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Communication Advice

Posted by: Anonymous
Thu 23, Jul 2015 at 8:37pm
After Separation

I have recently been back to court and got a contact order to see my 8yr old Son at a contact centre but this has not been going well at all.

The order states every other Saturday but she couldn't attend the first available date and has now cancelled another!

I just dont really know what to do, we are due back at court later this year for a review but I really want to sort this out as its doing my son no good to be messing with contact like this.

Do I just accept that contact will be like this until the review or do I actually try to communicate with her and find out whats going on?

She is openly hostile towards me and I am sure she is of the opinion I should never see my son again but wont say it publicly. Whenever we are having a serious discussion she will end it one way or another, all of my letters have gone unanswered and in fact the only time we have really ever talked about this issue is right after court! I dont really think she was listening as her behavior hasn't improved at all and she has made no attempt to contact me directly choosing instead to relay messages through the contact centre.

I really need to get control of this situation for the sake of my son, he is failing at school and has emotional problems which are being exacerbated by this situation, his doctors and school are doing all they can but they can only do so much while he lives with his mother.

Any advice will be very appreciated. Thanks.

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  • Pc Lucy Flag

    It sounds like you are very upset and frustrated by this whole situation. What type of contact centre is it that you are visiting? If it is supervised contact that has been directed by the court then your ex does have an obligation to make sure your son attends. If this is the case you should contact the centre and ask them to rearrange the time so you do not miss out on the contact - perhaps they could move it to another Saturday if you are doing alternate weeks.

    However if the contact centre is for support then you would be better to rearrange directly with your ex and see if she would be willing to move the day. Your ex sounds very angry so I am guessing that you had a lot of problems in your relationship and she is not ready to put these to one side. If you have already been to court I assume you will have gone through the mediation process? Did this break down?

    Fri 24, Jul 2015 at 10:43am
  • User-anonymous OP Flag

    We never had mediation since whenever we have tried it she either hasn't turned up or made some excuse not to attend so this time it was decided it wasn't suitable for it. As I said she is openly hostile towards me even telling the court that she hates me!

    Its just supported contact but court ordered, I spoke with the coordinator about my options and she was of the opinion that I should just keep a diary of missed dates but I think it best to inform the court of the missed dates and send my ex a letter asking whats going on even though I know she wont reply.

    I stopped being angry a long time ago I am so used to her doing everything she can to make things difficult and nothing seems to change it, I have tried being super nice and letting a lot of stuff slide and I have tried laying down the law but nothing has worked so far. I hope that when I do go for the review they can see just how difficult it is and actually do something about it this time, frustrating yes but not unexpected unfortunately.

    I feel like I should call her and ask her to explain whats going on, she was supposed to have talked with my son to make contact easier but it was plain to me this never happened either...

    Fri 24, Jul 2015 at 11:20am
  • User-anonymous Jay Flag

    You haven't said anything about what is causing the hostility in your ex's behaviour towards you. I wonder if it means her parents feel as hostile towards you too? If not they may be a way through to your son. As grandparents they will often have their grand childs best interests as a priority. They must be worried if he is doing badly at school and is making it obvious he is missing his dad. Why not try to work through them...maybe write them a letter...or someone else who might act as an intermediary for you. You may have tried all of this before...if so apologies..

    Fri 24, Jul 2015 at 5:46pm
  • User-anonymous OP Flag

    I wish it where that simple! Nope unfortunately her parents and husband all regard me the same way - not needed in his life and any attempt by me to exercise any kind of rights as a parent are seen as an act of pure aggression so they feel the need to defend my ex even if they are in the wrong. We could have avoided court altogether, I was trying to talk to her but I asked her a difficult question and she put her husband on the phone who shouted at me for a bit then hung up and that was the end of that.

    I have tried every which way but its always the same, she either pays lip service and then does nothing or she gets "upset" and gets her husband or mother to defend her.

    Fri 24, Jul 2015 at 7:14pm
  • User-anonymous jinny Flag

    You sound very patient and reasonable so I'm wondering why the outcome was that you see your child at a contact centre? I'm guessing that wasn't what you were hoping for. what reasons were given for it needing to be this way?
    Is there an expectation that things will move on from there? I expect you have ideas of your own about how you'd like things to progress.
    Of course I hope for your sake that things change sooner rather than later but it's no bad thing that the court is still involved. If the court agrees that your ex is being unreasonable and not meeting your child's needs by allowing him to see you, I would expect them to take a pretty dim view. They may order that you both attend a Separated Parents' Information Programme. These are meant to help parents see things from the child's point of view.

    Sat 25, Jul 2015 at 3:48pm
  • User-anonymous OP Flag

    I actually requested supervised contact as my son has been manipulated against me without going into to much detail it was the best thing for him.

    The court order states that after a number of sessions they will get extended for an hour each time with a view to my being able to have him outside the centre for the day but with this delay I think I need to ask the court what to do as I am unsure if they count sessions we could have had or sessions we have had. This also delays the timescale as the review is in November there wont be very much time if its being missed every so often.

    We where ordered to attend the SIPS I have but I am not sure my ex will I hope she does attend because the most I got out of it was the feeling I wished my ex was in the room because it was everything I have been trying to get through to her all these years. I just hope she attends and actually listens better than she has to me.

    I am writing the letters to court and her tomorrow so I suppose I will find out what will happen (if anything) I will update the thread because it may help someone else if I get some kind of result.

    Sat 25, Jul 2015 at 9:00pm
  • Pc Bern Flag

    Thanks for offering to keep the thread up to date. Unfortunately, lots of parents experience disappointments about the way that court orders are complied with so your experiences will be helpful to others.
    I see that you're writing to court and your ex about the situation. How about suggesting to her that you have a mediation meeting before going back to court? I think that if you had an opportunity to talk to her directly, without the stress and formality of court, you might make more progress.

    Sun 26, Jul 2015 at 2:13pm
  • User-anonymous OP Flag

    I think I will do both suggest mediation and inform the court, I could include it in my statement to them before the review but I wouldn't feel happy without knowing I've done everything I can to resolve the situation in the meantime I dont think it will hurt just letting them know, they might make it a bit clearer than I can that its not on.

    Sun 26, Jul 2015 at 11:01pm
  • User-anonymous OP Flag

    So, again I had another very bad session at the contact centre, he was brought there but stayed away from the area I was in for a full half hour telling the staff he wouldn't see me then when he finally did come out he ran away several times as he did last time. It only became better toward the end of the session and now I am left wondering what to do.

    Because it started to get better toward the end like it did last time the co-ordinator is of the opinion I should stick with the sessions but I really dont know. When I asked him why he didn't want to see me his response was "You are not my dad I have just decided and my family hasn't made me think it I just do" Which make it clear to me that my Ex is either still reinforcing all the lies hes been told about me or that she has done nothing to correct it.

    Technically she is complying with the order since it only states that he be brought for contact but she is actively discouraging it but all I have is my word the contact centre cant go on record as confirming this as they are just volunteers.

    I am stuck....

    Sat 1, Aug 2015 at 10:05pm
  • User-anonymous Birdie Flag

    its not easy for you and it doesn't sound any easier for your son but what are your options? seems to me that the only way you have of influencing the situation is to keep turning up to the contact centre; hide your disappointment that your son takes time to be relaxed with you and just focus on having the best time you can with him in the time available. You've put a lot of time and effort getting to where you are, you just need to carry on being patient. As you've probably realised by now - there's no quick fixes.

    Sun 2, Aug 2015 at 11:19am
  • Pc Bern Flag

    Hi OP, are you still feeling stuck?

    Thu 13, Aug 2015 at 11:28pm
  • User-anonymous OP Flag

    Not stuck anymore, the last contact was worse than the others so I dont think I have a choice anymore I have to tell the court whats happening and that this isn't doing either of us any good at all.

    Sun 16, Aug 2015 at 2:08pm
  • Pc Bern Flag

    V sorry to hear that. Are you thinking of withdrawing from the contact for a while?

    Mon 17, Aug 2015 at 7:04am
  • User-anonymous OP Flag

    I dont see how that would ever help me or my son to be honest.

    In my opinion teaching a child that one of their parents just ceases to exist in their world just because they dont like me is so utterly wrong he shouldn't even be in their care at all and he should now live with me. I can tell you right now if he ever started talking about his mother the way hes talking to me right now I would be having some serious words with him.

    Its psychologically damaging to the point that I would be failing in my duty as his dad if I ever considered not fighting for his right to have me in his life. I have fought for 8 long years and I dont see it changing unless I get a stroke of luck and the court actually decide to take action.

    Mon 17, Aug 2015 at 1:29pm
  • Pc Jamie Flag

    well done for perservering .It cant be easy but hold on to hope .

    Mon 17, Aug 2015 at 8:28pm
  • User-anonymous OP Flag

    Just a quick update, and some more advice needed really..

    So we went back to court and I obtained another order, this time with some pretty strong language compelling her to comply with this one, I really hope she can.

    I have left it a few days but now find my self pretty much back at square one with regards to communication, how and when can I start this process? I am wondering if I can offer her some form of mediation in a neutral setting to begin with and see how it progresses I know if I cant get her to drop all the lies and speak to me honestly we will be back in court again with no choice but for me to ask for some kind of consequences for her actions.

    I suppose my question would be can we refer ourselves for mediation after court? I may just try on my own but I cant tell how successful that will be.

    Fri 2, Oct 2015 at 9:58pm
  • Pc jaybee (moderator) Flag

    There's certainly nothing to stop you contacting your local mediation service (via the National Family Mediation Service website) and asking there advice. They may well offer you an initial individual appointment and then contact your ex and invite her in to see them on her own as well before deciding if there's scope for seeing you together.

    Sat 3, Oct 2015 at 9:16pm
  • Pc Bern Flag

    i think trying mediation is a really good idea and talking things through with a mediator at a MIAM could be helpful. Before you got the first court order, what were the arrangements for you to see your son?

    Sun 4, Oct 2015 at 9:00pm
  • User-anonymous OP Flag

    way back when? I didn't really see him which caused all sorts of problems, there where accusations and a breakdown and it was all kinds of messy so we went to court because she was refusing contact right until we got into court we had solicitors back then and they sorted them out.

    I tried sending her a text but she hasn't replied yet.

    We have been offered mediation before I always turn up but she never has, I thought she might have more motivation now but it seems like she still just does not care.

    Sun 4, Oct 2015 at 10:17pm
  • Pc Bern Flag

    It seems that you've done all you can in the circumstances to see your son and even with court orders, there are still problems. Two thoughts - to move on, you and she need to draw a line under the 'messy' past. I'm not sure how you can do this - an apology? A demonstration that you've changed in some respect? Or just an acknowledgement that the split was horrible? You may have already tried this conciliatory approach already but if you haven't a letter or mediation might be ways of getting it across.

    Another approach is to put yourself in your son's shoes and see things from his point of view. He's obviously struggling with the tension of being forced to see you (which he might resent) and actually, when he does spend time with you, quite enjoying it. Without more background information, it's hard to know what he might be thinking. How old was he when you and his mum separated and does he have a step father now? If he has no memory of you as a dad, for instance, he might find it difficult to know what kind of relationship to have with you. Can you think of anything you can do or say that would make things easier for him?
    If you can get him to be relaxed with you earlier in the visit, it will increase the chances of him wanting to see you next time.
    I'll keep my fingers crossed for you that she agrees to mediation.

    Mon 5, Oct 2015 at 7:15am
  • User-anonymous OP Flag

    We lived together until she was pregnant, after that I saw him next when he was two through no choice of my own.

    Very quickly after we separated she met someone and declared she wanted him to be his dad and made sure to tell him that, he would call him daddy and me daddy (my name) until fairly recently.

    I have been involved with his life from two onward but it has always been difficult, just a hard slog.

    I have tried apologising and trying to be so passive and letting every thing slide to downright begging!

    The next time we go to court (a near certainty as she has immediately missed our first available appointment!) I have a mind to ask the court to throw the book at her seeing as its unfortunately the only option I can see left on the table if she wont see reason and start talking to me.

    Thu 8, Oct 2015 at 4:50pm
  • Pc Bern Flag

    Thanks for that extra background ......I can see how it's been a long slog for you. Maybe instead of asking court to throw the book at her, they ask her to attend mediation!

    Thu 8, Oct 2015 at 5:54pm
  • User-anonymous OP Flag

    Ok so another quick update and some advice needed.

    It has been a difficult time contact has been progressing very slowly but now its coming to the stage where I can have my son with me again out of the contact centre which is great.

    There is however a problem and its been a running thing with reguards to communication with my ex, she will constantly dictate to me exactly what I can do with my son when he is with me.

    I mean right down to what he eats or when exactly he goes to bed and appropriate activitys or not, I beleive she is being unreasonable but I have never been in a position to say so until now.

    The question I have is how to broach the subject that this isnt acceptable and she needs to discuss stuff on equal terms with me, her retort is always that she is his mother and he lives with her so therefore what she says goes and I dont have a thing to say about it.

    Mon 15, Feb 2016 at 4:45pm
  • Pc Jamie Flag

    Having read the tough journey you have been on and how you have had to preserve to get where you are , my gut reaction is to stay STOP... don't jeopardise all the hard work you have done.
    The first question to look at is whether or not her requests are unreasonable .Is there any possibility she could be letting you know the routine for your little boy and she wants reassured he will stay in this pattern.
    Sure it might feel like you are being dictated too but I guess the question you need to address is whether it is worth it to go along with it to make sure you can get contact established. Maybe its something you need to address but my advice is always choose your battles wisely.

    Mon 15, Feb 2016 at 6:40pm
  • User-anonymous OP Flag

    Its never really been about the routine because her demands change all the time, she feels like she lacks control when hes with me and shes never been comfortable with that, ether that or she truly thinks I am incapable of looking after him which after all these years and the fact I have a family of my own now cant be further from the truth.

    An example is when I have told her we wouldnt be doing something on my weekend because I have other plans when shes spoken to him before bed she will ask him if we did the thing she told me to do and he will get upset because I didnt do what his mum said! It's just another way to undermine me as a parent in his eyes and I dont want it to continue its just not good for him.

    Mon 15, Feb 2016 at 10:29pm
  • User-anonymous OP Flag

    Another update.

    So its been over a year now and contact has once again been difficult, my son has seen more of me this year fortunately and things where going well with him but once again his mother has tried her level best to make things as difficult as possible.

    My son goes to football practice every Saturday which is supposed to be my time every other Saturday, his mother says that he has to go and the court has agreed I should support him going.

    The problem now is that he has to do it every Saturday AND Sunday as he has a big game, this means I can only get him for a few hours on Saturday and he cant stay over. Even worse his mother has said this will happen again and again because hes in a better group as hes getting older.

    I just cant get it through to her that him seeing me is equally if not more important and she should be doing everything she can to reschedule this after all I only see him every other week and he has a whole weekend with her I have asked her to consider after school clubs but she is immovable. So much so that she has refused to let me see him this weekend due to it.

    I just dont know if I want to go back to court again but its looking more and more likely as she does not want to talk to me now, emails and phone calls going unanswered.

    Am I the one being unreasonable here?

    Mon 8, May 2017 at 9:23pm
  • Pc jaybee (moderator) Flag

    It is a fact of life that children are not able to see into the future in a way that adults, with their greater life experience, are able to do. So, your son probably has no idea of the consequences for himself of his limited contact with you (which is a good thing in a way). So, for him right now, his football may be the most important thing in his life - his passion if you like. So, it may also mean a lot to him to know that you understand this and are proud of him. But I do know it must be painful for you.

    Tue 9, May 2017 at 8:15am
  • User-anonymous OP Flag

    Oh I completely understand my Son's perspective on it but as a mother it should be her duty to decide for him what's best.

    The real problem is that we dont agree, she believes that his football practice being on the days I should have him are more important than him having the proper contact with me despite never asking me about it.

    She also believes that because the court order says I must "support" him that means I dont have any say in the matter and I will have to just lump it.

    I do support him but I also want him to spend time with me, I believe that she has now broken the contact order by failing to schedule these practices properly so that now I have very limited contact with my son and its definitely not in the spirit of the order.

    I am about ready to go to court again but I want other options, is there anything anyone can think of to say to her to avoid this?

    Tue 9, May 2017 at 8:28am
  • Pc jaybee (moderator) Flag

    I'm not clear, does your son's football practice exclude you or is it something you can go along to? I'm guessing he'd probably like it if you did.

    Tue 9, May 2017 at 9:05am
  • User-anonymous OP Flag

    The courts have told her that I should be taking him but she has said he would be self concious of me being there and he always goes with her.

    I dont get a look in....

    I haven't pushed the issue since it was only for half a Saturday then I would pick him up after lunch and we would have the rest of the weekend together but now its not going to happen.

    Tue 9, May 2017 at 8:42pm
  • Pc jaybee (moderator) Flag

    What does your son say about you taking him to practice? I imagine most lads would be happy to have their dad there. Could you and his mum do one each on those weekends? Is it time to go to/back to mediation?

    Wed 10, May 2017 at 5:06pm
  • User-anonymous OP Flag

    He would probably be OK with it but like I said his mum will come up with some excuse why I cant take him.

    I did offer Mediation and she said yes (this time) but I think its gone beyond that now..

    Wed 10, May 2017 at 5:52pm