I really dont want to see him again as it is too much pain to take and I still love him. Can I enjoy life with my son without seeing him?? what if he goes to court to ask for contact order,,,will he get it?? Can I change baby’s surname??
Packed into these questions is the stuff of family law itself. She loves him, she hates him. She wants to help him, he throws it back at her, but he can’t help himself, or can he? Can she just sweep him under the carpet because he is too much trouble. I have a great deal of sympathy for what she is going through, bearing in mind as I do, that I am only hearing it from her side.
I couldn’t advise her directly as the questions and the background need much more exploration. But I can make a few general comments.
Unless his mental illness makes him a direct danger to the child, the court will not simply assume that the best solution for the child is to cut him out. Even if there is some level of risk, the court will look to see whether it can be contained through supervision of contact or something similar.
If his behaviour over a period of time is such that no reasonable mother could be expected to deal with it or this particular mother has reached the end of a very long tether, then this will be relevant to the court’s consideration and it might take the view that at the very least contact should be organised so she does not have to deal with him directly and might take the view that he should be cut out of the child’s life at least for a time. Even that may be the subject of future review, particularly if he can show that he has improved in terms of his mental health or attitudes towards mother and child.
Strictly speaking, if the father does not share parental responsibility, the mother could change the child’s surname without his consent.
What she also needs to consider is:
- contact is the child’s right not the father’s (whether it should be or not is a whole separate blogpost). It may be the right thing to stop contact temporarily because of the father’s presentation. But this is unlikely to be the end of the matter if the father persists in future. The child will in due course seek an explanation of why mother did not allow contact and it will be the mother who is resented by the child if she cannot explain it.
- at moments of high stress it may be tempting to wish away the other parent and very difficult to forgive them for what they have done as seemingly responsible adults. But just how responsible they are for their actions in the moment is a moot point with people who suffer from significant mental illness or personality disorder. This does not mean the court expects you to put up with anything. But a parent is a child’s parent warts and all and personality type and all. In time that parent will be part of the child’s identity and cannot simply be airbrushed out.
- the court does often expect a great deal of the parent in this situation who does not have the personality difficulties in terms of accommodating the other parent, but not to the extent of putting their own safety or mental well-being at stake.
- What the court will want to focus on if an application is made is what is the direct risk to the child if contact of some sort is ordered as well as what is the risk to the well-being of the parent with primary care.
- change of surname is a whole different legal bag of problems. Even if it can be done lawfully, if you are the one contemplating the name change, think long and hard about why you are doing it. Better reasons include confusion for the child if they are known by a wholly different name from the mother and maybe the new partner. Even then, what about a double-barrelled name, even if one part of the name is not formally used very often. If the surname is a symbol of the attitude to the non-resident parent, the rat will be smelled.