Hi, I'm new to the forum, bit of a long post sorry but I feel context is important.
Me and my wife split up 2 months ago after being together for the last 12 years, we have 2 kids aged 7 and 5.
I have a really good relationship with both of my children and see them 50% of the time at present. The other 50% of the time they stay with their mum who is living with her dad and her step mother at present. We speak (me and my kids) over the phone every evening and most mornings to say hello and talk about their day. My son aged 7, often cries saying how much he misses me and that he wants to see me in person when we speak over the phone. However, yesterday I had a video call on the evening with him and the first thing he said to me was "you shout at me", I asked him when was that? but he said he can't remember, I don't recall shouting at him recently at any point. It was almost like he had been coached into saying it. He has never said anything like that before and it seemed very programmed and odd that he said this straight away, he normally tells me about his day at school 1st thing when we speak.
My wife never really disciplined our kids, they could be arguing and shouting at each other and she would just be sat on her phone letting them do it. Whereas I took a more active approach and would say "if you're gonna argue, the computer will be going off" for example, if they kept arguing I would turn it off, or I would tell them to go sit on the step for some "thinking time".
I rang my mum after speaking to my kids last night, as I was upset and worried that they are trying to turn my kids against me. I had visited them in Leeds the week before, My 7 year old had been getting very hyperactive and was not listening when asked to calm down, so I said he needed some time out and that he was to go sit on the step for a couple of minutes. My mum went to speak to him and he told her that "my mum told me that my dad likes to punish me".
I am trying to continue with how I have always raised my kids, with kindness and affection but also to explain to them when they misbehave that their behaviour is not acceptable like a good parent should. My wife on the other hand has promised them several large expensive presents, is giving them multiple breakfasts (previously my wife insisted they were not allowed sugary breakfasts unless it was a holiday - and even then only allowed it due to me buying them and saying it is the holidays let them have them) on a morning and promising them trips to Spain in an effort to try win them over.
My youngest aged 5 is oblivious to all of this and is pretty happy and care free at the moment which I am thankful for. I don't think she is at an age where she can be manipulated yet by passing comments. But I feel my 7 year old is definetely being manipulated and alienated from myself by them making underhanded comments whilst in his presence.
Sorry for the long message, I just wanted to get on with my life with my kids and just wanted to have an amicable relationship with my ex-partner for the sakeof our children. I have never said anything bad about her in front of the kids as I would not want to tarnish their relationship with their mother as kids need both parents.
This has all happened a week after she decided to claim for child maintenance support and put the child benefit into her bank account (was a joint account previously) so she is classed as the receiving parents. We have 50/50 care and so I told her I would be applying for child benefit myself so that I could counterclaim child maintenance as neither of us should pay any child maintenance in the case of 50/50 split care. We were talking over the phone and getting along okay prior to that, but since I said that, things have soured and now my son is saying the above and I feel they are trying to poison him against me.
I don't really know what I should do, I can't afford solicitors. Any advice please would be really helpful. I grew up in Leeds, but moved to the North East after meeting my wife at university, she wanted to move back home as she missed family and so I agreed to move up to the North East with her. However, I don't have much family or friends here and so feel quite isolated at present also.
sorry to hear this. as you have 2 kids, if you still have 50/50 arrangement, then you might be able to claim child benefit for 1 child. It can be very challenging, as when kids are with mum, anyone on her side of the family may make negative comments in front of the kids, without realising what impact it will have on the kids. I would suggest you try to keep things as amicable as possible with your ex. If the kids continue to make strange comments, you could send a polite message to her, and state that your concerned that the kids are making negative comments and we should try our best to keep adult conversations away from the children, and avoid making negative comments about parents.
There is a parenting plan on the Cafcass website which might be a useful tool for setting out arrangements for the children. The twice daily calls may be difficult for her as, although you are separated, you are very much still in her life and she may find this a problem. You could also use AppClose for communicating about the children. If there are still problems, then mediation could be an answer.