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Can I even ask for this ? (Acknowledgemnt of DV/child contact proceedings)

(13 Posts)
Fleecyslippers Wed 27-Feb-13 19:20:31

Am still reeling after a really difficult session with a social worker yesterday.

Ongoing child contact proceedings, Ex currently has unsupervised daytime contact for 18 hours per fortnight. He has a caution for a physical assault on DD and the findings of a Re L hearing went in my favour.

Children would like more contact, but eldest in particular has been very specific about wanting her dad to acknowledge what he's done to her and engage in therapeutic work. She still feels scared of what he could potentially do. It's taken over 8 months of court hearings for him to even agree to engage and he has now started the NSPCC Caring Dads course.

So, I know that we are getting closer to overnights contacts. And I am still petrified sad The majority of the abuse/neglect (locking outside in the dark etc) occurred at night - he has a long history of refusing to engage with any childcare at night.

Despite 'ALL' of this, I know that there are aspects of his parenting which can be positive. The children love him. And they want a relationship with him.

The social worker (DV specific team) asked me yesterday what it would take for me to stop being scared of letting the children go for overnight contact. I said that I wanted a written acknowledgement from Ex that he had received the caution, that he accepted the fact finding hearing (he has so far says he was conned by the judge) and I want real assurances that he will not hit the children, or punish them for waking in the night by locking them outside.

The SW said that he could not ask to provide any of this, but advised me to speak to my solicitor and ask her to get a letter from Ex.

DD has come back from contact today and said that her dad has told her he is sorry he hit her. And it's the worst thing he's ever done sad

So 'maybe' something is changing.

If I had his acknowledgement to me, I 'think' it might make me feel less scared.

So is my solicitor likely to tell me it's an outrageous idea to ask for a letter from him ? Would she possibly ask the judge ? (Judge has been amazing so far)

I realise that lots of people have the attitude that I just need to move on, forget whats happened but I feel that this might really help me to do that. I've always felt that from SS point of view, my feelings and fears are of the least importance in the whole thing.

Sorry for rambly post and thank you for any thoughts from Spero et al ! smile

iheartdusty Wed 27-Feb-13 23:12:25

I am surprised that overnight contact is even on the cards at this stage, and that the SW appears to be pressing you to accept it. There are clear risks, and ex P has to convince the court that the children would be safe in his care. The biggest red flag for me is that he won't accept the fact finding.

To answer your question, I can't see any problem in your solicitor asking ex to provide such a letter. But what are you really asking?

Do you want him to acknowledge the things that the court already knows have happened, such as the caution? What does that add?

Isn't there a risk that it will just be empty words about how he would never lock children outside etc etc?

I would be concerned that if you ask for the letter, you will be seen as accepting the idea of overnight contact provided ex P says the right thing. In your shoes, unless there is a reason to accept it, I would want to hold out against overnights, certainly until the end of the NSPCC course and possibly after that.

Your DC can have a good relationship with him without staying over.

cestlavielife Wed 27-Feb-13 23:29:45

I think there is a danger in being too specific (I will not hit I will not lock them outside ) that he could in theory use other forms of cruelty and then say "well I didn't lock them outside or hit them like you asked..." .
You want assurance he will always have their best interest at heart and won't do anything that amounts to cruelty or neglect.

But shouldn't he be promising the court that not you ?

If the dc want overnight then you have to let go.... If they are not sure then don't push it .

iheartdusty Wed 27-Feb-13 23:34:23

actually I don't agree that if DC want it you should let go - they should not have to decide whether they will be safe, that decision should be made for them, and they should not have to suffer the risk of ill-treatment in order to have a relationship with him.

But I assume from your post OP that your DD is quite mature - how old are the DC?

do you live far from each other - are there strong practical reasons why daytime only is not enough for the DC?

Fleecyslippers Thu 28-Feb-13 13:46:29

Dd is pre teen - she's mature cos she's had to grow up so bloody fast sad

He moved approx 90 miles away. At the minute the children are happy enough with the arrangements. They are settled, happy and doing well at school etc. They would 'like' extra contact but they understand why they don't stay over. It's always felt as if SS are pushing for overnight contact to happen so they can close their file and reduce their caseload - I have been told on more than one occasion that we don't 'really' fit for the criteria for intervention as Ex is no longer being violent towards me.

You make some excellent points about me seeming to accept his assurances. I feel much calmer today and have decided not to ask for any such assurances. There is another update hearing next week - my solicitor has said I don't need to be there so I know that she won't be agreeing to any increases at present.

I think it just feels 'inevitable' that he will get overnight contact again and after 2 years of hell, I'm trying to get myself to a place where I can deal with that.

'But shouldn't he be promising the court that not you ?' That's the thing I have the difficulty with. Because the courts won't actually be there at 3am if DD calls me to say that daddy has lost it and locked her outside sad Maybe he won't ever do it again. But how can I be sure ? And I can be sure that 'if' anything did happen, SS would be the first to accuse me of not protecting them hmm

Thank you both.

cumfy Thu 28-Feb-13 15:09:03

Is your solicitor not opposing overnights on the basis of the history ?

I too can't understand why anyone is pushing for this.

Does X come across well in court ?

Fleecyslippers Thu 28-Feb-13 17:00:18

He self represents and has been warned about his conduct/behaviour by the judge a number of times. I think that if wasn't for her, and my solicitor, he would have had increases to contact a LOT sooner. The last time I was at court he had me pinned up against a wall - he was sent outside by the security guys to 'calm down'

This has been going on for so long that I feel a sense of inevitability that we are moving towards overnights. At present, he is engaging with the NSPCC course and he is saying all of the right things with regards SS. I don't know how genuine it is. This man abused, controlled and manipulated me for 15 years so often am guilty of thinking the absolute worst.

I just want my babies to be safe.

cestlavielife Thu 28-Feb-13 17:22:06

''And I can be sure that 'if' anything did happen, SS would be the first to accuse me of not protecting them ''

but that's why you need it to be a court ordering this -not you making that decision. you dont have to say yes to this outside of a court order.

if court orders overnight based on Ss report -then the day she calls you from street you go collect her from street and inform SS straightaway and police. and go back to court to vary the order...

it wont have been your decision.

if you not sure about that decision - then dont make it.
you dont have to agree to overnights outside of court; you can let him request from judge, present your views and if judge orders it -well it out of your hands and you can tell dd you tried to stop it.

cestlavielife Thu 28-Feb-13 17:23:18

if SS put in writing that THEY recomend overnights then THEY wil be accocuntable and they cant then accuse you !

Fleecyslippers Thu 28-Feb-13 19:54:00

Thanks Cest - I appreciate that. You're right - I'm still in the mindset that he is in control sometimes. But he's bloody well not!

babyhammock Thu 28-Feb-13 20:47:07

Fleecy one of a the fundamental requirements to contact being beneficial is supposed to be the abusive parent acknowledging what they have done and for them to show remorse and a strong desire to change. So of course you should have acknowledgement.
He's not in control, you are. If you don't feel overnights are safe, and it doesn't sound like they are, then don't agree to them. Oh and your instincts are right, he obviously knows how to play the game with SS.

zipzap Thu 28-Feb-13 22:29:24

I would have thought that the fact he lost control enough in court (a highly regulated setting with lots of police, lawyers and the like who are all going to be highly security conscious and highly reliable as witnesses) to pin you against a wall is enough to show that he has got deep seated anger issues and isn't fit to be looking after the dc, particularly if they are going to be with him overnight and that is one of his known trigger points sad

Good luck OP - hope you manage to oppose it, and remember that just because the SS ask you what will make you lessen your worries enough to let them go stay with your ex overnight, that it is perfectly reasonable to say that (particularly after his last outburst) that you do not think that he yet has his anger under control enough to guarantee that he will not be violent or abusive or neglectful towards his dc if they are staying with him overnight.

I think it's outrageous that people are telling you that you just need to move on and forget what happened - I bet they wouldn't be if they or their children were in the same situation. I think you are being incredibly brave and strong to remember and want to protect your children for as long as possible despite everyone seeming to want you to let your children stay with a man that 'doesn't do' childcare at night. Bet they wouldn't let their children stay with him!

Sorry - I don't have any legal experience but it sounds like you need some strong support - good luck thanks and wine to keep you going...

Fleecyslippers Sun 03-Mar-13 19:51:34

Thank you - solicitor emailed earlier (She doesn't ever switch off!) She's confident that this week is just a formality again and there will be no changes made to the contact order at present.
And I'm happy now that asking him for any acknowledgement of anything would be a waste of time and energy.

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