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joint custody? restraining order? i'm so confused please help!

(15 Posts)
Ginni Sun 18-Oct-09 10:25:20

The situation is that dd is 9 months old, me and dp our relationship pretty much ended while I was pregnant but we tried and tried to work it out until now, but it's all come to a head. To say we hate each other would probaby be a fair statement. Luckily I have my own place, so does he. However, part of the problem is that he insists that he should be able to be wherever his daughter is, so he thinks it's his right to be at my place if dd is. We've agreed to end our relationship after much too and fro-ing, but he still intends to be staying over at mine when dd is here! He is a cantankerous man, and very forceful and intimidating. He won't accept me saying his presence is not welcome. What do I do to make sure he doesn't keep on coming around? Should I take out a restraining order? I don't know if this is appropriate, he is verbally abusive to me, not physically.

Also, I really don't think we're going to be able to work out something regarding custody ourselves. I want us both to share custody - does anyone have any experience in going down this route? I'd appreciate hearing your experiences. Also, how much is it likely to cost for this in terms of legal fees etc - I earn around £38,000, little savings but I own property so I guess i'm not entitled to legal cost assistance. And any idea how long the legal process will take?

GrandhighBOOba Sun 18-Oct-09 17:17:54

Am not an expert in these matters, hopefully someone will be along soon who is!

That said - Am pretty sure he has no right to be in your home without your permission. You can get free legal advice initially on this.

Mediation might be a way of sorting access - its free I think. That said, my experience of working joint custody is that it requires lots of understanding and patientence on the part of both parents, it doesn't sound like your ex is going to make this easy. You need to speak to a lawyer.

floatyjosmum Sun 18-Oct-09 19:00:20

just had to go through the legal process and pay for it myself!

it was expensive!! if your gross income is more than 2600 a month they wont give you any legal aid.

mediation cost me 110 an hour and my solicitor 220 an hour and a dispute that was sorted within 4 months and went to court 3 times cost 10k!!

you can apply for orders through the court yourself and just pay their fees which will be laods cheaper - residence order application is 180 and represent yourself, tbh i wish i had done.

verbal abuse is still considered domestic violence so you can still apply for a non molestation order.

personally i think i would put it in writing to him how you want things to be and if it still continues apply to the courts.

hope this has helped.
x

NanaNina Mon 19-Oct-09 17:59:27

Ginny - firstly you really don't have to allow your ex P in your home whenever he chooses. I am assuming you are not married and so therefore he does not have Parental Responsibility (PR) for your daughter, but he can get this if he is the father.

I am an ind social worker and often get involved in private law cases regarding children. Custody was replaced with Residence Orders (Children Act 1989). However you and your P can make whatever decisions you like about the future care of your child and it sounds as though you are looking at some kind of shared care, which often works very well. If your P gets PR then you will equal rights over the chid.

My advice to you is though to try to sort this out with your P (possibly with the help of your local mediation service - google them) who are very useful in these cases. I am usually involved when couples have not been able to agree on arrangements for the care of the child and the case ends up in court, and IME should be avoided at all costs. In these cases both parties are represented by solicitors (who don't always give good advice and sometimes encourage warring between the parents) and a CAFCASS social worker will make a report and a recommendation on who should care for the child on a permanent basis and how much contact the other parent should have and then the Judge makes the decision.

I get involved usually after CAFCASS have been involved and the court has ordered another independent report and I investigate all the circumstances and make a recommendation. The real losers in these case in my view are the children in the middle of all the tension and conflict. Many parents end up being very unhappy at what the Judge has ordered and it all very lengthy and traumatic for all concerned.

SO I would suggest you get some legal advice, but lay down the law about letting your P be in your home whenever he wants to. I am assuming he is capable of caring for the child as you are considering somekind of sharedcare. Howevr your description of him raises some doubts doesn't it about his ability to care for the child, though I can assure you that if it goes to court there would have to be very good reason for a court to preclude him from having contact with his child. Whatever you do try and do it with goodwill for the sake of the child. I have seen some very traumatised children who are caught between their parents fighting over them.

Ginni Mon 19-Oct-09 20:34:35

Thanks for the info - we're not married, wouldn't we both have parental responsibility at present anyway? dp looks after dd while I work full time (it's complicated as to why, basically he's suspended currently awaiting the outcome of a police investigation, he will either be back working full time come Jan or maybe in custody who knows!).

I would really want shared custody, he is a good dad all said and done and I don't want to deprive our dd who loves daddy AND mummy.

I do like the sound of mediation - I've just googled it in London but none of the sites seem to list fees - could anyone advise me how much this is likely to be?

Going to court and representing myself is likely to be the only option if it goes this far, as I couldn't afford representation.

NanaNina Mon 19-Oct-09 21:27:44

Ginny - if parents are married they automatically have PR of their children. If you are not married then the parents can make an agreement that the father has PR so long as his name is on the birth certificate. The agreement has to be signed by a Justice's clerk and filed in court otherwise it is not legal.

Sorry I don't know how much mediation costs but phone them and they will tell you. Please try to sort out the arrangements for your child without recourse to the courts - that's the road to ruin!

GrandhighBOOba Mon 19-Oct-09 21:31:14

Re parental rights- It used to be that unmarried fathers didn't get them, but the law changed a few years ago. If your ex is on the birth certificate for a DC born since the change in law, then he does have parental rights and responsibilities. This doesn't give him any rights to enter your home!

Can't answer your other questions, sorry, but this will bump to keep you active.

NicknameTaken Tue 20-Oct-09 11:43:37

Grandhigh is right, once he's on the birth cert he automatically has parental responsibility.

No, he can't come into your home without permission. I'd put this in writing to him. If he doesn't pay attention, apply for a court order.

You can try mediation. If you reach agreement and you're afraid he won't comply, you can seek a court order by consent on the basis of your agreement.

I skipped mediation because my husband is also quite intimidating, and mediation is not always suitable in these circs.

I've had to pay a solicitor and it's not cheap, but I'm paying it off at a rate of £200 a month so it's doable. Ask around for a good solicitor. I'd recommend that you go for a member of Resolution. We ended up with a court order by consent as our solicitors negotiated for us.

Any particular reason you want shared custody? My ex has DD a lot (every second weekend plus every Sunday plus full days Mon and Fri) but I am still the residential parent. I insisted on this because I was afraid of him taking her out of the UK, which may not be applicable to you.

pippel Tue 20-Oct-09 11:53:10

my 2nd dds Dad has pr because hes on the birth certificate. We also split while I was pregnant. He visits dd2 in my house but that's our arrangement based on our circumstances, you dont have to let him in.

I dont know if I read the op correctly but is her planning to have you dd at his and then when she is with you he will be there as well? So he would be with her 100% of the time?

ProfessorLaytonIsMyZombieSlave Tue 20-Oct-09 12:00:52

If a baby was born after 1 December 2003 and the father is named on the birth certificate then he automatically has parental responsibility.

NanaNina Tue 20-Oct-09 12:41:14

sorry folks for posting inaccurate info re PR - I hadn't realised the law had changed, though it does sound like it's changed for the better. Interesting that the legal web sites aren't up to date on the change in the law as I looked this up before I posted. Nickname - you mention a lawyer from Resolution - can you give more info on this please as haven't heard of it. Thanks

Snorbs Tue 20-Oct-09 12:49:10

As you both have PR and there aren't any existing court orders for residency/custody then, for most intents and purposes, you already are doing shared residency. What would you hope to gain (or avoid) by having a court order?

As for him entering your home, you are perfectly entitled to not let him inside. It's good that he wants to see DD regularly but there's no reason why that has to be in your home. When he's looking after DD when you're at work, where are they?

babybarrister Tue 20-Oct-09 15:51:38

Resolution is the "new" name for the Solicitors Family Lawyers Association - it has an excellent website and should be your first port of call as it also has a list of trained family mediators as well as solicitors [some of whom offer legal aid]. Good luck

NicknameTaken Tue 20-Oct-09 15:54:26

Resolution is a network of solicitors that work in family law and aim to keep conflict to a minimum. Both I and my ex had Resolution solictors and I was very pleased at how they dealt with us. They each fought our corner, but we ended up with a court order by consent.

Details here: http://www.resolution.org.uk/

I know you haven't had a good experience with solicitors/courts, NanaNina, and I'm sure there are some shocking ones out there, but my personal experience has been positive.

NanaNina Tue 20-Oct-09 19:03:49

Thanks bb and Nicknametaken - i will certainly look at the Resolution website. It isn't that I've always had a bad experience of solicitors/courts NNT but there are a few cases that stand out in my mind when CAFCASS do not seem to have based their recommendation on the needs of the child and have been overly influenced by the fathers in the cases.

I work as an ind s.w. in all aspects of family law, parenting a/ments etc as well as private law and I have to say that in the main I have found judges to make very sensible and equitable decisions. I think it was on this thread I mentioned that Judges had in my view been over generous to fathers in contact cases but these have been in the minority.

CAFCASS of course are horrendously overworked and it is on the news tonight about the massive rise in applications for care proceedings following the Baby P tragdedy. This can only make matter worse for parents caught up in these contact cases. Another reason why I think it is always preferable (with mediation if necessary) to sort matters out themselves if at all possible.

Anyway glad to hear your own experience has been positive.

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