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Custody battle

  • rdcox
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22 Aug 07 #2283 by rdcox
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Hi,

I wonder if anybody may be able to give me some advice or opinions on the following:

My wife and I separated in a hostile manner a couple of months ago following difficulties for a couple of years. She had been working away for the previous 18 months returning only at weekends (and not all weekends) to the children and myself. We had placed our house on the market and at the time found a buyer. We had a discussion on what to do next, she wanted to uproot us from our home to move over 100 miles away back towards London to where she wanted to work/live. I refused as I have a good job and our 2 girls of 6 and 9 are very happy here and have lots of friends, go to a good school etc. Basically what happened next is that she started hurling plates at me on the kitchen, I ended up slapping her to defend myself and stop her from causing further damage. She then had me arrested claiming that I had punched her three times and took the children away to her other house in London refusing to let me see them and then spent most of the week trying to get my oldest daughter to lie for her re the assault, which to her credit she didn't.

I later got them back that week via the family courts and we now have a shared residency order in place where I have them during the week and she at weekends. The police did not press any charges due to my daughters evidence in court so all that was dropped.

My wife was given access to the FMH at weekends with me having to move out. This lasted one weekend during which time she stripped the house of most of our belongings leaving me with hardly anything and a week in the summer. She does not now come back to the family home and has rented a huge house in London, basically for show.

She also appears to be involved with a new man who has been around every time my wife has had the children along with his 14 year old daughter. She claims they are just friends but I knew nothing of him before all this happened and I think she is lying. She has even had the cheek to bring him along both times to the family home when she has had access which I feel is completely inappropriate.

I have done the majority of childcare during their lives and my family have been heavily involved - my wife is very career orientated but is also emotionally very volatile and I am sure she is only going through this to hurt me and to gain financially. My wife has had serious issues with alcohol abuse in the past and many people close to our family have come forward with written testimonies on my behalf.

The children are desperate to stay with me and have told the CAFCASS officers and social workers this repeatedly. My eldest in particular is very worried at the prospect and is genuinely scared of her mother. They have asked to only see their mother every two weeks as they don't want to be dragged to London every weekend. CAFCASS appear to be pretty good, they do genuinely seem to want whats best for the kids.

I feel they have been through enough trauma and want to keep them in the same area, at the same school and enable them to stay close to their friends and continue as normally as possible.

We are now about to go through the final court hearing at the end of Sept and I am wondering about my chances of winning custody and how much influence the childrens wishes will have on the outcome.

My wife is now threatening to stop paying her half of the mortgage on the family home and the kids school fees which is unfair as it was all instigated by her in the first place. Hopefully our house will be sold soon though.

One requirement the court asked us both to go through are anger management assessments and alcohol tests - I have done the latter, no problem with this as I rarely drink but would like to know if anyone else has gone through the former.

My wife also sent me a rather nasty little email re DNA tests the other day saying she wanted me to take some to confirm that I am the children's father! To say I was gobsmacked is an understatement! This would be devastating for the children and myself if it came about that I wasn't!

Apologies for the long winded rant but would be grateful if anyone could offer any advice.

  • Sera
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22 Aug 07 #2286 by Sera
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My husband tried to get custody of our son. They interviewed each of us, and our son seperately, who was then ten. We were awarded joint custody (or co-parenting, or whatever!)Which suited me just fine.

We agreed in divorce to stay within proximity of the community which the child was brought up in, (for his well-being, and continued contact with extended family, considering his social and school life).

Your children live with you, are happy with you, and you have been their main carer, so I doubt you'd 'lose' a custody case. It doesn't sound like your wife wants sole custody anyway. You have a strong case, and unlike lots of us here, you have an end-Sept deadline.

Good luck with it all.

  • sexysadie
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22 Aug 07 #2290 by sexysadie
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I think Sera is probably right about your situation.

Children's wishes are usually taken into account if they are considered old enough to understand what is going on and what the implications are. It sounds as though this would be the case with your older daughter. The courts are also extremely reluctant to separate siblings these days so if your older daughter gets her wish and stays with you, as is likely, your younger one will too. In any case, as their main carer and the person staying in the environment they are used to, the presumption would be in your favour.

I wouldn't take the DNA test. What would be the point? You are still your children's father, whatever the case genetically, as you have brought them up. That is what really matters - and I think that legally they are yours too if your name is on their birth certificates. Don't give it another thought; I am sure your ex is just trying to rattle you.

Good luck!

Sadie

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22 Aug 07 #2293 by Fiona
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  • rdcox
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23 Aug 07 #2305 by rdcox
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Thanks for your responses. The children are quite emotional and upset about it all but are determined to stay with me as they don't particularly like being around their mother 24/7. She has them for a couple of weeks now and they sound pretty miserable on the phone when I've spoken to them and want to come home.

CAFCASS are basically taking reports from both of us, having visited each of us in our homes a couple of times and have spoken to the kids in length as well. They are also looking to interview several of my family, not sure if they are doing the same with hers or not but they haven't had a lot of involvement with us anyway. They will put in their report at the hearing along with reports from the school etc.

Everybody thinks my wife is playing games re the paternity stuff. I worked out that from time of conception (as far as I know) to birth was 38 weeks, I think this sounds about right and at the time she swore to me that I was definitely the father.

We had a difficult beginning, she was still with her ex-husband at this time although they had, according to her, split up but were still living together. I fear she may have used me as an escape route. I don't really want to go through with a DNA test but apparently her solicitors are going to try and demand it. I think it may all be mind games but trouble is I keep getting drawn into it - think I'm just going to have to bite my tongue and not get involved for the next few weeks.

  • Fiona
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23 Aug 07 #2333 by Fiona
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