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Advice please - friend's H has taken child

(22 Posts)
SelectAUserName Sat 20-Jul-13 10:35:48

Sorry if this the wrong place but I'm desperately trying to help my friend.

She told her H last week that she wants a divorce. No history of abuse, violence or cheating, just grown apart, want different things, vague but growing sense of unhappiness. H shocked but apparently compliant.

Her H disappeared with their child yesterday. They have been located and child is safe but my friend has no idea where. Her H has applied for a residency order citing she is an unfit mother (that could not be further from the truth!) Court hearing scheduled for end of this week coming.

She is engaging a family law solicitor but has anyone been in this position? Is there any advice I can pass on, anything else she could be doing or needs to be aware of? Any "happy ending" (from POV of mother and child) stories gratefully received. As you can appreciate she is frantic and worried about the court hearing.

Many thanks in advance.

betterthanever Sat 20-Jul-13 11:13:31

How old is her DC? There is an organisation called Maypole you can google, they can offer some support.
The court will be very sympathetic that the child was just taken but it really depends on how the living arrangements were prior to this - have a read of the `welfare check list' regarding the Children's Act as that is what they consider - the welfare of the children is the most important thing. i.e. if her H was main carer for the child before the split then the court would see no reason why he can't be the main carer now. She will of course get `contact' with her DC and depending what allegations he makes and what is seen to be the case will depend how and when and where that contact takes place. There are a lot of variables here. Also read the CAFCASS web site. Depending on the child's age they will have a say but I feel the child in this case is quite young?

SelectAUserName Sat 20-Jul-13 11:37:11

Thank you betterthanever I'll pass on that info re organisations. Child is early primary age and my friend is main carer.

SelectAUserName Sat 20-Jul-13 11:40:14

Should add that as friend's request for divorce was so recent, they were still co-habiting as not yet sorted out finances, house etc. Friend has support of her parents and I think, although not 100% sure, that she and child may have spent a night or two at parents' (with H's knowledge) over the course of the last week to get some thinking space, but technically they are still living together.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 20-Jul-13 11:43:06

How old is the child? And how can someone be 'located' but your friend not know where they are? Are the police involved.

SelectAUserName Sat 20-Jul-13 11:50:43

The police were involved. Sorry if "located" was the wrong word, I mean that she now knows he hasn't driven off a cliff with child in the car or fled the country, has now been served with the residency order so knows he intends to keep child with him, she knows her child is safe but doesn't know where.

Apologies if there are missing bits but as you can imagine she is distraught, updates from her are sporadic (we're friends but not bezzie mates) as she obviously has other more pressing demands on her time and tbh I don't know how much more she knows at this stage IYKWIM. I thankfully don't know anything about the process as I'm lucky enough never to have been in this position or know anyone who has, so I can't fill in the gaps from my own experience. I'm just trying to get as much help for her as I can.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 20-Jul-13 11:53:40

To me, it sounds totally unacceptable (and illegal) that a parent who has not been accused of harming/distressing either their partner or their child should not be told where the child is. It would be different if her husband had fled with the child in fear for their lives, for example. Has your friend been investigated for anything in the past?

SelectAUserName Sat 20-Jul-13 11:59:20

All she knows is that child is in the UK.

Perhaps H is claiming as part of the "unfit mother" bollocks that my friend would be a risk to the child in some way? I can't imagine why else she could be kept apart from her LO? Would that make a difference, do you think?

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 20-Jul-13 12:02:57

Even if he claims 'unfit mother' that's no reason for the information to be withheld. If he was claiming she was violent or abusive and let's say he'd called the police and had her removed from the home before disappearing, then I could understand why your friend would be kept in the dark. That's why I ask if she's been investigated by the police before now. But just some malicious accusation that might appear in any bad-tempered divorce case.... no. It's no grounds at all.

Who is keeping the child's whereabouts from her? The police?

SelectAUserName Sat 20-Jul-13 12:04:16

Sorry, AFAIK friend has not been accused or investigated for anything untoward. She works in a profession for which her comparatively recent training and subsequent employment required an enhanced CRB check.

SelectAUserName Sat 20-Jul-13 12:06:10

I honestly don't know, Cogito. Text updates from her have been understandably infrequent and terse and I'm keeping my replies to sympathy, support and relief at her child's safety rather than asking her too many questions

kalidanger Sat 20-Jul-13 12:13:31

I think in your position, her not being a BF and you only having sporadic contact, I'd back off a bit. On the surface it seems deplorable that this has happened but I would be aware I can 1. Only offer sympathy 2. Don't know the 'full story' and 3. That she should be getting excellent advice from relevant services and police.

It's nice to be nice and helpful but what could I actually do about anything iyswim

betterthanever Sat 20-Jul-13 12:15:30

You say she knows her child is `safe' but god only knows what is running through a young child's mind having this suddenly happen to them.
I understand you don't have all the information but as cogito suggests there does seem to be more to this. Does her H work? if so who will care for DC when he is at work this coming week?
I know the emergency hearing is next week but that is still a long time for a child to be in a strange place unless they are on holiday? how many of their things did he take with them? If your friend is in the marital/ family home it is unlikely that a court would rule the child is kept away from there unless there are serious allegations involving the police which there does not seem to be. Her H seems to be treating his DC like a property item. Cafcass will probably get involved next week your friend just needs to be very honest with them about what has gone on.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 20-Jul-13 12:24:37

I'd be far less worried about what is running through the child's mind than what is running through the mind of a man that is clearly very bitter, angry, possibly depressed and acting irrationally. Even though he has no history of violence he sounds desperate and there are just too many tragedies involving 'good Dads' in our newspapers to be reassured that this kid is safe.

I'd tell her to report it as a kidnapping and demand the child's return.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sat 20-Jul-13 12:31:54

This happened to a friend of mine; her ex moved out and wouldn't give his new address, she let her dc have weekend contact anyway as he was their dad and he'd always been reliable. He refused to return them and made lurid allegations against their brother; the SS, police, everyone involved. It took two court hearings and two and a half weeks, but the dc were returned to their mum and she now has a residency order in her favour.

It was a bloody heart-breaking time, I'm so sorry for your friend. The positive thing to come out of it all is that now, everyone involved (lawyers, SS, judges, police etc) understands that the ex is an abusive wankbadger (they use more professional language) and his cards are well and truly marked.

SelectAUserName Sat 20-Jul-13 12:33:13

I think you're probably right Kalidanger. I think I just hoped that the hive mind of MN would have some words of advice about what to expect; not so much the process per se, as you rightly say that will be explained to her, more so little things that might get overlooked - I'm not explaining this very well, I suppose to use an analogy it's a bit like being called for jury service; the official stuff tells you the all about the court process and what to expect in that way, but only someone who has been a juror might think to say "there'll be LOADS of waiting around, take a book" (rubbish comparison but I hope you know what I'm trying to say). Or maybe suggest other agencies beyond the obvious that my friend could call on for support, like betterthanever did in her first post.

Her H does work. We suspect his parents are involved in this as there has been no contact with or from them, so they would provide familiar childcare. She has had IL issues throughout her marriage, not necessarily anything AIBU-worthy but it probably wouldn't take much for him to spin them a yarn about a whole load of unreasonable behaviour and they'd believe him unconditionally.

I do appreciate I'm probably over-stepping a mark. I just feel so helpless sad

zipzap Sat 20-Jul-13 12:33:54

Is sheallowed to apply for a residency order now too on the basis of him being an unfit dad - ie kidnapping the child and keepin them away from their main carer?

SelectAUserName Sat 20-Jul-13 12:34:43

Thank you OldLady that's encouraging. Heartbreaking that your friend and her DC had to go through it though.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 20-Jul-13 12:36:12

When you mentioned that he was still in the UK, is there any danger he could flee abroad? Does your friend still have their child's passport?

SelectAUserName Sat 20-Jul-13 12:38:10

I think she can counter-claim zipzap.

I'm sorry, there are obviously more questions than I'm able to answer. I don't really know any more than I've already said. I think I jumped in trying to do something rather than sit around waiting for news. Her child is so adorable and I really hope is genuinely safe and just thinking they are having an adventure with Daddy. I'll dial it down now.

SelectAUserName Sat 20-Jul-13 12:38:51

I don't believe he has any immediate contacts abroad - no family, AFAIK.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sat 20-Jul-13 12:58:24

He's applied for a residency order and there's an emergency hearing next week, pretty much what happened with my friend, though I think her application for the hearing got in before his. It doesn't much matter who applied, both parties can put their case at the hearing. My friend's ex was making allegations of criminal behaviour against her son (not his) and these had to be investigated before the order could be made, which is why she needed two court hearings, but it still went her way in the end.

I still remember the gut-wrenching disbelief when the dc weren't returned after the first hearing, though, your friend will be having a lot of highs and lows. Is she close enough you could visit with some easy-eaten comfort food? She won't be eating or sleeping properly.

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