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Contact Centers - has anyone used one and how do they work?

(16 Posts)
ATourchOfInsanity Mon 24-Sep-12 20:07:06

My ex and I are currently going to Court over CSA payments - he has taken it to tribunal. He will fail as he has clearly stated he is the father, and he seems to have just realised this.

He has apparently been advised that while the Court is awaited, not to ask after DD or visit her at all. It has been over 8 months.

I contacted him yesterday to ask if, whatever happens with the Court, he would like to see her again in a Contact Center. He sent a long email back all about him and how troublesome Court has been for him and explaining the advice given, as above. However he now says that he will take it further if I "win" and him and his father will gain access every other weekend and will 'educate' our daughter in my absence...

He has issues with substance abuse and is apparently suffering liver damage as a result of drinking, as well as hospital stays for apparent "stress induced seizures" (IMO alcohol or drug induced) which is why I asked him to leave our home and had to claim CSA, after waiting months for him to do the right thing.

I would like DD to know her father, but am worried I won't know where she is or who she is with. Last I heard he was flat sharing with a band in London. I don't know where or who with and am frankly scared that anything could be left lying around/music could be played all night/who are these people? and it would be unsafe.

Are Contact Centers used for long term visitation and how can I go about this if he takes us to Court? Or do you have any other advice?

ATourchOfInsanity Mon 24-Sep-12 21:14:57

Erm, have I posted this in the wrong section? Anyone? :-/

cestlavielife Mon 24-Sep-12 21:36:10

How old is dd?
Is the substance abuse documented and do you have evidence ?

You could voluntarily use a contact centre but if court is to order it there has to be good reason like the safety of your child and you need evidence for that.
Sme are volunteer run some are
Properly supervised with observation. Depends on the level of supervision.
Won't be long term unless good reason for it .

Check out local centres on

Contact centes good but they can vary and there may be a wait list lus maybe can only offer set times.

cestlavielife Mon 24-Sep-12 21:38:22

0845 4500 280. National assoc of child contact centrs find the nearst one to you go visit.

ATourchOfInsanity Mon 24-Sep-12 21:47:56

Thank you for replying!
She is 13.5mo and he hasn't seen her since she was 6mo (not even crawling). We react very badly to each other and last time he came to visit he was 4hrs late, which is why I am hoping to keep it as formal as possible.

I have no doubt he will take us through Court for visitation after this last email. In my "evidence" for the CSA tribunal I explained that I asked him to leave due to his alchohol and substance abuse as he had become depressed and unsafe. I also backed this up with an email from his father to me (trying to emotionally blackmail me into dropping CSA completely and thus 'freeing his son') in which he confirmed he was aware of these abuses, but as far as he knows he is clean now.

I was wondering about the liver failure route as this is a clear indicator that he has jeapordised his health with alcohol abuse. He attempted suicide years before he met me and this is on record also in the emails from his father. I have emails from him talking about getting extra morphine after an operation by sweet talking various members of staff (always was quite the charmer!) and everyone here who met him can testify he could drink a bottle of wine in 10 mins flat, and more! He started to take his toothbrush to work to hide the smell of alcohol from colleagues and myself on his return. I suppose it could have been an affair but more likely booze IMO. He would usually get the spirits from the trolly on the commute home after drinking in the station pub before leaving London.

I didn't keep a diary of his alchoholism, but the morning that I asked him to leave he had drunk half a bottle of martini and four tins of harvey wallbangers by 10:30am (having only woken at about 9am). He was meant to be looking after dd alone that evening when I went out for the first time since her birth. Instead I asked him to leave the house...

Is this the kind of stuff I need? I have emails to back a lot of it up and as I said friends saw his drunken exploits clearly and would testify if needed. I just don't really know how it works.

ATourchOfInsanity Mon 24-Sep-12 21:51:54

He also taunted a local group of hoodies when drunk and returning from work in the dark when DD was 1mo. He was bought home in a police car but said he dropped charges on them. His story on this changed several times but the CCTV picked up the fight which was why he was returned by police, apparently looking like the victim. He showed off for days about how they kept jumping on his head but he didn't even have concussion.

He didn't realise this just made him sound a bit mental, not butch... Or think how I felt with our DD home alone, or how we would feel if we saw them in town the next day...

cestlavielife Tue 25-Sep-12 13:04:51

well you need medical professionals reports or police reports - what you / he / his dad say wont carry much weight on their own.

if he is applying for contact he isnt going to drag up emails from the past which incriminate ...and if you bring them up they could be dismissed as being in the past . had you called police or paramedics to remove him when drunk you would have something official - i know is easy with hindsight... but you need a bit more argument and evidence of current behavior eg towards you which would merit a contact centre - however given her age and not having seen her then would need gradual build up and you could say this would be best done in neutral location like a contact center. but see what is available near you and how much they cost and who will pay?

you could argue because of past experiences you want to start in a contact centre - and to make handovers easier. what "education" are they proposing? are they a different culture or religion? is that what you worried about?

but otherwise is there a third party you would trust like a relative or friend?
eg to monitor contact in local play centre ?

ATourchOfInsanity Tue 25-Sep-12 14:56:23

Thank you - I was wondering about whether emails would be enough. I suppose because he was a 'victim' with the hoodies that won't be much use, even if it was provoked, and I wouldn't know how to go about getting the details etc even if I could, which I doubt!

Sorry, waffly as been a long day already (up at 5:£0 and she's only just napping now!).

I have friends I would trust to be a third party but he didn't get on with any of them. He is a hard person to get along with generally so I think he would try to veto anyone I chose.

He and his father are very similar. The email was really insinuating that they will work to turn her against me while I am not there. How his dad will do this I don't know as as far as I know he lives in Vietnam. Also I don't know if I can specify who is allowed to see her with him? At least initially? Both of them have been emailing me continually harassing me into dropping CSA claims, but now they see it will happen regardless they are changing tack. They wanted me to produce a document saying he was never going to have financial responsibility and would never see her again - which I of course refused to produce! Now they suddenly seem to want contact, so I doubt it is for her interests... That is what I am worried about. One minute they are happy to walk away and forget her over maintenance and now they want to "educate" her...

ATourchOfInsanity Tue 25-Sep-12 14:57:31

Can I get a medical and psychological test done on him without his consent? I am pretty sure the answer is no, but not sure how else to do it. Hire a private dick?!!! Haha wink

cestlavielife Tue 25-Sep-12 15:46:12

well the harassment by email might be grounds for a contact centre....

stop replying to their emails .

thoug i dont udderstand really - you said court is about CSA payments. that has nothing to do with contact.

is there a separate court application for cotact with dd?

but no you canot get a medical done without his consent -= unless is ordered by a court. but while you were together you might have kept medical reports from a psychiatrist ?

look just wait for court hearing about contact, provide information you have about your concerns for DD wellbeing but stick to facts not hearsay eg he wanted to give her up completely as per emails of xx ddate xxx .

and offer contact centre contact for now in order to make sure he is committed to developing a relationship with her and because you scared of him etc .

though if he presents as upstanding member of society with good job you may be hard pushed to insist on contact centre other than the fact he hasnt seen her for so long and she so young . and that you cannot supervise visits because of the past history between you.

ATourchOfInsanity Tue 25-Sep-12 20:38:33

We haven't had the Court Case yet for maintenance - the one he has insisted on to try to wriggle out of paying for her. The lead up to which him and his father have sent me emails asking me to produce a document saying they will never see her again and that they are both happy to sign this and be out of our lives.

The Court date will be relatively soon and clearly he is her father and the CSA have said he still has to pay; and there really is nothing else he can say at the Court to make this any different.

I thought I could try to extend an olive branch removing us from the situation so he still gets to see her, but he has replied as I said. It seems he wants it to be all about us and not her which I was trying to avoid as really I don't have the energy. I just had a moment and thought I was doing the right thing by trying to keep him with an option of seeing her as he has dug himself into a hole by saying he will never see her again.

However now he is on about getting access every other weekend...he doesn't seem remotely interested in the Contact Center, just wants to rake over us and tell me all about how hard it has been for him. Everything comes back to it being about him.

Sorry, I am aware he is making me angry but I really just wanted him to grab the idea of seeing her with both hands. I was silly to think he wasn't going to get personal.

Yes, by the time he has dragged us through Court to see her (which I know he will do as he wants to think he has "won") it will be well over a year since he saw her. Maybe that is the only hope I have of a Court offering or advising a Contact Centre. He certainly won't be able to do regular visits though, so the case may take a while!

Meglet Tue 25-Sep-12 22:26:40

I was able to apply to use the contact centre as we had to speak to the police and womens aid about XP. From what you have said here I would hope you have a very strong case for using one!

In the end XP refused to attend, we turned up twice and he e-mailed me to say he would never go. So we haven't seen him since (this is not a bad thing).

With our contact centre there is a door for the resident parent and a door for the NRP. What should of happened is that XP arrived and the staff take the dc's into the big playroom to see him. As he never arrived we just sat there playing with toys and chatting to the staff, who were very nice.

ATourchOfInsanity Tue 25-Sep-12 22:58:52

Thanks Meglet, that is really useful to know.
I imagine he will avoid police etc too as he tried to run away from CSA by ignoring them, not realising they would contact his work directly (cue me being blamed for trying to ruin his career).

He has actually just sent me a very dramatic email telling me I am wasting my life away and he has a new love of his life and won't let me ruin it. Not sure how I was trying to by suggesting a contact centre, but really hoping this means he will simply drop it all to be honest. I know I have tried to keep them in touch, if she ever asks in the future. I see, like you, that him going AWOL can only be a good thing and am now not sure what I was thinking in suggesting it in the first place as he has some huge issues to redress before he can look after a child.

Thank you all so much though, lovely to hear how it works if we do end up needing one!

lostdad Mon 01-Oct-12 12:46:08

I would like to say that people like your ex make me angry because they tar people like me.

I fought a court case lasting 5 years for my son to be able to have a good relationship with me. He endured being uprooted from his home area to somewhere he had no family or connection whatsoever was forced to see me in a contact centre (and plainly hated it) and is now very insecure because he is being put under pressure at his mum's house.

If I could sit your ex down and explain to him what he is doing...I doubt it would make any difference. But I would try.

So sad. sad

crackcrackcrak Mon 01-Oct-12 22:34:32

God he sounds like a knob!
Educate your dd about what?

He has to evidence suitable accommodation if he wants unsupervised contact. My ex was in a house share for a bit and I was having none of it wrt contact there. Cafcass supported me fully on that and also guided me about drug testing. In the end I declined them
As they would only tell me what I already knew but I think idiot ex got quite a shock how seriously Cafcass took my concerns when I only had my own testimony as evidence - hope that helps smile

ATourchOfInsanity Fri 05-Oct-12 13:10:11

Oh thank you! Just looked up cafcass and it looks really helpful, thanks smile
He text me today trying to get out of CSA and asking for me to trust him to just pay me out of the goodness of his heart hmm
He really seems to think I was born yesterday.
Makes me think that we haven't heard the last of him and Court so may well need cafcass.

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