Talking with my ex before family mediation

My ex and I met to discuss our mediation topics last night.

I requested that we meet.  I thought long and hard about this.  I didn’t really want to talk about things outside of mediation for fear that he would get angry, shout and that the conversation would break down.  But then part of me thought that it was only fair and right to outline my position in advance of mediation.  You never know, he may even agree with me! He didn’t, not by any stretch of the imagination, but this was always going to be highly unlikely.

I deliberately chose a public place because I thought that he would be less likely to kick off in public.  I also wanted neutral territory.  I didn’t want him coming to my flat because my flat is my haven of tranquillity. Similarly, I didn’t want to go to his house because I think it would be uncomfortable.  My parents babysat for an hour or so.

I wanted to discuss our current arrangements for contact time with our son and my view that we are not currently acting in our son’s best interests.  At the moment, my ex has our 11 month old son on a Tuesday night, alternate Thursday nights and one day and one night at a weekend.  In future, he wants us to alternate weekends and to have him for two nights.  I don’t think that these arrangements are appropriate for an 11 month old. 

I think that at 11 months old a baby needs:

  • to see his Daddy regularly and frequently but for shorter periods of time
  • a stable regime
  • a familiar environment
  • not to spend extended periods of time away from his primary caregiver (me)
  • to spend quality time with both parents

In terms of our current arrangements, I therefore believe that:

  • alternate nights (monday night at mine, tuesday night at his, wednesday at mine, thursday at his) are really disruptive and stress inducing for a very young child. 
  • Tuesday nights, when my ex collects our son from my flat at 18:10 to put him to bed in his house at 19:00 and then get him up in the morning at 07:00 to then drop him round to my flat again by 07:45 are again really disruptive.  I don’t believe that there can be much quality time spent.  Our son is being taken away from the environment that he has been in all day, when he is tired and grouchy to go and sleep somewhere else. 

In terms of a solution I suggested: 

  • That my ex and I split the weekends.  He has one day and one night and I have one day and one night.  There will obviously have to be exceptions to this, but in the short term, this should be the norm.
  • That on alternate Thursdays when my ex takes a day off work to look after our son, it makes absolute sense for our son to spend the night with his Daddy.  It would in fact be quite disruptive to bring him back to mine for him to go to bed. 
  • On the Thursday when my ex doesn’t take the day off work (and our son is at my flat all day being looked after by my Mum) I have suggested that my ex come round to my flat, feed, bath and put our son to bed.  I will make myself scarce so that my ex has exclusivity.  My ex didn’t like this idea.  He said that he likes the feeling of having our son down the corridor for him in his own house.

My ex also stated that he feels he is being hit with a ‘double whammy’ because the guidance on the CSA website suggests that the higher the number of nights that our son is spending with his Mummy, the more money his Daddy has to pay.  I have made it absolutely clear that I want us to separate contact time and finances during mediation discussions.  There is a danger that tying finances to contact time could present an obstacle for us trying to work out what is in the best interests of our child. 

Our son’s needs will change as he grows older (obviously).  As he gets older he will start to identify with his dad and will want to spend more time with him. That’s right and fine by me.  As he gets older and starts to speak, we will be able to explain to him what is going on.  We’ll be able to tell him that he is spending the weekend with Mummy or with Daddy.  He will know that he is not being abandoned or punished by being taken away.   

I fear that this is going to be a long process. 

Do you know anyone who has had to arrange a parenting schedule for a very young child? 

What contact time arrangements did they make and how did they make them?

Mum Of One

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7 Comments

  1. July 23, 2015 / 8:40 pm

    I agree with you 100% on all counts. My son was 7 months when my ex left. Initially he had my son for half a day mid week and a whole day (but no nights) on a weekend. As his work schedule changed, this changed to a full day on a weekend and him coming to my house and bathing him and getting him ready for bed.
    I thought our son was ready for sleepovers at 2.5yrs and offered repeatedly but they have only just started at 3.5yrs old.
    Our current arrangement is that he has my son one night and day at the weekend. This is happening for two months and then we are changing to full weekends (fri night to sun night) every other weekend. I had to put a stop to bathtime at my house a month or so ago as our relationship broke down beyonce civility and so to compensate, when my ex has my son alternate weekends, he will have a mid week overnight on the week that he doesn’t have the weekend if that makes sense?
    I agree 100% that a mid week for your son at his age and those timings is too unsettling and is for your husbands benefit, not your little boy’s.
    I too kept finance out of mediation and left that to the solicitor.
    Your son, as you acknowledge, needs his father but at this age, he needs his mother more. This dependancy will shift at different points in his life but at this age he needs stability and both parents, primarily his mother.
    Good luck. It is so painful. I tried so hard to seperate myself and put my son first and be fair to him and my ex but it’s not always seem like that. Good, good luck xx
    Hannah Atkinson recently posted…What is Croup?My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      July 29, 2015 / 9:36 pm

      Hi Hannah,

      Thanks again for taking the time to write such a long comment. It is really useful to hear other people’s arrangements just so that I know that I am not being totally unreasonable and barking up the wrong tree. I am not. I know I am not, but the reassurance is always welcome!

      I fear our mediation journey is going to be a long and emotional one and I fully anticipate that he will be manipulative and totally unpredictable just as he was in our relationship. I am so glad to be out of it and to have my little safe haven of my own. I am also really lucky this week because he has gone on holiday (I guess using the money that he isn’t paying me in maintenance) so I don’t even have to see him this week – it is a stress free week – a bit like my own little holiday!

      Thanks again Hannah and I really hope you are doing okay. I think about you a lot you know. You are really strong. Keep at it! xx

  2. July 24, 2015 / 7:39 am

    My step son was 1 and a half when we got access to him. At the time we got him every second weekend we would pick him up saturday morning and drop him bk Sunday night. Then once my partners shifts changed. We now get him every Sunday and during the holidays drop him off Tuesday morning. When he’s at school we drop him at school on a Monday morning. I think you should give him your son to stay over every second weekend. Then if he wasn’t to have a day visit with him during the week that’s fine. But he doesn’t stay with him during the week. It’s u fair to your wee guy being pushed from piller to post.

    Sorry it’s a long one lol

    Even though it’s not a great time for you at the moment. It’s still a great post! You just need to stick to your guns with what you want for your child!

    Speak soon
    L x
    Lisa recently posted…Throw Back Thursday 23.07.15My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      July 29, 2015 / 9:29 pm

      Hi Lisa,

      THanks for your comment. That is really useful information to know and nice to hear from someone who has seen it from the other side. I really appreciate it. I will let you know how things go. I have my first introductory session at mediation on 7 August. We’ll see…

      Thanks again for your comment. Speak soon. Pen xx

  3. July 29, 2015 / 3:51 am

    I am sorry he didn’t agree to your terms. It’s never easy when you have such a young one to mediate over. Bless you. I hope it goes smoother and settled down in the future. My best friend is going through something similar it’s tough on her. Sending hugs. Wish I had advice to give to help you. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me, I hope to see you again tomorrow for another great round. #sharewithme
    Jenny recently posted…Salted Oreo Cookie Bars RecipeMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      July 29, 2015 / 9:26 pm

      Hi Jenny,

      Thank you very much for your comment. I never thought he would agree to my terms, but I have a right to tell him what I think is right. I gues he has a right to disagree and that is why we are going to mediation. Hey ho.

      Thanks for hosting #sharewithme I’ll be linking again soon.

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