Child arrangements – what's the best thing to do?

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  • #12222 Report

    Peanut321
    Participant

    Hi – new poster here looking for advice on child arrangements.

    Sorry if this ends up as a long story: I live with my 4 year old up north and moved here where my family is with her from Wales where we were living before. We moved last Feb after my husband wanted a divorce a few months before that. His life took a downward spiral and he was living in a van/drew up debt/wasn’t being responsible in any way for our daughter/creating incidents/losing each new job after a couple of months/a million other things that would take too long to say… lets just say I have very valid reasons for bringing my child to live here, and she now has a safe and secure life with family around, school very close and some good friends and she is doing really well. She is a clever little girl and is thriving in this environment, her nursery teachers are pleased with her progress and I work 30 hours, go to work early and pick her up from school every day. Compare that to 1.5 years ago and she was a confused little girl with everything her dad was doing. All the responsibility was lumped on me as he did what he wanted with his life. He accepted I had to move with my daughter – I was thinking about it for a while and told his mum I was going to move, then when he got a random girl pregnant (after saying he wanted a vasectomy) we moved up here quickly. I wasn’t going to have my daughter living a life defined by the next stupid thing her father was doing and also certain things he did were affecting her safety. I took the responsibility because I had to.

    I suppose I feel I have to justify that because the situation now is that he is very aggressive and says I am to blame for everything and accuses me of restricting access to her. He has still done some things recently that I would call unusual behaviour, one of which resulted in me calling the police to ask for advice and log an incident. I suggested an arrangement of her going down 1 wk in Feb/Easter, 2 in summer and 1 wk over Xmas or Oct hols each year which is what we’ve done since we came up. Its a 7 hour drive and I don’t feel that a young child should have to do more travelling than that and that it is more reasonable of him to come up to visit. My daughter Skypes with him every weekend. He comes up for a weekend every couple of months and hasn’t paid child maintenance for 6 months. He hasn’t towards nursery fees (£820 pcm) or the divorce (£2.5K – eventually his parents paid half of this). I have just got the child maintenance service to get a case and they have agreed £7 a week which is based on his earnings in 2013! He is self employed (or getting cash in hand) and has told them he can’t earn any money, but every time we Skype he says ‘oh Daddy is still at work, Daddy works so hard.’ It seems that the CMS can’t even communicate with HMRC to find out how much he earned in the last tax year or whether he is getting paid by a company. His parents have paid most of the time for him to come up and visit and whereas I’ve never taken the invitation away for him to stay at ours, he doesn’t any more so pays for accommodation.

    He was demanding to have my daughter every school holiday last year (nursery is attached to a school and has same hols) and asked me to bring her down on the train. Now he says that he wants her at his for 70% of the school holidays, and says as I’m the parent who moved away I have to pay for all travel costs for his visits. He is threatening to go to court for an arrangement however I have said I believe that won’t change anything. It is like he expects me to pay for everything, give up my time for him, deliver her to him whenever he wants and have her for his birthday, her birthday and Xmas every year. He still consistently proves his irresponsibility in my opinion. He has become aggressive and abusive towards me. I am not restricting access, but access must be negotiated based on what is best for the child. He has had a recent diagnosis of Asperger’s and this may explain some things, however he was forced by his parents to ask the doctor whether he had this, and he is difficult to communicate with as he tends to have a skewed view of past events ie that I left him – which is most definitely not true! I am very careful in the way I communicate with him and I respect him as the father of my child, but I won’t rise to any insults. But sometimes I don’t know if I am being reasonable or not because of the guilt he makes me feel and the way he insults me.

    My questions are: should I expect to pay travel costs for his visits? Is it reasonable of a young child to to so much travelling when her father can visit her regularly in her safe and protected environment? Do other people have experience where their ex partner is trying to blame them for everything? What contact arrangements do others have who have a NRP so far away? What  would a child arrangement order expect to look like in this case if it came to Court? Any more advice from a stressed and confused single mum?

    Thanks

    #12356 Report

    Peanut321
    Participant

    Hi there. Thanks for your reply, I appreciate you taking the time to read my post and respond. There always are 2 sides to every story as you know and I well appreciate. I wouldn’t worry about my self reflection as I’ve spent a lot of time feeling guilty, wondering whether I did the right thing, and attempting to negotiate with him about what to do, which is why I have asked for advice here. Reading the post back, it does look like I’m blaming him for everything which is ironic, so I understand your response! I saw it that I was forced to move. I pushed to get 50/50 on the time with our child and he didn’t want that, only had one day a week with her, and what was happening was a completely unworkable situation I think, but that’s a matter of opinion. He or his parents pay £120 every 1 or 2 months to visit on a weekend (depending on accommodation costs) and I pay a few hundred a month on childcare which he doesn’t contribute to. So I suppose you are right in that morally it equals out and at least I get the £7 a week from him which helps, but such high costs worry me if I will have to pay for the travel as well. It’s useful to hear about what other people do, as all I know is what my child can put up with as a daily routine and beyond. More thinking is needed…

    #12361 Report

    Peanut321
    Participant

    Yes it will go down to just over £100 a month as I will have to use the breakfast club.

    At the moment it just feels like he lumped me with the full responsibility and to keep a roof over her head when he couldn’t, so I had to take control when he couldn’t, and now I have to give up even more of my time and money so that they can see each other. There’s so much to consider I don’t know what’s right and what’s wrong any more.

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