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Advice on ex husbands discussing issues with kids

I have been separated from my ex-husband for 2 years. We have 2 children ages 4 and 10. We have had consent orders in places for a year. We now have shared residential care of the kids on a week about basis. They are working adequately and we have agreed between ourselves to change some things, so there has been a degree of amicability between us.

Recently I have been increasing the amount of time me and my children spend with my new partner. Following changeover my ex has begun question the children about what they have done during the week and what they have done with my partner. My son was getting increasingly anxious about returning to his dad as he did not want to answer his dads questions. He even told me his dad sent him to his room as he did not want to answer his questions on one occasion.  I became concerned and sent my ex an email explaining that our son was becoming anxious about this and could he please stop questioning the kids. He obviously was completely offended by this and said it was his right to know what his children were doing and who with. Recently my new partner and I have been discussing moving in together. 

While it is early days yet (we have been seeing each other for 18 months) I discussed the topic with the children to get a gauge of their feelings. I believe my 4 year old has mentioned this to her dad and as a result he appears to have gone into a panic. He has now accused me of child abuse and is also intimating that my new partner is a threat to the children. He is threatening to put in a report to DOCs unless I prevent the kids from being around my new partner. My children have not been subject to any form of domestic violence with my new partner and I (but have been with my ex). I have never abused my child and neither has my partner.  My ex husband knew my new partner before we separated and is very bitter that I am with him. They have both sent juvenile text messages to each other and had a punch up, which they both claim the other started, however my partner ended up with 5 stitches. My ex is claiming my partner has threatened him, threatened my kids and that that he fears for their safety. My ex tells the children about there fighting and text interchanges whereas I protect them from any adult goings on that have occurred between the two in the past.

I have asked him to provide evidence of these threats but he cannot produce them. My husband was very controlling when we were together and I believe this is his way of continuing to control me. I am concerned about the whole process of reporting to DOC's as I am worried that his allegations may be believed, even though I have faith in the process and I know that my partner and I have done nothing wrong. I am worried that he will make the rest of my life hell and this will affect the kids, especially him involving the kids and discussing these issues with them. I feel I am being bullied into ending my relationship for the sake of the kids but at the same time I feel I should stand up to him. Should I ride out the storm I am concerned he is confusing the kids by making them feel guilty when they are with me and my partner. 

Can I alter the consent orders? I would like to insert something to prevent him from discussing certain issues with my children or ask the court to order him to counselling so he understands the negative impact this has on the kids.

  I don't know what to do. He has already gotten out of 2 AVO's and an assault charge because I was too weak to stand up to him.
Unfortunately entering into a relationship with someone you both have known from the past has it's pitfalls it tends to personalize things.

To quickly explain my daughters mother had an affair with her current husband when we were married and left our relationship for him. I do not suggest this is what happened in your case simply that I have some understanding of how things feel.

Both your X and your new partner have already started the process of juvenile behaviour that has extended the problem you will experience and this increases the problems and the time it will take for things to eventually plateau, it's not going to be easy.

No doubt the children's father will be feeling insecure and to him the concerns he has can be validated all the more easily by your current partners behaviour, the fear of change in time he spends with his children and the effect on this time through the change in dynamics will be playing on his mind and he may get a bit silly about things for a time but eventually things will settle. The length of time this takes will be dependant on his maturity, your current partners maturity and the way you deal with the whole process.

His questioning of the children may be a knee jerk reaction to the coming changes and he may not think his questioning of them is as bad as it appears and may feel he is doing this to protect the children.

if he is predisposed to controlling things the lack of control he is now experiencing has put things into hyper drive.

One possible solution is to let him know the dynamics will not change and the your new partner will not take on the role of dad but rather just as your partner and support for you, let him know he will still be the one you talk to regarding the kids and basically build him up with reassurance.

You are right it is not good to involve the children in adult matters and this needs to be addressed because it is not good for the kids and may see them become increasingly uncomfortable as they have loyalty to both of you and kids don't like being put in the middle or forced to choose.

By the sounds of things even if DOC's get involve they will see it as it is and leave it at that but it sounds like a simple threat designed to manipulate control so take a deep breath and stand your ground.

There is a possibility this will turn into a crusade for him to try and make your life misery which will inadvertently effect the kids but that is not your choice and all you can do is stay focused on being there for the kids and reassuring him he is still the kids dad and nothing is going to change.

Reassure the kids of the positives and try to be positive with them about their dad, try to make sure any discussion you have about this is not overheard by the kids and make sure your partner knows he can not be negative about the kids father in front of them, if he is it will tend to confirm what dad is saying.

We can only suggest to the other parent that behaviour are inappropriate and suggest how they should deal with the kids when they spend time with them, in many cases they don't listen and just do thing how they see fit and this leaves us working around things to stabilize the kids, but it's what we do, write everything down in a diary in case you need to reference things in the future.

You could start the process of mediation then off to court to obtain changes to the orders regarding discussing certain things with the children but as far as forced counselling you may find there is not enough evidence there for a judge to insist on counselling and by the time it all gets to court he may be more accepting of the situation, one things for sure the threat of court will antagonize the situation.

You are the best judge of how things are and how your X will react to things so take some time, let your new partner know what you expect  of him and how you feel is the best way to deal with things and make sure he is on side and prepared to do things they way you want, then you will have no problems and ample support.

Best of luck D4E
Hi D4E

I cant tell you how much I appreciate your post. It kind of brought a tear to my eye to read such a considered, thoughtful, and wise response. It was spot on.

I completely agree with your comments and just as my ex has started to panic about the situation for exactly the reasons you mention, I myself am probably over-reacting and as you say need to take a deep breath and give things time.

Thank you
Hi D4E

I cannot thank you enough for your wise response. You are spot on. Brought a tear to my eyes and has given me a level of hope for the future.

Thank you very much


Hi choochoo.

I feel for you - I understand your situation all too well. Ours is almost identical but reversed - my partner's ex is the aggressor and it all began when she found out he had a new partner. The child experiences similar anxiety about being questioned over and over, and then constantly being told "I'm taking him to court for that!" These situations are so hard on kids… they sense the parent wants a specific answer, so they constantly struggle to pre-empt the correct response. Then they learn to lie to placate the questioning parent, and get into trouble for that too!

The bad news is, we are almost 2 years into our relationship and she is still trying to find ways to get between us, or to convince my step daughter I'm a bad person, or to take us to court. The good news is, it's gotten her nowehere so far - not for lack of trying!

I agree with D4E that this kind of issue can cause a parent some unnecessary panic and send everybody's emotions inter overdrive. If this is the case, the insecurity and the threats should subside over time so long as you do your best not to engage in the negativity. Mediation is a great start. With just the two of you in a controlled setting, it may be resolved with some reassurance and proper discussion. However, I find the control issues worrying… in my experience, those only tend to get worse as the aggressor discovers they cannot stop the kids from seeing the new partner- and that's when the dirty tactics come in. You might like to check out this article on personality disorders, just in case this is relevant to you. It's an interesting read either way: View topic: Confused about contact arrangements - flwg.com.au

As for DOCS, I seriously wouldn't be too concerned - they do very little without solid evidence, and even then they often do nothing. Have you heard how many children were raped, beaten and/or  killed in the last year or two despite being assessed as "high risk" by DOCS? It's pretty appalling. I would just call his bluff and say bring it on. Having said that, there are some precautions you can take, and the time to do it is NOW. Don't wait for the situation to boil over.

Keep a journal detailing every interaction with your ex - times, dates, contents of conversation - even if the meeting is uneventful. It only takes moments to jot down, and can be extremely valuable if you end up in court. It can add to your credibility, and it means you have detailed and accurate evidence. Do the same for SMS interatcions. Transcribe each message sent and recieved, including the number it came from/was sent to. If possible, never take your partner when you exchange the kids, or if you have to, have him wait some distance away. This is for his benefit, to prevent false claims of violence. If your ex never comes in contact with him, there is no opportunity for allegations. We learnt the hard way! While we were waiting to pick up my step daughter, the ex went out of her way to confront me about "staring at her" in an obvious attempt to provoke me. She even had witnesses planted nearby and across the road. I refused to engage her, but that didn't stop her from suggesting I was the aggressor! Days later we were slapped with AVO's for allegedly stalking and intimidating her. We fought it strongly all the way, and were vindicated, even though she hired a barrister. But it doesn't always go so well. 8 months later she is still at it, constantly looking for an opening or opportunity. We don't approach or converse with her her AT ALL anymore. My father in law has to come to every pick up to collect the child so we don't have to interact with her.

I hope your partner will see the sense in ceasing communication with your ex. Continuing to argue with him creates opportunities for false allegations. (ie, harrassment, stalking, fear of violence). The interactions may be benign, but they can be twisted to appear otherwise. He doesn't need ANY proof to apply for an interim AVO - he can lie through his teeth to a chamber magistrate, and in most cases they will err on the side of caution and grant the application. The standard of proof for an AVO is not high, and although it may not be a huge burden in itself, it can be a powerful tool in the family court. It could be enough to get him past the Rice and Asplund rule and seek to change the orders. Even if an AVO doesn't stick, it's still a couple of grand down the drain, and a lot of time and stress to resolve it. Don't give him the chance.

I hope this works out for you… in the meanwhile, at least your kids have one strong parent who is not willing to drag them down. Continue to be their safe haven, and they will be truly thankful for that. Our little girl is so relaxed when she comes to us, because she knows she can just be herself and doesn't have to be a pawn. She still gets stressed out and worries that we will get taken to court and/or sent to jail, and blames herself for everything. All we can do is reassure her, let her know we understand and tell her that at our house, her job is to be a kid, and we will deal with the adult stuff. From what I've researched on emotional abuse/trauma, having one stable, grounded, loving parent can be the difference between a kid growing into an emotionally stable adult, or developing the same mental and emotional instabilities that have been repeatedly demonstrated to them. So this may be the most important thing you ever do for your child.

Best of luck. :)
Unfortunately you can't take on face value what children of those ages say in the context to 'child custody' disputes or parental conflict.

Children of that age can make up stuff, just to conform to the expectations of the parent they're are saying stuff too, to prove loyalty. How sad is that?

I'd be sending your partner and the ex off to anger management classes.

Honestly, they both need to grow up or perhaps you should adjust your taste in men?

4MYDAUGHTER
@Rabbit

Thank you for your post and the advice. I especially found the article you attached very helpful. I also have a degree in Psychology and did research into these personality types in an effort to understand his behaviour some time ago but the link to litigation and these types was very helpful.

Thanks for your kind words.

@ By 4myDaughter

You comment: "Unfortunately you can't take on face value what children of those ages say in the context to 'child custody' disputes or parental conflict."

On face value? I stood there on changeover and heard him say to my son "What were you doing with that peice of s**t". So it wasnt face face value it was first hand.

Secondly I obviously cant 'send my ex off to anger management'. Wish I could send him off to counselling but I can't. - A pointless comment.

Thirdly your personal attack on me and my choice of men was not necesary, I realise you are playing devils advocate but honestly its not necessary is it? It does not add any value to the discussion.
Perhaps you should try and understand what it's like for your ex as well.  It's a two way street.
You cannot ask that your ex 'doesn't discuss certain matters' with his children - would you agree to this if he tried that on you?
If you want him to go to counselling, you must also be prepared to do it yourself - and take a step back to consider your own reactions to your ex and think about what YOU can do to make your childrens' lives easier.
Suzie Q
I know its a two way street. I dont discuss any of our disagreement with the kids. I always put my children before myself.
I have attended couselling many times and sought adivce from the Family Relationship Centre and other organisations for dealing with children and separation. He doesnt seek advice or take anyones opinion other than his own. I know do not react at all to him anymore, even though he continues to attack me every day.
ChooChooBar said
 They have both sent juvenile text messages to each other and had a punch up, which they both claim the other started, however my partner ended up with 5 stitches. My ex is claiming my partner has threatened him, threatened my kids and that that he fears for their safety. My ex tells the children about there fighting and text interchanges whereas I protect them from any adult goings on that have occurred between the two in the past.

Perhaps there needs to be some mediation/counselling/dispute resolution between your ex and your new partner?

4MYDAUGHTER
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