Advice on separation and contact with DC following violent assault and years of coercive control, please.(15 Posts)
I am posting on behalf of my dear friend, who is in need of advice but too overwhelmed by recent events to start using MN (and I am worried about her stbxh tracking her online activity). I am a long-term poster, for what it's worth, albeit only 6 months or so into this username. My friend (F) will be able to read the thread, and may eventually pluck up the courage to comment, so it would be great if anyone feels able to advise.
I'll try to give as much non-identifying information as possible, and avoid drip-feeding.
F and H have been married for what is, in legal terms, long enough to be a 'long-term marriage', two young school-age DC. Several years of increasing and intensifying coercive control, financial and emotional abuse culminated in a violent assault recently. Police involved, but as her husband (H) claims F assaulted him first (not true), there will be no prosecution, as it is his word against hers. Having spent the night in the cells, H has moved out and is staying with a friend in a bachelor house share indefinitely, while F is in family home with DCs, after H was advised by police to leave temporarily. H is without remorse and refusing to acknowledge any wrong-doing.
F's concerns are:
a) contact with DC -how can / should this be managed in a situation where there has been abuse and what amounts to a very serious and brutal assault on F? For the last couple of weeks since the assault, H has had contact with DCs at the family home under supervision by a family member at agreed times, including a whole weekend, during which F had to vacate the family home so that H could have an extended period of contact there. H is staying in a bachelor house share, so inappropriate to bring DCs there. F wants to insist that H rents more appropriate accommodation, preferably independently, so that contact can happen there, as he continues to exert control as long as he has access to where she is living.
How should she proceed with contact arrangements?
b) custody of children -since DC, F has been breadwinner as H has refused to work for long periods, turning down work (think highly remunerated consultancy in very niche field) and styling himself as a SAHD (not by agreement, just because that's the nature of coercive control, I guess), forcing F to return to work after minimal maternity leave (despite F working in a profession with excellent maternity terms) in order to pay for everything. H has previously threatened that he would get custody of DCs, should F ever try to leave, on account of being SAHD. H has done a pretty shoddy job of SAHDing, and F is worried about him being able to claim he has been main care-giver and therefore gaining custody. H has been working p/t since youngest DC started school, but keeping separate and secret accounts, not actively contributing to shared costs.
c) Division of marital assets -there are three properties involved: the family home which is mortgaged, F's house from prior to marriage which is owned outright, and H's house from prior to marriage which has a large mortgage on it, currently let. F has sought legal advice concerning marital assets and financial arrangements, and has been told that she is liable to pay spousal maintenance to H (despite H's earning potential far exceeding hers, and that he has been working for the last 6 months, but choosing to work p/t), that he will have a claim on her pension and that division of assets will be 50:50 as a starting point, meaning F having to give him half of the value of the family home, half of the value of her own paid-for house, and be liable for half of the mortgage debt on H's own house. It seems bananas to me, so unfair on F! How do these things actually play out?
F is quite rightly terrified of her H, and is beginning to acknowledge just how far-reaching H's manipulation, control strategies and surveillance techniques have been, very sinister and to my mind bordering on the sadistic and criminally insane. She has kept a log of sorts of evidence of CC / EA, and now there is of course a logged record of physical violence with her GP. She is struggling with wanting to appease him, to have him 'on side' in order to avoid him getting nasty (-ier) and needing to set some clear boundaries and wondering how to do so effectively, while knowing it might make things a lot worse.
What should be her next course of action? Any advice or personal experience very welcome.
She needs to see a solicitor. Please help her to do so.
Thank you, Bibby, she has appointed a solicitor but feels they aren't really on side. From what I understand, her solicitor seems very cut and dried, in as much as they seem reluctant to factor in her allegation of EA, CC and DV as H was not charged. Should a solicitor be encouraging or advising her in this area, or not? Perhaps Women's Aid would be able to offer advice? I think it is all so overwhelming, and it has been a shock that services have not been more forthcoming, simply because the H has made a counter accusation. Grr.
Get her to Google Independent Domestic Violence Advisers. This is a charity run service that will be able to help her.
So find another solicitor. Although she may be quite ambivalent from what you say, which may be why the solicitor isn't biting on the dv issues.
Thank you, Boring. May I ask how you have come across this resource (IDVAs)? I just googled but despite it sounding really good, I couldn't find any information on how one is assigned such a person. It doesn't look as if it is possible to self-refer. In addition, the sites I looked at were very clear that they only support 'the most serious cases of DV', and whereas what has happened to F is really awful, it is only the first reported incident, so perhaps this is why such assistance has not been offered?
Hi again, Bibby. She mentioned she might try another solicitor. I don't think she's ambivalent as much as scared, she's emphatic that the marriage is over. But she's worried that making a wrong move at this point will antagonise the H further, now the cat is out of the bag, as it were. I'm thinking that Women's Aid might be a good place to turn, at least there she might be believed (the police, apparently, made some disparaging comments about the H clearly not being 'the violent type', or similar).
Well she does need to be a little more resolute. She needs to break some eggs to make that omelette. Any lawyer will be wary of pushing her into action she isn't sure about.
Might counselling help?
Speaking to the National DV Helpline would be a good start for her in building her confidence. I know exactly what she means that she is worried that if she takes any action against her H then it will antagonise him and she is scared of this.
I was given the number for IDVA by the police, on the back of a crime report form, after reporting my STBXH for pushing me and our 14 year old son. I self-referred myself to the service. I don't know if it's the same everywhere. They have been wonderful in supporting me.
Thanks, Bibby and Boring. I'll ask her to check any paperwork for details. I wonder if the police responded so differently to you because your son had been a victim of / witnessed the attack, so it was indisputable? I'm so sorry it happened to the two of you.
The police have not been great with me I'm afraid. The officers who attended the incident when DH assaulted my son did not record it as a crime and so DH thinks he got away with it.
But the IDVA has been good support and helped me make a complaint and push the police to correct their records. They would not proceed however as DS did not want to take action against his dad.
Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.
Hi OP. My best friend is going through something similar for the last few months and at some points has felt like her solicitor isn't 'on her side', more based on the fact that I dint think everyone really understands the nuances of defending an abused woman against a seasoned abusive male. Things that my friend knew were examples of his continuing control didn't really register with the solicitor as being abusive and at times it has been very frustrating for her.
She has persisted with the solicitor nonetheless but as part of her varied journey of trying to divorce her stbxh, the agency she has found by far the most useful has been women's aid. After some initial consultations with them they referred her to something called women's aid solace for counselling (free) and they are the first people who have truly understood. They told her they could refer her to solicitors who specialise in defending abused women so these specialists clearly exist. Maybe your friend could look one up? Or go through women's aid to find out about them?
As a final point, for your friend ; my friend is going through hell and back right now with what her dick of a bullying bastard H is putting her through as a result of her finally daring to stand up to him but she insists that despite it all, she has NEVER felt better because she knows she is going through this as a means to an end to find a life of peace and happiness for her DC. for your friend.
Hi there! I'm sorry I got the wrong end of the stick regarding the police's response to you, Boring, on a second reading, I can see you are referring to the IDVA.
Ehsan, not sure why your post was removed? I only got to cast my eye over it in passing last night and was hoping to look at it more closely today as it looked very helpful.
Green, thank you for your perspective. When I mentioned asking for advice on MN these are just the kind of responses I was hoping F would be able to read. And it is really kind of you to take the time to share with F by proxy, as it were.
Ehsan was touting his own firm, Moonlight. And to be frank, the "advice" wasn't much cop.
No competent lawyer is going to try to advise your friend through you, on the limited information you can put up. The best you can do for her is to support her seeing her lawyer. Go along with her if she wants, it can be a big help to all to have a sensible supporter to listen, remember, understand, and jog memories.
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