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Court proceedings, grandparents seeking contact, cafcass recommend ever 2 weeks

(34 Posts)
PollyCinnamon Fri 01-Apr-16 03:00:00

I am in disbelief as the mother of 11 month old twins, that I have no rights to choose who my children associate with. I didn't realise the law had changed to erode parental rights like this.

Prior to the birth I found out my other half was seeing prostitutes, his mother encouraged this behaviour and when we sought counselling to try & rescue the situation, she forbade it. She caused so much trouble in the first few months of the babies lives, including insisting on dictating the christening and religious faith of the children, despite the fact she would not allow her son to be christened at all. She has tried to up skittle the family based maintenance arrangement I have with the father (the babies shouldn't be getting so much financial support), has spread lies about me and flamed me on Facebook as a 'piranha woman'.

Her son, the babies dad, has mental health issues and she had advised him not to reveal the extent of them to his psychiatrist, and provided immoral guidance to him to the extent that it has formed a sort of conditioning which is difficult for him to shrug off, despite his wishes to reform and be a good father for his new sons.

I decided last July that enough was enough and stopped contact with her. The paternal grandmother has since taken me to court, and we are well advanced into the process. Cafcass, the court appointed child protection body have decided that she poses no physical threat to the children, and are recommending that she sees them every 2 weeks. The reasoning behind this is the blanket assumption that grandparents enrich their grandchildrens lives. The fact that the babies don't know her means that they have to recommend regular contact of every 2 weeks, to try and establish this relationship.

I feel that she is a really damaging and destructive person, immoral, selfish and deceitful.
It is 90% certain the court will follow the recommendations made in the cafcass report, of contact every 2 weeks, despite it being against the wishes of both myself and the babies father.

The situation seems crazy to me, I thought parents who were caring well for their children had the right to bring them up unmilested and protect them from bad influences, but it seems that is no longer the case. I'm in utter shock.

PollyCinnamon Fri 01-Apr-16 03:06:04

That should have said unmolested....

If anyone can offer any advice it would be appreciated. I've got a court hearing in a month, but it seems the report will dictate what happens, it feels like I've already lost the battle.

And I just want us all to have a life which isn't a constant battle. This is a woman who has brought me to my knees with her plotting and lying :-(

FoxesSitOnBoxes Fri 01-Apr-16 03:28:02

Wow. That is really awful. I had no idea that grandparents had rights like this. How completely rediculous. I'm so sorry you are going through this. Bumping until someone helpful comes along

VegasIsBest Fri 01-Apr-16 05:48:26

Have you got a lawyer?

fuzzywuzzy Fri 01-Apr-16 05:51:08

Gets lawyer, don't self represent. This is too important to make mistakes.

Collaborate Fri 01-Apr-16 06:39:10

Sounds like you're close to a final hearing.
Get yourself a direct access barrister if you're currently unrepresented. There's presumably much more to your case than you can say on here.

LaurieFairyCake Fri 01-Apr-16 07:14:13

Are you currently with the father?

If not surely they will decide that contact with his parents will happen on his time with them anyway?

PollyCinnamon Fri 01-Apr-16 11:25:27

Yes I will have to get legal help.

I am not with the father but due to his mental health (not always bad but on occasion it has been and it has caused neglect of the babies if he has sole charge) he sees the babies voluntarily supervised. It's complicated his mother has told him to lie to his psychiatrist about his psychosis so he has got a psychiatrists letter classifying him as 'no risk' which is not the case. It is recommended in the report that he is in attendance during their contact, but the report is granting them their own access.

It is my understanding that every 2 weeks is the maximum amount of access that is commonly granted, courts sometimes rule monthly or every 2 months.

I just can't understand how someone who is a liar, a slanderer, a trouble causer and a wholly destructive influence on our family could be recommended to have the maximum access. The father and I are still friends & trying to pull together for the babies, he is supporting me in the fact that she should not have such regular access.

It's crazy, I could understand this level of access being given to some silver haired sweetie who has lost contact through no fault of their own but we have good reasons to want her at arms length.

The cafcass officer said the fact that she encouraged her son to use prostitutes was more or less fine, it would be different if she was running her own brothel. That the fact that she totally steamrollered and changed the christening details without consultation (she contacted the church direct & emailed us after to let us know the new arrangements) is ok, as 'mother in laws are traditionally interfering'. As long as she isn't physically a threat, then it appears she's considered fine. And her wish to see the babies supersedes our wishes as parents as 'it is in the children's best interests to have contact with as many family members as possible'.

It looks like the writing is on the wall. Part of me is posting here to illuminate this new situation, as there is still a lot on the internet which is pre the law change, (pre 2011) when parents had rights over who their children associated with.
In the case of grandparents it is now the case that their rights take precedence, and this is the law. If a grandparent with not as much contact as they wish has the inclination to go to court they can get access, every 2 weeks. It's bananas.

Collaborate Fri 01-Apr-16 11:57:18

I'm afraid you've misstated the law. Nothing has changed. There was an Independent Family Justice Review that reported in 2011 (see here) and that recommended no change. Every case is decided on its own merits.

It's significant that the father father no longer lives with you, and that he has restricted contact. The grandparents case would have been weaker had he been exercising meaningful contact.

PollyCinnamon Fri 01-Apr-16 13:29:33

Thank-you Collaborate, I thought the law had changed, as so much on the Internet suggests that parental wishes are paramount, this is not what I have found to be the case.
The father does not live here but he does have meaningful contact, usually daily. He only misses the odd day when he's too busy.
There are no new people on the scene, and without her divisive influence he is trying to reform and combat his sex addiction and be a family man. We are in concord that contact with her twice weekly would put us back to being in conflict with each other, and we have come a long way in the last few months. The best interests of the children should surely be us maintaining amicability, this has only become possible with her off the scene.
She has attempted to get him to take me to court, to go a CSA route instead of the family based arrangement we both want, tried to impose her own religious beliefs on the children, written letters to the godparents saying she thinks they are a bad influence (the godfather is a director of the probation service, so an upstanding man), written me letters asking me to change the babies names.
She has personally slandered me and encouraged the babies dad to get involved with other women. She didn't want him to have children in the first place, and she said by using prostitutes he was "fulfilling his urges as a man in ways that avoided commitments he couldn't fulfil". The babies are the commitment she says he couldn't fulfil but he wants to try.
Obviously it's all complicated due to his mental health issue, but by telling him not to be honest with his psychiatrist she is stopping him getting the treatment which could make him better. He has paranoid delusions and is not always 'with it' enough to care for the children, though he is fine the majority of the time.
The babies are my life, she has been a terrible mother to her son, has given him no moral guidance and led him down many wrong paths. I don't want her getting her claws into my innocent boys.

Fourormore Fri 01-Apr-16 15:44:06

Parental wishes are never paramount - the children's welfare is.

PollyCinnamon Fri 01-Apr-16 16:20:46

But the childrens welfare isnt in question

Fourormore Fri 01-Apr-16 16:32:29

Yes it is - the grandmother's case is basically that the children's welfare would be limited without having contact with her and the guidance given is that children benefit from knowing as many members of their family as fully as possible, taking risk into account.

I see what you're saying but the fact that she encouraged your ex to sleep with prostitutes or told him to lie about the psychosis is pretty much irrelevent. I wouldn't have expected those things to reduce the level of recommended contact at all. Same with the christening. That's all stuff that affects your relationship with her, not the children's relationship with her (except through the animosity between the two of you which the children shouldn't be made aware of).

She sounds like a nightmare but I don't think you've written anything that would make me concerned about her spending time with them as such. A few hours once a fortnight isn't going to damage them. It sounds like you could benefit from some help with boundaries though? She can want whatever she wants, you don't have to let her have her own way on stuff like maintenance, name changes etc etc.

Collaborate Fri 01-Apr-16 16:32:49

Google Childern Act Welfare Checklist. You'll see then what Fourormore means.

Collaborate Fri 01-Apr-16 16:33:45

The Grandmother's ability to cause disruption between the parents is a relevant factor that the court should be taking in to account.

PollyCinnamon Fri 01-Apr-16 18:16:24

Thanks that all seems quite understandable, I am starting to see that however difficult shes made things for me and the babies father, and how it affected our lives, that we have to just suck it up, as it doesn't directly affect the children.

Although indirectly it does, due to heightened stress causing him to become mentally unwell, and relations getting strained between the 2 of us making him not want to see the babies as regularly.

Her trying to get him to cut the level of maintenance also would affect the babies too, had she succeeded.

I feel her desire to control and disrupt our plans has no basis in what is in the children's welfare, she just feels she knows best and her opinion matters most. She is retired and cash-rich, she is a formidable woman. And I'm totally opposed to this lying as a way of life ethos she has instilled into her son.

You're right she didn't ultimately manage to control the decisions, but it was only by cutting her out totally that this autonomy was achieved, as she could never accept an alternative decision was being made, or let anything lie. Life just became one battle after another.

The rest of her side of the family have not wanted to have any contact with the babies since her contact stopped, despite my invitations. She has got them all believing that I stopped contact for no reason. This stands in her favour as it is not just her not having contact, the whole extended family on her side have stopped wanting to see the babies.

I just wish the contact could be monthly, two weekly will put her regularly at the centre of our lives again. Do you think I stand any chance of it being reduced to monthly? :-(

The report concludes "I would recommend that the paternal grandmother tries to curb any wish to help which could be seen as interfering'.

I fail to see how when she was posting defamatory remarks about me on Facebook, and suggesting paternity tests should be required if I wanted child maintenance for the babies, that this was her trying to 'help'.

fuzzywuzzy Fri 01-Apr-16 18:25:45

Op you need good legal help, what seems wrong is not against the law. Altho I think we would all cut this vile woman out of our lives.

You need legal counsel who can articulate to the judge who negatively this woman is affecting your children and your ex's relationship with his children. It needs to be handled by someone who knows what they're doing.

PollyCinnamon Fri 01-Apr-16 20:55:14

Thank-you for that. I will get onto it & will let you know how it goes.

Sunshine87 Fri 01-Apr-16 21:08:20

This is why grandparents shouldn't have rights over the parents. I feel for you OP I had an nightmare ex mil who is utter vile I wouldn't want her influencing my DS. She has no access in her own right but sees DS when his DF has him. Can you print all the slanderous stuff she's said about you? Realistically if shes disrespectful towards you she shouldn't be involved in the babies lives access utilmately will not work if she cannot respect you as the care giver.

Fourormore Fri 01-Apr-16 22:23:23

Grandparents don't have rights over the parents 😒 The children have rights.

Sunshine87 Fri 01-Apr-16 22:30:20

Sorry fourin the case of grandparents the parents should have a right who is involved in their DC lives
No be dictated to by a court of law unless it's a parent.

Collaborate Sat 02-Apr-16 07:34:14

No be dictated to by a court of law unless it's a parent.

So you would think that if one parent dies and the remaining parent prevents those grandparents from having contact then there's nothing they should be able to do?

This would make decisions about who the child should see a matter for the interests of the parents alone, rather than the child. Totally wrong.

Put the child at the centre of your thinking at all times.

Sunshine87 Sat 02-Apr-16 19:39:17

No otherwise when does it stop aunties and uncles rights? The right of the parent should trump extended family members.

Collaborate Sat 02-Apr-16 22:30:44

No. The rights of the child should always trump the rights of the parent. Thanks God we've got courts so that people can't get away with thinking like that.

newnc Sat 02-Apr-16 22:47:17

Collaborate, I don't understand how you can think it is positive for the child if the gp is hostile to the mother, ever? A child will suffer self esteem issues if they are aware of the hostility and I would say the vast majority of children would be aware even if the adults tried to hide it, as children pick up on their mother's tension and tension generally.

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