Posted by: | 2019/06/07

EX husband becoming a nightmare of a co-parent

My ex and I have been divorced for 2 years now. We were married for 6 years, together for 8 and have twin boys together. Our divorce was beyond amicable, we managed to get through it without lawyers and used the services of mediators to assist with a parenting plan. Post divorce, we knuckled down and made a decision to be there for our boys and move forward with respect. Our co-parenting was enviable, we respected one another but had boundaries. That all changed when my ex got married within the same year we got divorced. Suddenly the flexible co-parenting (we could ask to swap days if the need arose) was replaced with him demanding that I stick to schedule. Despite only communicating about the kids, I was advised that my communication could only be via text, no phone calls. On a few occasions I would get calls and messages from the wife, accusing me of wanting him, being absolutely horrible to me. This when I absolutely do nothing to encroach on their home or boundaries! It gets better then she starts imposing conditions again. As it stands, I can never ask for swaps, unless she agrees to it or initiates it. I feel like I am at her mercy, co-parenting has become a nightmare. My ex can't even look at me when I do drop offs. I know that ex wives have a bad reputation but I am happy, healthy and have honestly moved forward. I have no residual feelings about the divorce and just want to co-parent. She sends messages via the kids, when I am accessible via phone. I am really running out of ideas. I cannot communicate any less than I already am, save to cut him out of their lives, which is absolutely not anything I would ever do. I don't know what to do anymore. If she has insecurities, it is 1000% not because of anything that I am doing. If anyone is supposed to be in my feelings about them, it's me. They presumably started dating whilst we were married. My ex and I could always agree on our parenting because the kids came first, now I feel like I am co-parenting with someone that absolutely hates me, that's how it feels. She has kids of her own, goes on vacations without mine, leaving me to try and explain to them why they weren't included. My ex seems to have gone from a devoted dad, putting his kids first, to a miserable man that has zero respect for me. I don't even feel like I am co-parenting, it feels like we are both doing our own thing, with me trying to keep their lives as stable as possible.

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Our expert says:
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- 2019/06/10

Oh dear.
In the words of the poet Robert Burns ( I translate from the Scots ) "the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry" ; however well you plan, things may still go wrong.
In many ways your amicable and reasonable way of conducting your divorce sounds admirable.  But remember another quote, from the Hollywood great, Sam Goldwyn : "A verbal contract is only worth the paper it's written on".
Though some folks think of lawyers as other think of stray animals : don't feed them, as they tend to hand around and forage ; they can have occasional value.  I'm surprised your "mediators" didn't realize that there is major value in recording a friendly and mediated agreement in formal writing, especially because though it originates between the pair of you, as soon as either of you become involved with anyone else, that person has the power to wreck the agreement.
From your story, it sounds very much as though your ex's new wife ( he was not wise to rush into a new marriage so soon after a divorce ) perhaps in reaction to her own previous divorce and whatever experience of her first marriage led to that divorce, could be deeply insecure and thwarting all the friendly and sensible decisions you two made, assuming that her new husband has to be closely controlled and protected from a predatory ex.  It may not matter at all that in reality this is not true : it can be true enough in her mind. 
No-matter that she is causing needless misery for you and your children (such factors are not in her calculations ) ; no-matter that she's making her new marriage miserable : it can't be any fun for your husband to be thus suspected and restricted ) ; no matter that this type of paranoid and over-controlling behaviour often causes exactly the sort of situation she is seeking to prevent.  Her insecurities are leading her to create a vortex of unhappiness ( she can't be enjoying this, either ). 
Your ex should be more assertive, and insist that she keep to the agreement he had formally made with you ; but maybe she intimidates him, and he may fear precipitating another divorce so shortly after the first.  But he is failing you, and his children, and indeed himself.
Can you communicate with him, to propose a meeting, perhaps with the original mediators so the new wife would be less suspicious it's a sneaky liaison, and discuss this with him, so he understands the problems being caused by his new wife's unresolved personal problems, and so maybe the original agreement between you can be converted into a legally binding contract, to protect you, the children, and he himself ?

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