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Transport costs advice please

(34 Posts)
Lala1980 Sun 21-Jul-13 08:34:11

DPs exW and DSCs currently live 10/15mins away. Legal arrangement is the kids stay with us EO weekend and a week in the hols as DP is a farmer and works v.unsociable hours. ExW drops off 5pm Fri and DP takes them home for 6pm Sun.
The ExW has announced she is moving next week 2 hours away. DP was not consulted on any of it, school choices etc and we don't feel it has been with the kids' interests in mind at all, but that is another story. We know she is legally allowed to move. We don't know how she is funding it as her housing benefit (800) won't stretch to the house she has told the kids they are moving to (1350). She doesn't work.the move is to be nearer the latest boyfriend (and these change with alarming frequency). The kids will spend a whole summer hols in a strange town not knowing anyone. There's a lot of background and the kids don't want to go but we can't afford to go to court to challenge the access arrangement or residency.
Also, we can ill-afford the extra diesel and wear&tear on the car especially as dp usually works sun evenings once the kids go back and the extra traveling will prevent this. Will this be taken into account by the CSA as we are on a shoe string "to the penny" budget and did not choose to incur these extra costs...
I'm not just being mercenary. There's lots more to this but I don't think we can legally challenge her choices, we just have to be there to pick up the pieces when it all goes wrong. Have four very worried little people right now :-(

lunar1 Sun 21-Jul-13 10:30:43

I have no idea about the legalities, but how awful for your dp and children. I always feel that the one doing the moving away should foot the bill for transport. It doesn't sound like she would be willing or able though does it?

Sorry my post is as much help as a chocolate teapot.

stepmooster Sun 21-Jul-13 15:35:41

There is nothing you can do, and we are in a similar situation. We will relocate but not until we are sure where the 'final' home town will be. We have also been told no assistance will be given to enable contact. All we can hope for is that when DH stands by his word to ex-wife that he cannot do all the travelling, the ex-wife might 1) realise how unhappy DSS will be with no contact with dad and half siblings and 2) might start to miss the child-free weekends, she was getting every other weekend.

It really is a horrible thing for our partners to go through and you have my sympathy.

Lala1980 Sun 21-Jul-13 19:08:40

Sadly we can't relocate as DP works for the family farm and our home is part of his salary package. X

Lala1980 Mon 22-Jul-13 08:27:11

Any advice from anyone who has been through something similar? Also we hear she's moving the boyfriend in to fund the rent difference. Wouldn't this jeopardize her housing benefit and thus the roof over DSCs head?

mumandboys123 Mon 22-Jul-13 09:24:15

Depends what they both earn. But if the question is can she move on with her life, yes she can. After all, isn't that what her ex has done with you?

catsmother Mon 22-Jul-13 10:05:22

That seems to be an unnecessarily snipey post Mumandboys. Has the OP's partner inconvenienced and caused his ex potential significant expense by "moving on" I wonder ?

The way I see it ..... yes, everyone is entitled to "move on". But define "moving on" - and furthermore, is it morally right (even if there's no legal restriction) to do what the hell you like when you're a parent regardless of the impact upon your children and the other parent ?

(I realise that a significant number of parents do indeed do what the hell they want after separation - but that doesn't make it right does it).

Yes - it's a fine line, but IMO, post-separation, unless it genuinely can't be avoided then I believe both parents have a moral obligation to both continue contact (if non-res) and facilitate contact with the other parent (if parent with care). People's circumstances change - yes - and there is at the end of the day such a thing as free will, but most reasonable people would discuss such a huge change with their ex and see if there was any possibility of compromise, work-rounds and so on. In this case, it sounds as if the situation has been presented to the OP's DP as a fait accompli with no attempt to keep him fully informed about what's happening - and no suggestion about how the distance might be breached when it comes to contact. IMO, that's very wrong and very arrogant because inevitably a 2 hour journey - one way - is almost certainly going to have a significant impact upon contact, upon finances and upon time. That's a fact, and has nothing to do with wanting to block ex from "moving on".

We have endured more than a decade of a very similar arrangement. Only difference being that ex "promised" to help facilitate contact by meeting halfway. This lasted a matter of months before ex took umbrage when DP wouldn't immediately agree to something unreasonable and therefore since then, for the most part, he's done ALL the driving necessary to keep in touch with and see his children, incurred ALL the expense associated with that (petrol, wear and tear, servicing - 90% of mileage on a very old car is contact mileage), and spent on average 10 hours driving each time he wants to see his kids (i.e. 2 return journeys to collect and then return them). Like you, we account for every penny - and with the cost of living rising hugely in the last decade this expense has become ever more difficult. I admit I seethe each time he sets off - not because I want to stop him seeing his kids but because his ex's selfishness is so unfair - we had no say in this and really have no choice but to keep paying - 5 figures so far and ever rising. All attempts to negotiate a division of driving has fallen on deaf ears - she regards meeting him any portion of the way as doing him a "favour" and suggests if he doesn't like it he should move despite the fact the work wouldn't be there in his sector if he did ! She's also played games many a time and has let him drive 280 miles return by telling him the kids weren't coming when he arrived to collect them. Eventually, the matter was dealt with in court, along with other contact issues, and she was ordered to meet halfway every 4th occasion - which is pretty crap and still leaves us paying the vast majority of the cost of her decision.

BTW - the ex in our case had no compelling reason to move - like a job relocation, or housing affordability .... she didn't "even" have a new boyfriend but simply "wanted" to. Well bully for her - she got what she "wanted" and we have had to pick up the pieces. Our standard of living has definitely been affected, and our child has definitely missed out, due to this longstanding expense - but the quality of the relationship between DP and the kids has also been affected severely as logistics make everything so much harder (including sorting out niggly little disputes face to face for example).

I also hate to break it to you - and I must confess I'm not sure if this info still applies - but the CSA used to make an allowance for long distant travel of something like 5p in every pound spent ..... so if you spend £100, you'd get a £5 reduction. Which obviously makes all the difference. However, if you already got an allowance for overnight stays, they wouldn't also give you the travel allowance. Work that out for fairness. A dad round the corner from his kids who had them say 52 nights a year would therefore pay exactly the same as a dad 140 miles away who also has them 52 nights a year, regardless of the huge travel expenses he had. (Now the CSA site seems to have been incorporated onto the gov.uk site it seems a great deal of info it once contained has also vanished - so you'd need to speak to them to find out what's what re: travel).

I really don't know what advice to offer - assuming that appealing to her better nature to help with meeting halfway etc wouldn't work. The only thing I can think of is to apply to court asap - before a precedent of DP doing and paying for all the travel is made - and ask them to order that she helps with maintaining contact. It's terribly unfair OP and I think some people simply don't understand the impact a long distance move like this can have. I've read other threads where some posters have airily suggested that the non-res parent should relocate just like that and others where the attitude seems to be "if you want to see them, you come and get them - and if you don't like that, you can't be much of a parent" ..... with no regard for the fact you can't get money out of a stone and so bloody what if other children in the family suffer as a result of (often significant) sums "having" to be spent on maintaining contact.

mumandboys123 Mon 22-Jul-13 13:48:37

So moving on is only an issue if it causes the ex some inconvenience? the ex should only get involved with men who can give a cast iron guarentee that their lives, work and ambitions will never take them further away from her ex than...20 minutes drive? the OP will of course have givem the same assurances to her partner? Her partner of course discussed this all at length with his ex and got her permission to move into a new relationship?

I am not without empathy but the suggestion mum shouldn't be allowed to move in with someone new in case she threatens the roof over the head of the children is ridiculous. what she is essentially saying is that any resident parent reliant on housing benefit should not be allowed to move in with a new partner.

Petal02 Mon 22-Jul-13 14:51:46

Stepmooster makes an interesting point - that if contact reduces due to costs/travelling time, the ex just might (fingers crossed) start missing her child-free weekends and start to help???

catsmother Mon 22-Jul-13 14:53:22

This is nothing to do with getting involved in a new relationship. Quite obviously neither side of a separated couple need ask their ex's permission to become involved with someone new.

What both parties should do however, is consider the logistical and very real financial impact (for many households) any subsequent move may have. Not to mention the impact upon the relationship between the children and the non resident children - as, with the best will in the world, and like it or not, if you create a significant physical distance between parent and child there has to be a lot of damned hard work thereafter in order to sustain the relationship - simply because it's now more or less impossible to see the children on an ad hoc or frequent basis.

Yes ..... life isn't always black and white and sometimes - obviously hmm - moves can't be avoided. The considerate, humane and decent thing to do in those situations however is for ALL parties to work together and come up with a plan that'll minimise the impact upon the non-res parent/child relationship, minimise additional expense (especially for non-res parent's household who usually have very little say over such moves), minimise time spent travelling to see/collect/return children, e.g. by BOTH parents sharing driving and meeting halfway. Arguably, if one parent decides - unilaterally - without any attempt at discussion and compromise - that parent should, morally, IMO, share even more of the inconvenience/expense which arises as a result of their unilateral decision.

My partner's ex certainly didn't do this - well, she lied and told him she'd do all she could to ensure him seeing his kids wouldn't be affected by the huge distance she created (unnecessarily) .... and then turned round and refused to budge her lazy backside one inch down the road. And it doesn't sound as if the OP's DP's ex even tried to pretend that she gave a damn about the move and its impact.

This isn't about minor annoyance ....

.... this is about real and significant impact upon your household where you have no choice in the matter, not to mention of course the potential for broken relationships which wither away because some households simply can't scrape together the funds required to continue seeing their non-res kids on any meaningful and regular basis (as perhaps suggested by Stepmooster's post). Imagine that you're counting every last £ and suddenly you're told that your household monthly income from next month and indefinitely for more than a decade is going to be at least £200 short - many many households would struggle with that and will invariably have to cut back on food and clothing (let alone anything treat like) as when you're up against it, you're usually less able to cut back on housing, utilities, commuting, council tax, child maintenance (obviously, before I'm burnt at the stake). That is what it was and still is like for us - and I won't apologise for feeling furious about it. There are other hidden costs too ....... the OP mentioned her DP's working hours would be curtailed if he had to spend extra time travelling - so you have a double whammy right there - additional travel costs and loss of earnings. Similarly, because I used to work evenings and weekends my ability to earn was also affected when DP had to set off on a 5 hour round trip (twice in a weekend). However much you want to see the stepkids, however much you love them, fact is if there's no money there, there's no money there and these sorts of situations aren't about a bit of inconvenience but can be about real ongoing financial struggle - through no fault of your own, and due to something you had no say in or any control over.

What I'm saying is that the parent with care has a moral duty in all of this. Most parents with care want their children to sustain a happy loving relationship with their absent parent - and would therefore only move if it really was unavoidable. And when it is genuinely unavoidable (I get that sometimes it is clearly) you then do all you can to assist in maintaining contact. Anything else is bloody selfish and arrogant - and believe me, in my own experience, and that of several other stepmothers I've known for quite some years, such a move is often used to try and prevent continued regular contact by some selfish exes who aren't stupid and who appreciate full well they're making contact extra hard.

BTW I was the mother of a stepchild long before I became a stepmother myself and encountered the sort of spiteful selfish gameplaying which I previously thought only existed in soaps. My ex actually moved about 60 miles away after we split - but it was with my full knowledge - and we both discussed this all the way. He had to move for work - which you can't argue with - but we both brokered a plan to minimise the impact upon our child, and the financial impact on me. My ex was more than willing to travel back to collect our child - but I preferred to drive them up to him at the start of contact so they weren't getting to bed too late .... in recognition of this effort my ex would reimburse my petrol - fair enough - but my main concern had been our child. We regularly discussed what was fair and reasonable, and if our child would be affected or not - surely to god that's not unreasonable. I have a very very low opinion of DP's ex who refuses to do the same, to put herself "out" (as she sees it) just to be spiteful, even though she created the damn situation - she doesn't give a damn about the very real repercussions of her decisions, and as far as she, specifically is concerned, actually seems to revel in causing us as much inconvenience and expense as she can by being as awkward as possible about contact arrangements (just to add insult to injury).

I know I've gone on but in a nutshell - when you're a parent and if you care about the relationship your child(ren) has with their other parent you simply don't make major decisions without the courtesy of discussion and co-operation, assuming you have a conscience that is. Is that really so bloody difficult to comprehend ?

Otherwise you have the situation I'm living with - that the OP is facing, and which several other posters are also experiencing. "Inconvenience" doesn't even begin to cover it. It wouldn't be right even if the non-res household was rich (though having plenty of disposable income would I suppose make it more bearable) but unilateral and selfish decisions like this can have a horrendous effect upon households which aren't so fortunate - remember too that the resulting lack of money also impacts upon the non-res children as they will also be affected by the lack of days out, holidays etc at the non-res parent's home. When the ex won't even deign to discuss any of it with you it just makes you feel like the lowest of the low ....... and the non-res household is very often placed under huge pressure to meet contact costs, regardless of how affordable they really are, because it is such an emotive subject. Without question, our household has suffered, and our youngest child has also had to go without because we have had this selfish expense imposed upon us for years. We are also painted as villains who "don't care" (to the children - by the ex) on the occasions we have been unable to use a full day's holiday required for a school play or sports day and have had to miss them. Any normal parent would explain how annual leave is saved up for school holidays but the distance makes it near impossible to do more casual things without using up annual leave.

OP ..... I'm very sorry to have somewhat hijacked your thread. You have my full sympathies and I just hope your ex is more reasonable and co-operative about this that our was/is. My blood just boils when I see (some) people dismissing this sort of situation as if a mother's wants should always override absolutely everything else regardless - even if it has a negative impact on her own kids. All it should take is honesty, consideration, discussion, compromise ......

SailAwayGal Mon 22-Jul-13 15:32:28

the ex should only get involved with men who can give a cast iron guarentee that their lives, work and ambitions will never take them further away from her ex than...20 minutes drive? the OP will of course have givem the same assurances to her partner?

mumandboys Actually, most of the "separated parents" who live near me do exactly that; because we (as my nickname suggests) live on an Island and so for one parent to move to the mainland would create such a financial, emotional and timeconsuming burden on both parents as to make maintaining a relationship with DC's impossible! It is generally considered socially unacceptable in the community here for parents to move away - there is the occasional scandal but in the few cases I know where a parent has left the Island, the children stayed living here with the remaining parent, even if they were not the Primary Carer up until that point.

Funnily enough, I only know of one separated couple who formally recorded their intent not to move more than a certain distance from their hometown - and they didn't live here, they lived in a mainland city and both of them committed to staying in the city until the DC's were independent.

Petal02 Mon 22-Jul-13 15:38:35

I think it's great if parents can both stay in the same area, but what do you do if, for example, your employer needs to transfer you elsewhere, and declining such a transfer would mean unemployment, which would have an adverse effect on all concerned? Staying in the same area for years and years is simply not possible for some people.

SailAwayGal Mon 22-Jul-13 15:48:09

but what do you do if, for example, your employer needs to transfer you elsewhere, and declining such a transfer would mean unemployment, which would have an adverse effect on all concerned?

That happens a lot here, particularly recently, including in my own situation! The largest employers here are "mainland based", and as they downsize the Island branches, or even close them all together, many people have faced the choice between continuing to see their DC's regularly and accepting redundancy, or moving away, and turning their DC's lives upside down by no longer being an active part in their life - or even changing the DC's primary residence.

When my own job was relocated to the mainland a few years ago, it would have meant changing my DDs home - she would have moved in with her Dad, and I would have seen her once a month or so. I wouldn't have been able to afford it more frequently, as the job transfer was offered along with a paycut! Daily commuting is only financially accessible for the highly paid few, and even then, the time factor means that regular contact is a thing of the past, and reliability becomes an issue as it is at the whim of the wind/fog etc.

The reality is that a lot of parents choose regular, quality parent contact for their DC's rather than a higher paying/more rewarding/secure job; I'm amazed it is seen as such an unreasonable ask, tbh!

Petal02 Mon 22-Jul-13 16:02:25

It's very noble to say "I'd rather be unemployed than see my child less" but the reality of that statement could mean that 'second family' children are severely disadvantaged. I don't think there are any easy fixes, or even any rights or wrongs with some of these situations, but if regular access to the child from the 'first relationship' is the main priority, even if it means unemployment, then are are huge implications for other members of the household.

theredhen Mon 22-Jul-13 17:06:57

I think there's a huge difference in moving away for work than moving away to be with a new boyfriend.

Everyone is entitled to a life but in the op case, the ex wife wants to put her needs before the needs of her kids and maintaining a relationship with their dad. It's not a long standing relationship and it sounds like there's nothing positive to be gained for the kids. She's moving for her own needs /wants only.

I assume the op ex is fully aware of her ex's work schedule and is not making any compromises. hmm

My ex moved away even after I left him in the marital home at his request. I feel it's up to him to have the cost and time implications of moving away. I have done everything possible to maintain stability for my son, he, in my opinion, has not.

He's also changed jobs and has a very haphazard contact routine. I have done everything possible to maintain contact and been very flexible and compromising. Because I know it's in the interests of our son.

I knew someone who upped sticks and moved to the other end of the country just to inconvenience her ex. He did all the running around and paid the same maintenance even when one if the kids moved in with him. Inevitably the kids knew who was there for them and chose to be with dad. But I can't imagine how frustrated he must have felt when she moved away.

mumandboys123 Mon 22-Jul-13 17:13:07

Sailaway - i am afraid i dont live in the same world as you and my only chance of survival post-divorce wad to move. it is very easy to forget that many of us are left with all the financial responsibility of children and an ex happy to do nothing other than ad hoc babysit. So yes, it is more than likely my children's best interests would have been served living round the corner from dad and i hadnt taken my career seriously.....however all the evidence of children's negative life outcomes relate to living in poverty....that was my informed choice: that my children should not live in poverty. They are still able to have a positive relationship with their father and he was given good notice - start contributing or i will move somewhere cheaper. he has not contributed in 5 years and moans i took his children away. He lives a fab life and i bear ALL the costs of bringing up our children, including contact. My children wont be around forever: we all deserve a good quality of life and i deserve to build a good life for when the children leave home.

Petal02 Mon 22-Jul-13 18:08:02

That's a very good post Mumandboys - putting yourself into poverty will not benefit your child/ren. People really do have to go where work can be found.

stepmooster Mon 22-Jul-13 18:29:57

Mumandboys I can understand your point of view but in all respects to OP and other step families going through similar, our partners aren't the sort of blokes to abandon their children financially. DH gives more than he needs to money wise. He was the one who was cheated on and kicked out of the home by his ex. She is the one moving further away, the moral responsibility ought to be on her shoulders to help contact.

We will probably move if we ever get a good indication of where she intends to settle (see my thread on relocating).

DSS moves this week and really does not want to go. He is old enough to understand what is happening. How the ex will ever think DSS will want to bond with his stepdad in his stepdads home when his older half brother has already left mum to live with his dad and now DSS will not see his other siblings here either.

Some people like to use their children as pawns in some strange battle, which I just don't see the point of?

In our case, the ex is still working where she is moving from. Its a long commute for her, makes no sense, and I fear there is something more to this move than we know at present.

Lala1980 Mon 22-Jul-13 21:58:32

Please don't think we don't want DPs exW to move on. Unfortunately with regards to our personal situation the children's needs have not been considered. I wasn't judging in any way merely asking would moving the boyfriend in jeopardize her housing benefit? This is not just distressing for us but more significantly the children.

mumandboys123 Mon 22-Jul-13 23:19:00

What do you mean by jeopardize? She will no longer be single and will be assessed for benefits on that basis.....I just struggle to see how it's relevant?

PrettyPaperweight Mon 22-Jul-13 23:27:41

mumandboys I agree to an extent, the living/financial arrangements of the OPs DSC Mum isn't her (or her DPs) concern.

But the welfare of the DCs is, especially if there is a history of poor choices on Mums part which the OP and her DP have previously picked up the pieces.
If Mums choices are creating a chaotic environment for the DCs (regular moves, frequent changes of household occupants, poorly managed financial hardship) then their long term future with their Mum as primary carer may be in doubt. That's a reasonable thing for any adult involved in the DCs life to be concerned about.

mumandboys123 Tue 23-Jul-13 09:15:26

Who gets to say what a poor choice looks like? plenty of children are dragged up and moved around and have various partners come and go. My ex is on his...6th in 5 years. I dont interfere because it has nothing to do with me - they were all introduced to the children within days...i have had a number of boyfriends cos i can and I dont introduce to the children but if my mum wasnt around it would be harder. you can't do anything unless there is clear abuse taking place.

stepmooster Tue 23-Jul-13 11:10:33

Trust me on this, children aren't stupid and as they get older they formulate their own opinions. When they become adults and realise the reason why daddy didn't see them is because mummy moved them away. As adults they will work out whether there was a genuine need to move or not. If one parent is being spiteful for the sake of it, and the other did everything they could but the distance is too far then the adult child will see things in a new light. and its not just in these sorts of circumstances either.

It happened to my sister and I, fed up of being pawns. My mother got everything she deserved when we realised the truth about our childhood and the serious amount of lies she fed us about our father and his relatives.

On some weird level I feel sorry for DH ex, because I know DSS is not stupid and he will start to question his mum and the things she says and does. He is already asking questions to DH and trying to understand things. One day he's going to realise the lies and she risks her youngest losing respect for her. Although the ex infuriates me immensely I don't actually want to see their relationship suffer.

PrettyPaperweight Tue 23-Jul-13 13:03:16

Who gets to say what a poor choice looks like? plenty of children are dragged up and moved around and have various partners come and go

I was referring to behaviour - such as you describe - that will attract SS attention. The DCs that are 'dragged up' may not be considered 'at risk' but will certainly be flagged as being emotionally neglected, Mum will be encouraged to engage with family/parenting support services etc - and in those cases the RP is often encouraged to seek support from (ie allow the DCs to spend more time with) a more stable resident parent - in this case the OPs DP!

mumandboys123 Tue 23-Jul-13 14:06:02

But this is the first move? so....it's hardly a pattern of abuse and neglect? who can say at this point what the impact will be on the children? and it is way off involvement by social services or again are we saying dad can move on but mum can only do so with dad's permission?

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