Family law is an ass

My ex and I have had our first joint session at mediation.  It wasn’t successful.  We weren’t able to agree anything, so I went back to the family lawyer to talk about my options.  I first sought legal advice three months ago.  You can read about it here.

Pray tell. What happened at mediation?

Well, not much to be honest.  We talked about our son’s routine.  This was not controversial.  We agree that he has lunch between 11:30 and 12:00 and that bedtime is 19:00. 

We agreed in principle that we want to support each other to be the best parents that we both can be.  Well I said this, and my ex nodded.  We agreed that we would seek to always act in our son’s best interest.  The problem is that we totally disagree on what is in our son’s best interest.

So what does your ex think?

My ex thinks that:

  • It is in our son’s best interest to share his time 50/50 between both of us…even though our son is only just one and is still breastfeeding. 
  • That £200 pcm is sufficient to cover our son’s care. My ex also pays half of the nursery fees (£140 a week).  My Mum looks after our son two days a week for free.  My ex takes home £4500 a month.

And what do you think?

I think that:

  • Sharing care 50/50 might work when our son is older, but that until he understands the concept of time, can understand that he is spending the weekend with Daddy and that he will see Mummy in two days’ time, 50/50 is not in his best interests. There is also the breastfeeding issue.  I express milk when my son is with his Dad. I have suggested that at the moment we limit overnight stays to two nights per week whilst our son is so young. 
  • That my ex really should be giving me more than £200 a month.  I recognise that compared to many single mothers out there my ex is probably being quite generous, some of you don’t get a penny.  I am really sorry for that. 

So, I went back to the family lawyer.

The good news is…

…that my ex has to take me to court if he wants our son for more than two nights a week at this stage.  He may or may not have the stomach.  I am not sure. 

The bad news is…

…that a court might award 50/50 shared care.  There is no guarantee. There is no way to predict. There is just a worst case scenario and that worst case scenario is 50/50 care.  The lawyer admitted that it was unlikely when a baby is only one year old, but nonetheless, she stated that it was all down to the whims of the judge.  Some judges are pro-Mum.  Some judges are pro-Dad.  End of. 

…that because we were never married, I am screwed financially.  I don’t have a leg to stand on.  The CSA doesn’t take a view on whether child maintenance should be before or after nursery fees.  By law, my ex is only required to pay £116 per week, and in our case, £116 a week less half of our son’s nursery fees. So, a grand total of £46 per week.   

…I really should have taken advantage of the fact that, in the eyes of the law, we were joint owners of our house.  I was therefore, in the eyes of the law, entitled to half of the equity.  I didn’t ask for half of the equity because my ex put more money towards the deposit than me.  It felt morally wrong and I wanted to ensure that I could get on with our son’s Dad in future.

What next?

Who knows?  We have another mediation session.  I am not optimistic.  I think I need to be more assertive and demanding.  This is where I have gone wrong so far.  Maybe I need to call upon the good nature of the in-laws to influence him, but to be honest they were never really accommodating and able to see the other side before I left my ex.  I am not optimistic about their reaction now.  I might need to abandon the moral high ground.  The moral high ground is a tough and fruitless path to take.  Look where taking the moral high ground with regard to the sale of our property got me.  It left me high and dry, that’s where it got me.

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36 Comments

  1. September 10, 2015 / 9:49 pm

    I am sorry mediation didn’t work out for you. I don’t know how much in Euros you are getting as I’m familiar with American currency but it doesn’t sound like they are giving you a fair shake. Over here, even if a couple isn’t married, child support depends on how much the father is making. As for child care, it is in many child custody agreements over here but I don’t know if a judge has to rule in favor of the father paying child care costs. Hopefully, he won’t want to take you to court. Let’s hope for that! Thanks for sharing. Visiting from #momsterlink
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    • thesingleswan
      September 10, 2015 / 10:00 pm

      Hi Michelle,

      thanks for your comment. My overwhelming impression from speaking to the lawyer was that family law is very inconsistent and subjective and there are very few guidelines. Legal advice seems to vary massively. I will let you know how it goes. THanks for reading again and good to see you back here. #momsterslink

  2. September 10, 2015 / 10:16 pm

    How annoying is this! I’m really sorry that you have to go through this!! For how long have you been together? Surely you have rights even if you haven’t got married. Legally the house belongs to both of you as you have been joint tenants. Because he puts more for the deposit doesn’t mean you don’t deserve the half. This is a good point for you that you should use. If the house gets sold what you get from it should be half for you and half for him. The judges will always go for the mums that have babies still breastfeeding so he has more to loose than you if you go to court. PS: I’m lawyer (not a family lawyer) but I know a lot about Property Law. I don’t practice it any more though! 🙂 xx #momsterslink
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    • thesingleswan
      September 11, 2015 / 8:48 pm

      Hi,

      thanks for your comment. I think I made a bit of a mistake by agreeing that he could have 2/3 of the house because he put more money into the deposit. Unfortunately our house is already sold so I don’t think I can go back on that. I guess I was hoping that he would be reasonable about everything else. We were together for 6 years in total. Two lives operating in parallel, but when you have a baby things change. You are either together or not, parallel isn’t good enough. Thanks for your comment. I appreciate it.

  3. September 10, 2015 / 10:21 pm

    I understand how you feel. I went through the court process to get custody of my child and it can be so stressful and the worry of what may happen is a real worry. In my case I ended up with a protection order, full custody and he has never paid a penny of child support in seven years! I really hope you get want you ask for. After all your ex is loaded and can afford to give you a good amount and breast feeding and bonding at age one is so so important, your baby would miss you. Good luck and I hope things work out in the best interests of baby. i’ll keep my eyes peeled to see how it goes.

    Angela from http://www.daysinbed.com xx
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    • thesingleswan
      September 11, 2015 / 8:45 pm

      Hi Angela,

      THanks so much for your comment. It sounds like you really went through it. Take care, and yes, I will let you know how things go. x

  4. September 11, 2015 / 3:51 am

    Stay strong Swan! You got your baby’s time for now, so you got a big part of this handled. Maybe appeal to the ex’s parents as he’s not just screwing you out of $ he’s screwing his child by short changing you. The grand parents might have more clarity. Good luck. I’ll stay posted…

    • thesingleswan
      September 11, 2015 / 8:43 pm

      Thanks Lori. I appreciate your comment. I will indeed keep you posted.

  5. September 11, 2015 / 11:42 am

    I think family law is still very much a grey area – either there are no real guidelines, or they are totally ignored, because I agree with your lawyer – many of the decisions seem to be made at the judges whim.
    I do agree that 50/50 childcare would be in your son’s best interests when he is older, but not while you are breast feeding.
    I’m shocked that you only get £200 per month. Usually the CSA take the mother’s side and take the father to the cleaners. #momsterslink
    Debbie
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    • thesingleswan
      September 11, 2015 / 8:43 pm

      Thanks for your comment Debbie.

  6. September 11, 2015 / 6:58 pm

    I agree 50/50 is just not realistic whilst you are breastfeeding.Based on what he earns that really is a paltry amount for the care of his child.I hope it all works out well for you both x #snotallaboutyou
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    • thesingleswan
      September 11, 2015 / 8:42 pm

      Yep, we’ll see how things go. Cross your fingers for me. x

    • thesingleswan
      September 11, 2015 / 8:41 pm

      Thank you. #momsterslink

  7. September 11, 2015 / 8:08 pm

    Irish family law is just as bad.

    I had to ask my partners ex husband to sign a paper saying he wasn’t the father of my son. Because they are still legally married in the eyes of the law any children she has are his unless he signs an affidavit.

    I really hope things better.
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    • thesingleswan
      September 11, 2015 / 8:41 pm

      Oh my goodness that is ridiculous. Absolutely crazy. Thank you for your comment.

  8. September 12, 2015 / 8:00 pm

    I’ve got no advice as what I know about family law is based on TV dramas, but I hope you manage to navigate your way though this so you get a decent amount of child support and the best outcome for you and your son. #momsterslink
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    • thesingleswan
      September 12, 2015 / 8:38 pm

      thank you! I appreciate your support. #momsterslink

  9. September 13, 2015 / 11:16 am

    I feel for you and I’ve gone through/going through many similar things myself. I hope you can reach some kind of agreement with the mediator in your next session. I haven’t got too many words of wisdom except try not to get dragged down with it all as I know how stressful it all is. Message me if you ever want to chat, Polly x
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    • thesingleswan
      September 13, 2015 / 8:44 pm

      Thanks Polly, It is really good to chat. I appreciate it. I hope things improve for you too. If only we could send both of our exs to a remote island far away life would be so much less stressful. Good luck and take care of yourself. x

  10. September 16, 2015 / 2:48 am

    I am so sorry that you are going through this hun 🙁 I was lucky to have escaped my past relationships without ever having kids involved. My husband and I now have been quite close a couple times to calling it quits and when the thoughts start rolling of “what will happen with the kids” it truly frightens me so I can only imagine what goes through your head. What an arse too for not recognizing that you deserve something for leaving him a home with equity in it. Hope you find peace in the entirety of it. I will keep my fingers crossed for you….toes too 😉 thank you for sharing with #momsterslink.
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    • thesingleswan
      September 18, 2015 / 9:09 pm

      Thanks Trista, I appreciate it. #momsterslink

  11. September 16, 2015 / 8:28 pm

    £200 a month is nowhere near the amount he should be giving you if he brings in £4,500 a month. I hope your family lawyer is on top of that. Don’t let him walk all over you, you do what suits you and your child and don’t get too stressed! 🙁 hugs x

    • thesingleswan
      September 18, 2015 / 9:05 pm

      THanks Emma. I appreciate your comment. I don’t think that £200 is enough but then I don’t want to be dependent on him either. Grrrrr. Thanks again and the hugs are good!

      • Anon
        October 7, 2015 / 10:12 pm

        I took the moral high ground of not wanting to chase for any funding from my ex other half. Don’t think about it being dependent on him but on getting what your son deserves! I’ve had no money from my ex ever and my son is now 10 and we’ve survived – if you can get more, don’t cut your nose of to spite your face as the saying goes! Good luck!

  12. September 17, 2015 / 9:11 am

    so sorry you have to go through this. From speaking to friends in similar situations, it seems like there is a ‘one size fits all’ kind of attitude in family law, when everyone’s situation is completely different! Hope things improve #snotallaboutyou
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    • thesingleswan
      September 18, 2015 / 9:03 pm

      thanks Rebecca. You are right, everyone’s situation is totally different. Thanks for your comment #snotallaboutyou

  13. A reader
    September 27, 2015 / 10:15 pm

    Whilst your lawyer is right that you cannot be sure of the outcome of court proceedings, I don’t think it is fair to say it is down to whether the judge (or magistrates) are pro-Mum or pro-Dad. I do think they genuinely look at what is in the child’s best interests (it is what the law tells them to do), and they are unlikely to think that a 9 month old should spend nights away from the primary carer. You’ll have had legal advice on whether you need to get any orders as to residence (under a child arrangements order) or prohibited steps. And does he have PR?

    One point though – the family court will not make any linkage between the financial side of things and the question of where the child should live/how much time s/he should spend with each parent.

    The court will try and get you to each some sort of agreement with your ex-; it won’t do him any good that he didn’t go to mediation but won’t do him much harm when weighed against the paramountcy of the child’s welfare. Arguments from either parent about what is ‘fair’ for them will cut very little ice.

    • thesingleswan
      September 29, 2015 / 9:50 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment. I really appreciate you taking the time to write such a long comment. I really want to avoid us getting to court and will do anything to stop us from getting there. the bit about the finances is from the CSA website. the CSA website makes a direct link between the money and the number of nights that a child is with each parent. It is tough because I honestly believe that my ex is trying to get more nights so that he can pay less money. He would obviously deny this. anyway, thanks again for your comment. I hope to see you back here soon.

      • A reader
        September 30, 2015 / 5:36 am

        If you can let me know where on the CSA site it says that I will pursue it because in terms of the family court’s approach it is plain wrong to link maintenance with time spent.

        • thesingleswan
          October 3, 2015 / 9:16 pm

          Hi,

          Thanks again for your comment. The CSA site does not explicitly state that maintenance should be linked to time spent but if you enter in the number of nights into the calculator, the more nights the child spends with the non-resident parent then the less money the calculator suggests the non-resident parent should give the resident parent.

          https://www.gov.uk/calculate-your-child-maintenance

          1-2 nights for example comes out with a different figure than 2-3 nights. I think this is influencing my ex’s arguments…

          Regards

          • A reader
            October 4, 2015 / 7:47 am

            Thank you. I can see that it would influence his arguments. What I think is more commonly heard is an argument ‘she doesn’t let me see X so I won’t pay maintenance’ or, more likely ‘I pay maintenance so I should see X’. I think the courts are pretty robust with that sort of statement.

          • thesingleswan
            October 5, 2015 / 8:33 pm

            Hi, Yes, I can see why they would be pretty robust with that sort of statement. My ex sees a lot of our son and I am really keen that he is a key part of his life as he grows up. My son deserves nothing less. I am also keen that my son doesn’t suffer (suffer is probably an exaggeration) when he is with me – I don’t want his Dad to be able to take him all of the interesting and exciting places and Mum to always take him to feed the ducks again because we can’t afford to do anything else – not that there is anything wrong with feeding the ducks. When our son is older, he will inevitably pick up on the disparity and draw his own conclusions.

            It’s tough. My ex resents me at the moment because I left. I took a third of the house when I was entitled to half (joint owner paying half the mortgage – although I paid 1/3 of the deposit in the first place) so am living in a smaller place. We both work full time. I did all of this because I want to avoid a court process and I want to have an amicable co-parenting relationship for the sake of our son. I hope one day my ex will get over his bitterness, resentment and anger towards me…one day.

            Apologies for the long personal comment.

            As an aside, I found this this evening. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/325219/how-we-work-out-child-maintenance.pdf I found it really useful.

  14. Anon
    October 7, 2015 / 10:13 pm

    I took the moral high ground of not wanting to chase for any funding from my ex other half. Don’t think about it being dependent on him but on getting what your son deserves! I’ve had no money from my ex ever and my son is now 10 and we’ve survived through me working full time- if you can get more, don’t cut your nose of to spite your face as the saying goes! Good luck!

    • thesingleswan
      October 10, 2015 / 7:08 pm

      Hmmm, interesting and well done you for managing on your own financially. It is really tough. Does your son see his father? thanks for your comment.

  15. November 4, 2015 / 8:10 pm

    The subjective nature of family law is definitely overwhelming and frustrating to say the least. It’s a shame that anyone has to go through it but these relaxation techniques will for sure come in handy. A list of them should come with the contract your attorney makes you sign. Thanks so much for sharing.

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