Advice needed. Seeing my children after divorce

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  • #48175 Report

    Zephyrus
    Participant

    Hello,

     

    Hoping for any advice. Sometimes when in the depths of difficult discussions with your former partner it is easy to get lost and wonder what is right and wrong any longer.

    Any how. My wife and I separated last summer and I left the family home (we were actually living in her parents house with them- so no property owned) we have two beautiful boys 2 and 5.

    Since being asked to leave, I live down the road at my parents. At first I was able to go round and see them 6 nights a week and do their bath and bed time but this was stopped in Autumn end of term when after taking them out for the day was asked by her Father in Law to speak after drop off. He told me that my ex no longer wanted to communicate with me and I will only be seeing my boys on a Saturday and two evenings after school till 6pm. This has been the schedule ever since and all communication is through her Father via email only.

     

    This week they asked for a Zoom call to discuss finances and a divorce.  The first call went well, all the finances lie with me and we agreed to split this 50/50 excluding cars (we both have one)  I also said I would be willing to keep providing my ex with money per month (she does not work and hasn’t since our first was born) which is twice as much as what is recommended on the government child maintenance but I  know this will only help my children. This whole discussion lasted just 30 minutes.

    We then spoke about how much time I would see the children after divorce, when I can afford to rent my own place where they can stay.

    I said I would like a 50/50 split of time  perhaps a 2-2-3 with alternating weekends. I did know this is what I wanted but something she would not and ofcourse she said that was never going to happen but would come back with an alternate plan.

    We scheduled a call for the following night. her Father does the majority of the talking on her behalf and opened up with saying they’ve done further research and they believe they would also want all finances split including my car (she paid for hers with her Fathers inheritance – paid early) so I am assuming they mean just mine. I felt this was a bit of a bully tactic but didn’t say anything)

    He then then that her best offer would be that I could see the boys for one overnight stay on the weekend. I truly feel this would be a detriment to my boys who have seen me so much more than this and my biggest fear is they’ll grow up feeling their fathers abandonment. I’m desperate to see them as much as possible but want their best interests first.

    i said I cannot accept that. In my haste I said the lowest offer I can accept would be to have them for overnight stays on a Friday and Saturday on alternate weekends alongside a week night stay on a night of her choice but one we can be consistent on. The above plan let’s them see me on average two overnights a week and her five. They still did not think this was acceptable, I have asked them to use the weekend to think about it but I will not go lower than that.

    I have put it in writing also and have said that this schedule would not come into place until my youngest can stay over (still breastfeeding at night) and I have suitable accommodation. I have promised to endeavour to live close by to make it easier for her and schools.  I am of course willing to reschedule/renegotiate the times as they grow older and lives change. To help make the above times a smooth integration I would be happy to have them stay over for just one of the weekend nights to begin with for 6 months while the boys and my ex get used to it. I would be happy for my ex  to pick up the boys on the week day so she is able to see them before she drops them off if that makes her more comfortable. I have also said I am willing to listen to any other ideas she has that would make the above times work also.

    Based on this my questions are,

    Is what I am asking for enough for my children’s well being in peoples experience?

    Is what I am asking for reasonable?

    If they comeback on Monday saying they refuse to accept and want me to see them less, should I just inform them that I will be pushing for mediation as I cannot agree to any less terms?

    any advice in general for my situation?

     

    thanks to anyone who replies to this. I appreciate you.

    #48176 Report

    steve3334
    Participant

    hi,

    sorry to hear that your going through a tough time. I only have experience of the family court side of things. you asking for kids to stay overnight fri-sun every other weekend is completely reasonable. if you went to court, this is the least they would give you. and it’s common to have half of the school holidays with the kids. also depending how far you live and what your work commitments are like, you could ask for mid week overnight stay, every week or every other week. my ex also only wanted me to have 1 night in the weekend. I refused because I want to make the most of the summer months, and you really need more time for big days out/trips.

    if your ex is not going to budge, then I think you should book an appointment with a family mediator. they would need to give you permission to make a court application. if you end up going to court then you could start from a 50/50 arrangement and see how things turn out.

    #48186 Report

    Gummibear123
    Participant

    Hi,

      <li style=”text-align: left;”>It must be very awkward if you are living down the road and she’s living at her parents.That alone must be unsettling for your elder son.Whatever you settle on anyway there’s going to be someone unhappy with the arrangement bc you seem to have rather a crowded relationship with ur in laws  so closely involved in the decision making.From what you have written you seem to be making a sensible and fair offer.It Would make sense for the kids to see you as much as you can manage for their sakes.And just from reading one gets the impression that your kids mum/her father is unreasonable.But there again you didn’t provide more details….who knows what you may have done in the past to contribute to the relationships demise,mbe she Is totally unreasonable or incapable & her father is protecting her.And for all any1 on here knows maybe you are a serial murderer.(assuming you’re not!!!) I’m just therefore asking how can any1 give you reliable advice ? Steve3334 had the good idea of a mediator,ide give it a try.
    #48258 Report

    Zephyrus
    Participant

    Thank you so much for the replies.

    Steve,

    Thank you. You’ve given me some confidence that what I’m asking for is reasonable. Her Father made it clear in calls that in court in unlikely to get an outcome like this. In hindsight perhaps it was a manipulative technique. When I said I have done research on what child care patterns looked like for separated parents and co parenting they said what I had read is ‘fake news’.

     

    I live so close and will always do my best to live as close as possible to make it as easy as possible for the kids and she knows this also. My work allows me to work from home and is flexible enough so I can do school pick ups and drop offs with no issue also.

    We have another call tomorrow to see if they accept my proposal of having my children just twice a week for overnight stays. If they decline I will be going through mediation and contacting solicitors. I cannot compromise any further on my children’s well being.

     

    GummibearFortunately the children are dealing with the current arrangements very well. So far. Kids adaptability always impresses me.

     

    It is very awkward for me having to deal with her Father. He was a successful business person and certainly is having the upper hand on negotiations. My ex wife hardly gets involved. She claims it is because I am extremely horrible to talk with. However the arrangement definitely suits her well as she struggles with difficult conversations and her Father is negotiating hard on everything.

    I<span style=”color: #000000; font-size: 17px;”> also understand that it’s always difficult to gauge two sides when you’ve only heard one. I have tried to be as matter of fact as I could in my opening message so I could try and get opinions back that weren’t clouded with emotions and my thoughts and feelings on it. I don’t think that will serve me well. Nonetheless I can make some assurances that I have never participated in murder, domestic abuse or adultery and our relationship broke down after years of disagreeing on almost all things and struggling to have good conversations to resolve these disagreements so we ended up arguing a lot. All the time. Never in front of the children but it was a strain which built worse and worse over the years. But she would say that it was me who caused almost all the arguments and made them worse. I never would have left my children so it was her who asked me to leave. >

    Thank you for your advice. I appreciate it.

    #48261 Report

    Gummibear123
    Participant

    That being the case your kids are lucky to have a father who is not just walking away.Beats me how a parent could do that to a child but from what is being written on this forum it is all too common.Hats off to you for staying human through the difficulties you are going through and still putting your kids happiness first.I think the way you wrote is very touching & I apologise if I may have written anything that touched a sore spot.I was initially sceptical as in my own life many of our problems started with overbearing in laws (also financially well off:-( and i naively thought it was a rarity.I was wrong.I wish you much success in keeping up a good relationship with your kids,you will always forever be their daddy whatever happens,a part of you,and no one can take that away.

    #48262 Report

    warwickshire1
    Blocked

    Due to the fact they are now becoming unreasonable i wouldnt be  paying double what CMS would expect you to pay.  Just pay the amount you are  meant to and focus on securing accomodation to live in . The normal contact dads get if no issue is every other weekend 2/3 nights and generally 1 overnight during week and half of holidays.

    I would keep it that you have 1 car each . they will otherwise have to take you to court to sort out financial arrangements  if not happy which is pointless  and will cost thousands.

    #48281 Report

    Sonzie2
    Participant

    Hi there

    I agree with the other posts you are entitled to 50/50 custody of your children and you are definitely entitled to a whole lot more than they are offering.  I agree that you shld just pay the amount CMS advise and save the rest of your money for mediation and finding a place to live. It sounds like the FIL is bullying you a bit, don’t allow that.  This is about YOUR children – not his.  I wld definitely recommend mediation, he won’t be allowed to attend – it will be u and your ex with a mediator as it shld be.  One thing is please try to stay calm and not show hostility towards your ex.  Its better if you two can sort this out together.  I think women automatically feel like they are going to get majority custody but that is no longer the case – unless there is a safeguarding issue- dads have just as much right nowadays.  My kids spend 40% with dad – 8 days with me then 6 with him and it works well – they are very well balanced children.

    #48357 Report

    Zephyrus
    Participant

    We had a terrible call yesterday. They made no compromises only saying that if one night on the alternative weekends worked there would a view for two but only when my youngest (2.5) is much older. I declined stating I would be going down the mediation route as I won’t accept any thing than less than having two overnight stays per week

    My ex’s Father said they had already been in contact with a solicitor last friday and they expect to get full custody with me seeing them one night every two weeks with me based on the advice they have had. That is how it ended.

    I am disappointed but know I have no choice but to contact a solicitor now and formally request mediation. Ah this is painful isn’t it. I just cannot understand why they think this is the best outcome for our children. I’m know I’m a really good Dad and love my children dearly. My ex has been with them almost every night since they’ve been born and I don’t think she can see herself being without them for two nights per week but can’t see what would be best for them.

    #48359 Report

    steve3334
    Participant

    hi,

    yes they are being unreasonable and selfish. solicitors can promise us the world as long as we keep paying them. When I used a solicitor in the past, he had me believe that I can go to court and have the kids staying with me every weekend lol. it probably is likely that the mother will get full custody due to courts being biased. it’s good that your sticking to your guns and refusing 1 night every 2 weeks. being 2.5 years old is a good age to start having child overnights. what court would likely do is get you to have child 1 overnight every other week, then when child turns 3, you have for full weekends (could happen sooner). they like to do gradual build-ups like this.

    I would suggest you don’t hire a solicitor and spend thousands needlessly. for mediation you only need to book a short call with them. you could complete the court application yourself, go to court and self-represent. plenty of dads out there that have done it and we can give you some tips.

    #48376 Report

    Soulboy
    Participant

    Zephyrus – I too have been touched by your obvious selflessness and the manner in which you’re conducting yourself in the face of unreasonable demands from ex and in-laws.

    I have been in a situation not too dissimilar though demands were directly from separated wife, not in-laws. I co-parent 50/50 with our 3 children under 11 and over a 2 week period they spend exactly the same amount of time with me (including where they sleep) as they do with their mum.

    Some things I discovered over time I hope may help:

    • Wife was initially horrified by my desire to co-parent 50/50 and brought out negative behaviour in her based on her assumption this would make her a poor mother. As I calmly restated my plan and my right to do this she came around – though it was difficult, took time.
    • I have a legal right to co-parent 50/50 and their mother would have to prove this would not be in the interests of the children for this not to happen. As a hands-on, caring, solvent father I knew 100% this was indeed in the interests of the children – despite what she, her friends or her solicitor claimed. It did not go to court.
    • The prospect of me engaging a solicitor to fight for my right to co-parent, after a short while, significantly increased her willingness to consider my needs also
    • We split assets 50/50 and I gave her an additional 2 years living costs upfront as she didn’t work and we agreed 2 years would be a reasonable time for her to resurrect her career as she did have one when we got married. I therefore pay no child maintenance formally

    IMO we had an uneven relationship when we were together and after 10 years she found it very difficult to not control the whole process and manipulate it in to her favour.

    I hope this insight provides some comfort, you are clearly a great dad – mediation may well be the 3rd party voice of reason she needs to accept this is happening emotionally.

    #48836 Report

    Zephyrus
    Participant

    I just wanted to check in and say how much I appreciated the comments and support. Each and every one of you has helped me more than you realise. I appreciate you.

    Today I had my initial mediation assessment. Hopefully my ex will agree to give it a go and we can come to a compromise that works best for the kids without the need to go to court. Fingers crossed.

    #48865 Report

    Gummibear123
    Participant

    Hey that’s so sweet! It’s so nice to hear things are going kind of well for someone.I hope it all gets better from here,you have been so reasonable and decent about things I hope it is  sorted easily, quickly and satisfactory as poss on your side.

    #48869 Report

    Flower2021
    Participant

    Eventhough I am the mother, i feel with you dad’s for being pushed away from spending time with your kids. I have recently separated after 24yrs of a destructive marriage. I sacrificed a lot more than just a career to raise up three wonderful kids ages 13 to 21. My ex had always the upper hand in decisions in the family. He used to bully me to submit to things I never wanted. He used to scare me from doing the things I did want and believed I was capable of. To a large extent I dedicated my life to shelter my kids from this as much as possible. Until it broke me to nearly a place of no return. The worst was he always thought he was a good father and catch of a husband. To the eyes of many he probably was. What was different is the perception of me as his wife. He does not even acknowledge the sacrifice I have done and the hardships I had to endure so he could become a successful director in a very established company. Since I declared the intention for divorce in an amicable way, he has went into a destructive mode. The impact of his reaction on the kids was something I believe will be implanted in their minds for ever. Yet again, i never expected any different from him. He was and always will be an unreasonable man with a destructive nature. He declared infront of the kids that I am splitting the family and that he will not allow it. So there will be only one home and it will be his house and that he wants them to go with him. I was furious and things escalated. To ensure he hijacked the kids, he bought them their ever wish, a dog! Another means to manipulate the odds in his favour. Over the piles of house chores I usually was left to deal with, the dog brought another meaning to destruction. The kids got attached to it. And kids are forgiving so they forgot his harsh demeanor and intimidating nature, as long as he got them what they asked for. It was a battle I felt I lost.  I knew as long as I was in the house, he would never change. I also knew if I asked him to get out, i would never be able to replace his place or the dogs place in my kids life. After consulting friends and my lawyer, I rented a place but only after he put the house for sale. Eventhough I believed in my heart I was doing the right thing, creating a safe and peaceful place for me and my kids , they did not see it this way. They did not spend the time with me as I thought they would. He had manipulated their minds, hijacked their time and put the responsibility of the house and the dog on their shoulders, as he used to do with me all over the years, burden me with conflicts  to prevent me from resurfacing above his control. It was tough to feel abandoned by my kids who are my whole life. The eldest had a recent taste of his harshness which made her rethink her attitude towards me and became supportive. She sought refuge in my apartment. But the younger ones became slowly disconnected and started drifting away from me.  I had to sit with him and put my foot down. I set my expectations and told him I could turn to my lawyer and revisit all my decisions with him unless he stops this control game. I explained that at every step I was doing the right thing, I went through the finances with him. What I was entitled to and what I actually was willing to take.  I asked him if he was willing to do the right thing as well. All what I wanted was equal time  share with the kids. I guess eventually he decided to play nice. He started encouraging them to spend more time with me. I hope it is a start.

    My advice to the dads is :

    Please ensure that you first acknowledge if you have caused any hurt to your ex , whether intentionally or not.

    Ensure you stay in your kids lives, but your kids seem to be little so they will still need their mums more until they grow older. If your exes do not work yet, when they do they will have less time to spend with the kids , that will be your opportunity to help out.

    I personally believe that it is not the amount of time you spend with the kids, it is how special you make that time is what will eventually count. I do not see mine daily, I try to but I know eventually when he buys his house, I will not be able to. It is a new concept I have to accept. I just pray they will choose wisely to spend some time with me.

    I had to seak advice on this. I was told to look at how the future will be. Not how it is now. I will always be their mum. Even if I do not see them as often as I used to. They will grow older , graduate and be independent. He will not have the upper hand for long.

    I hope it helps. I wish you all well.

    #48903 Report

    steve3334
    Participant

    Hi,

    appreciate the advice. Yes the quality time you have with the kids seems to be more important than quantity. This what I have read and heard recently from therapists/child psychiatrists. my kids are all under 10. I think when they enter their teen years, they will naturally start to drift away from me and do their own thing, and my attachment to them will probably weaken.

    #49024 Report

    Neverending
    Participant

    I have been to court, it has taken over 2yrs drained my families savings and I’m still waiting for the court order to be approved. Legally you are entitled to 50/50 custody that is the law if you live so close. I dont know what happened here, so painful. When children are this young it’s a nightmare to be in a situation where your supposed partner turns into your worst enemy. I think less than 50/50 is totally acceptable at this age especially when the mother is breastfeeding. It’s really painful to suddenly have to share your children you planned to all live together. Sounds like you are being spun a load of lies here. You actually have equal rights, dont believe the gaslighting. Do your best to avoid court, do your research and stick to your guns.

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