I''d like some opinions on what is reasonable regarding child please.
Briefly I have two children aged 12 and 8 who live with their Mother and her new husband.
1) I have to do all the driving to pick up and drop off which is more than 3 hours round trip. Apparently the ex doesn''t like driving and also I don''t give her enough money to pay for petrol.
2) I pay the full CSA amount, buy clothes for when they are with me, pay for hobbies etc. the maintenance has recently reduced from £950 to £750 as I have moved in with my partner who has two children. This resulted in a revolting email accusing me of all sorts of issues and threats.
3) The new husband takes the children shopping, to/from school, shopping etc. However my live in partner of 2 years cannot even have a girlie shop with my daughter while I do boy things with my Son as all contact time must be with me 24 hours a day.
4) School holiday dates have been arranged for a year and the children are due next Monday for just over 2 weeks. We have a big holiday planned flying out probably on the Wednesday. Apparently the children are a bit tired and haven''t had much time at "home" so they won''t be available until the Thursday evening. However they still need to be back with the ex at the agreed time. We may have to cancel our holiday to Florida if the children are delayed. Due to the ex being away I have seen my children for 1 day in the last 28, becoming 32 if she delays until Thursday.
5) I am only allowed alternate weekends (Fri after school to Sunday late afternoon) and so called split holidays. However, I often lose a weekend because of "family" functions and they are never returned. This Summer I have just over 2 weeks allocated although this may reduce to exactly 2 as above. By contrast, the ex has had them for 3 already (1 week taken out of school) and has another week before the new term. I work shifts so getting weekends off is tricky and then changing them is impossible.
6) Before the passports are released for the upcoming holiday I have to provide full flight details, address where we are staying, who is going and the sleeping arrangements. Apparently the ex needs all this information before considering if she will "approve" the holiday.
7) I am never told where my children are and keeping in contact by phone is a constant battle. If I text the ex asking for a call the reply is that I am harassing her. Often it can be nearly a week between telephone.
8) The ex regularly makes comments to the children about how I don''t support them financially or practically. She insists they call her new husband Daddy and me by my name.
We do not have a contact order as many people have said they can be more restrictive than agreement but she recently refused a mediation request from a solicitor so I have the FM1 form issued. It looks like court is the only option.
I would appreciate any comments or advice on where to go from here. At the moment our annual Summer holiday is going to ruined if I can''t get the children in time.
In instances like this where one parent is asserting control in excess of what is acceptable, a defined contact order may well be the best option. They can be restrictive but also can help settle down to a good accepted routine for all concerned. At least you would know where you stand as would the children. Obviously mediation (if it works) is a far better option than court but when your back is against the wall you may find you have no option. Sounds like you can accept things the way they are and put up with losing out, or go to court for a defined contact order. I would say each parent does the picking up, ie you pick them up from the other parent and then the other parent picks them up from you therefore sharing travelling time and costs.
On another note, what you do with the children in your time is not for your ex to decide. Although it sounds like you would pay a price if you didnt go along with the ''rules'' set out by the ex. You need to sort this so that you, your children and your new family can get on living a good life together without the ex habitually affecting all that you do..
Thank you for your replies so far. I have booked to see a family solicitor on Tuesday to see what the options are including court.
I have tried so hard to be amenable with the ex as I know her instability has an effect on the children. But now I think enough is enough. Whilst I have always tried to fit in with any changes she wants to the contact roster, she has never agreed to any change I have requested. Last February I tried to get an afternoon out of school so we could leave early for a skiing holiday. It was vetoed. However, as I posted earlier, she took the children out of school for a whole week without even telling me just so they could go away.
The children''s time with me is less than most guys get - I don''t get the one night during the week as seems to be more normal. This is partly because of my shift work but also because it is too far to take them to school. In answer to the question posted, my ex moved away with her then boyfriend giving me 8 days notice that the children were being moved. I was not consulted on the school chosen, only advised after the event.
With respect to the CSA maintenance, that is a whole different topic. I don''t set the rules. It was her choice to overturn the maintenance we agreed in the Consent Order and refer the case to the CSA. The ex is always happy to share in any overtime payments that I earn in my time without the children but won''t moans at any reduction. To my knowledge she has decided not to work any more as all the local jobs are "beneath her" and her new husband brings in a good salary. Even at the reduced rate she still receives 50% more than my partner does from her ex husband. Don''t get me wrong, I will provide anything for the children as direct payments for school trips etc but her complaints that she can''t afford housing or heating are rubbish (they bought the house for over £1 million!) and not my responsibility.
I am concerned that a court would limit my contact. The children, especially the younger one, like their home as they have dogs, horses, ride on mowers, chickens and lots of land. I live in a standard house although they do have their own rooms. They are happy to spend time with me but the less I see of them, the less they seem to be comfortably at home.
Thanks again for the advice and it''s tiime to make a stand.
Older children are strange creatures, you will find that teenager have their own agenda. Courts themselves are not consistant in the age which they listen to them. I had one judge rule that middle son could vote with his feet and the next judge forced contact go figure. What you do not want is the situation I have where the oldest is free to never have contact while the younger one is forced to. My middle son is furious with his father, while the older one is so smug he can walk away. Give it another year or so and middle son will walk too.
As for CSA that is a rod you are making for your own back, the ex can easily manipulate the situation to prove you put your new family before them. trust me once court starts up it will be the first thing she does.
Children especially older ones hate conflict and if the only way to escape it is to avoid contact they will. After all what is more appealing a warzone or the weekend with your mates.
I agree you should stand your ground and wish you well, just remember to not sweat the small stuff and keep the door open to others opinions.