My feed

to access all these features

Use our Single Parent forum to speak to other parents raising a child alone.

Lone parents

Access issues, any advice? long post sorry!!

6 replies

missywig · 15/02/2008 15:59

Hello! I am mother to a lovely little boy aged 5. Me and his father split up 4 years ago. It was a very strained relationship to say the least and I suffered a tremendous amount of emotional abuse during our time together. I have always, since the split tried to promote a healthy relationship and reasonable contact between father and son. We agreed on 1 o/n stay either on a friday or saturday night and on occasion friday until sunday if there had been no contact at all the previous weekend. Although I have always had concerns about allowing access I am very aware that access to both parents is my litle boy's right and so have done my best to try and keep things civil between us for our child's sake. It's all gone terribly wrong. Father lives with his parents and has done since we split. The atmosphere in the home is extremely hostile, they are the type that constantly shout at each other and I used to find it very stressful visiting the home when we were together. As far as I can gather during access visits care of my little boy is mainly left to my ex's mother. He has never taken an interest in little boys education, never asked to visit the school for parents evening. NEVER taken little boy anywhere on his own and doesn't go with mother if she takes him anywhere, "daddy was in bed" is a frequent phrase that my child uses. Since september last year my child has been having problems at school, it was so bad that he didn't want to go as the other children did not want to sit by him due to his erratic behaviour, this behaviour was not consistant with his home life with me, I am conciensious parent and try hard to teach appropriate behaviours, I am a gentle person with respect for others. Whenever I have tried to speak with NRP about these issues he is either abusive or just grunts, it's very frustrating. Little boy's behaviour towards me was also hostile and strange. I very much felt as though these behaviours were a direct result of contact with father and his family. After trying again and again to talk things through with him I decided in November that for my little boy's sake I needed to take some action. I advised NRP that for a term I would prefere it if access took place at my home as behvaiour was really worrying. Without any conversation he imediatley said that i'd go to court. And so it began.....communication has since only taken place through solicitors, father has had no contact with child at all. Little boy has come on leaps and bounds! NRP has lied to solicitor saying that non of my claims are true and that he has always had access each and every weekend ALL WEEKEND since our split? not sure why he has told such an outragous lie. Little boy has recently said that he misses his Nanny (fathers mother) but that he is scared of his daddy as he slaps him hard round the face for sucking his thumb and it makes him cry and can I ask him not to do it anymore. We are due to go to mediation on monday, I am terrified. I dont know how to even begin to reason with this "man". Sorry about long waffley post. Did I do the wrong thing? I only want to protect my child and try to give him a happy carefree childhood. I am getting bogged down and confused by what "the law states" and really dont think I wil cope well if things go to court. Anyone?

OP posts:
NotDoingTheHousework · 15/02/2008 17:02

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn

givemehope · 15/02/2008 20:50

So sorry you're going through this. Can you get a letter from school to confirm what you've said about DS's behaviour? Who is the mediation with?

sasquatch · 15/02/2008 20:53

I was in a similar situation to you missy many years ago.
Like you I felt I had bent over backwards to make it happen, but never without putting dd's needs before his.

The details of each case are of course different, and that affects how much contact he will get.

I think it is also influenced by the fashion of the family court at the time.

Some people prefer to have the consistency of an court order which means they dont have to deal with ex, but some see the possibility of being able to rebuild some maybe positive working relationship with ex over time.

The court process can be very longwinded, and very expensive.

If he wants to go to court he can but you can fight and put your case well. They will almost definately give him some contact, but my advice to you would be if you think it is not in your sons interests to see him on the terms you previously agreed to, then fight it at every opportunity, without seeming to be unreasonable.

I would advise you to see more than one solicitor if you can before hiring.
I believe I had a brilliant solicitor who understood where I was coming from.
The first one I had was a man whose response to my complaint that I had arrived to deliver dd and found ex had been drinking was: "isn't a man allowed to have a drink ?"
My reply was: "not when hes a violent alcoholic and hes meant to be caring for a baby, no "

missywig · 16/02/2008 09:05

Thanks for your replies. I hired a solicitor back in December as I recieved a letter from ex's solictor almost straight away. He was not particularly pleasant and just kept saying that access is the right of the child. I had my initital appt with mediator which was quite scarey last week. It was just me and the mediator and even she seemed biased toward the father telling me that what I had done was harsh and cruel and that my child is probably withdrawn due to access ceasing hence better behaviour. He is anything but withdrawn I think that my confidence is at an all time low at the moment and that I havn't got much fight in me. Will just have to see how things go in mediation on Monday XX

OP posts:
alice30 · 16/02/2008 20:41

Hi I'm in a similar position in that I strongly believe that in some cases no father is better than a bad father but I don't think this is how the family courts see it. My ex was physically violent to me, he has some kind of mental health problem which has resulted in him experiencing delusions & hallucinations (he has been in hospital as a result of this many years ago, don't know the exact details or if a diagnosis was made), and he has a daily cannabis habit (of some 20 years). He has also not seen DD for 2 years & suddenly out of the blue I have received a letter from his solicitor requesting contact to which my solicitor responded NO due to above reasons. However I am expecting he will push it & he will be granted supervised contact but I worry about the effect of contact on DD & that eventually he would be allowed unsupervised contact which fills me with horror. I have experienced terrible anxiety as a result of being with him & can't imagine what kind of effect his unpredictable,erratic, disturbing behaviour would have on a growing child. DD is 4. Has anyone else had a similar experience?

gillybean2 · 17/02/2008 11:05

It is important for a child to have a relationship with both parents, and it is their right. However, if your child is suffering emotionally as well as physically as a result then it is your duty to ensure your child is protected. Don't feel bad about the decision you made but do try and find a way to resolve it. This issue is not going to go away, your ex can get lots of help with how to handle things in court, even if he can't afford a sol, and the court will likely insist on some form of contact. So you need to do what need sto be done to ensure your son is safe when that contact happens.

While your son is with his Dad it is not for you to dictate how he is cared for, who he sees and what he does. It is a hard thing to accept I know, especially if your Ex's family is very different to the kind of situation you know and prefer.

Think about this though... when your son is with you do you ever leave him with your parents, or a babysitter or neighbour? Do you tell your ex where you are taking him whenever you go anywhere, what he has eaten and who he has seen? No, because what you do in your time with your child isn't his business. There is nothing wrong with your Ex also leaving the child with his mother or other responsible person and in making decisions about how he is cared for and what he does. In fact it would put my mind at rest on some level knowing his grandparents were around to monitor things, and that Gran is ensuring your son (her grandson) is taken care of.

How about writing to your son's Gran saying that he has asked to see her and would she be prepared to come and visit him at your house for an hour, or to meet at the park/zoo etc. Keep that seperate from visits with his father at this stage. It would help her see you are trying to be reasonable and are considering your child. It will also show the court that you are not trying to stop your son having a relationship with his father and family, just that you are trying to ensure he is safe when in his father's care.

Speak to the school, to the head but also your child's class teacher. Ask them if they have noticed any significant changes in your child's behaviour since his initial problems, ask them what they attribute it too. Children do sometimes find school hard to adapt to at first, especially only children who have never had to compromise and deal with others. Ask them if they have any concerns about child at this stage. Also ask if they think it would be good for your child to speak to a child psycologist. This might help deal with some of the issues and help your child speak about any problems or concerns he has.

Different families have different methods of disciplining. Children can adapt to two homes with two different sets of rules, just as they adapt to school having different rules. While i do not believe in smacking, plenty of people do. But this should be a small tap on the bottom, hitting around teh head is very dangerous. Perhaps suggest to your ex that he should go on a parenting course to help him find non aggressive ways to deal with behaviour he finds difficult.

If you are worried about his temper ask that he, and even his parents if he wants the child to go to their house, go on an anger management course. Ask for an undertaking that he will not smack your son as a form of discipline in future, and try and get his agreement that smacking around the face is harmful and somethign he will no longer do.

The mediator will only be as good as the people they are trying to help allow them to be. Don't be afraid to say what you want and how you feel and why things are difficult. Do be open to suggestions and
advice on how to reach agreement, but don't agree to something you don't intend to go along with. Ask the mediator to help find ways of tackling the issue of your Ex not liking your son's thumbsucking as this seems to be a problem your son has spoken to you of. Try and get that verbal agreement that smacking will not occur, and that smacking a child around the head is not acceptable.

If Ex wants you to agree to him seeing his son at his home again then he will have to show that he can be responsible. He might say it's un-necessary, but state that it will put your mind at rest for him to do these things and will be beneficial to your son in the long term (ie anger management and parenting classes).

Speak to the mediatior before you go again. Say that you felt/feel very intimidated and that you are looking for a solution and have only taken the action you have because you believe it is right for your child's safety and emotional welfare. Ask that they support both of you through this. Make it clear that you want what is best for your son and by being at mediation you are showing willing in finding solutions.

Take a list of questions with you when you go again. Ask the mediator to help you both find solutions to your issues, such as getting your ex to agree to the parenting classes and anger management course. Also say if you are willing for grandmother to see child as son has asked for her, but explain why only grandmother at this stage and how ex should look at all this as a positive step forward. Ask him to work with you to resolve the issues and show that he is willing to meet your requests which will help you trust him more than he is willing and able to be a responsible, caring parent,

Remember, any agreements made at mediation are not binding, and can not be disclossed to the court. If your ex is unwilling to compromise, and do what you ask and put's a stop to teh mediation do try and get a letter from the mediator saying that mediation has broken down as a result of your ex. This you can use in court. However, bear in mind your ex could also get a letter saying the same about you if you are the one not willing to find solutions.

Another thing to consider is a contact centre. The staff at these centres are very good, and it can be a positive step forward to a starting place for contact to resume. You can agree to some of these sessions being just dad, and possibly allow his to take the child out of the centre if his mother accompanies.

There are lots of options. Use the mediator to help you, don't be intimidated by them, and don't be afraid of telling the mediator you feel intimidated or stressed and asking for a 5 minute break during the mediation.

Good luck, let us know how it goes

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.