Overnight stays in shared house
23 February 2020 at 9:51 pm #37024
I’m worried about something my ex is insisting upon with our daughter. He has moved out of his parents’ house into a shared house and wants to have our daughter sleep there overnight in a room on her own. Without going into a very long story, I don’t trust his judgement of people and find that he often puts himself before our daughter. I’ve told him I’m not happy with this arrangement because I don’t think it’s suitable as I don’t know the people he lives with and neither does our daughter. I actually told him before he moved that if he wants to continue to have our daughter overnight he needs to find more suitable accommodation. I have been told by some people that I ought to meet these people before I make a decision, but I can’t see how one meeting is enough to decide that somebody is safe for my daughter to be around. I would still essentially be sending her to sleep over in a house full of strangers. Our daughter is six and very shy and uncomfortable around new people. She is very much a home bird and I often have to persuade her to go and see her dad. I overheard her telling her cousins the other day that she doesn’t like her daddy and wishes she didn’t have one. I haven’t told him this, partly because it’s hurtful for him and also because he wouldn’t believe me. She doesn’t always feel this way, but he is very impatient with her and it upsets her a lot, which is something I have raised with him but he never improves upon. I have never refused him access and never would, but I have told him that she isn’t going to be sleeping at this shared house because I don’t think it’s suitable, instead he can see her during the weekend days. Up until this point he had been taking her to his parents’, where she has always stayed overnight with him, but they are apparently moving somewhere smaller and this won’t be able to continue. Consequently, he says he is going to take me to court. I understand that he wants to see his daughter, he has a right to and she has a right to see him, but I’m uncomfortable with her sleeping in a house full of strangers. Other people, including him, have made the point that if he had a new partner he was moving in with, I would just have to deal with it, but these people aren’t his partner and I can’t see why they’re ok with a noisy, incredibly energetic six year old they don’t even know taking over their house two weekends a month. If I were a childless adult I certainly wouldn’t be ok with it. He has a history of putting himself first, although he wouldn’t agree, and it’s worrying the hell out of me that a court will order that it has to happen and I’ll just have to suck it up. I’m her mum and I just know this wouldn’t be what’s best for her.
He has threatened to take me to court before, around three years ago. He decided randomly that he wanted 50:50 custody and started sending solicitor’s letters telling me things like I was only allowed to text him once per visit when he had her (at this point she had kidney problems that would cause incredibly serious UTIs at the drop of a hat and require ambulances and lengthy hospital stays, so admittedly I was anxious and would text him a couple of times per visit to see how she was). Around two months after he made this threat he completely dropped it and decided to move two hours away to go to university, so he basically just does whatever he feels like at the time. Just to give you all an idea of just how ridiculous he can be, he also once threatened me because I wouldn’t consider sending her to the school that was close to the house he was living in with his parents at the time, despite the fact the school was 45 minutes to an hour away from where my daughter and I live, and they don’t even bloody live there any more.
I always feel strong when I’m talking to him about these things but he constantly tries to intimidate me by laughing at me and asking me how I can be serious, telling me I have no say in the matter etc., so afterwards I’m left worrying, particularly as a single mum I don’t have endless resources to pay for court and solicitor costs. There is no court order currently. I know that courts take the welfare of the child into consideration, and I really, genuinely feel this wouldn’t be good for our daughter’s welfare. He has recently got a new job and without so much as discussing it with me has told me that contact arrangements will change and he can now only have her overnight once every other weekend and once during the week (he was previously having her on two Friday nights and two Saturday nights a month, the nights he requested about four years ago). He told me our daughter had agreed to staying at his overnight during the week, but when I spoke to her she said she only said yes because otherwise daddy would be sad and that she didn’t actually want to. She then asked if she could text him and tell him she doesn’t want to, and sent him a message saying she loves him so much and he’s the best daddy but she’s sorry she doesn’t want to stay at his during the school week and he just responded saying ‘Seriously? That’s not what you said earlier……’. It broke my heart then because she told him she ‘might change my silly mind’.
I know we would be expected to go to mediation before court even though he’s telling me we won’t, but I’m really not prepared to budge on this. Our daughter is 6 and a half, he’s nearly 35, he should be able to provide suitable accommodation for her by now (I’ve managed it) and to be frank, if he hadn’t wasted so much money on new cars and only working part time over the years he probably would have been able to afford to by now. Some people have told me that I would have to prove the shared housing isn’t suitable and that I can’t say it isn’t without good reason, but what has to happen? Do I have to send her there and wait for something bad to happen or for it to affect her welfare before it’s deemed unsuitable? This has turned into an essay, but I desperately don’t want to send her into a situation that I really think could potentially be harmful, particularly to her mental health as we often have conversations about how she’s feeling down with regards to her dad.
He has made it very clear to me in the past, despite the fact I’m doing a damn good job of raising our daughter in a very stable environment, despite how hard it’s been (as all single parents know!), that he doesn’t respect me as a person or a mother so I don’t think he’s going to listen to me either. Not to mention, I’m hardly doing this for fun, I literally stand to lose all my free evenings, and as a single, working mum who’s also studying for a degree I don’t have a lot of them as it is haha.
I’m totally happy for him to keep having her overnight, so long as she wants to go and it’s in a suitable, safe environment but I’m never going to agree that a shared house is a suitable, safe environment and I’m really worried now that the court won’t see it that way! I’m really tempted not to post this because I expect there will be plenty of people telling me I’m just going to have to suck it up and quite frankly that’s not what I want to hear (please just reassure me instead haha).
If you’ve read this far, you deserve a medal!9 July 2020 at 9:58 am #42109
I could have written your message, our situations are very similar (even down to the age and the university bit)! The only difference is my daughter is two years old.
I don’t feel comfortable with her staying at a shared house either, especially as my ex moves around a lot (5 times in the past year). It is really unsettling for little one every time and it doesn’t seem fair to her.
I do want her to see her dad and I would really like her to be able to stay over so I can catch up on sleep (she rarely sleeps through) and to have some time to myself. But her needs come first.
He is also constantly in and out of relationships and his latest conquest is often at the shared house as they have mutual friends. Again I don’t want my daughter to be around instability and constantly be meeting new random people. He often puts his needs first and I don’t trust him. His ex-girlfriend is 15 weeks pregnant by him, to give you an idea of the guy.
Has anything further happened in your situation? I really feel for you and hope that you and your ex can find a good solution.