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to use a lawyer to communicate with my DC's dad and his wife

28 replies

daringdoris · 28/04/2021 15:08

Apologies for the long post. I think the back-story is important and I didn't want to drip-feed.

I am the mother of a teenager. We now live in the UK. I went to live in a European country about 20 years ago, and met my DS’s dad, and had my DS. We split up when DS was about 3. When my DS was about 6, his dad met a new partner who has become DS’s step mum.

The backstory is that at first everything was rosy, the stepmother was wonderful to my son, took him on outings and gave him presents. He lived with me and went to them every other weekend. Then, when they got married and he started junior school, they asked for joint residence. I felt quite protective about it, but ultimately agreed, as I believed it was a fair approach, that DS was old enough for it to be a good solution, and that despite our differences, I truly believed that his dad was a good dad and I trusted him to be a good parent.

To cut a long story short, it slowly started going downhill. The fact is that DS’s dad is a nice man, but spineless, and it turns out that his wife has some kind of personality disorder. They made my DS’s life hell, and they made my life hell, to the extent that I have come back to the UK with my DS to protect him from their toxic influence. It was also to protect my mental health, as I was no longer able to co-parent with DS’s dad who is under her influence and has no mind of his own. He certainly is unable to keep his son’s best interests at heart.

It has been brilliant to be removed from their influence. My weekends are no longer taken up with dealing with their issues. My phone is no longer an object of dread every time it rings or beeps about something else that has gone wrong. My every conversation with friends, family or my partner is not dominated by whatever their latest (negative, energy-sapping) problem is.

My son is a really well-adjusted young man, doing pretty well at school, gets along well with peers and adults, and has a good range of activities. He has his moments, as do all teenagers, but I’m really proud of him and the way he conducts himself. He has really good male role models in my dad, my brother and my partner. He and I went to therapy together in his last 2 years of primary school, to try to untangle this whole mess, so he understands the situation, and knows why we moved away. He loves his dad but knows he’s under his wife’s control.

I’m writing here today as despite the distance, they still manage to put spanners in the works. The latest is that despite me informing them of my leave and (potential) plans during the summer, they have come up with a plan which is completely incompatible with ours, is impossible to plan at the moment in any case, and involves logistical impossibilities.

As far as they are concerned, they want one thing and I want another, and they are always right. As far as I am concerned I have tried to plan something which is as simple as possible, which is as workable as it can be in the current situation, which suits everyone, and which allows my son and his dad to see each other. I’m really happy to make concessions within the three weeks holiday I’ve been lucky enough to get, but I’m not putting my holiday at risk (again) for a hare-brained scheme, which seems to come down, yet again, to DS’s step-mum making it as difficult as possible for her husband to see his son.

Which brings me to my AIBU. I am really fed up of dealing with them. I’m fed up of them being able to get away with thinking that their manipulative behaviour is the same as my reasonable behaviour, and therefore deserves equal merit. I’m fed up of being sent rude messages and being shouted at over the phone.

AIBU to use a lawyer to talk to them from now on? Does anyone have any experience of this? Any tips? And thank you for having read this far.

YANBU = get a lawyer
YABU = you can negociate this without a lawyer (how??)

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?


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44PumpLane · 28/04/2021 15:24

You're not being unreasonable to want to step away from having to have contact woth them, but I wonder if there is someone else you can use as a go between just for the sake of finances?

However if you can afford it then go for it!


Aquamarine1029 · 28/04/2021 15:28

Is your son able to just deal with his father himself? I wouldn't deal with them at all, personally, and I definitely wouldn't throw away money on a lawyer for this. Your son isn't a little child anymore.


daringdoris · 28/04/2021 15:38


This is a good idea, but they have always refused any kind of mediation.

I can't really afford it!! I'm just trying to preserve my sanity... Smile

OP posts:

daringdoris · 28/04/2021 15:42


I'm looking forward to this. However, he's 14, so I don't think I can bow out just yet. Also the logistics of travelling to another country are difficult at his age (impossible at the moment). But yes, he is no longer a little child.

OP posts:

ASandwichNamedKevin · 28/04/2021 15:46

What does DS actually want? At 14 I'd be asking him what he wants and that would be the starting point for any discussion.
If he can't travel alone then could his dad come to the UK to visit?


Pinkpaisley · 28/04/2021 15:52

Would moving all communication to a co-parenting app be sufficient? Much cheaper, provides compartmentalization, and keeps a history.


2bazookas · 28/04/2021 15:52

You need to check the cost of lawyers communications.Many will charge a huge fee per letter sent.


Aquamarine1029 · 28/04/2021 16:03

What does your son want?


Gazelda · 28/04/2021 16:07

But wouldn't the country they live in have a different legal structure? Surely a UK lawyer wouldn't have much weight in their country?


tara66 · 28/04/2021 16:08

Presume you Ex has some legal rights to access for his son which you are required and willing to comply with but SM is obstructive to your plans? Presume Ex. agreed to you taking son to move and live out of the country where DS's father still lives and where you and DS used to live. What did/does the SM do that was so bad you left that country and did you never confront her? Does she not really want DS to see his father? Is your son the only child in this set up? Is she ''jealous'' of DS? If you can't afford a solicitor you could ask Citizen's Advice but is it really a legal matter? The SM could argue forever with a solicitor causing you high fees.


Gingerkittykat · 28/04/2021 16:10

I doubt if a letter from a lawyer or UK court involvement will have any legal standing in a different country.

Is it possible for you to lay out the possible options, put your phone down and refuse to negotiate further?


daringdoris · 28/04/2021 16:11

He wants to see his dad, and wants to keep everyone happy. He also wants to see friends and family in the country in which he grew up, which might not be possible this summer...
His dad actually wants to come to the UK this summer, in a campervan, with his wife and younger children. I'm not sure that will be able to happen though.

Pinkpaisley I didn't know such a thing existed! Will look into that right now!

2bazookas Yes, I certainly need to bear that in mind and check things out properly.

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Notaroadrunner · 28/04/2021 16:11

Does your son want to visit him in the other country? Does he want to spend time with his dad and his step mother? If he doesn't want to see the step mother then do not agree to him visiting them. His dad can come to the UK to see him alone.


Kangaroobill · 28/04/2021 16:13

At 14 can you not just drop him at the airport for his Dad to collect him at the other side?


daringdoris · 28/04/2021 16:21

I would use a lawyer from his country.

Yes, his dad agreed to us moving back to the UK. I was actually shocked that he basically said "oh, ok then."

The step-mum is a toxic and controlling person. Everything my son did was wrong/slow/bad/stupid/behind/naughty. She would make appointements with his teachers to speak about her worries without telling me. This is despite everybody else in his life, including his teachers, thinking that he was a perfectly pleasant and well-behaved child, developing normally.
She cannot be wrong so anything I do which is different to her must be wrong, by definition. Her husband won't (can't?) say anything different.

They have had 2 children together.

I really do need to do my research regarding a lawyer, I know that. I certainly wouldn't embark on something which could drag on.

OP posts:

daringdoris · 28/04/2021 16:26

Gingerkittykat - Is it possible for you to lay out the possible options, put your phone down and refuse to negotiate further?

I would love to do this, but this is where I would get accused of being unreasonable, and insisting on doing it my way.
I think this is why the idea of a lawyer, or some kind of neutral 3rd party, is appealing to me.

I can't remember if I explained that they have always refused mediation, so a 3rd party view is not something they will agree to willingly.

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daringdoris · 28/04/2021 16:28

Kangaroobill - At 14 can you not just drop him at the airport for his Dad to collect him at the other side?

I've done this a few times. and it's been great. Unfortunately none of the relevant airlines are doing this at the moment,

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Kangaroobill · 28/04/2021 16:30

I’ve just seen he plans to come here to see your DS, in which case yes I’d go through a lawyer, I think you blocking out 3 weeks is a lot though as the RP, can you say we are busy/away these 2 weeks so you decide when to come in the other 4 weeks of the school holidays.


Kangaroobill · 28/04/2021 16:31

She sounds horrible by the way, at least here in the U.K. schools wouldn’t even speak to her as she doesn’t have PR but how awful of her to say such thing about your son. It sounds like he’s a lovely lad though Smile


Grumblesigh · 28/04/2021 16:34

Not a lawyer necessarily, or not as a first response, but a dedicated app or email address. All communication goes through that, it will be checked at X intervals (once a day, twice a week, whatever you decide) and no other communication will be entertained except in case of an emergency. Emergencies are things that happen, say, once a year - not once a month or once a day. All emails/calls/texts to other accounts will be deleted without being opened.

This gives you some control over the communication. You can deal with this irritating bit of life admin at your own pace, and with a glass of wine if necessary!


GreyhoundG1rl · 28/04/2021 16:34

He's 14. He gets a major say in where he lives / travels to. He doesn't have to be instructed by his Dad. Can't he just say no to whatever doesn't suit you (both)?


daringdoris · 28/04/2021 16:49

His dad can come to the UK to see him alone - I don't think his wife would 'let' him. I would be happy and pleasantly surprised if he did that.

Thanks Kangaroobill, yes, she is horrible and my son is lovely!

This is a really good idea Grumblesigh and one I hadn't thought about it before this thread.

GreyhoundG1rl Yes. We had a chat about it with him last night. I think he finds it quite hard to think about it clearly. We will persevere though.

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CuriousaboutSamphire · 28/04/2021 16:55

This year that's likely to be impossible, isn't it?

So just text back saying that with all the covid regs it isn't feasible, ir affordable, that DS is disappointed and that you can all discuss it again when international travel is more normal.

Nobody caould say that was unreasonable. What 15 year old wants to spend weeks in isolation, take umpty ump tests, etc.


PanamaPattie · 28/04/2021 17:00

COVID is an excellent excuse not to travel abroad.


daringdoris · 28/04/2021 17:06

This year that's likely to be impossible, isn't it? Yes, CuriousaboutSamphire and I'm disappointed about that too, as I was almost certain it would be as (relatively) easy to travel as it was last summer, and that my son and partner and I would be able to travel together. With what looks to be 3 PCR tests each and 10 days quarantining, nope, neither feasible or affordable!!

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