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Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 35087
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practise since 1985 and have specialised in Family Law for the last 10 years
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Hi there. I have a 10 year old Son. His mother and I were never

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Hi there. I have a 10 year old Son. His mother and I were never married and we separated over 9 years ago. I have paid maintenance every month and kept in close contact with my boy, seeing him almost every weekend for the last 10 years. I take him on holiday occasionally and do all the usual dad stuff that we tend to do on weekends. We have a great relationship. In general he relationship with his mother has been 'ok' - although she is pretty unreasonable and quick to resort to verbal abuse and all kinds of emotional manipulations (usually via emotionally manipulating my Son) if she feels that she isn’t getting her own way.

Sonya (the mother) has had a couple of relationships over the 10 years, one resulting in another son - who is now 6 years old. Again, she has split with the father.

She is now involved in another relationship, which again seems to be following he same off-on pattern, with accompanying bouts of screaming and shouting in the house, in front of the kids. My son is finding all of this very upsetting and is becoming sick of the repeated pattern of new people on the scene and all the arguing.

Recently my personal circumstances changed, due to the business that I had been running for 13 years being put into liquidation. I have since been out of work since December and this has affected the quantity of maintenance that I have been able to offer to pay Sonya.

Despite having zero income for four months, I do have some savings and I paid her in full in Jan & Feb and have offered to pay £150 a month until I get back to work and start earning again. Sonya’s reaction to this has been one of complete aggression. She has become impossible to deal with and refuses to communicate over even the smallest issues, making life very difficult.

I have explained the situation repeatedly and offered assurances that this is just a temporary measure and that the payments will return to the full amount once I am back in work, but to no avail. She appears to have taken the whole thing as a personal affront. Naturally, she has zero empathy for the fact that I have lost my business of 13 years AND my livelihood. She has even started refusing to allow my Son to bring any of his clothes to my house during his weekend visits, suggesting that I need to buy him a completely different set of clothes to wear on weekends.

Anyway. Last weekend I went to collect my Son to take him away on holiday for Easter. When I arrived, true to form, Sonya had refused to get any clothes together for him - saying that I hadn't paid for any of the clothes that he owned, so therefore he couldn't take any away with us.

Her new 'fella' happened to be in the house - despite the fact that both my Son and I were under the clear impression that things were once again 'over'.

I expressed my concern that this behavior from Sonya was completely out of order and pointed out that, over the last ten years of never missing a maintenance payment, I had probably bought ALL of my son's clothes - and most of what she was wearing too. Ok, perhaps that last part was deliberately provocative, but true nonetheless.

At this point the 'fella' started to become extremely aggressive - in front of the children - shouting at me that 'I need to learn some respect' and advancing in an extremely threatening manner, fist cocked as if to throw a punch.

I held my ground and did not retaliate physically, instead suggesting that everyone calm down and have a rational discussion. The threats and fist waving continued.

By this time by boy was in floods of tears and clearly traumatised by the whole episode. It took all evening to calm him down.

I have several concerns. I am worried about the general environment with all of this shouting and arguing going on with Sonya's various ex-partners. This is NOT a good example to set for the kids, or a great environment for them to have to live in.

Secondly, I would like some advice as to how to deal with the threats of physical violence from this new guy on the scene - who is really nothing to do with the family, yet feels that he is able to behave in this manner - again, in front of my own son.
Thank you for your question.
My name is Clare
I will do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
What do you wish to know - and what outcome are you hoping for?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Clare,


I just need some advice as to the best way through this, really.


Clearly, I don't want to be physically threatened. As a priority, and I would like to understand what my rights are in relation to that incident in particular - or at least a recommended course of action. Should I notify the police, for instance? Should I put something in writing? I don't know.


As for the general situation in the longer term, i guess I am looking to try to make life as easy as possible for all parties. I don't like the idea of my boy experiencing the fighting and arguing that he is seeing frequently, but I don't want to start trying to disrupt the 'family home' unless things get completely unacceptable.


Ideally, someone needs to just sit this woman down - ideally an impartial third party, I guess - and try to get her to see sense that 'she' is the one creating all of this chaos in everyone's lives due to her stubbornness and tendency to fly off the handle and resort to insults, threats and manipulation.


It seems she's impossible to sustain a relationship with, as evidenced by the growing list of ex partners. Each time it's the same. Fighting, rowing in front of the kids and then she's on her own again. Each time I have to accept a new 'partner' is going to be spending time with my child - not to mention the children themselves having to get used to another new man in the house. She just can't seem to see things from anyone else's perspective at all - even her own children. Either that or she genuinely doesn't care about the damage she is doing.


I actually think it's the former - she lacks empathy, i think, making her operate from a very selfish, self centred perspective. I have tried and tried to reason with her over he years, but it's impossible. She does not respond to reason and rational discourse. She prefers to shout and scream insults and threaten until she gets what she wants.


I've been a very loving and loyal father, as best I can be under the circumstances. I've stuck by Bailey (my Son) paid my dues and made sacrifices. I don't see what I've done to warrant such treatment. Nor does Bailey. This is becoming more of a problem, the older he gets, as he's just so much more aware of everything now and is more upset by the fighting.


I've mentioned arbitration before, but of course she's not interested.


Is there any way that she can be strongly encouraged into seeing someone - an anger management therapist perhaps - on the basis of the deteriorating situation?








How long is your contact each time - could you collect him from school?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I usually collect him on a Saturday morning and drop him off on a Sunday evening. I rarely go into the house.


The only reason that I would do is when I really need to communicate with Sonya on a particular issue - usually something that she has been deliberately difficult around, such as the plans for the Easter holiday.


She refused to answer any of my questions about which dates I would be able to take Bailey away - making it impossible for us to book anything until the last minute - at which time she decided that I could only take him away Friday - Tuesday, as opposed to for the whole week - meaning that we ended up paying the same for 4 days as we would have for a week. Just playing mind games and making life difficult for no reason.


Then when I did turn up, as I mentioned, she refused to let him take any of his clothes.


The problem is, if she won't enter into dialogue around any of this then I have no way to move anything forward. She's holding all the cards in terms of access to Bailey, so I have to try to plan around her - yet she refuses to even communicate what she wants - deliberately leaving us in limbo and causing undue stress and frustration.




Realistically could you collect him from school on a Friday?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.



Is your suggestion / answer to simply avoid all unnecessary contact?


In which case, I think I may have wasted my time with this.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

What about the threats from the partner? Should I take any action at all in your opinion?

No that i snot my only answer - but it is certainly part of the answer
You have a clear commitment to your son - and a good insight into the effects that his mother's behaviour ha son him.
Unfortunately it is unlikely that your ex will EVER have that insight - and there is no way that you can force to do so.
That leaves you considering YOUR options
So long as you are paying 12% of your gross income by way of child maintenance then she cannot force you to pay more
Unfortunately however she does not have to provide and clothing for contact - so in future you may wish to pay her only what you have to - and use the rest to build up a wardrobe at your home
You have not said whether or not you have yet reached the point where you wish to consider taking over the full time care of the child - but you do need to be aware that when your son is 12 he will be of the age where his wishes are of great importance - something you may wish to bear in mind.
With regard to the threats of violence there is little point in reporting the matter to the police unless the threats continue
However yes you should indeed consider changing the collection and drop off arrangements so that your son is not exposed to the aggression your ex shows towards you.
You should try and discuss this with her using Family mediation ( and chose a mediator trained to work with young people so that your son's wishes can also be heard
If your ex refuses mediation then you need to apply to the court for a Child Arrangement Order so that your ex never holds this over you again
Please ask if you need further details

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