Threats of reducing contact
Morning all, I'm hoping someone can help. My Ex and i have been separated for 18 months now and we have 3 kids. I ( stupidly it seems) moved out of the family home, however i am continuing to pay the mortgage ( full) and child Maintenance as per what the agency calculate. I currently see my children 5 nights ( in a row) a fortnight . This is the 6th set up we have had with child care in the last 18 months, and my ex wishes to change it again and i have said enough is enough i am no longer willing to keep changing it as i want some consistency for the kids. Historically everytime i disagree with my Ex she threatens me with 2 things
1.) limiting the time i see the kids ' From September you can have the kids wed eve and every other friday and saturday , if you arent in agreement i suggest you seek a child arrangement order , or apply as a litigant in person ' This, is the 3rd or 4th time she has made this threat , which is essentially ' do what i want or else you will have the kids less'
2.) Dangling a carrot of domestic abuse , now everything i have read on here suggests there is not much i can do but i am 100% confident there is no case for domestic abuse, she has been very sneaky though and invited me round the house before to pick up my daughter and taken photos of me, recorded and edited conversations where she has deliberately tried to get a rise out of me etc...
I have racked up 12k in legal fees getting a consent order drawn up and child arrangements drawn up only for her to change her mind, and my solicitors view is ' your only option is to take her to court ' .
I'm sure like everyone its a long old story and i just feel as a dad who wants to see his kids, is paying the mortgage , paying his rent , paying CM and doing everything he can to make the transition for his kids as smooth as possible i'm getting punished for doing the right thing over and over again, and whenever i try and push back i get a tirade of abuse , and threats. I have most things documented , i only contact my Ex via the familywizard app, i dont discuss her with the children, but they come to me filled with poison that takes a few days for them to settle down from, but still it feels like things are stacked in her favour.
So my questions are, is there anything i can do to stop the threats , and to solidify the child arrangements? Is there anything i can do to stop her claiming 'domestic abuse' and so take it off the table?
She is signed off work with stress, claims £1000 a month from me child maintenance, £1000 a month universal credits and now £500 a month for not going to work, has the roof over ( 5 bed detached) her head paid for, a new man who lives 90% of the time in my house , is claiming all low income benefits , including free legal advise.
What can i actually do? Do i have to suck up the legal fees of taking her to court ? ( she is adament i would have to pay her fees too , is that true? )
I've tried a solicitor , ive tried mediation , ive tried backing down and nothing seems to work....
Were you married to ex? Is the property jointly owned? Have there been any issues since separation that your ex can use as examples of domestic abuse (post separation abuse, controlling behaviour etc) . If not then if you have been seeing the kids on a regular basis and there are no examples then any issues she raises would be considered historic and even if she does raise them, whilst CAFCASS will want to look into them they will not want to reduce any existing contact you already have to avoid any impact on the children.
Its important that for a period of time (say 6 months) prior to you applying to the courts, you are seeing the kids regularly with no examples your ex can use of abuse. Having third parties to verify can be important esp in a professional capacity eg teachers etc.
If you were not married then you do not need to worry about spousal maintenance etc. If you were married then paying for the mortgage etc could leave you liable in the longer term. Also what is the contingency re mortgage should your income stop? Is there any reason you continue to pay the full mortgage rather than sell the property? As she has it good its easier for her to make wild allegations and threats. Often it is difficult for fathers to stop paying for worry about what will happen to the kids and loss of contact, however this then emboldens the ex into the very situation you describe.
To avoid issues, I'd plan to have a smooth 6 months even if it means agreeing to some changes of hers, then apply for a child arrangements order by which point any allegations would be further historic etc and then once you have the child arrangement order from the court consider what you are doing re property as at that point she cannot use the kids against you as you can return to court if she stops you seeing them for breach of order.
I'm only suggesting waiting before you apply due to the domestic abuse allegations/threats. If there weren't any then I'd suggest apply to the courts and represent yourself as a litigant in person to save on fees straight away.
What is really important is that your ex does not stop you seeing the kids totally. If she manages this and coaches them/alienates them, then you will have to start afresh and CAFCASS will look into allegations (even historic) before approving any contact. If they find against you then you will have to do a course and most importantly there is the impact on the kids too.
All the best.
@Daddyup thank you for your quick response
Yes we are still married , and have been for 10 LONGGG years. The consent order I paid for had us selling the house with an equity split of 77/23 , we had buyers but 2 weeks before completion she decided she didnt want to sell . the House is solely in my name but she has registered her marital rights.
There have been no accusations of domestic abuse she just says things like 'i have been advised to no longer continue mediation because of the domestic abuse' or ive been told to limit the time the kids see you because of domestic abuse .
I have spoken to my parents, her mum ( who lived with us for 2 years) and some friends all of which would happily put something together which would say there has been no signs of domestic abuse and in fact if there was it is likely the other way. Is this worth putting together?
How do i apply for a child arrangement order?
to apply for child arrangements, first you would need to speak to a family mediator. book a MIAM appointment for yourself. should be able to get for £100. would recommend mediateuk. if you tell them what you wrote above, they may just not bother talk to her and give you permission to apply to court. you then use a c100 form to make the court application. costs £215
instead of racking up more legal fees, you can just self-represent. I did it last year. feel free to message if you need any help with all this.
unfortunately there seems to be nothing you can do to stop her making domestic violence allegations. it is commonly encouraged by some solicitors, so their client gets legal aid and they get more work.
As Bill says, many exes are encouraged to state domestic abuse to get legal aid. Based on what you've said, there is every possibility that if you apply for a CAO she will challenge with allegations as she's mentioned. Therefore being aware of this and preparing without her knowing would be advisable.
I'd get third parties on board who you can trust. Apply for the CAO, once secured (you may have to fend off said allegations) apply to the court to force an order for sale. As you are paying the mortgage and its a roof over her head there is no urgency for her to agree to a house sale. However, to avoid all the drama she throws your way it is best to push on with the courts and get things sorted.
If you havent already petitioned for divorce then do that either at the same time as apply for CAO or after securing the CAO. You will have to blame her for the breakdown of the marriage (her unreasonable behaviour)..
Agree, you have to keep the ball rolling first I think. She will claim to be a victim of domestic violence whenever she is not happy with what you have to offer. I don't know if it is possible to apply for more overnight stays with your children to reduce the amount you pay her each month.
Thanks so much for all the help guys, just a couple of points . How do i go about getting statements from people , stating that there is no case for abuse? has anyone done this before? i'm going to put together a folder with everything in , in preparation .
we have already started the divorce ball rolling, and have The Decree Nisi in place already, we have twice literally been 2 weeks away from finalising only for her to pull out.
So im clear my best way forward is to apply for a CAO , ride the wave of false accusations and then try and force the sell of the house?
I have had a solicitor for 12 months and feel its got me nowhere, at what point do i need one , should i get a new one?
Yep that sounds like the right order to tackle things... The CAO has to be the focus..
Thing about statements is that unless they are from professionals it is hit and miss whether they would be considered. After all I'm sure you could both get friends who could vouch for either side. However, still important to prepare as it builds a picture.
It all depends on what she could allege, if it's just mud slinging and you are 100% certain she will not have any evidence to back up allegations then you probably can just stand your ground, deny, say it just never happened and you have no idea why she is saying what she is. The onus is on her to convince the court. Although remember court errs on side of caution. On the other hand if things have happened in the relationship (many relationships have bad patches which can be misconstrued and portrayed as abuse) then you need to prep more as to how you can refute and deny.. Hence my suggestion of a clear 6 months with zero issues and positive/regular contact with the kids.
Your solicitor will have given you reassurance and confidence to move forward with things. You probably don't need to change but maybe armed with more knowledge give them more direction and guidance and keep your costs down at the same time.
Me again , I’ve got the kids this weekend and both my older kids have told me that ‘mummy is only going to let us see you every other weekend from September , and if she wanted she could get you arrested for the things you’ve done’
she has been threatening things for 18 months now and done nothing , I barely even speak to her so I can’t see what it could be , and she’s more than happy to ask for me to have the kids more if she wants fo go away / go out etc , but if I say no she talks about domestic abuse
now honestly I can think of nothing I’ve done that is even borderline abuse , at what point should I involve social services fo manipulation ? Is there any way I can make her show what she is talking about ?
I would advise to wait till you have started process for child arranagements order. their social workers will get involved and talk to you. then you can report all your concerns and the strange things your children have been saying to you. they really don't like children being caught in the middle or being used as a messenger.
Daddyup is giving you excellent advice. Start the legal proceedings now and everything else will fall into place. To add:
- If possible, don't alter a change of your current schedule.
- Every time it changes for her benefit it sends the message that she is the default caregiver and you are an alternate
- Every time you show up, it is positive for you.
- Every time she restricts you from seeing the kids, or doesn't present the kids according to your agreed schedule it is negative towards her
- Worry about the allegations when allegations are made.
- It seems counter intuitive, but when she threatens you with DV allegations, she is making a case on your behalf. She is creating a history of threatening behaviour that is especially helpful if you can time threats with occasions you have said no.
- This isn't the first time the courts have seen this, so if you can. Breathe. it doesn't paint the target on your back that you think.
- She has been threatening you for 18 months and hasn't done a thing.
- Like Bill said, avoid the kids playing messenger.
- Try the script: "I"m sorry that happened, you shouldn't have to worry about that. That's a mummy-daddy conversation."
- Then don't address it with your ex. As long as messages are getting through your kids will continue to be messengers.
- The kids will thank you for it. Then your time is your time and isn't poisoned by their mother.
It's hard now, but in five years you'll be doing great and so will your kids. This is just the mountain you need to climb to get to the other side. Good luck
Hi all , just to update I applied for a child arrangement order and the first hearing is due on the 2nd September .
I filled in and sent off the initial application , and my ex took this opportunity to write a 10 page document about what a terrible dad I am as her response and how much the kids hate me slinging mud which I assume is very usual in this situation , she then decided to hand deliver the response so I’ve seen it all . Ive had my call with the person from cafcass that I think went relatively well.
couple of questions , do I get the chance to respond to her accusations ? She has made a lot of accusations about 3rd parties that are very untrue , would it look good if I got the third parties to respond in my favour ?
lastly my intention is just to iterate that I think having the kids 50/50 is in the kids best interest and not go back on each point , or would it be best to pick her document apart ?
any advise of what I should do from here? And what the likely next steps are , thanks again guys