My Brothers partner is off the rails, they have young kids, advice please

inquisitivewanderer
inquisitivewanderer Posts: 51
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edited 15 March 2023 at 4:50PM in MoneySaving dads
My older brother (in his 40s) has been with the same woman for over 20 years. They have two young children (5 & 7).
His partner is suspected to be bipolar, she's always had issues with our family for as long as I can remember going back 15 years or so, falling out with people over the most ridiculous of things, and hasn't spoken to my Mom for well over 2 years now, or my younger brother and his Wife. As a teenager, she went through substance abuse with drink/drugs so I'm not sure if this goes some way to causing this.

She lost her Father just over 18 months ago and since then has become even more troubled/unstable, which unfortunately has meant my Brother has had to put up with her increasingly unstable behaviour for quite some time now. During this time she has also made a friend through work who has ADHD and is also bisexual.

In the last 12 months, she has decided she may be bisexual and wishes to explore this - her reasoning being she doesn't want to have any regrets, using her late Father as a kind of supporting argument for this. My Brother believes that the new friend she has made is partly to blame for this decision but in either case, she has formed an agreement with my Brother that she be allowed to meet & have sexual relations with other women which he has reluctantly agreed to for the sake of trying to keep his family together whilst she awaits a diagnosis/treatment for whatever mental condition she has. He has agreed on the basis it doesn't cross over into their family life, so when the kids are at school and she's not working (part-time) she may go and meet who she wants providing he knows where she is, and he has seen all prior communication with that person.

This to his surprise has improved aspects of their relationship and he believes they've been getting on better than much of the last 5 years.

However, in the last few weeks, she has now decided that she believes she may be polyamorous (believes she should have multiple romantic relationships) - and despite my Brothers prior stipulation that this is completely off the table from his point of view - she thinks it is what she wants regardless.

Now comes the part where I need some advice.
As stated before, she works part-time, 3 days a week, and earns minimum wage. As such, she can't afford to pay the mortgage on their property or the bills that are incurred from it. Whether she can afford to pay them or not, she doesn't even contribute to them, meaning my brother has paid the mortgage for the last 7 years, as well as the utility bills and the like.

If they split up, what is likely to happen? Will she get the house & the kids? Where does he stand?

EDIT: they have separate bank accounts with their individual incomes going into their own accounts.
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  • drjohn67
    drjohn67 Posts: 91
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    Terrible situation. He needs to seek advice from a family lawyer regardless of her condition. Hopefully they do not have a shared bank account or credit cards/loans in shared names. Sounds like he needs to protect his/families financial situation whilst the mental illness / insensitive behaviour situation ‘goes wherever it is going’.
  • drjohn67 said:
    Terrible situation. He needs to seek advice from a family lawyer regardless of her condition. Hopefully they do not have a shared bank account or credit cards/loans in shared names. Sounds like he needs to protect his/families financial situation whilst the mental illness / insensitive behaviour situation ‘goes wherever it is going’.
    Thanks for the comment - they have separate accounts with incomes going into their own accounts - I'll update OP to reflect this.
  • Silvertabby
    Silvertabby Posts: 8,904
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    Those poor children.

    Traditionally, after a marriage break up, the children stay with mum in the home - but that is not cast in concrete.

    Based on what you have said, the Court will consider both options - children to reside with the stable parent (dad) in their own home, or an increasingly unstable mum who spends much of her time pursuing an 'alternative' sexual lifestyle.

    This was certainly the case when my cousin's marriage broke up some years ago, in that case because his wife was an alcoholic who 'befriended' any man who would buy her a drink.  Mind you, when the Family Court judge asked her why she wanted custody of their three young children, her reply that she needed the family allowance and other benefits to pay for her drinks probably didn't help....
  • Those poor children.

    Traditionally, after a marriage break up, the children stay with mum in the home - but that is not cast in concrete.

    Based on what you have said, the Court will consider both options - children to reside with the stable parent (dad) in their own home, or an increasingly unstable mum who spends much of her time pursuing an 'alternative' sexual lifestyle.

    This was certainly the case when my cousin's marriage broke up some years ago, in that case because his wife was an alcoholic who 'befriended' any man who would buy her a drink.  Mind you, when the Family Court judge asked her why she wanted custody of their three young children, her reply that she needed the family allowance and other benefits to pay for her drinks probably didn't help....
    Thanks for the reply. Just to make it clear they're not married - she did suggest that a couple of years ago but I think deep down he knows it wouldn't be a great decision to go that route.

    So in this case, I can only say from the outside looking in that she seems a good Mother to the kids, she spends a lot of time with them, doing many activities. She has a habit of sticking everything she ever does on social media which makes it look from the outside like she's a great parent but obviously I know what's going on behind the scenes and she's clearly not thinking of them when she's off meeting various women.

    The kids themselves are very very quiet compared to my own or other kids their age I know, so you never know whether it is affecting them or not. My Brother tells me not, it's hard to say with 100% certainty. I think the eldest is aware more than my Brother realises - I have a 6-year-old myself and I know he can pick up on stuff you maybe wouldn't expect.

    Even though my Brother pays the mortgage and she doesn't contribute to it, is it still historically more likely that she would be allowed to keep the children? It breaks my heart to think that he is putting up with everything in order to keep the family together. He works from home and has admitted it is affecting his work trying to concentrate when he knows she's out there meeting someone. He isn't the emotional type so won't admit it is affecting him mentally but I am certain it must be.
  • Silvertabby
    Silvertabby Posts: 8,904
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    edited 17 March 2023 at 8:17AM
    Not being married complicates some things and simplifies others.

    As regards the house, my understanding is that unless the girlfriend can prove that she has a beneficial interest in the property (ie, paid towards the mortgage or paid for improvements) then she will have no claim on it.

    But the children.... is your brother named as the father on their birth certificates?  If the girlfriend moves out to be with one of her new 'friends' is she really likely to take the children with her?

    Your brother needs professional legal advice.  I do hope that you manage to resolve this.
  • powerspowers
    powerspowers Posts: 1,101
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    Would shared 50/50 care work? I think that should be a starting point unless mums behaviour is negatively affecting the children. 
    I’m reasonably empathetic to the partner in this scenario, if she’s struggled with her mental health for years, losing her dad will be a huge trigger for that. If I were the brother, my questions would be how willing is she to take up support and does he care enough to see that through. It’s fine to say no, I can’t do that anymore. 
    If she is named on the house deeds I’d assume a 50/50 split of equity. She has been raising the children whilst working part time and there’s no benefit to them of having a homeless mum. 
    Sad situation
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  • TBagpuss
    TBagpuss Posts: 11,198
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    Whose name is the house in? As they are not married, the presumption is that they own in as set out on the deeds, so 50/50 unless they have a declaration of trust otherwise if it is in both names.

    Children - if they cannot agree, then a court would decide based on what is in the best interests of the children. Obviously he can seek to have the children live with him, however, he needs to consider the current arrangements . If he is currently OK with her looking after them most of the time when he is in work, it's harder for him to argue that she is suddenly unfit to do so if they separate.  Her being polyamorous  doesn't make her a bad parent, it would however be reasonable to have agreement that either of them would introduce any new partners to the childnren unless the relationship was well established - so an agreement not to introduce any new partner within the first 3 or 6 months of the new relationship is fairly common and normal. 
    All posts are my personal opinion, not formal advice Always get proper, professional advice (particularly about anything legal!)
  • Exodi
    Exodi Posts: 2,782
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    edited 28 April 2023 at 10:52AM
    Where there is abuse in the relationship, this would be obviously different  - but i see no abuse here.
    The word 'abuse' has not been used by any previous poster in this thread so it's not fair to set up this strawman.

    I think the reason people are sympathetic is rather obvious:

    "she has also made a friend through work who has ADHD and is also bisexual"
    "
    she has decided she may be bisexual and wishes to explore this"
    "she has formed an agreement with my Brother that she be allowed to meet & have sexual relations with other women"
    "
    she has now decided that she believes she may be polyamorous"
    "she thinks it is what she wants regardless (of the brothers rejection of the idea)"

    I think we all know where this is inevitably headed. I think the fact the OP is asking about the outcome of a break up, shows that he's also not naive to what is probably going to happen.

    People are sympathetic because, how it's been described, is that his brother is effectively being forced to agree to being cheated on, in fear of otherwise breaking up his family.

    As they are not married, the house situation is relatively simple. It all depends on how they own it. The child situation is also relatively straightforward, assuming they agreed to share custody.
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  • I think - take a step back

    You know far too much about someone else's relationship - family or no.   This is kinda voyeuristic - and I am not sure I am buying it, unless op is 'asking for a friend' 

    It is unhealthy as a grown adult to discuss the private marital relations - such as: spousal arguments etc, with our blood family - of course they are going to judge, it will cause rifts etc.  And the partner probably feels these vibes. This is just not how healthy adult relationships function.  It is unhealthy to discuss this with family members.   Where there is abuse in the relationship, this would be obviously different  - but i see no abuse here.

    People saying 'those poor children' - is rather presumptuous - I didn't read anywhere in the OP where it is stated she is a bad mother. This woman has poor mental health and is s*xually curious - do any of these things equate to being a bad parent?

    Unless your brother is a vulnerable adult, I would suggest allowing him the freedom to navigate his private life in private.


    Not asking for a friend. Asking for a brother who is at his wit's end and currently suffering mentally as a result of everything he has been going through over the last 12 months, through absolutely no fault of his own. The lad has put up with more than anyone else would for the sake of his young kids, whilst trying to get his partner the help she needs. Despite her diagnosis for ADHD - she refuses to take medication and her behaviour is becoming more and more erratic, example - this week my brother came home to find her lying on the sofa downstairs discussing sexual relations and what she wanted to be done to her sexually whilst on Facetime with a woman she met only 30 minutes ago, whilst the kids were in the house. If this sounds like something he should be sympathetic to or something he should ignore and navigate by himself whilst he's on the verge of a breakdown, then I'm not convinced you have a) a heart or b) a family yourself.

    As @Exodi has said, he is doing everything he possibly can to keep his family together.
    If you have nothing better to do than make ridiculously outrageous comments like 'this is kinda voyeuristic' then please refrain from commenting again. I'm looking for advice, not ridicule.
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