Long distance between mum and dad
23 May 2018 at 9:34 am #11584
Hi just looking for advice. Me and my ex split whilst I was pregnant and lived 4 hours away. I have since moved back to my home town as my support system is here. Our son is now 3 months old and his dad keeps asking when I’m going to make regular visits to go and see him for a week (he does not want to use up his holiday as already used 2 weeks to go abroad with friends so expects me to stay in his home and spend time with his family with our son on my own, (baring in mind there’s a difficult past with his family) Or Dad pick him up and take him up there on his own. I have been and still am happy for him to come and stay at my home on weekends when he visits our son and have said his family are welcome to visit when they like. I just feel it’s not in our sons best interest to be travelling up and down all that way so early and I am breastfeeding. I want a good relationship for our son and his dad but think these visits need to start when he’s a bit older and less reliant on me. There can be up to 4 weeks gap that his dad comes to visit. I have been to citizens advice and they just suggested mediation that can be quite expensive and a little messy. A I being fair?24 May 2018 at 8:50 pm #11624
Thank you very much for your advice. Definitely want to be amicable in the whole situation, just wanted advice on what would be a fair agreement so this has helped! X24 May 2018 at 11:31 pm #11626
Hmmm, that’s not the advice I’ve been given (and I have been to court). In my experience courts are reluctant to order single mums who are resident parents to have to bear the full burden and cost of travelling to see Dad.
If he’s the one who is on his own with no caring responsibilities, then it makes more sense for him to come and see you. I’m not saying you should refuse him contact, I’m just saying he isn’t looking after a 3 month old baby so he is much freer to travel. And I do think it is quite unreasonable to expect you to make a four hour trip with a small baby on any kind of regular basis.
Also if he wants to use up his money and his holiday to go on a jolly with his friends that’s really his choice. You are offering him free accomodation to come and stay with you, I don’t see what he’s complaining about.
I would suggest you do try to keep it amicable, but you might want to get some legal advice – many solicitors will give a free initial consultation to tell you where you stand. It also makes a difference if he is named on the birth certificate or if you were married. If yes to either he has parental responsibility and so what he wants would carry more weight. If not then he has a lot less of a say, because he doesn’t have much of a legal standing.
I don’t wish to be harsh to the dad, but he sounds like he wants his cake and eat it – wants to go off on holidays with his friends and then for you to spend your money and time arranging things so he can see his son. Where’s his contribution and commitment to the relationship?29 May 2018 at 4:43 pm #11701
Yes of course the father is entitled to spend his money on whatever he likes, but what he’s not entitled to do is have the mother of his child subsidise his holidays by paying for him to see his child because he’s spent his money and annual leave on something else.
I’ve been in a similar situation to the OP so I have been through the family court system. I’m not saying this because I like it or don’t like it – it’s more because the scenario you mentioned about the mum being ordered to travel in order to facilitate contact was completely different to everything I’ve been told by professionals working in family law.
When my ex and I split up, I had to move away from the place where we have been living and leave my job so I could be near my family. The distance was roughly comparable – about 4-5 hours drive between us. Although I did initially try to work out contact amicably with my ex, he was malicious and decided to take me to court. In our case, my daughter and I had been living with my ex for a year and he did have parental responsibility (which makes a legal difference).
Despite trying to bully me by hiring some very aggressive solicitors and holding my belongings to ransom, my ex eventually had to settle for a contact visit every other week. The court order made it clear it was his sole financial and practical responsibility to make sure that contact happened. At no point in the legal process did my solicitor or anybody else suggest that the court would expect me to pay for the contact or that I would have to travel. I was already ‘taking responsibility’ for the full cost and work of raising our child on my own, so I think generally the court will expect the non-resident parent to shoulder the cost.
Family courts aren’t really interested in the ‘rights’ of parents – it’s the welfare and rights of the children they care about – and although the court would say the baby has a right to a relationship with his father I would question whether any court would think it was in the best interests of a three month old baby to make an eight hour round trip every six weeks. Maybe that would change when the child is older, but at this age? I doubt it.
It’s great that the OP wants to work things out amicably with the dad, it’s certainly cheaper and less stressful that way. However, it’s better to be prepared in case she finds that’s not possible and it sounds like the dad already has quite unrealistic expectations of what the relationship is going to be like. One thing my solicitor said to me is that in these circumstances, the non resident parent cannot expect that contact will take place with the same frequency as it would if they lived nearby.
If the OP has the will and the money to travel either halfway or all the way every six weeks to see him then fine, but in my experience (and yes I did travel the 4 hours to see my ex sometimes) it’s not practical or affordable for a new mother to travel with a young child with anything like that frequency. And how is that going to continue if she has to go back to work? Or when the child goes to school? Rather than getting roped into an arrangement which would be unsustainable it’s better to decide what would be do-able and then manage expectations from the beginning
As you say, there are never any guarantees when you go to court but it doesn’t hurt to hear from someone who has been through the same experience – and that’s what I’m trying to share with the OP.30 May 2018 at 10:12 pm #11727
You can suggest he visits every three weeks..courts sometime say meet half way…as baby resides with you father should visit you…I had a similar situation to you…we met in contact centers until baby was old enough to stay over with dad and drink cows milk.. I do hope it gets sorted seek mediation not court as its cheaper and just as safe…All the best…a child if far more important than the fathers holiday allowance…he must.xheck hos prioities are right…h9 June 2018 at 9:48 pm #11974
Hi Grumpy Mum,
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply, it has really helped me feel at ease reading your comments. Your judgement was pretty spot on about having his cake and eating it!! I have decided to take it down the mediation route as I cannot see a fairer way. Our situations seem to read very similar x2 December 2019 at 2:04 pm #33553
Hi I’m just wondering what your outcome was from all this if it’s been sorted now?
i moved 4 hours away from my ex and father of my child to be nearer family when we split as I had nothing where we used to live. He doesn’t think contact should take place in our new hometown and wants to meet halfway.