20 July 2009
Dear Ms. C.
I passed the attached updated schedule for summer to N. with M when she took Ixto see N at his home on Sunday 19 July.
Ix was happy to have seen N – he watched DVDS there, with headphones on because N told M he could not cope with the noise of the TV.
M said N was unhappy with the schedule and she reported that he said that “she will get to realize just who she is dealing with here”. M stated that N talked to her for hours about his views on what a family should be, while Ix watched TV.
I feel strongly we need to keep this in the court arena so we can both be clear what contact and how (eg supervised by an adult we both agree to and whom the children agree to) is appropriate. There will be room for N to propose specific arrangements for special days eg birthdays.
At this stage, with G definite about not seeing him other than with another adult present, I do not feel we are in a place where mediation is appropriate. When contact has gone well for a number of months, then this can be revisited.
I did attend family therapy at the T. centre with N Feb 2008 to July 2008 – I used these sessions to try and explain why I had to leave the family home and to stress that I wished him to see the children.
I did not feel the sessions - which were requested by me - were successful. He only got angrier and angrier and on occasions walked out.
From April 2008, I allowed him access to the children in our new home and tried to speak to him about mediation then – I collected information about the Institute of Family therapy and other places. But he was physically aggressive, stated he “would never attend mediation” and smashed things in the house, in front of the children. While being physically aggressive towards me.
At the present time, while it is good he has differing views on mediation, I strongly feel that I and the children have our concerns over our safety and well-being best addressed by the court.
The children need to know that decisions made on contact are those made by professionals with their best interests at heart. Also that they too can have a say at a future stage if needed. We need a clear agreement setting out contact arrangements, to be reviewed in a few months time.
If it is transferred to mediation then no agreement is binding and either party could renege
I believe we could move to mediation if things go very well and the children become more relaxed about being with their father, such that they are comfortable with him on their own.
I – as their mother – also need to feel comfortable and certain that their well being is secure, given the past history.
There are also the practical issues around mediation:
• Who will pay? (I cannot afford to pay £120 per session now)
• When will it take place? (I have no free holidays left to take after the summer)
• If in the evening, who will pay the babysitter?
If mediation does not work, we will end up back in court – it seems to make sense to avoid the middle man at this stage, but when things are going well, and the situation is more settled, and other issues eg financial are resolved (see below), then I will be happy to move discussions about schedules of contact to mediation.
I have in the past few months been attending group therapy with a family therapist on “divorce and separation” – one of the issues covered has been “communication with the ex-partner”.
Following the advice, I have tried to stick to the rules – don’t get emotional, stick to the facts, don’t bring up the past, keep to discussion on concrete arrangements. I believe my emails to N have followed those lines. However, I feel that his emails to me go “off topic”, talk about the past, and refer to his emotions “love” and “healing” and “forgiveness”. It is very wearing.
I have to also consider my own emotional well being, as the primary carer, and in all of this, continue to go out to work to provide for the children. It is very difficult.
I do not feel able to make arrangements by email with him, if my straightforward emails are met with a barrage of justification, explanation, and intimidation. The past - as he tries to say - is irrelevant to a degree.
However, as he brings up the past himself, then I am forced to consider that his past violent behaviour previously is not justified by “mental health issues”. Even if his “mental health issues” (eg depression) are resolved, I see no reason to believe that his tendencies to intimidate and possibly be violent again are resolved; rather his emails are intimidating and harassing, a form of “emotional blackmail” if you like.
He has not taken responsibility for his violence – saying he “was ill” - but also saying that concerns about his mental health “are and were unfounded”.
Financial issues and their possible future impact on N’s mental health/behaviour
I also have concerns that when the financial issues are addressed - which they will need to be – he will get more and more angry. I realize that this is not relevant to contact with the children directly - but it may impact on his mental health/behaviour and therefore impact on contact.
When the financial issues are resolved, then the situation will be more settled.
Basically, I cannot any longer afford to be liable for the rent I pay, plus the mortgage on the flat he resides in, which is joint owned, nor the second flat which is also joint owned, which is rented out (tho at present is not rented – N states he has found tenants who will move in on 1 August. He has offered to paint the flat and make it ready for them, and I have agreed. He has told me by text he is replacing the kitchen, though it is not clear with what money he is doing this.).
Both the former family home and the rented out flat are in both names and the mortgage for both are in both names, therefore we are equally liable – however, as Nacho has no net income (assessed by CSA as being less than £5 per week), then that liability will inevitably fall onto me.
If N is unable to buy me out, in order to remain where he is, then both flats will have to be sold; we will have to share the remaining equity; and N will have to move and seek alternative accommodation. He has stated on several occasions he cannot accept selling the flats.
I fear he may become very angry when these issues are discussed. I have asked him to attend mediation to speak purely about financial issues, but he has not responded.
I fear what he might do, when this comes to a head; as it will have to – I simply cannot afford to maintain or ultimately be liable for three flats (the flat I rent for myself and the children; the joint
owned flat N lives in – former family home; plus the joint owned rented-out flat). Presently, N is underpaying the mortgage on the flat he lives in and there is a monthly shortfall of around £200, including various insurances. The money is running out. The financial situation is becoming very stressful for me.
The relevance of the past
If the past is to be brought up, and any reports are going to mention N’s statement that he “gave up work to dedicate himself to the children” - then I have to make the point that there was no discussion or suggestion from me that he should give up his work – tho I had asked him to spend less time at work eg arrive home in time for the children’s bedtime rather than at 9, 10 pm; rather it was he who insisted he had to leave his work because he was stressed; and he thought the nanny was overpaid and under worked. I reluctantly agreed to support him for a while, while he looked for new directions, went freelance etc.
He then spent from 2005 to 2007 complaining to me bitterly, most days, by phone, that he had to "drive back and forth to school twice a day" "cook the same dinners every week", that he could not cope. “you are so lucky going out to work”. I would often arrive home from work and have to cook the children’s dinners and do the evening routines with the children, because he had been unable to do them.
Staying together for the sake of the children
Despite the difficulties in our relationship since long before 2007,, I imagined I would stay until the children grew up; until he left me, as he often threatened to do; or until he followed through with his constant threats to "commit suicide" - from 2005 onwards his mantra was "life is not worth living, what is the point". Obviously, staying together for the sake of the children is no longer an option, and it is my hope that we can be better parents separately.
During 2005-2007, he was still unable to go out in the street with Ix, or accept his disability.
He many times blasted off and shouted "I am leaving you with your disabled children!".
N stated on many occasions he “wished Ix had never been born" "better off dead". There is documentation from social worker that he said to her that he found it difficult to go out with Ix - hence social services awarded more time in respite. I urged N many times to seek counselling.
On 22 July 2007, during several hours of extremely scary and erratic behaviour, he attacked Ix, saying “why are you disabled”, I had to fight with and bite N to stop him hurting Ix, finally he put his hands around his neck and lifted him off the floor, as I tried to stop him throwing him across the room.
You are already aware of the main incidents of violence and aggression. Those were the incidents reported to police - there were others. These main incidents were preceded by weeks or months of unpredictable and scary behaviour. I sought counselling in 2007 and again in 2008.
You should be aware that N did not attend Ix birthday in October 2007 because he was in Spain. He had discussed returning for Ix’s birthday and I had agreed but on the proviso he stayed elsewhere, ie with a mutual friend, who had offered to put him up. Following a discussion by text message, N made the decision not to come to London for Ix’s birthday, in October 2007, as he could not accept staying elsewhere.
Later, N returned from Spain and came into the family home in December 2007 to be with the children for Christmas and on the promise that he would respect my decision to not be together with him and that he was in any case leaving to go back to Spain in the February 2008, at least for a short time.
On 31 December 2007, after an evening at a friend’s house in which he shouted at the children and me, he insisted on sleeping in my bed, with me, against my wishes, because he said it was his “rightful place”.
From then onwards life was extremely difficult, as he refused to accept our relationship was over, refused to leave the flat and live elsewhere, and his verbal assaults on me continued in front of the children, until he became violent.
Before I thought out the solution of moving out of the family home with the children in early 2008 I felt trapped and stuck and the atmosphere was horrendous for the children and myself.
The social worker was concerned for the children’s welfare, should I continue to live in the same residence as N, and called a child protection meeting.
While he now seems to accept a relationship break down, I received an email last week from a mutual friend:
“N called me on Sunday - had me on the phone for 1 hour - a monologue but a different one. Now he says that he is going to do all he can to do his part for the children - what ever that means. I think that is very positive but he did say he would still like to make a go of 'you' as a couple...“
I still have concerns for the children’s welfare around their father, but of course I will go along with what the court decides. I wish to facilitate their contact with him, on a regular basis, on alternate weekends to start with.
I see a clear and specified court-ordered contact schedule, specifying supervised contact (by an adult we both agree to) as the way forward for now. This is beneficial for both sides.
I wish to ensure the children’s wellbeing and safety, but also I need to ensure my own emotional wellbeing, which means limited contact with N, so that I can continue to work and provide for the children.
Apologies for the lengthy letter.