This is why men who commit DV against their partners shouldn't be allowed access to their children

(294 Posts)
StewieGriffinsMom Sun 03-Mar-13 07:47:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bobits Fri 08-Mar-13 13:34:27

FAMILY JUSTICE COUNCIL
Report to the President of the Family Division on the approach to be adopted by the Court when asked to make a contact order by consent, where domestic violence has been an issue in the case

18. There is a need for consideration of the issue of risk to be undertaken by lawyers and judges in all cases where domestic violence has been alleged or admitted. Lawyers need to be aware that for both perpetrators and victims, the existence of incidents of domestic violence is often a source of shame. They must be ready to encourage and support their clients to disclose these issues. Consideration of the issue of risk should ideally take place before conciliation appointments are arranged, and certainly before contact orders are made, to ensure that such contact orders are safe.

Spero Fri 08-Mar-13 13:44:30

A court won't make an order about a child who is over 16 unless there are exceptional circumstances. And any child over 12 who refuses to go to contact - that is often the end of the matter. They can and do vote with their feet.

If any adult assaults a child it should immediately be a police matter and that adult should be arrested. I doubt very much you would ever find yourself in contempt of court if any existing contact orders were then not obeyed and would imagine a older child would just refuse to go.

I agree what is said about danger to children as they grow and become more challenging. Fr men who like control, they find this very difficult for obvious reasons.

greenhill Fri 08-Mar-13 13:54:05

Forgive me if this has already been said up thread, but how come men like this, with a history of DV and even kidnapping, still manage to get a girlfriend when they leave prison?

Wouldn't you think women would run away from this type of man?

Also, does this type of man deliberately seek out a girlfriend so that they can spite the ex-wife and claim custody of the children? That would also mean that they didn't have much to do with the childcare, but had found a way of punishing their ex-wife by taking the children from her?

Am I being naive, or is this attested manipulative behaviour?

LurcioLovesFrankie Fri 08-Mar-13 14:14:05

Greenhill, you said:
"Forgive me if this has already been said up thread, but how come men like this, with a history of DV and even kidnapping, still manage to get a girlfriend when they leave prison?"

Only if they know about it, and how would they? You don't tend to run background checks on blokes you've met. If you've experienced this sort of thing before, or have watched friends go through it, you might notice red flags (e.g. the sort of man who has only ever dated "complete bitches" before, but "you're different.") But many women won't pick up on these red flags because we are highly socialised not to, to be conciliatory, to see damaged men as projects to be fixed, to buy the assertions of men we're romantically involved with at face value.

"Wouldn't you think women would run away from this type of man?"

Again, only if they know. And these men are very adept at seeking out and preying on vulnerable women whose judgement has been impaired by previous abuse.

"Also, does this type of man deliberately seek out a girlfriend so that they can spite the ex-wife and claim custody of the children? That would also mean that they didn't have much to do with the childcare, but had found a way of punishing their ex-wife by taking the children from her?"

Yes!

"Am I being naive, or is this attested manipulative behaviour? "

Read my answers to your other questions, and make your own mind up on this one.

LurcioLovesFrankie Fri 08-Mar-13 14:25:01

Sorry, last point sounds snotty on re-reading - it wasn't meant to be. Time was I would have asked myself why women got involved with these blokes in the first place, and why they didn't just leave. Then I watched my sister endure 20 years of an abusive relationship which destroyed her sense of self so badly that she couldn't leave.

greenhill Fri 08-Mar-13 14:28:02

Thanks lurcio I thought I was being naive, I don't venture into the Relationships or red flag threads, thankfully.

I don't know why I thought everyone would automatically 'know' just how much of a liar or how manipulative someone was. Also, why everyone wouldn't know about someone else's criminal record <blames having lived in a village when young and my parents seeming to know everyone else's business in a 10 mile radius still>

NicknameTaken Fri 08-Mar-13 14:46:03

Sorry, spero, I wrote a response which disappeared when mumsnet went offline. I do raise issues, and the school has done it independently. I've said lots of stuff about him and he's said lots of stuff about me, and it's seen as mutual recriminations.

Fwiw, I don't think he's going to get sole residence. Joint residence would still be a problem because it gives him equal entitlement to apply for a passport (I've asked for a flag to be put on dd's file at the UK Passport Agency and at one of his countries of residence. The other has not responded). My solicitor marvels at him getting funding, but it's not really in my interest to get it stopped, as he's even worse when self-representing.

I'm now wondering if there's any mileage in asking the social worker to put in writing that she doesn't think more contact is appropriate - she said it orally to my solicitor but didn't put it in her report. She said she hoped the judge would "read between the lines" when the sw describes exH as living in a small place. What she knows, but didn't put in writing, is that it's so small that exH shares a bed with dd, who is 5. The judge is not reading between the lines.

FastidiaBlueberry Fri 08-Mar-13 15:30:39

Nickname if he gets PR, apply for a passport for her immediately.

Then he can't because she'll already have one and it will be in your possession.

NicknameTaken Fri 08-Mar-13 15:47:25

Fastidia, he does have pr, and I do have dd's passport in my possession. I've sent the court order to the Passport Agency showing that I am the sole residential parent (for now), so he can't just write to them claiming the passport is lost and asking for another one.

As I mentioned, he has citizenship of two other countries. One has assured me that they'll flag the file in case he tries to get a passport for her. The other embassy has not responded at all and I would not have a lot of confidence in them anyway.

fuzzywuzzy Fri 08-Mar-13 21:33:13

Nickname, one thing I have learnt over the years going from court case to court case is that do NOT ever expect the judges or barristers to read between the lines.

Always always be explicit and to the point. Be very exact about any points, accusations or fears you have or are making. Courts are very literal. Do not expect any reading between the lines.

Spero Fri 08-Mar-13 23:21:38

I am shocked at this 'reading between the lines' bollocks. Anyone writing a report to the court needs to state very clearly what they observe and what they recommend. I agree, courts don't 'do' reading between the lines - how can they, they can only decide on evidence which is clear.

If a social worker is failing to record relevant evidence and hoping a judge will notice her subtle hints, then she is a fool, not doing her job properly and you should make a formal complaint about her reporting.

Pan Sat 09-Mar-13 12:58:49

A recent development on this theme is the 'peace dividend' of scaling back armed forces abroad. We're aware of the various social and economic implications of this i.e mental health and accommodation for eg.

what is vastly over-looked is the child abuse via DV as the military have been astoundingly negligent in tackling this, and has allowed an enabling culture. A friend of mine was a SW attached to the RN and her references to senior officers attitudes were shocking. So it's little surprise that ex-forces see little problem with continuing in this vein in civvy street.

Quite a few ex-military are now coming through perps programmes. The common experience is that at court they claim PTSD and raise this as an issue of mitigation as to why they assaulted their partner, and sometimes children directly. Unfortunately when you look at case histories in any detail, there is no evidence they have assaulted anyone other than their family members, despite claims that PTSD means they assault randomly. It makes effective intervention with them very tricky indeed.

FastidiaBlueberry Sat 09-Mar-13 17:23:41

I bet a lot of judges and jurors are taken in by them though Pan. Lots of people miss the fact that so many of these violent abusers only ever inflict their violence on the women and children they live with.

Pan Sat 09-Mar-13 18:45:36

Well, yes Fastidia I think that happens a lot at point of sentence - it's more problematic post-sentence when the PTSD card is waved, as if it makes them untouchable.

NicknameTaken Mon 11-Mar-13 09:35:05

fuzzy, I totally agree with you, and I am always explicit in what I say. It's the social worker who did the whole "reading between the lines" thing.

spero, I've asked my solicitor whether we can ask the social worker to write a supplementary letter or if we can have her report reviewed. Her fact-finding seems to have been okay, but the conclusions are bizarre. She says stuff that raise red flags about my exH's parenting, but then concludes that it's all fine really, whereas in her conversations with my solicitor, she seemed to indicate that she might recommend some form of parenting class. Without ever having met me, or asked for examples of how I communicate with my exH, she concluded that we just don't communicate properly. I could have shown her dozens if not hundreds of emails that show me providing information or consulting with him, and him responding with a rant. It would show clearly that it's not a mutual problem.

And because of this social worker's report, which is not from CAFCASS, the judge is refusing to matter the matter to CAFCASS. The judge clearly wants us to settle the matter through mediation, so I'll have to fork out more money for that while ex gets it for free, but it won't go anywhere because he won't compromise, so back on the merry-go-round we go again.

I have really tried to act with integrity throughout, and the judge sits there in court tut-tutting at us both for failling to communicate while exH sits there gloating. He's told lies to the judge, to the police, to social workers, and everyone except the judge seems to see it, and he's never got even the slightest rap over the knuckles for any of it.

Spero Tue 12-Mar-13 09:52:50

With a report like that, I often find the best thing is to challenge it in cross examination. Do you have any hearings coming up where evidence is going to be heard? Or is it all just quick review hearings?

Similarly if the ex is telling lies, cross examination is the only way to get to the bottom of it.

When there are serious issues of disagreement over the facts between parties I fail to see how mediation is going to be helpful. Mediation exists to provide a helpful envrionment to enable parties who want to reach agreement. If you don't agree over facts fundamental to the case, then agreement is impossible. Mediation is not the magic wand some judges seem to think it is. It doesn't work - and is in fact abusive - if either party attends unwillingly.

NicknameTaken Tue 12-Mar-13 10:18:51

All quick reviews, unfortunately. My solicitor asked for a one-day review after a further CAFCASS report on quantum (not discussed in current social worker's report) but instead we got sent to mediation. It's not going to help, but I think the one advantage of going is that it might stop my ex crowing about how I'm so obstructive that I keep refusing mediation. I did refuse in the early days, because I was told it wasn't appropriate in cases where there had been abuse.

I feel like my ex is using the court process to abuse me and will attempt to use the mediation process to abuse me. The advantage is that the latter will cost me less, so I'd rather have the cheaper form of abuse, please.

Okay, exaggerating a bit there. I'm just holding onto the fact that the longer this goes on, the more entrenched the status quo is in terms of contact. He hasn't come up with any persuasive reason to change it, as far as I can see, so I live in hope. But damn it, surely it shouldn't have to be this hard.

NicknameTaken Tue 12-Mar-13 10:21:58

Oh, and I appreciate your replies, by the way. I like my solicitor very much and I do trust her, but it's helpful to have another perspective (even though it's based only on the scant outline given here).

Spero Tue 12-Mar-13 11:19:21

I understand completely why courts want to avoid contested hearings - you can often end up polarising people even further, or the facts won't really help push a case forward.... BUT people can find it so frustrating that they don't have a voice, that lies and mistakes go unchallenged etc. and that can often poison a whole case then a year later you end up having a fact finding anyway because a case has just ground to a halt.

If there isn't going to be a contest of evidence any time soon then I do think you need to make sure any objections to a report are recorded in writing. If she reaches a conclusion of fact, you can only challenge that in court but if she has missed things out, or included things as fact which are actually contested, I think you are well within your rights to have your sol politely point this out in a letter.

I am glad you have a good relationship with your sol - hopefully it will give others hope that its possible!

It is hard I am afraid and I think the reason for this is that the law is being used to deal with problems far outside its remit - these are not legal problems but problems usually of dysfunctional personalities, wanting control or being overwhelmed by anger, sadness etc.

I had a sad case yesterday for a father. From what I have read the mother does have some kind of personality disorder and we discussed how she is so she is, the law can't make her a different person and no doubt she does genuinely think she is doing the best thing for her child. Unfortunately this translates as trying to change contact arrangements a the last minute, restricting contact etc for reasons that change day by day.

Fundamentally I really believe these are not legal problems.

NicknameTaken Tue 12-Mar-13 11:58:57

the law can't make her a different person

Totally agree - this is the heart of the matter. I feel for the father in the case you mention. I am in a better situation that that poor man is, so it's not about a simple gender matter. I don't think it's a conspiracy or that the courts (or anyone else) don't care. I know we're on the feminism thread, and I'd love to point at patriarchy and say that the root of the problem, but it's not just that. The law is an exceptionally clunky tool to deal with matters of the heart.

Spero Tue 12-Mar-13 12:15:57

Yup - humans are motivated by all sorts of things, often utterly irrational or which actually go against their best interests. And the law deals with logic and cold hard facts.

that is why I have found myself frustrated with this thread - the insistence from some that certain behaviour is always and only explained by one cause, i.e. male entitlement.

And I strongly disagree. I am sure it is a factor in some cases, maybe even the driving factor but most cases are explained by an enormous number of circs - envrionmental, social, genetic, temperament, etc, etc and you can see how crazy it is to expect all of this to be recognised and dealt with by the law which can only operate on a binary system of proof - it did happen or it didn't.

I don't know what the answer is - people only change if they are motivated to change and they get a lot of help. You can't force people into therapy and there is no money to fund it anyway.

the only thing I can think of that would help is to put more resources into helping families with difficulties, more contact centres, possibly more parenting classes. Or maybe some more judges and available court time so cases can get heard much more quickly. Often it is the delay and dragging on that causes the most problems.

edam Tue 12-Mar-13 14:00:03

I'm sure all of the things you list in your last par would help, Spero, but may I also add diversity/domestic violence awareness training for judges? I know it's not the family courts, but just thinking of the judge's gendered comments in the Pryce/Huhne case - they were both guilty but the judge called her 'devious and manipulative', not both of them. What's not devious and manipulative about spending £250k on the best lawyers in the country in repeated attempts to get the case thrown out, costing the taxpayer £100k, as Huhne did? Or dodging the speeding points in the first place? Or denying guilt right up until the last minute?

'Devious and manipulative' applies to him as much as her, if not more so, yet the judge only felt moved to make that value judgement about the woman... I fear people are often not aware of their inner assumptions about gender, or disability, or age, or sexuality. Possibly more likely to be aware of race, just because it's higher profile. That is a real problem when the person not aware of their own prejudices is a judge who has the power to send you to prison, or take your kids away.

Spero Tue 12-Mar-13 14:08:46

There is already lots of training for judges - you can only be a family judge if you have a 'family ticket' which means extra training. A lot of judges are also female, certainly at district judge level. Perhaps more training would help, it can't hurt. But I continue to vigorously deny these assertions that family court simply 'don't know' about violence.

I don't think comments about VP are explained by the patriarchy! She was clearly devious and manipulative. I will be interested to see what judge says when he passes sentence but I honestly don't think she was judged as being a 'woman' - at least not from what I have read in her emails to Isabel Oakshott.

NicknameTaken Tue 12-Mar-13 14:09:21

Yy to more resources, and I totally agree with edam's point about training about abuse. I would add developing awareness of emotional abuse too.

I'm mulling over the idea of whether a legal process in family cases could benefit from being more inquisitorial (continental-style) rather than adversarial, so the judge plays more of a role in pulling facts together and coming up with a solution. It would need a whole new cohort of judges with different training though - somewhere between social workers and judges.

NicknameTaken Tue 12-Mar-13 14:12:57

The courts might know about violence, but I'm not sure they're always great on abuse that takes forms other than physical.

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