Posted by: | 2020/05/18

Advice needed (long post)

My ex and I had broke up when our daughter was 18 months. He was a serial cheater and whenever I asked him about the women he would beat me up. He would hit me so badly that I couldn’t move my arms or legs. Eventually I said enough was enough and left. That was 12 years ago. Our daughter is now 14.Even though we had broken up he was still a constant in his daughters life, he would fetch her on a Friday and bring her back on a Sunday, when he brings her back it would be with her weekly luxuries for daycare. He would pay her daycare fees so I didn’t think that there was a need to complain as he was doing his part. I was promoted at work to another province and that’s when the problem started. We had agreed that she would visit during June and December holidays, which initially worked fine because I would pay for one trip and he would pay for another. Then he met his current wife and he started complaining and telling me that I was response for paying for her travel. He also told me that he doesn’t see why he should pay more than R250 for her a month as a child doesn’t need much. I then took him to Maintenance court. This is my issue: In the past, he would call my daughter maybe 3 or 4 times a year, then the time frame lessened and it would be once a year. He has never called her on her birthday or even sent her a birthday gift. He got married, didn’t invite his only daughter. I never said anything and didn’t want to taint my daughters image of her dad. As much as we broke up I felt that he is still her father and he has a right to have a relationship with her irrespective of how I feel. I don’t hate him, but I don’t have to speak to him about anything. We have not spoken since we last saw each other in maintenance court in 2011.As my daughter got older I could see that she was getting excited for the calls but would get disappointed, when it stops after 3 days. He would disappear for about 6 months and reappear and then she gets excited only to be disappointed again. And this would be the vicious cycle. I eventually sat her down and told her that I cant dictate her relationship with her father but she needs to protect her heart, and she needs to decide what it is she wants to do. She then made the decision to cut him out of her life and not take his calls. Now they are wanting to make a come back and even messaging me on social media. Should i pick up the phone and tell them the problem or just let it go. I need to protect my daughter at all costs.

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Our expert says:
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- 2020/05/18

Of course, both parents rights to access to a child are indeed important : but even more important is the child's right to access to the parents. And the child has a right to consistent affection and attention from a parent, not an on-again off-again relationship that suits some mysterious purposes of the father ( in this case() but which unwholesomely inflicts serial disappointments on the child. She has a right not to be disappointed at all, let alone repeatedly.  I see no reason why she should not share the decision as to whether she wants to hear from the inconsistent father. 
It was also right to take the matter to Maintenance Court when he started grumbling about the amount of maintenance he owes : he is free to form new relationships, even to marry again, but only if he takes into account his existing duties in money, time and affection, to his child.  She is the innocent party, and should not receive less than she needs because he wants to give some of what he owes her, to someone else.  And a court should be well placed to make such a decision objectively.
Yes, clearly your duty is to protect your daughter and her needs.  If he  and his new wife for some reason of their own want more contact with the child, it makes sense for you to hesitate about this.  Apparently, according to you, this waxing and waning of his interest in the child has happened before, relating presumably to events in his own life, and not to her benefit.  If they have a good reason for wanting yet another change, they could sure communicate with you, initially, in writing, and you could discuss that issue with your daughter , and respect the decision she has made.

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