Hi, I haven't asked for help before but I don't know what I can do. Will try to be brief.
Separated from ex 2 years ago, he left the country for over a year, had little to do with kids, didn't phone often (once nearly 2 months before I could track him down so they could speak to him), messed around with visits, not turning up, changing his mind a couple days before etc. Then he came back to UK this year to live with new g/f, filed for divorce, and has been horrendous since at every opportunity.
He took me to Court claiming I was making it difficult for him to see the children and refusing to allow them to visit him at his g/f's house for longer visits (filed this a few days after they had stayed there with him for a second time within a few months, agreed between us). Went to Court, Cafcass report ordered because of his behaviour during and after our Cafcass mediation meeting. Unfortunately, Cafcass report was very bad and brief, did not really show cause for concern, but Judge ordered report nonetheless. Went for separate Cafcass meetings, and with children, Cafcass officer obviously saw it all as a waste of time, because I HAD NOT prevented him from seeing kids etc. Was not interested in my concerns about ex's mental state and way he was treating the children during visits (nothing physical, all brainwashing, trying to make them his messenger, telling them to keep secrets such as being taken out of bed at night to watch American Football, despite being ill and needing sleep etc.), or his history of road-rage and violent actions (and the visits mean they have to be on the road for 6-7 hours each way). Went back to Court, Judge angry at having his time wasted after reading more detailed Cafcass report, I still agreed to him visiting at weekends, expressed concerns about longer visits to solicitor still but he was all for settling, so some visits were agreed.
They have been to visit him again, came back saying 'Daddy says he's just trying to be friends with you, mummy', not knowing their dad refused to let me talk to them on the phone, even though it had been agreed in front of both solicitors, has been leaving me voicemails in a threatening tone of me being 'in violation' of the court order because he phoned them and reception on the phone was bad where we were, and because he phoned another time and the phone was engaged for 2 minutes (I'd answered, expecting him, got the other person off the phone, he left 2 messages in that time! Was saying 'not sure what you're doing to the children', implying I am harming them or something).
At the same time, he is messing aorund on the financial side as well, took me to court, agreed settlement at court, signed and handed in hand-written copy of agreement, his solicitor then was meant to send typed Consent Order, has added in things not even brought up at Court, including claim to belongings of is that I don't even have. I have e-mailed and texted him to try and sort out, he is now insisting he has seen these things at my house but I know that's not possible, as they have never been at this house!
It's hard to convey in only this, but I think his mental state is deteriorating, I lose sleep over things he says in his messages and the fact I can think a part of the divorce is done and it gets dragged on again with more lies. His solicitor must rub her hands with glee when he turns up - she has no interest in encouraging him to talk to me or to sort things out, she even told me she thinks my children are irrelevant when it comes to finances! (He has not worked since feb as far as I know and paid nothing when he was abroad earning about $12K a month (net) with no bills to pay as he had accom. provided, expenses paid etc.) I'm not fussed on the financial side, he never did pay anything, don't expect he ever will, I just want the stress of that to be over, not dragging on. So that, plus all the stuff about the children and his actions and treatment of them make me concerned about his influence on them and the possibility of him flying off the handle when they are with him, as well as his 'brainwashing', which is having an effect on them every time they have to see him. I want them to know their dad, as it will be important for them one day, but I feel I have no say in or control over what and when is right for them. I would prefer him just to visit them for weekends, then they are nearby if anything happens and there is less chance of them being in a road-rage thing with him, as he will mostly be on the road on his own, not with them. What do I do to get some control back as a parent who DOES try to do the right thing for her children? I have tried reasoning with him, but he laughs at me, as he knows this is how to get at me - use the children. Sorry for going on so long, but can anyone help or offer some words of advice? Thanks.
Anger is a common emotion when going through a divorce and some people are unable to control it effectively and behave totally unreasonably, particularly when going through disagreements about the finances. You aren't responsible for his behaviour. If your ex has a history of violence and road rage I'm surprised it wasn't addressed by CAFCASS/court.
Children love both their parents and in my experience although they may feel a degree of ambivalence it's highly unlikely they will be 'brainwashed.' What your children need is reassurance that you love them, consistency and for you not to react to anything the children may report he has said about you. Don't ever criticise your ex in front of them.
There isn't much your ex can do that will damage your children more than ongoing parental conflict. Ideally parents are able to cooperate post divorce, but when there is a high level of conflict it's better to disengage and avoid communicating with each other. Under these circumstances each allows the other parent to parent to the best of their ability in 'their' time with no interference. See;-
(love that show...) What a horrible mess, I do sympathise enormously. Sera and Fiona have collectively put their finger on the things that are important but I will add only one thing. You say that his solicitor says:
"... children are irrelevant when it comes to finances..." but this is nonsense. Direct her to s25 Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, and s25(3) in particular. She is, to use a lawyer's expression, bullsh***ing you. Good luck, keep in touch.
Thanks all three of you, for your comments and support.
I agree, children need to be allowed to love and see both parents. I have seen what has happened when one of my sister's divorced and used her children to get at her husband, so have been very strong in my belief my children should maintain contact with their father and have done all I can to make this happen. In taking me to Court based on lies, he has actually been made to commit to dates to see them, times to phone them, so I can finally say to them with some conviction that their dad will phone or visit, without them being let down at the last minute.
My concern now is his behaviour. The children do love him, but he seems to be using them for his own benefit, with little or no regard to them and what it means for them to have contact with him. His initial ideas for contact included them visiting him in Stamford for weekend visits (we live in Cornwall), regardless of the long journey, one of them being car-sick regularly, and the fact they are now only 5 and 4 (just). They were 3 and 2 when we split and he left and went abroad.
Part of me realises I have to just wait, bear with it and keep being positive with the children about their visits, even when they don't want to go themselves I have to keep encouraging them, and I do all this. But part of me is very concerned about some of his behaviour, and the fear I have that if he is willing to use the children to get at me and to have no concern for their well-being in things he does, then if he snaps, am I placing the children in harm's way unnecessarily? And I know the answer - there's nothing I can do unless something like that does happen. It's just incredibly hard to bear. When my children stay with my parents, I have no worries - I know they are being looked after brilliantly. When they are with thier dad, I feel sick to my stomach until I have them back with me again. When we were together, I couldn't even leave them with him to go out shopping without worrying and I would always come home to my daughter sobbing her heart out, shoulders heaving, in her bedroom, and my son transfixed in front of the TV or Playstation at the age of 2, next to his daddy watching a 15 or 18 certificate film or game.
And on a lighter note, his idea of vegetables are... chips! Potatoes, yes, but you know what I'm saying. Anyway, thanks all for your support again, I know there's really no answer at this point, just hoped there might be!
My ex downplayed my role and discredited me as my sons mother, that peed me off! But at 15, my son recognised that he was always closer to me, and at 18, he now understands his dads daft attempts at slating me.
Your children will soon make their own minds up regarding their affections of you.
Your husband is excersing his 'Battle of Wills', and I'd not be too bothered, that'll settle.
Someone once posted a stastistic here, that said that less than 0.3% of parents are deemed damaging to their kids, and as a result prevented access.
If your ex was trusted as a good father duringyour marriage, then I doubt you have much Case saying that he is now damaging them.
Once the teething troubles are over, I'm sure it will right itself.
I have to agree with Fiona's wise words! My children are not as young as yours and i have never stopped them seeing their father as it is just as important to me for them to have a relationship. I also have to listen to a load of trash aimed at me BUT the really nice part of it all is is that my children see him for what an idiot he is, in fact I even still tell them not to be disrespectful at times when they tell me things about him as he is still their father. I am sure you will find once he stops to think and stops playing silly games he will realise what a bad parent he is being. Just carry on being mom and stick by your principles. Sounds like I am through it, I'm not just learnt a lot through all of this.
Take Care, I really wish you well.