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ex partner suddenly wanting access, help needed.(13 Posts)
My sister has 2 children, 3 & 5 and their dad, her ex was emotionally and sometimes physically abusive. He hasn't seen the dcs for 2.5years. No contact apart from the odd steam of abusive messages, he was cautioned for harassment about 18m ago.
She's had a letter today from the local court with papers to say he wants access. The court hearing is in May. There is mention of mediation, he's ticked the box to say the "respondent has refused" but she's never been asked. Back in the day if he's said he wants access, she said you get anger management and prove you've changed and we'll talk about it. Then he disappears for 6m and is abusive over email again. Doesn't pay anything towards either child.
She is scared he will get access. The fact that he's been able to get a court order for a hearing, does this mean he's explained things to someone at the court and they've basically said yes you've got a case etc or doesn't it work like that? Surely at the very least it would be supervised??
He has been on medication for schizophrenia in the past, history of marijuana use which is what makes his paranoid and generally rambling/abusive. Any advice appreciated if you've got this far, thank you.
She needs a lawyer
Any parent can apply for a hearing, that's just what it is, the hearing hadn't happened yet so he hasn't had a chance to tell anyone anything.
Does she have evidence of his abuse? Police records?
Thank you. We are going to start with citizens advice tomorrow and go from there. Do things get decided on the day with a hearing I wonder? The police have been involved twice, once to take a statement but it went no further, the second time was after days of threatening emails and texts. He was taken from his home in a police car to a station and cautioned but not charged or anything. I presume cautions are kept on file?
From my understanding, having been through similar myself, she really should have been invited for mediation. However, given the history of abuse, she probably wouldn't go or it would be deemed inappropriate.
As far as the court goes, basically any solicitor will take the case to court. He doesn't have to 'prove' anything for that. Also, it's not a quick process. I've been to court 3 times now re access and we're still not done. The last time he took me to court, it went to 4 hearings.
A history of harassment, mental health conditions etc will be considered but won't necessarily mean no access. My ex had been sectioned, arrested, banned from keeping animals, banned from driving, harassed my family but he still won access. Supervised but he won.
So, it's not easy but you're doing the best thing getting advice. I really would advise getting a solicitor. She needs someone to fight this. Cafcass involvement may be ordered. It gets messy. Good luck.
Oh, and my ex got convicted for carrying a knife and he has 2 restraining orders but he is still deemed ok to see the children as "his crimes weren't against children"
Bitter? You bet!
The CAFCASS website has some really good explanations of the process which it's worth your DSis looking at.
I've had experience of several court cases in which one parent applied to court, and each has gone something like this:
In advance of the first hearing - CAFCASS do a preliminary records check of the DCs named in the application; police, SS etc, and write a brief summary for court.
On the day of the first hearing - parents are given a copy of the CAFCASS summary (it should be sent to parents in advance, but never has been in my experience) and each meet with the CAFCASS officer. Solicitors/barristers for each party (if they have them) negotiate to try and reach an agreement.
First hearing - court listens to applicants request and respondents reply. The court may order further reports from CAFCASS, they may order that the parties attempt mediation, attend parenting programme or request other reports they think are necessary . They may make an order for some contact, direct or indirect, while those reports are being written.
Weeks later, Further hearing(s) take place for the court to consider the findings of the reports they have asked for, and for either side to argue their case in more detail before a decision is made.
Once an application has been made to court, only the court can dismiss it - the applicant cannot decide to withdraw it. Even if the applicant doesn't turn up, there will still be a need for the respondent to go into the court room and often, the case is rescheduled at least once, rather than dismissed.
Wow so it's not always that common sense prevails then. He wasn't abusive to the children so that will obviously go in his favour . Thanks for the heads up, at least it's a dream out process I suppose. I expect he will give up but maybe that's not an option now it's got this far. Dsis is a good mum, no history of SS etc, house in good order, dcs doing well at nursery and school so on paper you'd hope it goes well but it's just a worry for her. Thanks for your replies X
if the domestic violence against her was relatively recent then she may be eligible for legal aid - make sure you find out
resolution has a list of specialist family lawyers and there is a search facility so you can look for one that offers legal aid
Thank you. She has an appointment in a few weeks so is getting sorted. The dv was around 4years ago but he was arrested and cautioned for harassment about 2years ago. Has recent emails however which are aggressive and nasty. I think she accepts contact will happen but just wants it to be supervised first. He hasn't seen them for 3.5years!
she needs to push for gradual reintroduction to the children as he is a stranger to them . has the youngest one never met him?
from what I have read the parent has to be really really really shit to get no contact at all.
(sorry not at all qualified)
He saw the youngest on Christmas Day and he was 6months old. I was there during that visit, he kicked off and was aggressive etc even with his dad there with him. He's not paid anything towards them in years, no contact with my sis except abusive emails, no serious attempt to arrange anything. But I'm sure you're right, he will be entitled to something. I just know he'll let them down or give up so hopefully he doesn't get many chances
Who's her appointment with, CAB or a solicitor? I'd definitely get a solicitor to check whether she's eligible for legal aid asap. I think she's got a reasonable chance of securing a slow introduction/supervision. Her options for supervision are probably a contact centre (there's often a few and a waiting list) or finding a mutually acceptable friend/relative to do it.
Does he work? Now that he's resurfaced I'd encourage her to claim child maintenance for them.
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