take them anywhere). DP and I work 50 hours a week each just to try and make ends meet. I cant remember the last time DP and I could afford to go out together for a meal or to the cinema (on our own) whereas BM goes out every Fri, Sat and Sun on the booze whilst leaving kids with her parents! We have been told we have to take kids abroad every year and we are not allowed to go abroad on our own otherwise we are selfish for not taking the children, but it is okay for her to go abroad with her friends and leave the kids with us or her parents!

If DP tells BM that he cant afford something then she says to get the money off me as I work!! FFS I love those kids dearly, but at the end of the day, I do not work to support their children and even though I dont mind and would spend my last £1 on them, I dont like being taken for granted!

Sorry for going on so much, but as much as I feel for you BMs who have quite rightly had your opinions, Im afraid that not all BMs are the same as you, and some do totally take advantage and quite frankly take the p**s! All I see are my stepchildren and DP getting hurt and we all want to protect our own dont we?

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