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A lengthy residency case!!

(28 Posts)
allfunandgames123 Fri 28-Feb-14 00:31:28

Bare with me this is a long one...
Any advice on what steps to take next would be much appreciated.
My ex and I have been going through a residency case for over a year now. DD is only 3 and I have full residency and ex has 1 night and 1 evening a week of supervised (by his parents) contact. I feel that our judge does not take into consideration dd wishes or needs in our case. Ex is an alcoholic which was medically proven last year by a doctor who said he was a 'chronic alcohol abuser', our r.ship was volatile at the best of times, he was violent, drunk ect, which the judge knows. He also kidnapped my daughter, with his mothers help for a week in December 2012. He has appeared for contact twice in the last 6 months VERY drunk but not been reprimanded in court, and the supervisors who brought him to my house in that condition are still deemed suitable! ex's criminal record is vast, including 3 drink drivings and a lot of domestic abuse (he is currently waiting to the tried for another d.abuse at the end of may). Ex and I lived together until dd was 18 months and he was rarely home (maybe 2/3 days a week) as he drunk a lot then I moved out and he saw dd twice in 7 months, through his own decision, until I met my new partner and since then he has had me in court every month. ex also got drunk during his contact with dd around 8 months ago and after a further domestic he is not allowed contact with me and is banned from the town I live in. However it doesn't seem to mater what ex does it all seems to be ignored in court, I feel he has too much contact considering the circumstances and I know he plans to apply for joint residency after his criminal case in may which terrifies me!!! I don't feel that dd is safe with him, or his parents and now he has applied to take her to Spain for 2 weeks, which my solicitor advises me is very likely to be granted. dd is hysterical about contact and has to be physically pulled off me screaming and kicking but if I refuse contact I have been warned I will be arrested. Ex also doesn't pay any child support after a lengthy battle with csa they have decided he doesn't earn enough....ex is a very wealthy man, with several properties, a trust fund and stocks and shares ect. I have recently found out the ex and the judge share a very close family friend, can I ask for a different judge or will that affect my case? I might also add that no queries about my parenting have ever been raised in court, the judge agrees that I am a good mum and that dd is settled and happy with me, so why is he punishing us both?
Any advice on how to go about this would be deeply appreciated...

Misfitless Fri 28-Feb-14 07:26:24

I can't believe you and DD have gone through so much with this man, and he is being treated so leniently, OP. This sounds horrendous.

I have no expertise at all, so I hope some solicitors answer with some helpful advice.

It's shock what he is getting away with.

What has your solicitor advised about requesting another judge?

It makes my blood boil to read your post, so I've no idea how you must be feeling. xx

scaredofowls Fri 28-Feb-14 08:15:24

It has been awfull, our whole life has been upside down for over a year now, and the impact its had on my dd makes me so angry. My solicitor was great at first but since xmas he seems to of lacked all passion in the case, it takes weeks for him to reply to messages and every time I come up with suggestions i.e writing affidavits, or submitting my data protection file (which has a lot in it about his behavior whilst drunk) or asking a social worker to come and watch dd leaving for contact and see how she reacts to it, he just brushes it of. I am now considering a new sol too.

However my biggest fear is that changing judge and sol will be frowned upon and might make things worse.

We had an independent report written by another sol to get an outsiders view and she wrote that she was shocked how frustrated I was about not receiving any child support and she felt that I was money orientated and bitter! Which is so not the case, I just hate the fact that I work hard for everything dd and I have and he sits on his back side living of a trust and can afford to take her abroad all the time and buy expensive things for her!!

GRRRR at my wits end!!

scaredofowls Fri 28-Feb-14 08:16:14

oh and this is op i have changed name

Misfitless Fri 28-Feb-14 09:10:39

Do you need to go directly through your shitsolicitor to have the social worker witness your DD's distress?

As I've said, I know nothing, but I would have thought that you could contact your SW directly to witness your DD being peeled off you kicking and screaming handed over to you exP.

What a nightmare for you x

Misfitless Fri 28-Feb-14 09:11:26

Are you in the uk?

What are the chances of getting contact in a contact centre?

scaredofowls Fri 28-Feb-14 10:03:23

No I don't need to go through sol, so I have recently self referred myself to sw, however dd is not seen as a priority case and so wont have any reports made by them before he takes her to spain on 2nd of may. Poor dd is innocent in all of this and ex knows how she feels about contact because every time she is dropped of she is screaming, and he knows she will be distraught being away from home for two weeks, but again this isnt an issue for him.
Sol thinks if I argue dd feelings too much the judge may think I am on purposely turning dd against him and could decide the ex requires MORE contact with dd to repair their r.ship.....there appears to be nothing I can say that they cant turn around to work in his favour.
Yes I am in uk and I have tried on several occasions to get contact into a contact center but with no luck. I am just made out to be some deranged angry ex in court every time I mention anything bad about ex.
I have several friends and family members who are social workers and support workers and none of them have seen a case with this much evidence against a father play out this way.
I cant help feel if ex was dragged up in a council estate he would be in a contact center by now!

MaryPoppinsCarpetBag Fri 28-Feb-14 10:12:12

Clearly him turning up drunk and "kidnapping" your daughter is inappropriate.

However, 3 is too young to have her wishes considered. The distress at handover times is also not particularly relevant and the judge will be unlikely to put that as a reason to restrict contact. Children are often distressed at handovers when both parents are present but when changed to being done by a third party, there's no distress. Your DD may well be picking up on your anxieties and/or those of your ex. This is a good story to explain it karenwoodall.wordpress.com/2013/07/16/children-on-the-transition-bridge-annies-story/

Are CAFCASS involved? Have they done a section 7 report and made a recommendation? Courts are usually very reluctant to allow contact without being absolutely sure that a child wouldn't be at risk.

scaredofowls Fri 28-Feb-14 11:02:19

The link was very interesting thank you, however things are very different in my situation, dd loves spending time at nursery and has no anxiety problems leaving me for anyone other than her father. I know the ex is VERY strict, his house is cold and dark (not a nice place for a 3year old) and he is snappy with her, dd also tells me that ex doesn't play with her and granny and grampa are always too busy, she does however say that ex new partner is lovely and always plays with her, which is a relief. All hand overs are done by a third person. DD has only being having problems since a ex arrived at my house (when hand overs were done by me) drunk to collect dd for contact about 4 months ago, he became very abusive and aggressive and sadly dd witnessed all of this. Ex comes and goes as he pleases (with the exception of the last 6 months) and was very rarely there for the first two years, i have been the only constant thing in dd life. I am aware that her feelings wont be taken into consideration in court, which is very frustrating, however my friend who is a sw says that a social worker could write a report saying that yes the contact is having an emotional impact on dd and the report could be used in court, which is what I'm planning to do although it is taking a long time and dd is suffering in the mean time.
Yes early 2013 we had a private sw report done (cafcass was going to take to long so ex payed a small fortune for a fast one) that played in my favour and suggested a contact center for ex, however ex was so furious about the things that were written about him that he applied asked to have it thrown out of court which was granted. Ex then went on to sue the sw for slander!!! I am unsure of how this went...

STIDW Fri 28-Feb-14 11:34:38

Child support is a separate issue. The views of a 3 year olds aren't determinative. A 3 year old isn't mature enough to understand the implications of a decision and their views need to be seen in context of the background the family's circumstances. Also three year olds are at a developmental stage when it is quite normal for them to have separation anxiety and show real signs of distress clinging to their main carer at the point of separation only to settle within 10 to 15 minutes.

Children who are insecure about their natural parentage and identity tend to grow up with low self esteem leading to emotional and behavioural problems later. It's deemed important that children bond with both separated parents even if the behaviour of a parent leaves much to be desired by most people's standards. When there is evidence children are being harmed or are at risk of harm measures such as supervised contact are put in place to ensure the parenting is "good enough."

You say you feel contact isn't safe but the court deal with facts and any judge will be hard placed to decide between two sides unless there is independent professional evidence (social services or health workers etc) that children aren't surviving satisfactorily when contact is supervised. Any risk of harm from a parent's behaviour has to be balanced against the harm children suffer when they don't establish a good relationship with one of their natural parents.

I'm not a lawyer, however, as the current arrangement is for short frequent periods of contact I think an order for two weeks holiday at this stage is unlikely. It would be more usual for contact to be increased to whole weekends, long weekends then a week before embarking on a ten or 14 day holiday. Perhaps proposing a compromise, say trying a couple of weekends before a week's holiday is the way forward.

STIDW Fri 28-Feb-14 11:45:08

"i have been the only constant thing in dd life"

The problem is the relationship between a child and main carer can be too intense. From about the age of 2 or 3 a child's relationship with the other parent and extended family provides a bridge to the rest of society which eventually enables the child to develop their own healthy relationships.

scaredofowls Fri 28-Feb-14 11:45:56

The emotional affect that having an alcoholic parent can cause is also staggering.
He has now appeared for contact twice whilst very drunk (which his supervisors felt was 'not such an issue') and got drunk during contact when his supervisor left him to go and do her shopping! I feel that this is strong enough evidence to prove she is potentially at risk during contact. ex has also been proven to be a high risk taker whilst drunk, doing things such as stealing vehicles and when dd was 8 months old he held her over a balcony in order to get money for drink!!!
I have made an offer of two consecutive nights on two separate occasions through the summer. I would not feel happy about dd going abroad or away with ex for any extended lenght of time untill she was capable of using a telephone to call for help if required. Also being abroad ex's risk of drinking will be far higher.

scaredofowls Fri 28-Feb-14 11:48:33

I have been the only constant in her life because ex has not been interested for a long time and his parents didn't want to know her until he started this case. Other friends and family come and go when they can due to work commitments.

scaredofowls Fri 28-Feb-14 11:51:17

Might I also add that I do everything I can to encourage the r.ship between dd and ex and she very often comes home crying and says things such as ''daddy says you are bad but I don't want mummy to be bad''. Again the courts know this but aren't concerned about it, however if this was the other way around and I said these things to dd the judge would have a field day!!

STIDW Fri 28-Feb-14 13:07:59

You have offered weekends in the summer so why is it less safe for them to happen sooner? IF the current arrangement has been in place for more than a couple of months there is really no reason why contact can't be extended over weekends now and then a holiday in a couple of months. IT wouldn't be unreasonable to request the first week's holiday or a long weekend takes place in the UK. However the final decision lies with the courts and if after weighing up the evidence a judge makes an order there is usually no point in breaking it.

Please don't think I'm unsympathetic. I do understand how difficult it is letting young children go for contact particularly when you don't have any confidence or trust in the other parent. However the courts make decisions about what is in the best interests of children and meets their needs based on facts rather than parents' feelings.

scaredofowls Fri 28-Feb-14 13:21:03

Its not that its less safe for them to happen sooner but dd is at nursery now and between that, my job and longer contact with ex I wouldn't really see her so I would rather wait until the summer when dd is not at nursery.
Current arrangement has been in place since July 13 with the exception of changing hours a little here and there, but ex has only turned up for all contact he can make (he quite often cant find anyone to supervise) for the last 6 weeks, prior to that there was continuous problems with ex either being to drunk for contact or just not turning up at all and dd is sat waiting for him (this happened at least once a month) so the current arrangement has not run smoothly for more than 6 weeks and I have little faith he will keep it up.

STIDW Fri 28-Feb-14 19:20:23

YOu might be correct about not keeping up contact but unless you try there is no certainty. Even with amicable parents there are hiccups along the way and often parents struggle with contact arrangements. Children can be upset whilst new arrangements are established but then settle down. Nurseries and schools would normally pick up signs from the behaviour if a child was suffering emotional harm.

When contact is extended gradually over a few weeks you can keep a diary and if contact is missed frequently you can ask the court to vary the order to reflect the reality of the situation. IF you are right about your ex being unable to commit that would sort out the issue with the least hassle. On the other hand as your ex has the chance to be more involved with your daughter he may surprise you and change his ways.

You need to be careful choosing your battles though. IF you adopt a "can do" attitude and come up with proposals or compromises trying to make contact work whenever possible rather than being seen to resist you will be seen as reasonable and that puts you in a better position when it really matters.

scaredofowls Sat 01-Mar-14 08:21:54

I understand what you're saying but if ex was to up his contact he would end up having more time with dd then me (due to me working)making him her main carer. The thought of my dd being raised by an alcoholic makes me sick. I hate the amount of time ex and his bloody mother have with dd as it is, he gets every single weekend which gives me no time to have days out with dd (and most of my family work mon to fri so they cant see her either) and he gets half a weekday too. This will sound harsh but his mother has three children, all of whom are heavy alcoholics! I don't want her having that sort of input in dd's life. When you are raised by an alcoholic you are more likely to have problems yourself when you grow up which also terrifies me. Then there's also them instilling rights and wrongs in her and there views on life are very different on mine, ex and his whole family are also VERY racist and homophobic!!! But yes I know, none of this will matter in court. We are even considering pulling dd out of nursery so I can have more time with her. Oh and on top of it all he's a terrible father, so it is very hard to try and compromise on contact when I am desperate to get him in a contact centre.
I think what stresses me out the most is that these strangers who don't know me the (judge has never even heard me talk before!) can make the biggest decisions in dd's life when I am her mother, I have never done anything to harm my dd and I have always been the best parent I can be, I should be the one to judge what's best for her like most other mothers have the rights to do for their children. I'm not even aloud to take my own dd more than 40 miles from my home because ex told the courts I planned to run away with dd!!....which is absolute nonsense!

FrogbyAnotherName Sat 01-Mar-14 19:24:58

if ex was to up his contact he would end up having more time with dd then me (due to me working)making him her main carer

The fact that you say that you spend so little time with your DD yourself undermines your position that your DD is attached to you as the only constant in her life. She is clearly spending the majority of her time in the care of others if she has only one night and one evening with each of her parents.

RalphLaurenLover Sat 01-Mar-14 20:05:37

I'd stress the way she feels. Can't you go to a contact centre and choose the option for the notes to be recorded on the session it cost around £75

Present this in court, if he even smells of alcohol they won't let him in. They will record how distressed she is etc.

The court took my son's feeling into account (albeit he was 18 months) that the contact notes were full stating all he did was scream and cry, wouldn't go near him (his father would just stand i n the corner. Not even a hello or bye) every session after 2 minutes DS would be back with me distressed and sobbing he'd then spend the next 40 minutes trying to calm down and the session would be over.

The judge took this into account when deciding the no contact order that was granted

scaredofowls Sun 02-Mar-14 11:07:51

FrogByAnotherName I mean if he was to get the joint custody he is requesting. I try my best to only work when dd is not with me (at dads or nursery hours) but thats not always an option. but beacuse ex isnt allowed in the town i live in all dd nursery days would have to be through my days with her.
And dd's contact is not in a contact centre so I dont have the option of recording contact, he is supervised by his parents.

FrogbyAnotherName Sun 02-Mar-14 13:40:58

Joint residency has no bearing on time with each parent though - there are joint residency orders made where parents live in different countries - it is by no means the case that her time with her Dad will be increased just because he has joint residency.

Her safety and welfare is paramount, and there are professionals who can assess that if concerns are raised, just as they would if the child was in that parents care full time.

The standards used to assess risk to a DC are the same whether or not there is a "safer" alternative - in other words, the fact that your DC would be exposed to less risk if she was with you isn't factored in when her Dads suitability as an unsupervised carer is assessed.

haveyourselfashandy Sun 02-Mar-14 14:02:22

He shares a close family friend with the judge?! I would be questioning this straight away and ask for a different judge to hear the case that's disgusting and I can't believe its allowed!
So sorry you are going through this but it seems to me your ex knows all the right people.
If I were you I'd be doing a midnight flit to another bloody country.Sorry,I know that's not the most sensible option!!

STIDW Mon 03-Mar-14 00:54:54

I think what stresses me out the most is that these strangers who don't know me the (judge has never even heard me talk before!) can make the biggest decisions in dd's life when I am her mother, I have never done anything to harm my dd and I have always been the best parent I can be, I should be the one to judge what's best for her like most other mothers have the rights to do for their children.

Mothers and fathers have equal responsibility for their children so they both have the same rights to make important decisions. In private family cases judges are only get involved because the parent's cannot agree. It isn't a question of who is the better parent, the standard is "good enough" parenting - meeting the basic needs of children. When parenting isn't deemed good enough the authorities look if any measures which can be put in place to ensure good enough parenting.

For example a single mother was a alcoholic who binged at weekends and she couldn't get the children to school Monday mornings or do any shopping. The measures put in place were for the mother to shop in advance of the weekend , the children had staying contact with their father over the weekend and someone else did the school run on Monday mornings.

In your case it seems the court is treating the case as though the father's parenting isn't good enough at least whilst investigations are carried out and contact is supervised to ensure the basic needs of the children are met. Difference in parenting styles, religion etc isn't a reason to stop contact.

if ex was to up his contact he would end up having more time with dd then me

At the moment contact is little and often to give your child the opportunity to bond with her father. When contact is extended over a weekend it's usually alternate weekends so the quality time at weekends is shared 50:50 or thereabouts.

scaredofowls Tue 04-Mar-14 08:46:43

Haveyourselfashandy....haha believe me I have already considered the running away thing, but it never ends well when I think it through!!
I know that what your saying is correct about the laws and parenting being just 'good enough' but doesnt make things any easier, my dd deserves more than just scraping by as a parent. He has done so many incredibley dangerous things to dd and done some horrific things to me in our r.ship but none of this appears to be relavant. In my opinion dd is most likely going to end up being pretty messed up by him one way or another either by not having.a dad in her life or growing up with an alcoholic dad. I believe the risks are higher for her having a him around, I dont want her to follow in his footsteps which will be hard when shes an impresionable teen and hes a wealthy man who can buy her anything, all I can do is be the best parent I can be and hope she stays on the right tracks when she grows up. Does anyone know at what age they take a childs feelings into account in court?

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