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Contact/child arrangements order

(57 Posts)
kittybiscuits Thu 11-Aug-16 16:01:32

Hi

Contact has been fraught for 18 months since separation. I have advised my ex via emails of upset and distress he has caused to the children on many occasions . He doesn't respond. He has a lot of issues. He has previously threatened to file to court for CAO but they were empty threats. No overnight contact for more than a year. Younger child is 12.5 and recently told him to his face that she was very angry and upset with him and due to his response she told him she does not want to see him any more.

He has appointed a FFJ type 'just for men' solicitor saying he will file to court if I do not agree to a long list of demands including overnight contact every other weekend, holidays abroad etc. Older child is 18 so can make their own mind up and has very occasional brief contact. He has given 14 days for me to agree with his terms or he will file.

I have booked to see my solicitor. But I am seeking a view on whether the court will force contact on a bright articulate child who is 12 years and 8 months. His solicitor claims he has no idea why contact has stopped and does not believe it is the child's wishes. Even though she told him to his face.

Thanks in advance if anyone can offer a view on the range of possible outcomes. There are good reasons why contact has diminished and now stopped.

kittybiscuits Thu 11-Aug-16 16:29:18

There's no previous or existing court order. We did Child Inclusive Mediation 2 years ago. It was agreed that the children would live with me and have regular contact with dad but no defined contact schedule as the children didn't want this. He drinks 365 days per year and uses drugs.

TimeforaNNChange Thu 11-Aug-16 16:38:16

Hmm - in my experience courts are moving away from leaving DCs of this age to make their own decision: my DHs DD was the same age when a 'subject to the DCs specific wishes' clause was included in the first order, only for it to be amended to a contact order at a later date when she was older. CAFCASS referred to more recent published info that indicated that DCs do not always benefit from having the final say.

Her age will also be seen as some mitigation against the risks of her fathers substance abuse - she is old enough to seek help in an emergency if her dad is unable to, for instance.

The bottom line is that you can't force a 12 year old to go somewhere they refuse to go, but if it's ordered, you may be expected to do all you can to encourage her or face further court hearings.

kittybiscuits Thu 11-Aug-16 17:12:14

Thanks - that's my fear. She has grown up with his drunkenness and extensive verbal and emotional abuse towards me. No physical abuse. She raised doubts about seeing him with the school counsellor at the time of separation. And it has only deteriorated since then. I fear she will be forced to go.

Cocoabutton Thu 11-Aug-16 17:18:49

But how would they force her to go? I am being serious. If she does not want to go, then who is going to walk in and physically take her? That is teaching a young woman she needs to accede to a man's wishes.
Have you been in touch with WA? They have children's officers who may be able to support your DD.

kittybiscuits Thu 11-Aug-16 17:28:21

She is capable of standing there and refusing to go with him. But the risk is he could go back to court and get a residence order on the basis that I did not comply with the order.

Do you think Cafcass would interview an 18 year old regarding contact with a 12 year old? Although the 12 year old does not want to see him, it is the 18 year old who has raised the most serious concerns.

Thanks for the Women's Aid suggestions. I will call my local service and see if there is any support for my DD.

Darthvadersmuuuum Thu 11-Aug-16 17:50:12

It sounds like this NEEDS to go to court. Have you kept the emails you sent and do you have other evidence of his failures e.g. Dates he didn't turn up for contact etc?

The 18 year old is regarded as an adult. She would not be included in any CAO. The CAFCASS guardian would want to interview you, ex and your DD. Although your DD's wishes and feelings are considered, the weight of the other evidence (I.e. Ex's alcohol and drug use) is all considered. As long as your DD hasn't been unduly influenced by you or anyone else to say she doesn't want to have contact, you must trust the court to act in her best interests. From what you say, I would be very surprised if a court ordered overnight contact.

Cocoabutton Thu 11-Aug-16 17:52:09

I know, I can see your fears. But yes I would ask about your DS doing an interview, or he can contact them himself (he is an adult). Also, maybe school can write or speak on your DD's behalf?

I am not an expert, BTW. Just hand-holding really as in similar boat but not that far along.

kittybiscuits Thu 11-Aug-16 17:58:34

I think it probably does need to go to court. I have copies of all texts and emails raising concerns. He has never not turned up for contact. He just upsets them a lot. He has no regard for their wishes at all. There are reams of emails about his rights - their wishes are irrelevant to him.

He made inappropriate sexual comments to my 18 year old. She didn't tell me for 6 weeks. I discussed with a social worker who I know, but didn't report. They haven't stayed overnight since then. It was not overt sexual comments - inappropriate innuendo under the influence of drugs. Am I supposed to mention this to Cafcass now? I will be accused of lying. I made notes on a word document at the time.

kittybiscuits Thu 11-Aug-16 18:00:33

Thanks Cocoa. It's appreciated. When I see the solicitor I will ask about my older DC contacting Cafcass directly.

Greenyogagirl Thu 11-Aug-16 18:02:53

My 6yo autistic son had his wishes taken into consideration so I would hope a 12 yo with no special needs could have his say X

kittybiscuits Thu 11-Aug-16 18:05:01

That's good to hear Greenyogagirl x

TimeforaNNChange Thu 11-Aug-16 18:34:51

Even if you had reported the issues with your older DC, it's unlikely it would be a factor in court.

When DHs ex sought a no contact order for their DS, CAFCASS didn't access any of the records about their older DD - she had reams of police/SocServ reports but they couldn't be accessed by the Court as she wasn't party to the proceedings.

kittybiscuits Fri 12-Aug-16 07:03:01

I'm not sure what a no contact order is TimeforaNNChange ?

We try and teach children about their rights not to be touched or abused in other ways. But I do find it astonishing that a court could even contemplate putting a child of 12 in a situation like this when, for sound reasons that the child is able to express and discuss, they don't want to see them and actually do not like them.

Cocoabutton Fri 12-Aug-16 07:31:06

It is utterly bizarre, kitty. I did report to the police, and social work, and my DC said what had happened in interview, but xH denied all knowledge, and I am in a jurisdiction which requires corroboration. So, it is a family law matter now.

In a society where single parents, usually mothers, are financially less well off than those they face in court and legal aid is nonexistent. Right.

kittybiscuits Fri 12-Aug-16 07:47:20

I can see how a much younger child could be coached or influenced. But not an 18 year old and a 12 year old. I'd love to understand the perceived benefits of being forced to see a parent who behaves with no regard for the child or their wishes. My head is in my hands when I read about the family court favouring women. I don't suppose that the court will be interested in the truth when this compulsive liar stands in front of him.

kittybiscuits Fri 12-Aug-16 07:47:55

*them

TimeforaNNChange Fri 12-Aug-16 07:55:49

kitty DHs ex has her own issues, and applied to court to stop all contact, (a "no contact" order) and attempted to remove his PR for their DS.

His DD has an extensive police and SocSev record, which both parents wanted to be considered by the court; however, as she was over 16 and not party to the family court proceedings. CAFCASS were unable to include those details in their reports.

So, even if you had reported the inappropriate remarks made to your DD to the police/SocServ at the time, as she is not party to the proceedings your DCs father has started, those details would not be available to the court.

While we do try and protect our DCs from abuse and harm, we also balance decisions about DCs against evidence. Allegations made by a child about any adult are quite rightly investigated, but if evidence does not corroborate the child's account, then the adult is not automatically removed from the DCs life. The starting point that courts operate from is that children benefit from maintaining a relationship with both parents when it is safe for them to do so, and that both parents are "good enough" parents unless there is evidence otherwise.

Your DDs account and feelings will undoubtedly be taken into account - my DHs DS was much younger when he was first interviewed by CAFCASS, but while the level of contact, and responsibilities, may be influenced by their feelings, it is very rare for a child's wishes alone to result in an order of "no contact", because a child is not considered capable of making a judgement on the long term impact of that decision.

kittybiscuits Fri 12-Aug-16 08:07:21

Thanks for explaining Time. The sexual comments incident was just one small event. They are upset by his actions every time they see him. Obviously I am not seeking an order here - though perhaps I should consider a residence order. I'mean sad that the bar is set too low - children have to see the parent unless it's very unsafe. Totally appreciate that you are coming at this from the opposite angle. Thanks for your comments.

TimeforaNNChange Fri 12-Aug-16 08:10:49

I can see how a much younger child could be coached or influenced. But not an 18 year old and a 12 year old

Sadly, there are women who threaten, manipulate and even assault DCs of this age in order to maintain that control. As a result, courts can no longer rely solely on the "word" of a child, even a teen, and have to seek corroborative evidence. Excluding a parent from a DCs life is a significant decision for a court.

kittybiscuits Fri 12-Aug-16 08:31:28

In this instance, no one is trying to exclude a parent. The parent is trying to impose contact via the court. And I am not the abuser - the other party is.

TimeforaNNChange Fri 12-Aug-16 08:40:33

Oh, I know that kitty but once court proceedings have been initiated, it's not really relevant who applied and what has been asked for.

The court looks at what is best for the DCs. Parental wants are not considered. Both parents are treated equally - regardless of who applied, what the DCs say or what allegations have been made. Evidence is what is key.

TimeforaNNChange Fri 12-Aug-16 08:43:10

Sorry, posted too soon.

When a court considers your Exs application they are considering whether or not it is safe for contact to take place and, if it is, whether an order is needed to ensure it does.

Cocoabutton Fri 12-Aug-16 08:43:40

if evidence does not corroborate the child's account

No wish to derail here, but the police even said to me that in cases of sexual abuse, there IS often no evidence because of the nature of the crime. DC is supposed to be in the property, there is no-one else there, and there is no physical evidence (as there would be in physical assault). But the child who speaks out is distrusted because he could have been coached by his mother??? 1 in 3 adults say that they were sexually abused as children - so, that is all controlling, manipulative mothers coaching them, then hmm.

The vast majority of parents, male and female, want the best for their children, including for them to have a relationship with the other parent (and I include myself here) but they also want their child to be safe. To assume that the person who ends up doing the majority of the care, with all that entails, is manipulative and coaching the child to say things they are themselves utterly distraught and horrified by is beyond belief, to be honest. It is already an awful situation to be in.

That said, this is not my thread, and i have no wish to argue with you, as it will only depress me and not help Kitty.

TimeforaNNChange Fri 12-Aug-16 08:47:29

Cocoa - you as directing your anger at the wrong person. I am not in favour of the way the courts operate - I think it puts DCs like the OPs at risk.
But, having experienced this from 'the other side' I have learnt a lot about how decisions are made. I'm sharing them as it may help kitty understand what she is going to face over the next few months.
I'm not for one moment saying it's right. It consistently fails DCs.

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