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to think family courts are a flaming joke!

(209 Posts)
tryingtobeabetterperson Mon 25-Mar-13 17:52:33

I have read so many posts on here, groups on FB and other forums of desperate women who have left abusive partners to protect their children just for the courts to award contact and the abuse continues because unless it becomes physical the courts seem loathe to make contact supervised.

I know all about children needing fathers but even abusive ones that will hurt them or screw them up emotionally??


Spero Tue 26-Mar-13 19:25:16

Hoping, Ithink you have it in a nutshell.

I agree with most of that article Domjolly - where I think we disagree is that I think a lot of the problems are structural due to under resourcing - there was a massive increase in care apps after Baby P so lots of CaFCASS energies diverted to care cases.

S I think that sometimes they do a poor job, not because they don't care or they prioritise contact at expense of children, but simply because they are overworked - hence phone interviews or not reading reports, neither of which is good practice.

pollypandemonium Tue 26-Mar-13 19:45:08

Hoping I don't think that a partner that is being abused is legally able to allow her ex access to the child or she would be accused of neglect. She is not simply fighting a battle for the sake of it.

I have often been accused of being brainwashed by the system or just offering up anecdotes perhaps that's because you don't put any numbers and real quotes or data into any of your posts. It's "100's of" or "there are many many" or "a large number of". Means nothing.

I have put a statistic, with reference attached, and Dadthelion responded by saying it's "rubbish". Are there any sensible reasonable people here at all because I can't be doing with this kind of bickering much longer.

pollypandemonium Tue 26-Mar-13 19:46:08

^ 2nd para @ spero

Spero Tue 26-Mar-13 19:51:09

Ok polly. I have been working since Nov 1999. Say I work 40 weeks a year and had one year off maternity leave. I do about one private law case a week. So by my calculations I have experience of approximately 500 separate cases. I also have experience of hundreds of others due to discussions with colleagues as we seek out each other for advice.

I have attended about 50 conferences over the years to listen to talks from experts in field of psychology, domestic violence etc. I try to spend 20 minutes every day making sure I keep up with all recent decisions from Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.

I spent six months volunteering in a contact centre in Wandsworth. I have 60 points from an Open University course in child development.

Is that sufficiently meaningful to allow my views to,carry any weight with you?

HopingItllBeOK Tue 26-Mar-13 20:00:33

Polly if it were physical abuse that had previously been documented and social services had been involved prior to the relationship breakdown, then yes I absolutely agree with you. I have primarily been talking about emotional abuse, because as I see it that is the more urgent issue simply because protocols are already in place for parents who are proven to have been physically abusive and on the whole, they work. Yes there are incidents where those protocols fail, or are not adhered to and those are the ones we hear about. It is absolutely correct that we should hear about them, because a system that fails in secret is a system which will be allowed to fail completely, but there are protocols, there is a system which is designed to protect the victims. No such protocols exist for emotional abuse.

One could argue that emotional abuse is more serious and damaging than physical abuse, because of it's nature. It is constant, it is insidious, it shapes and degrades the victims entire sense of self and the road to recovery from it is made that much harder because of the societal perception of emotional abuse and the issues it causes in it's victims.

I see a lot of people agreeing with each other in principle, but disagreeing on certain points due to their personal experiences and sharing and discussing those experiences to back up their points. I don't see any bickering, aside from one or two posters who seem determined to see bickering and take disagreement as a personal attack. For the most part, I would classify this thread as a debate in which people are respectful of each other with a minority of posters spoiling for a fight.

deliciousdevilwoman Tue 26-Mar-13 20:24:36

I have been lurking on this thread.

Listen to Spero, people. And, I say this as someone who was once in the 'opposite camp' to her, having spent many years as a Children and Families social worker and then Team Manager within various local authorities, until I had my daughter.

I now find myself in the position of being a 'client' having petitioned my abusive STBXH for divorce and having initiated Children Act Proceedings after he beat me In January, and took off with our child. I was reunited with her 7 hours later. (I obtained a Residence Order and Prohibited Steps Order-ex parte) We are back in court next month.

I have to believe that the truth will out and that common sense will prevail. I'd be a liar, if I said there were not some decisions made by the Courts in my 12 years' professional experience which more than raised an eyebrow pertaining to contact issues, but by far, the evidence was weighed up carefully, assessments of risk were sound, and in light of their age and understanding, the child/rens wishes and feelings given due consideration.

pollypandemonium Tue 26-Mar-13 20:45:03

Spero I appreciate that you are on the front line in this sector, I wasn't doubting your credentials at all. You want to convince me that there are many women out there who make it up about their partners being abusive because they want to prevent contact with the fathers. I find that hard to swallow and I hope you, delicious don't find yourself with that accusation thrown at you.

I am an optimist by nature and tend to leave things to the professionals but where abusive men are concerned you need to be particularly thorough and make sure the truth comes out and is dealt with severely, and with consequences that are permanent.

I only came on here to put my view which was that I think that children should have several guardians at birth and that an approach towards guardianship and parental responsibility that encompasses more friends and relatives will help to prevent these problems arising.

Spero Tue 26-Mar-13 20:48:55

No, not 'many'. Very few set out to lie deliberately and maliciously. That is pretty rare. But there is a significant minority who exaggerate and most I think come to believe their own versions of history.

Like most things in life I think it is on a bell curve. Some extremes at either end but most muddling along in the middle with fault on both sides.

Spero Tue 26-Mar-13 20:59:04

Good luck delicious. I hope it helps having experience of the courts etc.

deliciousdevilwoman Tue 26-Mar-13 21:10:44

Thank you, Spero. I rather think it (my experience) will be a double edged sword.

Tubegirl Tue 26-Mar-13 21:27:32

Deliciousdevilwoman, I've been on both sides too. It certainly is a double edged sword but on the whole it helps to understand the system I think, for most people their case is their first experience of court and solicitors. You are familiar with the court and the various roles people play and therefore won't have the additional worry of not knowing what to expect. Unfortunately it does nothing to relieve the anxiety about your actual case. I hope it goes well.

Spero- I've enjoyed reading your posts. You have more experience than me, but I can identify with the system you describe as it matches my experience as well.

deliciousdevilwoman Tue 26-Mar-13 21:31:08

Thank you Tubegirl. It's good to hear from someone who has been on both sides. And, if I may, I echo your comments about Spero's posts.

Spero Tue 26-Mar-13 21:38:30

Thanks - its good to have a debate and I think the last few threads about this have actually been pretty good. I know its a very emotional topic if you are in the middle of it.

niceguy2 Wed 27-Mar-13 22:06:56

I started by writing a long reply to various points raised since my last post.

The shortened version is that often when it comes to family court proceedings when you cut through all the fluff thrown at each other from both sides. Rarely is the issue at hand about what is in the best interests of the child.

I'd bet you 9 times out of 10 the real issue is control.

Also what many (mainly women) fail to understand is that just because the dad was an emotional fuckwit to you, it doesn't mean they will be a bad father. And just because he chooses to do something different to how you would do it, it doesn't mean it's wrong.

Spero Thu 28-Mar-13 09:01:52

I would agree with you, save for one point. How a man treats the mother of his children is very much part of what kind of father he is.

I profoundly disagree that any man who mistreats the children's mother can possibly be a 'good father'. And vice versa of course. Children exposed to their parents hatred and contempt for each other will be harmed, no doubt about that.

fuzzywuzzy Thu 28-Mar-13 09:28:12

I agree with Spero on this, a man's treatment of his partner is very much indicative of how he will treats his children.

Spero Thu 28-Mar-13 10:15:54

I a sure a man who abuses his partner could be lovely with his children, take them out, play with them etc. but that really isn't the point. If the children see or hear him mistreating their mother then he is NOT a good father.

He will be either frightening the children or giving them really warped messages about how men treat women. Good fathers don't do this.

It is so sad that in so many threads in relationships, women will last long litany of their partner's selfish and unkind behaviour towards them but then say 'but I can't leave him, he is a really good dad'. No he is not.

IneedAsockamnesty Thu 28-Mar-13 10:33:02

Domestic violence is always a child protection issue ALWAYS its never not.

A person who commits DV is a bad parent.

Spero Thu 28-Mar-13 10:35:50

I think nice guy was talking more about emotional fuckwits - the lazy, the selfish, the belittlers - rather than the violent.

But I think any level of mistreatment of your children's mother means you cannot claim your father of the year medal. Mothers are very important to children, so treat them well. A stressed out miserable mother will not be as emotionally available to her children as a respected and well supported mother.

niceguy2 Thu 28-Mar-13 12:24:20

There are no absolutes.

My overall point is that there are few black & whites and it's almost always shades of grey.

Let me give you an example from my past. My ex-GF ran around the house smashing it up after getting absolutely drunk and disagreeing with me over the TC. When I tried to stop her, she attacked me causing me quite a serious injury in the process. Kids were all young and in the house at the time, all woke and were sobbing.

Does that mean she's a bad mother? Does that mean she should lose access to the children? Should courts punish her via the kids?

A bad mother? Well certainly in my opinion she's far from perfect. But bad enough to lose contact? No. Even I wouldn't venture that far.

Speak to my ex after we first split up and I was a violent man who had affairs with my first ex and my best mates wife at the same time. In actual fact not one of the things she said was true. But you can imagine the damage those accusations would have done to any potential court case.

Spero Thu 28-Mar-13 14:50:51

I think there are absolutes. Any parent who is violent around a child should not be having unsupervised contact until they have recognised how appalling their behaviour is and taken steps to control themselves.

You sound remarkably blasé about the appalling behaviour or your ex. I wouldn't feel comfortable allowing her around children unsupervised unless she had demonstrated some remorse and insight into why she chose to act so appallingly.

deliciousdevilwoman Thu 28-Mar-13 15:48:17

Exactly, Spero.

My own abusive STBEX, would try and sell me a 'sanitized' version of events with regard to his abuse towards his first wife, and would always insist 'I may have had anger management issues, but I was always a good husband and father...I was there for those kids, I was hands on'.

And when I had the temerity to suggest that regular smashing up of inanimate objects and the attack on his wife which led to her finally filing divorce (they were separated at the time and he half throttled her in their study in front of the 3 children) wouldn't win him father of the year award-and may explain his eldest daughter's resentment of him-he didn't like it! (I only discovered this after we were married)

Of course, I knew nothing about the level and extent of his past behaviour before we met. Save to an admitted 'capacity for anger'. It was hard to reconcile it all with the lovely man standing before me who treated me well. I thought if I was clear about my expectations/boundaries-ie zero tolerance for violence/aggression, all would be fine. I wanted to believe that via the extensive private psychotherapy, CBT and anger management sessions, he had done a lot of emotional work and was no longer "that man". He wasn't outwardly...til I married him and had his child.

DV/extreme volatility is always a CP issue. The way a partner/couple behaves and functions in the presence of their child acts as a blueprint for their future relationships as adults. It matters not whether the abuser-physically or emotionally is a man or a woman. What matters is the risk of significant harm-both physical and psychological to any child/ren unfortunate enough to be caught up in such an environment.

It's what finally gave me the strength to tell my abusive ex that I wanted a divorce-the physical abuse was episodic, but the emotional, sexual, psychological and economic abuse was far, far, more insidious. I did not want my 2 year daughter to hear and eventually comprehend her father calling me vile sexual swear words, calling me useless and denigrating my more 'humble' background. What I didn't foresee, as I made plans for my 'exit' is that he would veer from manipulate threats to harm himself if I didn't agree to stay with him, to seriously beating me in front of, and then when I tried to flee whilst holding my child, before abducting her.

I will fight tooth and nail to prevent ANY contact until their is a robust, forensic, psychiatric risk assessment of him.

deliciousdevilwoman Thu 28-Mar-13 15:48:42

there not their-oops ;)

Spero Thu 28-Mar-13 15:52:17

Send me 50p and I will do the risk assessment for you - he is high risk and will remain high risk unless and until he develops insight and engages in lengthy programme of therapy.

Which won't happen will it? Because these people tend to,have zero insight. T confront who they really are is such a massive painful endeavour they would rather use their energy in denying and blustering and blaming anyone but themselves.

I hope you can access some decent and safe supervised contact until your daughter is old enough to get herself out of any unpleasant situation.

tryingtobeabetterperson Thu 28-Mar-13 16:04:46

I also hope you can access decent and safe supervised contact.

But that's just it isn't it. It shouldn't be a hope, it should be a given that where there is any risk of harm contact will be supervised. Until that happens the courts are failing in protecting children. While children are being put at risk then the courts aren't doing their job of keeping them safe

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