[Solved] Contact with young baby
First post for me... I am in throes of separation from partner; we have two daughters together, one is seven years and the other is seven months. I have been a very hands-on father and am keen to remain so, though fear their mum may make things harder than they should be.
My main concern is to get a realistic contact plan in place that is structured and transparent, though I fully understand need for flexibility in light of younger daughter's age. My ex says we need to be completely flexible and arrange things week to week. I am not happy with this as I suspect she would use this to exert too much control.
But how much contact might a father (who will live very nearby, knows how to change nappies, do bottle feeds, do bathtime and bedtime) expect for a 7-8 month old? Daughter is breastfeeding still, but only 1-2 times a day, as she is weaned and taking a bottle.
I'd be keen to read of any stories/experiences from dads in similar position.
I think at that age, there should be no reason for you not to have quite long periods of contact, possibly not over night until baby is fully weaned off breast feeding, how much you would get would depend on what you can either agree between you, through mediation if you can't agree or through court if you still can't agree.
If you can keep things out of court that is better for everyone as it's a lot less stress.
I can see why you wouldn't want things set out on a week by week basis as you would never know where you were and things would always be changing, maybe suggest that you set up, 2 weeks in advance to start with to see how things go and then either extend to a month by month basis or a set routine.
Thanks a lot for your thoughts.
All sounds reasonable. What complicates things for me, is that my ex is highly controlling and prone to shift the goalposts - makes me wary of a wholly flexible set-up.
But she is completely resisting anything that smacks of a written plan or formal agreement. Am I right to be concerned?
In a way, yes you are right to be at least cautious. However, the question is whether, if you push the point, it might be a backwards step at the moment, whereas if you can work together, your ex might actually see a benefit for everyone concerned and be more prepared to plan further ahead.
What I would do immediately, is to keep a diary of all contact (and anything else noteworthy) - and write it as soon after contact as possible. Don't tell your ex you re doing this as it will immediately put her on guard. The courts will certainly take such a record into account if it does go to court in the future.
I agree with actd.....try it and see how it goes but try to keep all communication on the matter in writing, keep the diary and inform your ex you are keeping a record.
In terms of a court decision, if she's still breastfeeding you would likely get a few days a week for 2-4 hours at a time, it would depend what your ex told the court the feeding schedule is.
Bog standard contact with older children is alternate weekends, one midweek overnight and share of hols and special occasions. That's not to say you couldn't ask for more and get more if you did end up in court.
Thanks for these replies. Very helpful. Can I ask a further question?
I understand that alternate weekends and a day in the week might be deemed standard for my seven year old, but how would the courts look on the notion of the seven year old having weekend contact without her sibling, given the latter's age?
I think my ex will emphasise the fact that older one should not be separated from younger one for long period. Is this likely to hold a lot of sway?
Well, if she tries that, it's a good argument for you to make that staying contact for the younger one should begin as soon as possible (and if she argues that she's too young, you can counter that she'll have your older daughter for comfort and security), or at least some weekend contact, so she could end up shooting herself in the foot if she tries.
I completely agree with actd's view, if she starts to try and cause issues with younger daughter, even if for now until fully off breast milk, you had her during the days on the weekends I don't think she really has much of an arguement against that.