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Confused by sudden change to custody agreement

Community Member

I am just looking for some sort of advice here. Sorry if this takes a
bit of time but I need to ensure you have some familiarity with the back story.
My ex wife, we separated 8 years ago under the most bizarre circumstances. That
is, she just came home from a trip with her singing group and told me we need
to separate, we got counselling and it all seemed good but when we got home I
was told to still move out. After separation we arranged a shared custody of
our two children, now this was organised around her singing (just chorus
singing nothing professional) so I had access from Wednesday evening to
Saturday evening every week. This worked well and suited her. We have been
doing this same custody agreement for the past 8 years. Now in the last week
suddenly my children do not want to come to my house and they dont want to show
affection towards me. I am a very relaxed parent and when the children are with
me I provide well for them but dont expect them to do any chores or any other
things around the house, my ex is the opposite she expects the children to
learn to be adults and basically fend for themselves within the confines of her
home. This has come as an incredibly rude shock and from out of nowhere, now my
children did a rehearsed speech that stated they wanted to be with their mum
most of the time and only with me for every second weekend. I have devoted my
entire being to my two children, everything I do and talk about is them. I
adore both of them and have never been violent or aggressive towards them. I
may raise my voice sometimes but that is it. How is it possible that my ex has,
in such a short period of time (five days) turned my children to the point that
they do not even want to cuddle me when i turned up to talk with them let alone
they dont want to come to my home. I am at a total loss here and have found
that it feels as though my entire heart has been ripped from my body. I am
confused and very upset. My ex wife has unfortunately, and not stating this as
a target, but it needs to mentioned, she has a history of mental health issues,
post natal depression (7 weeks where I was Mr Mum to a baby and a 3 year old)
and a couple of years ago she tried to self harm and was hospitalised again.
Again I took care of the children. I am concerned that this history is a factor
and could actually be putting my children at risk.

Not sure what to do

Your help or advice on this
matter would be greatly appreciated

3 Replies 3

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi struggling, welcome

Sorry to read about your predicament.

A few questions if I may-

Did you officially divorce?

Did you get a family court to formalise your custody arrangements?

If not then I'm sorry but as ideal as your arrangements with your ex wife seemed, you have placed hope in those word of mouth arrangements for the term of your children's child years.

A parent demonizing another parent to the children (I assume) is common. Yes its heartbreaking. My eldest daughter left her mother to live with me at 12yo. My youngest, 9 at the time on was brainwashed by her mother. At 14yo she rang me to tell me she didn't want to see me anymore. No reason, no excuses. And none provided. I didn't see her for 10 years. Early this year she walked up the driveway. We have had half a relationship since eg Facebook messages only.

Based on my account I would see a family solicitor. Bare in mind that children have rights whether they visit or not and if they are being "brainwashed" there is little you can do. But attend a solicitor anyway.

Finally, think about this- I'll walk my daughter down the aisle at her wedding next year. 20 years ago I went downhill and am lucky I'm still here.

Look after yourself for the benefit of their future regardless whether they have contact with you or not.

See a family solicitor.

Stay strong.

Try not to explain away how good a dad you are...its a given you are a good one. But evil minds can focus on a freckle to justify their means.

Tony WK

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni
hello Strugging with it, Tony is right because so many separated parents and the parent with the children will often tell the kids how bad you are, which you know is wrong, but she will constantly say to the kids awful things that you have done to your wife, all made up stories just so she can keep the kids all to herself.
I'm not sure how old they are and this does make a huge difference for you.
I only say this because if they are young adolescents the situation could change sooner rather than later.
Are you frightened about someone else being involved here and that's why she told you to move out, because it would sound logical that she would suddenly want to do this.
There is never any doubt that you have provided your kids with all your love and care they wanted because you adore them which makes this situation even more upsetting.
When you do have the opportunity to have your kids, ask them what mum has told them and why they don't want to see you, and once you know then you can address this with nothing more than bad gossip, but please get back to us. Geoff.

Community Member

Hi Struggling with it. I'm inclined to go along with Tony and Geoff on this one. I too wonder if someone else is suddenly, permanently on the scene and mum is telling them he is their 'new dad'. If this is the case, perhaps a visit to a lawyer for some help might be a good idea. Some lawyers offer 20 minutes free advice. I sort of feel asking the children why mum is bad-mouthing you is not a good idea (sorry Geoff). They really don't need to be in the middle of an emotional tug-of-war. You could try asking if mum has a new bf, sometimes kids inadvertently may say something along the lines of 'uncle so-so' said this, or did that. Maybe the kids themselves have gone home and told mum something that happened while they were with you and she has blown it up a bit. Kids often tell the custodial parent things about the non-custodial parent, that may seem insignificant, but the custodial parent (who maybe looking for a reason to stop the access) will use it against the non-custodial parent. You did mention your ex has emotional issues, it could be she is not feeling well and is looking for excuses to keep the kids with her for comfort and emotional support. I think your best bet is to get some legal help.