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Lockdown issues
It's been a while since I have been on here asking for advice however like many of you my ex has started to cause further difficulties since the lockdown.

I am a widowed parent with a teen son - 14 today and a daughter with my ex. She was also widowed with a teen son.
We have a mediation agreement for 50/50 care with important dates / holidays as an exception.

My ex left us for another man two years ago. She moved in with him within weeks of meeting, has moved around with him twice in a year before last moving out on her own with her children after discovering that his mental health was pretty severe (Alcoholic, hearing voices, disappearances, some aggressive (not physically violent) and jealous behaviour including a threat to my life and suicide threats and attempts) - this is a whole other concern itself.

Since the lockdown we decided to split our daughter and hand over every fifth day but I found she was ignoring the lockdown going back to her ex's new house with the children, spending nights there and going back home. Her son also regularly visits and stays at her ex's house alone as the two children don't get along and mum can't handle them together.

I have spoken with my ex about ignoring the lockdown, mixing households and she insisted she will stay at home from last week onwards. Only this weekend (my weekend to have her and her brother's birthday) she decided not to bring my daughter to me claiming it is too dangerous to travel 4 minutes in the car to her father's property but instead took the children to stay with her latest ex.

As I am a single parent with asthma abiding by the lockdown and a carer for three elderly family members I can not risk spreading the virus so now feel that I cannot have my daughter any further during the pandemic due to her mother's negligence.

Does anyone have any advice how I should approach the situation? I now feel a court order will be necessary but cannot be dealt with until the lockdown is over. Anything I can do in the meantime.
Hi. This virus situation causes a lot of problems. I am in a similar situation in that I am in a high risk category and ex then informed me she had started a new job in a hospital. I made the difficult decision that son should stay with his Mother and have regular video contact with me. I hope it isn’t for too long. If you think about it, it wouldn’t matter where your ex was, it would still be a risk to you as ex may not take enough precautions and you could catch it via your daughter. Especially as some younger people have very mild symptoms. So it wouldn’t be known. Not good that your ex has decided this - it would be better if she had asked you to agree.

There is a judicial decision published (23 March) for Child arrangements in this current situation. It says children may still move between parents homes and any variation to a court order will be valid if both parents agree it. It also says that if one parent makes a unilateral decision that the child should stay at one home during the virus situation then the other parent should have regular contact via phone, internet, zoom, online games etc. It then says that after this situation if one parent feels the situation was manipulated (doesn’t use that word but describes it) then they can sort this via the courts then.

It sounds like you don’t have a court order at present. The judicial but says parental responsibility is with the parents in this situation and presumably you have parental responsibility. If there is no court order then technically neither of you is the “resident “ parent and you are equal. So if it is safer for you that your daughter stays in one home, why does it have to be your ex’s? The difficulty there is, even if your ex agreed for daughter to stay with you and have regular video calls with her, your daughter would need to self isolate for two weeks before she could live with you. My neighbour’s son has just done this - he’s a bit older at university. Came back to have lockdown with his parents. His Mother is high risk so he is self isolating in a separate house nearby for two weeks and will then move in with his parents if he is clear.

I am not sure a 14 year old would be allowed to self isolate for two weeks tbh.

So you have a couple of options. Whatever happens you need everything in writing , formal but polite. A biff email. (Biff is brief, informative, friendly, formal - as if writing to a business colleague). So no level of personal dialogue or expressing frustration etc.

This can help in the future as it is then documented what has happened and whether it is agreed or not. It is evidence basically - anything you write and anything she writes back. So only communicate these things by email or text.

So you could either write and agree to daughter remaining in one home until the situation improves but that there must be regular video/phone contact for daughter with you. If ex agrees to that in writing and it then doesn’t happen, you could apply to court for an urgent order.

The alternative is to apply to court now. But they will probably just order phone/video contact for you. Or - it is possible they could order ex to self isolate with daughter for two weeks and then daughter spend day two or three weeks with you and 2 or 3 weeks with ex. Tbh I think this is unlikely as how could you enforce someone self isolating or know if they have kept to it?

It’s a shit situation but I would suggest something like:

Dear Ex name

Under these current circumstances, with the coronavirus epidemic, it seems that, yes, it would be safer all round if daughter stays in one home until matters have improved. As she is currently with you, I will agree to her staying with you on the basis that she has regular video call contact with me and other online contact, during this period.

And also in the basis that we have regular updates regarding the situation. For example when the antibody test becomes available, then it may become safe for daughter to move between homes. Or if someone gets the virus and is then safe not to transmit it. I would appreciate it if we keep in contact now and then and review the situation as things keep changing. So hopefully it may not be too long before daughter can come here again.

These are unusual and difficult circumstances for everyone and hopefully things will improve soon. Please can you confirm if the above is agreed? Regards, you.”

However shit it is, my view is - I want to be alive at the end of all this to be there for my son in the future as he grows up. The important thing though is to talk to your daughter and explain you really want here there as usual but it is safer for everyone if people stay in one home for now, you will take and video call regularly, can play games together online and you’re always on the end of the phone if she needs anything or to talk.

Basically the email agrees for now but leaves the options open.
Hi Charlie, Thank you for your response.

I had come to conclusion that it would be better off if our daughter stays with one of us and as much as we will miss her we could have only continued with our agreement if mother was not taking unnecessary risks by going out & mixing households so I will be requesting she stays where she is currently. My ex would not agree for our daughter to stay with me although she is unable to handle her own two children alone due to their very volatile relationship. The advantage of her staying with me and my son is that she has her own room where at her mums she sleeps with her mum on a mattress on the floor and partly why I think she keeps going back to her ex.

There is no court order at present just a mediation agreement in place for the past two years. The 50/50 agreement is great when we collect and drop off daughter at school but not so good whenever we have to rely on one another to handover. Always lateness, changes in the schedule, disputes over holidays on her part.

I do have parental responsibility as I am on the birth certificate.

Everything that has been sent / received and a diary has been documented for the past two years.

The problem I still have is that she continues get together / split up from her partner, Move in with him and the kids / Move out again between this and the severe problems with his mental health / Her decisions for herself, her partner and the children are very disruptive and so I do have serious concerns about my daughter's welfare and how this will effect her growing up.
Yes that is a concern. It would be better if daughter stayed with you. I feel the same about my son and worry that he is cooped up at ex’s all the time when he has been used to having two homes regularly. Here he could work outside with me without coming into contact with anyone else.

Your ex shouldn’t be moving in and out with her ex. She should stay put in one place - but that is difficult for anyone to Police - although if she did get stopped by the Police she would have to say what her journey was for.

I suppose you could suggest to ex that daughter comes two weeks in, two weeks off. Is ex to be trusted to let you know if anyone is ill or has symptoms? Then say you’re keeping daughter with you, but she could create a massive stink and get the Police involved. Without a court order that could be tricky.

If you feel strongly about it you could apply to court to ask for daughter to stay with you due to the circumstances. But hard to prive what ex is doing and she may lie and then just give you phone contact. Might be better to try and keep things amicable.

How about showing concern? How amicable are things normally between you? Will she talk to you and listen? She may be worried about losing this guy if she doesn’t go over there.

If you can talk, I would try that first and say you’re concerned for her and daughter and want them both to be safe and if you both stay at home then maybe daughter could have a kind of 50/50 holiday schedule. Tell her this illness can be serious for anyone of any age.
She has confirmed in messages that she has been been staying there, posting pictures of her in his house but also sent messages to me telling me she will stay in her own home.. so no she cannot be trusted with the truth in any form but there is proof. She has also lied about our daughter's health in the past too ill to come to me when she wants her, not ill (when she is) when she wants her gone.

We have talked and agreed on these issues many times before but they are simply lies and my daughter informs me otherwise.

They have split up on three occasions that I know of in past eight months but he begs her to come back, threatens suicide and she goes back - kids included which is why they now live separately after a year of living together.

Things between us have been amicable in the past but currently with the constant lies and with my issues with our daughter being involved in her current relationship things are not good. She flits between me and her latest ex so he won't allow any relationship between us either.

I have explained how serious the virus is and how it could effect her elderly family members she asists with but the need for company / a boyfriend overrides any other factor (She goes straight from relationship into the next and hasn't been single for almost 25 years and 8 long term relationships).

I am OK with our daughter staying with her mum throughout the lockdown (although she hasn't responded or agreed yet and I was due to have her back tomorrow) but I am not OK with my daughter being dragged through the constant upheaval, moving / relationship break downs and his mental health issues. She has already witnessed one of his suicide threats, his threat to me, been moved into 8 different homes in 7 years.

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