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Can child's father just refuse to return her after a visit?

(7 Posts)
ShoreCrab Mon 18-Aug-14 15:32:38

DSD (9) spilled a lot about what's being going on at her dad's house yesterday. He's been emotionally and financially abusive to my DP (we're gay) for years, but it's got worse recently - emails to the school, to her mum, to every kind of authority about what a neglectful parent she is (we have loads of evidence to show we're good parents)

DSD is feeling like everyone is OK when she's at our house and that her mum is a bad person when she's with her dad. We have to 'deprogram' them every time they come home from his house as they're defiant and constantly attacking my DS. He has told the children never to tell me or their mum anything about what he says or does with them. Last weekend he tried to force his way into our house in front of the children to argue with DP (police are doing him for criminal damage).

DSD says now that he has told her that if my DS (8) ever hurts her he will keep her at his house and not return her home to keep her safe. My DS has autism, but the children have battles and get along as any other siblings would as they've been close for the last four years. I can't understand why he's only threatening to take one child, not his DS (6), though he only has one spare room.

Can anyone tell me how the law would view it if he were to take DSD? Would she be returned home? She's very easily manipulated into saying whatever as she has Aspergers herself. Should we be trying to get a residence order pre-emptively? At the moment he has them every other w/e and up to half the holidays (though it's less as he doesn't take time off work)

bibliomania Mon 18-Aug-14 17:05:43

If it's a real threat, yes, I think it would be worth getting a residence order pre-emptively. Otherwise, if he keeps her, you'll have to go to court on an emergency basis to ask for an order.

ShoreCrab Tue 19-Aug-14 08:02:54

The police have now said the same, but we just looked into the cost of getting a residence order. Ulp. We can't get Legal Aid and we have no money, does anyone know if we actually stand a chance if my partner represents herself? She definitely finds public speaking very tough and her ex does it for a living.

bibliomania Tue 19-Aug-14 09:02:45

Yes, plenty of people have got one by self-representing - your P is in a strong position because she's asking to keep the status quo. She'll need to explain why she wants an order, and the fact that her ex is threatening not to return the child is good evidence (the police doing him for criminal damage for trying to force his way into the house is helpful additional evidence).

It's not really public speaking because it's not in the kind of courtroom you see on tv - it's in the judge's chambers, and the only people there are the parents and the judge.

The book mentioned in this link, Family Court without a Lawyer, is meant to be good, although I haven't used it myself

nomoretether Tue 19-Aug-14 10:54:26

Not a lawyer but last time this topic came up, there was disagreement as to whether a residence order would be enough for the police to return the child. Some police forces seem to do it, others don't. Anecdotally, I know of two cases where a parent had a residence order, the child was kept longer than the stated contact time and the resident parent still had to go to court to have the child returned to them.

babybarrister Tue 19-Aug-14 12:35:51

Residence order does not per se entitle
Dc to be returned but v clear evidence of where actually living if you have to go to court

ShoreCrab Tue 19-Aug-14 17:40:08

Thanks! We've been talking about it and, as she's 9 the police say they will do whatever the child says she wants, which makes sense. We've no way of stopping the manipulation so we're going to tell her that she can choose to live with her dad if that's what she really wants. I think it's unlikely he or she will actually go through with it. DSD is a human hurricane who can bottle it up for a day or two for a visit but she's very full-on as soon as she lets her guard down so there's no way they would actually cope/ meet her needs (they are an appearance-obsessed pair of 'professionals' who work 14 hour days and live in a small flat filled with designer trinkets). If she decides to move at least it won't be him snatching her it'll be her 'choice' , there's not much more he can do to her head that he doesn't do already, and the whole thing is unlikely to last more than a fortnight.

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