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How to renegotiate contact arrangements

109 replies

harman · 25/09/2007 18:46

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OP posts:
Anna8888 · 27/09/2007 12:37

Out of interest - in the UK (I am in France) how do you force a non-resident parent into contact time and keeping to agreed pick-up times?

Here in France you call the police and they come at once...

Lorayn · 27/09/2007 12:50

You cant anna, exdp rarely turned up on time if at all, he now has no contact.
Basically all you can do if they don't stick to arrangements is take them back to court and have their contact removed. There is no real maintenance provision either, I think I received about ten payments from exdp in total, and that was with the help of the CSA

Anna8888 · 27/09/2007 12:56

So basically you need to manipulate the situation yourself ie make all the pick-up/drop-off times/points the school gate or another external fixed time point? Or else your ex p can leave you waiting around at home for hours and you have no recourse?


Lorayn · 27/09/2007 12:59

Yes, if he doesnt turn up, he doesnt turn up, thats it.
Shit,isnt it.

Anna8888 · 27/09/2007 13:10

Yes, it's shit .

These contact negotiations are always fraught. My partner's ex cannot get it into her head that contact times for the boys are not "babysitting services" that we are under obligation to provide whenever she has something better to do. So negotiations are quite hard work .

Lorayn · 27/09/2007 13:13

HA, I know that feeling anna, exdp used to actually use the word 'babysit' when he had the children.
And even now (they go to his mums around once a month or so, when she requests to have them) it is still seen as a favour for me. She will text me and ask if she can have them , I'll say yes and then get a text later in the week asking if I 'still want her to have them'

Anna8888 · 27/09/2007 13:22

Though grandparents are a bit of a different issue, I always feel.

My partner's parents have always been extremely hands on, having the boys for the night every Saturday when they were little, always taking them to tennis and other activities. I know they want to see their grandchildren, but I also know that they don't always feel properly appreciated (especially by my DP's ex). So whenever I ask them for a service for my daughter, I am very clear that I am asking for some special help and I make sure I thank them appropriately - for example, this afternoon we have our annual parent-teacher meeting and I have asked my MIL to look after my daughter during that time. But I have also asked my PILs to stay on for dinner this evening.

I try always to stay on their right side .

The very idea that parents ever babysit for their own children is conceptually wrong IMO. My partner's ex thinks (in a subconscious, unanalysed way) that because as she is the resident parent, she can ask favours of her ex-husband and me - but she totally forgets that she is the resident parent as a favour to her, we wanted (and still want) 50:50 . Plus she has a full-time nanny and two sets of grandparents to help out, so she isn't badly off at all.

LooptheLoop · 27/09/2007 13:33


Just to add to the existing comments - you are being completely reasonable and he sounds like a nightmare.

I like the email idea - keep focussed and constructive in any responses (assuming he can be bothered to reply...). If he rejects your idea, what does he suggest to help overcome the issues then??

We had loads of problems re lateness on pick up/drop off times with my DH's ex. Hold in there - habits are hard to break but it will be worth it!

bozza · 27/09/2007 14:15

Lorayn do you think your ex MIL is just trying to be tactful and stay on your right side seen as how you hold the cards regarding her access to her grandchildren? She is saying "is it still OK by you". From what you have posted I do have sympathies with her (after all she bollocked her son for lying to you/her) but not with your ex.

Lorayn · 27/09/2007 14:35

Hmm, I dont know bozza, sometimes maybe, but this MIL also had the children around two weeks ago and left them with EXDP overnight whilst she went to work, so if she wasnt having them so she could see them, then it fits in with the 'doing me a favour'.
I do feel for her too though tbh, It can't be easy for her.

bozza · 27/09/2007 15:17

Yes I realise I don't know the full story. Just looking at how I would feel if it were my grandchildren.

Anna8888 · 27/09/2007 15:34

IMO it's always a bit tricky with grandparents knowing when/if they are doing you a favour by taking the children off your hands for a bit and when/if you are doing them a favour by letting them have the grandchildren over. Whether or not you are married, separated, divorced or never married .

That's why I always thank my in-laws copiously, just in case. And, thinking about it, I probably don't thank my own parents copiously enough (and God knows they have done a lot for me).

bozza · 27/09/2007 15:43

Agree anna.

Lorayn · 27/09/2007 17:22

I think driving 40miles there and 40 miles back whenever nanny texts and asks if she can see them, rather than ever asking her to have them kind of shows it is us doing the favour, especially as if we are busy we get the whole guilt trip about how much she misses them and loves having them etc(ella has missed 3 birthday parties because of it now)
But I do appreciate if they were my grandchildren and my son had been as much of a prick twit as hers I would feel slightly unsure of what to do in the situation.

Surfermum · 27/09/2007 17:48

You should talk to wirral. She's having similar problems.

harman · 27/09/2007 21:20

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Lorayn · 27/09/2007 21:26

harman, As the resident parent you are 'allowing' him to see the kids when there is no order in place iyswim. Unless there is a court order, whilst they live with you, they go by your rules, although if they were with him and he decided not to return them then it could prove difficult to make him break them back.
Where you married if you dont mind me asking, because until 2002 (ish?) unless you were married when the children were born he has no parental rights without the court saying so, after then as long as he was on the birth certificate he does.

LittleBella · 27/09/2007 21:44

Harman just tell him that this is the arrangement you want, if he's not happy with it, could he please suggest another one whcih you'll do your level best to fit in with. (Put it all in writing and bear in mind that you're not writing to him, you're writing to a judge.) Tell him it's not the days that are important, it's the consistency and that you must be allowed to fulfil your plans on contact days unless there is a genuine emergency. If he won't negotiate, don't let him see the children on the days he simply turns up. Tell him to come back on the day you've arranged, or to come back in writing, with a better suggestion.

Don't take him to court, let him take you. Why should you spend money on it? He's fucked you around for so long. This is exactly why so many resident parents eventually give up and withhold contact. And then pricks like your ex go around saying that the harridan bitch won't let them see their kids. Anna's right, contact arrangements have to be set in stone, so that neither party can piss the other one around the way your ex has been pissing you around all this time. Oh and one last thing - phone the Gingerbread / one parent families helpline, they are excellent on this sort of thing and will give you really top advice.

stripeytiger · 27/09/2007 21:53

Harman, have just read through your post and most of the replies. I do sympathise with you, it seems like so many ex partners/husbands use the children to hold on to that last bit of control over us and it makes me sick. I am having similar problems with my ex h. I tried emailing him and that was on 11th sept., so far the ignorant git hasn't had the courtesy to reply.

My particular problem is with the drop off/collection. I am now refusing to drive to meet ex h as I feel he is being unreasonable, he travels about 15 miles and me about 30 on the Sunday and on the Friday I deliver them to his place of work, yet when I tried to alter the venue on a sunday to a halfway point he threw his toys out the pram! He is next due to have the children next weekend however because of his bloody unreasonable behaviour I have now decided to take back the control. I am going to say that he can see the children every other weekend as he has been but he needs to collect them and drop them home. He earns about 80k and I am not currently working.

Can he force me to drive anywhere if he takes this to court or am I within my rights to insist he comes to the house? We have no laid down collection/drop off, the only thing that was stipulated in the divorce settlement was he has the children every other weekend.

Like your ex p he often makes excuses why he shouldn't have them any extra nights. If he ever wants to swap a weekend I go out of my way to be flexible, if I ask him to have them for example on Sunday night as a favour once in a while he always refuses. Its like he thinks he does me a favour by, like others have said, "babysitting" every other weekend, instead of viewing it as quality time with his children.

I am taking the control back and he is going to be in for a shock. Previously I think he knows that I desperately need that break every other weekend and used it as a way of continuing to control me. Unlucky for him the worm has turned!!

Good luck with your situation.

Lorayn · 27/09/2007 22:05

stripeytiger, your ex can not make you drive to take the children, if you are making reasonable effort then no judge in the land is going to say 'ms tiger, I know you look after the children all the time and cannot really afford to be driving all this way, but you have to cos this lazy git cant be bothered'!!

Its about time that non resident parents realised they are sharing the responsibility of caring for their child, not babysitting/doing anyone a favour, if that is the way they want to see it then treat them that way, as fas as I'm concerned it was a privilege for my ex to see his children, one that he made no effort to sustain, so it got taken away, and any reasonable adult will see that.

stripeytiger · 27/09/2007 22:10

Thanks Lorayn, that made me laugh, but its so true.

You have got me thinking, I was thinking about whether I should change my surname now I am divorced but haven't a clue what to call myself, Ms Tiger, that's really cool and it would really pee ex h off as he is so straight laced about stuff like that

harman · 27/09/2007 22:37

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Anna8888 · 28/09/2007 08:36

Stripeytiger - absolutely agree with Lorayn on this one, if you are the resident parent, your ex has the children every other weekend, you live 45 miles apart, he is in full-time work and earning a good salary and you are a SAHM - he should definitely do the lion's share of the driving for the pick-ups/drop-offs. Basically I think he should be doing it all, unless his work commitments and your children's school commitments make that unfeasible on a Friday. But on Sunday you should expect to receive your children at your doorstep (and clean, fed and rested having had a lovely time with their father while you have had a rest).

Lorayn · 28/09/2007 08:55

I'm sure I commented on here earlier but it seems to have disappeared

Anyway, harman, I would not be around at the time your ex would normally pick them up. You have informed him of new contact arrangements, and he hasn't replied, therefore you have no reason to see that they are going to be a problem. I would draft another email to him, stating that as you have received no reply you are going to go ahead with changing the contact arrangements to .....

Thank him for not being troublesome with this (include something like 'I'm pleased you realise that evening visits during the week are not really feasible during term-time)and tell him you will see him on whatever day you are allowing him to see them next. Mention the fact that you are finding it hard to transport the kids around and that although you can still do fridays he is going to need to do the sunday. Also, agree with bella about think of it as writing to a judge, be beyond reasonable, and he wont have a leg to stand on.

Although I think it unlikely he would bother to take you to court.

Then don't be around on the 'normal' day so you arent forced into either an argument or giving in for the sake of stopping any confrontation.

Be strong and remember you are the boss here!!

Surfermum · 28/09/2007 09:24

Harman - it's not that the arrangements aren't working well for YOU any more - the aren't working well for the children! You are not the unreasonable one here. Don't let him make you think otherwise.

Why don't you make some enquries about whether you'd be entitled to legal aid? You can get a free hour with a solicitor. At least you know where you stand should this need to go down a more formal route.

And even if he did chose to go to Court, unless you were prepared to represent yourself you would still need some legal support.

I think the idea of emailing again and saying you assume he agrees unless you hear by a deadline is a good one.

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