My 'friend' (L) and I produced a beautiful daughter between us 3.5 years ago. I wasn't made aware of her existence until our daughter was 6 months old. My family and I welcomed her with open arms and twice weekly access continued for about 2 years. The relationship between both parents was distant but polite. L refused to put me on the birth certificate or to allow a paternity test. Our daughter has many of my family traits and looks so not too concerned about the latter. During this time as agreed I bought clothes, nappies, toys and food for our daughter whenever asked.
About 9 months ago L would not bring our daughter out for our arranged access times. She would ignore my knocking, phoning and texting. This happened more regularly which was having a detrimental effect on our daughter. Visits then stopped so I sought the advice of a solicitor, who wrote to L with little success. I could not afford to pay to go to court. After 8 months, thanks to my mother, contact has resumed once a week but I am so concerned that I can stop it at any time.
L is now demanding an informal maintenance agreement with me but will still not agree to have my name ok the birth certificate or have a paternity test. Any advice please.
The following into is important
I can not work due to physical health conditions so receive disability benefits.
L has mental health issues (split personality disorder) but refuses to take the recommended medication to treat the condition.
L will not meet me, my mother a friend of a mediator to try and resolve these issues.
L had 3 previous children taken into care. They are all much older than our daughter.
Social Services were involved again about 2 years ago following a physical fight between L and a neighbour, late at night, in front of our daughter. The police were involved as were drink and drugs. SS closed the case as my mother agreed too keep an eye on the situation. L gave SS my mother's contact details, which was fine.
When contact stopped SS were informed but they were not interested although my mother informed them about her concerns regarding my daughter's poor personal hygiene, obvious hunger and spending nights at a shared house for homeless people.
L can be a lovely mother when she is mentality well and stable.
Due to drug and alcohol issues I am concerned that if I give L cash as maintenance it will not be spent on our daughter. I bought her shoes yesterday as hers were 2 sizes too small and her little feet were soaking wet. Dispute the fact that she had been sent a large package of clothes and shoes direct from the online store just before contact was restarted.
I would arrange mediation to ask to have parental responsibility and sort regular access out. if no joy then you need to fill a c100 and take her to court and self represent. Until she does this i wouldnt be paying maintenance as she wastes it allegedly on alcohol and whatever else. Its lucky you want to see your child , because if you walked away it is very likely your child will end up in care . I only say this as this is what happened to other 3 and SS are already showing concern
I agree the mediation route is best way but she may not engage. Could your mother or a friend discuss and explain clearly but in a positive manner exactly what you intend to do and the benefits of doing so eg apply to court, clarify PR, seek regular access which in turn results in the correct amount of maintainance being paid. However this can be time consuming and potentially costly depending on how you go about it.
However, if someone explains everything to her then she may agree that doing things right and properly will result in a good outcome for all including herself by way of maintenance etc
You will have to accept however that if your parental rights are agreed and accepted and you are then required to pay CMS then what the mother does with the money would no longer be anything you can influence. Even if it is spent on alcohol/drugs etc you would have to prove impact on child but even then continue paying it.
agree with warwick. first focus on increasing child contact. spending £300 to get into court would be worth it. you deserve to spend more time with your child. given the mothers dodgy past, court will likely grant you a lot of days in the week to care for child. they could decide it's in child's best interests that she lives with you. you could try reason with the mother and tell her that dads typically see kids fri-sun every other weekend, and mid week visits. this is what court gives out. if your certain the child is yours, then maybe not bother about birth certificate. that would end up becoming another court application and more cost.
maintenance can be secondary issue. you mention you can't physically work so not much you can do about it. you can give what you can. if mother contacts child maintenance service, they will probably get you to pay a lot less because your on benefits.