I posted a year ago just before we went to court asking for advice which helped us greatly. I don't know how to even begin or where to start. My husbands ex wife had mental health issues and we kind of backed off from having any
contact with her due to the unpredictable response or reactions we were getting. We guessed she wasn't well though but were never actually told. The crux of the situation is that she committed suicide at the end of last year. We were shocked and devastated for the children and as my husband has parental responsibility he got full
custody and they now live with us. The relationship with his ex and her husband had always been very fractuous and argumentative and we had to go back to court several times to settle things down with access. All over Christmas and new year and for the funeral we accommodated visits and pretty much made the kids available to step dad as and when he wanted. Until new year when he sent vile email threatening to tell the kids some information that they really needed to be protected from that seemed to have contributed to mums suicide. So we asked him to back off and promise not to tell them anything that they didn't need to know about. They're hurting so much as it is. He hasn't given us those guarantees and has become more aggressive and is threatening to take us to court for access, and whilst we initially facilitated visits we are struggling to now permit them and keep the kids emotionally safe he is still having text conversations but even they are leaning in the kids for support rather than him supporting them. The 13 yr old congratulated him for trying to go back to work a week or so ago when she went back to
school 2 weeks after her mum died. It a complete mess. We don't know what to do. We have involved child services who have been amazing and have said we don't have to allow contact (based on his emails) and we are inclined to minimise contact to protect the kids. But we feel no matter what we do it won't be the right thing. Please help!
Hello broken tether, I remember your posts from last year. I'm truly sorry to hear of this awful tragedy.
Dukey is correct in that as a step-parent the step-father has no automatic legal \"rights\" relating to the children - unless he has acquired step-parental responsibility either by agreement between the two parents or by order from the court. I would also suggest that you seek Step-Parental Responsibly as the children are now living with you full-time; as of now, only one parent has parental responsibility - your husband.
If he doesn't have SPR, then he would in the first instance need to request leave from the court to make any application relating to the children.
What is the relationship like between the children and thier step-father? Is it a good, strong, healthy relationship with an established bond? If so, then it may be in thier best interests to allow some level of contact
with him - but if he is distressing the children with inappropriate texts etc, then that would need to cease beforehand.
If the relationship isn't strong, then it may be kinder for everyone if contact was bought to an end - this would allow the children time to settle into thier new life, and allow them time to grieve for thier Mum. Their needs must come first.
He doesn't not have any PR however dad does as it was sorted through the court. The children have a relationship of sorts with him but I would not honestly describe it as strong and healthy. I kind of feel that for the children he is the last link to their mum and that's why they want to see him as they very rarely talk about him or ask after him. The children have said they would like to see him and we have facilitated some access particularly over Christmas and for the funeral however we are back to square one with accusations of being to blame for everything that has ever gone wrong and being the perpetrators responsible for driving his wife (kids mum) to suicide. He has already told them that we had made her ill, this had caused some serious friction between dad and son initially but seems to have settled down once we able to provide facts and talk through what had been said. He has said the children should know what part we played in her suicide but he won't tell them just yet.
Whilst we are trying to be considerate of his emotional state having just lost his wife in a traumatic way we cannot allow him to threaten to tell the kids all sorts of things they don't need to know and not all of it true or to dictate how we live and what we do regarding the children. He will not allow the children to collect the belongings they have asked for as he wants them kept there for their visits to him.
We have grieving children and they are very well aware of the negative feelings between dad and mums household. This does not appear to have changed at all and we think that in order to help them move forward in a positive loveing caring environment then stepdad needs to take a back seat.
An added issue is that she made a will making him the sole beneficiary and executor of her will and hasn't made any provision for the children. This has been a concern which we have had to look into. Her pension made provision for the children but he advised the pension company that there were no dependant children. Thankfully we have been able to rectify that but it's really difficult as he is accusing us of 'money grabbing' when actually all we are doing is trying to make sure the children are ok but it will never be seen like that. It's messy and it's draining.
Neither you nor your husband are responsible for the actions taken by Mum - or the dreadful outcome of those actions. You've mentioned in previous posts that she had a long history of mental illness.
To insist on telling the children that you & your husband are to blame or partially to blame is most likley his grief talking. And the children need to be protected from being told anything that could have long-term consequences for thier well-being - regardless of whether it's accurate or not.
The step-father isn't the last link - or the only link the children have to thier mother; thier Dad is.
I think your post above answers your own question. It's very clear from your posts that your focus and concern is on the children who are grieving; and I can't begin to imagine how difficult life must be for them, for you, your husband - and your own children at present. Hold them all close, hug them, let them know they are loved and give all your children time to adjust to what has happened and the changes in daily life.