Briefly, self and ex co-own hotel business and both are living there with 3 children b15, g12, b8. Separated in Jan. Neither side has petitioned for divorce - originally planned 2 year consensual divorce, and stay amicable. STBX wanted me to move out, but I have big concerns about how little effort she puts into under performing business and her attitude towards kids education. 15yo is in GCSE year and seriously underachieving. 12yo has been moved into lower sets for some subjects due to poor exam performance, despite being invited to join gifted kids club in summer by school. STBX does not excercise any discipline about homework - she doesn't agree with it. Also allows all the kids a very free reign about the place. STBX has announced that if I won't move out, she will and is planning to take the kids with her to a rented house. She is seeing her sol today, following an original free half hour a couple of months ago. Hotel business can't really sustain her drawing 1k - 1.5k per month to furnish her lifestyle choice.
Can I put my foot down and insist that the kids are not moving out? I would be willing to let them go to stay at mums on non-school nights, but I feel that unless the education issues are addressed very soon, all my children's academic futures will be very adversely affected. They are all bright, and eldest could achieve 'A's if he got his finger out.
Can I stop her taking them, even short term? Would appreciate any advice at all
You can certainly make your views known and no doubt you have. Who can best look after the children?
The courts accept a lot of flexibility with regard to parenting and you'll have to fight hard to show that you can not only take care of them but also that your way is "better" and STBX's is "worse".
You may wish to have them all with you but can you actually do it?
If you haven't already done so, work out a general suggestion of how you'd like to see things work with you, STBX and kids in the MH, also one without the STBX and talk it through with her. You'll need to highlight your plans in general terma for the children (parenting etc). If she's not helping out at the Hotel then on what basis should she be paid? This is separate completely to spousal and child maintenance.
If you can't talk with her for whatever reason then find the gumph on the web about Residence Orders.
Lots of different points here. First of all parents have different standards and often there is no right or wrong about an issue, just people doing different things. Courts have a no order principle and won't impose an order unless the matter can't be resolved otherwise. In deciding such matters children have the right to be heard with their views being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child. This effectively means a 15 y o will decide where they want to live and even a 12 y o 's views will carry considerable weight. So I think the starting point is to ask yourself where, or with whom, do the children perceive they will live. One other point is courts are wary about separating siblings so where the 15 y o decides to live will most likely determine where the others live.
It's not uncommon for school performance to drop whilst children are adjusting to their parents separation/divorce but the vast majority of children recover, go on and do fine. The main factors for poor long term outcomes for children of divorced families are poverty, high parental conflict, the distress of the 'main carer' and multiple family transitions. I think you need to consider that the acrimony caused by litigation could have an even more detrimental impact on school performance. Another point is when parents live apart children miss the parent that has left and often young teenagers who wish to change residency only then discover they miss the other parent and want to change back. This is undesirable because they are focusing on spending time with parents when they are at a stage when the emphasis should be on developing their own relationships with friends and independence. It's best for parents to work together and not engage in a tug of war.
Please, please don't focus on rights, fairness or equality. Keep your children at the centre of your decision making. I don't think mediation works particularly well for finances but comes into it's own for resolving matters relating children. Alternatively perhaps collaborative law might be worth a shot, but if at all possible avoid the courts.
I agree with Fiona: what really matters is what the kids want. You may find that leaving their home is more than they can deal with and they will want to stay with you in order to keep that security. You can't really insist that a fifteen year old does anything, from living with you (or his mother) to homework. You just have to provide as much stability as you can and hope for the best.
Fiona is also right that it is not the end of the world if they don't do so well at school for a while. It's even not the end of the world if your eldest doesn't do well in his GCSEs. The most important thing is for them to be as stable and happy as is possible in the situation - the academic stuff will almost certainly all come out in the wash later.
Vail, Fiona, Sadie, Many thanks for your insights and advice. Stepping back from the anger, I realize it is about what the children want, and what is best for them. I also recognize that the children may find such a decision difficult. Familiarity with their surroundings, fear of change, emotional ties to one or other or both parents. What saddens me is that my STBX simply refuses to discuss a short to medium term exit strategy, where things could be consensual, and in the best interests of the children, herself and myself. She seems to be hung up on the physical separation thing, at all costs, regardless of consequence. This is where I differ in my thinking from the advice of others, in that I honestly believe that unless my 15yo does get his finger out, he will damage his future prospects irreparably. I was reminded of a job interview at 41 years old, where the interviewer asked me why my 'O' level grades were as they were. Never mind the 20 years experience in the industry he was recruiting for - Some exams that I took 35 years earlier formed the basis of his comparison to other candidates. Ladies, it is so important for boys to do their level best at 'O' level. It sets the tone for the rest of their life. Thousands of doors of opportunity are open for those children who do well. Only hundreds for those who don't. I would be failing in my duty as a parent to stand back and allow him to screw up his life so early on, when I know he could be one of the luckier ones. One day he will be the breadwinner for his family unit, and I need to do all I can to ensure he is in the strongest position he can be. I am determined to do all that I can to achieve this. But if only she would talk......
"it is so important for boys to do their level best at 'O' level........ One day he will be the breadwinner for his family unit,"
Oi... be careful what you say or I'll turn into Princess Fiona the ogress!
Seriously, Mike, you can't change your x2b. My ex was far more laid back about education than I am so I do understand your frustration. I think all you can do is develop the relationship with your son by talking and keeping him interested in what he's doing so that he'll want to do well. 'O' levels are important but these days it is much easier to make a come back if they don't go exactly to plan. Our D was a very challenging teenager, then missed the last two years of school because of illness but managed to turn it all round and now at 24 is in much demand by employers. All the angst I went through simply wasn't worth the while.
I know we have communicated behind the scenes as it were. I can't emphasise how much you need to think about you and your children. My wife chose to leave and took two of our children with her and like an idiot I just let her.
If you want your children to stay and they want to stay then fight for them!!!
Don't be a victim here and live a life of "I should have".