Friday, 18 September 2009

Back for good - or not

Oh blog. I've neglected you. I have my reasons, of course. Well, reason. I've had a lot to deal with and I'm as miserable as sin. Here's why.

My beloved son did not do as well in his GCSEs as I and indeed he, hoped. He was away on holiday with his father when the results were issued so when I called the school for his results, I was told I would have to attend an interview as the powers-that-be weren't convinced they would allow him to join their Sixth Form.

I duly went to be interviewed the next day and did my level best to persuade them to allow him into their Sixth Form. One of the panel remained unconvinced and so I had to wait for their decision. Four days later my son returned (I might add that his father was reluctant to take any of my calls or increasingly worried emails as to what the alternatives would be) and went into the school to meet said unconvinced teacher. Again, this teacher wouldn't give him a decision. By this stage, most pupils were starting the new term. I didn't know what to do. I asked my ex-husband if perhaps we should consider a school in Hertfordshire which is where he lives. Hmmn.

Anyway, long story short, a school was found down there, my son visited it, loved it, they offered him a place and more importantly they said he could study the exact subjects he wanted for A Level. His current school remained silent until three days before their term was due to begin and said he COULD come back, but with some fairly rigorous provisos. My son said no and the next thing all of us knew, he'd gone to spend term time with his father, but of course returning to me at least two weekends a month and every half term and school holidays. Or so I thought.

Not only has my son been told that now he is staying with his father he is not to go "running back to Yorkshire" because "his family is HERE now", but the maintenance payments I receive from my ex-husband for my son are to stop with immediate effect. All my pleas fell on deaf ears. I'm struggling to make ends meet and keep a roof over our heads as it stands even with this monthly sum of money, so I asked if some compromise could be made, say, I still received a proportion of the maintenance to cover when my son would be with us. No dice. He put it plainly. He "didn't need the money" but it was the "principle". Apparently his latest wife thinks that I am "robbing" her. Considering that the amount I receive(d) wouldn't even cover the monthly fuel bill for her new Aston Martin, this was a tad hard to swallow.

Anyway, funds, or lack thereof, being what they are, getting myself a solicitor was out of the question. I don't qualify for Legal Aid (not many people do unless they're on Job Seekers' Allowance, I discovered via the Citizens' Advice Bureau) but I did get a free half hour's consultation with the firm that handled my divorce nine years ago and thank God I did. I was given a copy of the Consent Order that categorically states I am to receive this maintenance, or periodical payment as it's known, unless either party went to Court and requested it to be stopped or varied.

I managed to speak to my ex-husband and told him this. I was told that unless I accepted his decision to stop paying, then he would take my son out of the school he had just started, send him back to Yorkshire and he could "take his chances". In other words, it was the Hertfordshire school (which is fee paying) or no school. I'd already investigated the possibilities of a place at the two state schools in Harrogate which are excellent, by the way, but was told they were full and that I should have applied for a place last March and they wouldn't let him study the A levels he wanted either. Well, I'm not going to jeopardise my son's happiness at his new school so - there it is. He's there and we're here.

I am, however, going to take my ex-husband to Court. You can do it without a solicitor. The various people I've spoken to at Harrogate County Court couldn't have been more helpful and I am eternally grateful for their patience and understanding. he's definitely got a case for reducing the maintenance but you've got to go through the Courts to do so. In the meantime, however, I have no idea how I'm going to meet all the bills but even more importantly I miss having my son at home. I know I should get over it and everyone's children leave home eventually and he's not gone for good etc, but man: it's hard.


  1. Poor thing you! You SO have my sympathy - I went to hell and back with a horrible court case with my first husband over custody (I won, but only after almost a whole year). And later I experienced the "you won't get any money if you don't..." thing that you're going through now. Luckily for me, I had the ability to say "scr*w your money", but that was just lucky circumstances! Keep your chin up - you're in the right!

  2. I wish, I really, really WISH, that money wasn't an issue but unfortunately it is - for me, not him, but I think for him, money = power and it's yet another way to make me suffer. Ultimately, all I want is for my son to be happy and so I have to keep schtum about a lot of things. Grrrrrrrr!

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  3. I am so very, very sorry that this is happening to you. It seems so bloody minded and unfair of your husband to be treating your son's academic future as a pawn in the game of maintenance payments and it's clear that he is enjoying punishing you in some way.
    If it is ANY comfort at all (and it probably isn't right now) your son will always remember and be grateful that you let him go gracefully to do what was best for his future, even though it hurt you to do so. He will be back and will honour you for it.
    My mother did NOT do that, she fought tooth and nail to keep me using every dirty trick in the book, even though I was failing horribly and she didn't any responsibility for my terrible school career during my years with her (long story, won't bore you in the comments) and from my perspective it seemed mostly to be about the money. I'm still trying to forgive her now and I'm at the age where my best friend is Botox.
    He will be back. He will get to see the unglamorous side of his Dad and will definitely be exerting some excellent passive aggression towards the new wife (bonus!) and when he comes back home to you for visits you are going to be the 'perfect' weekend parent. You will get to send him home spoiled rotten with a suitcase full of dirty laundry.
    Good luck in the courts. I think you'll find they favour you.

  4. MTFF: thank you. Your insight really helps. And you're right about seeing the unglamorous side. Although my son and his 3 year old half brother go to the same school, my son must get the bus at 7.20am in the morning whilst the 3 year is driven (TO THE SAME DESTINATION) because it's "inconvenient" in the morning to move the little one's car seat from the Aston Martin or the Porsche into the Mercedes so that the three of them can fit in. Beggars belief, really.

  5. I really feel for your son. I just wrote a post on how that kind of thing feels - strange coincidence.
    That poor, pathetic 2nd wife. She must be staggeringly insecure, and not all that happy in her marriage if she can want to inflict that kind of pain on a teenage boy. And your ex-husband is reaping, reaping, reaping.
    Make no mistake.

  6. I wondered where you had gone. What a mess.

    Things your son and his father will remember as they sip single malt twenty years from now; your son will look at his father with disgust, your ex-husband will wonder how to cut off wife #5!!!

    Take care and try to de-stress. Women can be such bitches and men such fools!

  7. You have my sympathies and I wish you the best of luck.

  8. I was feeling a tad sorry for myself and then I read your blog. Life is unfair. It sounds as if you have put your son's chance of a decent education before yourself. Bravo.

  9. Trashers Mum: Thank you, your comments are greatly appreciated.