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SO ANGRY at family law court system (big rant)

(67 Posts)
tomsellecklover Fri 02-Aug-13 20:13:01

Hi all,
I won't go into all the ins and outs of my case as I would be here forever however, I was in court today for a directions appeals hearing regarding my ex's admission to 'sexually inappropriate behaviour' and how I am concerned about this in relation to the contact he has with our DD. In my opinion and I would have thought many others what he describes are sexual assaults. To my utter dismay in court today I was absolutely vilified by the judge who asked me what on earth was I bringing this issue to court for?? !!! I have tried and tried to get cafcass to take notice, I have tried in previous court hearing for magistrates to take notice but the furthest I have got is some ignorant old biddy telling me 'he was under the influence of drugs' as if that matters?! why are inexperienced magistrates making decisions about our children's future? the judge said 'I dread to think how much time and money this is wasting' - well you know what, if the system wasn't such a mess and people actually read the f*cking evidence then maybe it wouldn't take so long. I am drained mentally and physically and feel I cant go on but the mother instinct in me tells me I will not be quiet over this. does anyone know of organisations/campaigns for family law reform? I'm sick to death of this. taking legal aid away from vulnerable women, what planet are we actually living on??!! sorry if none of this makes any sense my head is spinning.

tomsellecklover Sat 03-Aug-13 13:28:59


babyhammock Sat 03-Aug-13 13:40:13

Exactly..even judge Jenkins commented that it is a legitimate concern from womansaid that people are being forced to let their children have unsafe contact with an abusive parent particularly with threats of reversing residency. I know because I'm in the middle of it.

Bruthastortoise Sat 03-Aug-13 13:40:51

Honey what you said was that mothers should have discretion over a fathers access. You didn't specifically reference the OP so I'm not sure why you're being so snarky now. Of course the OP should get to decide if her abusive fuckwit ex is a danger to her child but you made out that all mothers should have the ultimate say and it just isnt so. and i think you'll find that many cases of domestic abuse dont get reported until there is a court case surrounding the children as many women are to scared to report until they feel their children are in danger. And as for the stepparent jibe I'm not sure why you felt the need to throw that in, my DH's ex has never alleged any form of abuse from him so it's not a case of me disbelieving her, it never happened. There are men who aren't abusive you know.

honey86 Sat 03-Aug-13 13:43:34

exactly my point op. no parent should go to court with histories of abuse trying to get protection only to be shot down over it.
the fact that so many are insisting on so many referrals, procedures, paperwork, court outcomes BEFORE anything is put in place to protect the child from further potential abuse, pisses me off cos its the childs protection thats meant to come first not parents 'rights'.

honey86 Sat 03-Aug-13 13:49:10

thank you babyhammock! the point im trying to make! and actually i wasnt trying to say anything like that i was just making a point. if you want to get all offended thats your perogative. this post has f all to do with stepparents or nrps trying to get residency. its about child protection issues in court hmm

tomsellecklover Sat 03-Aug-13 14:02:27

brutha and honey, obviously when it comes to our kids it is something we are all very passionate about but it seems that we are agreement that the current system does not work. if we were to delve deeper it also involves the failings of the CSA , benefits system, child care costs, lack of funding to women's aid, ignorance of the police, lack of relationship education in schools, attitudes towards women Ie. equality, representation in media, porn, page 3 etc... I despair! does anyone know how the online government petition thing works? I.signed something last night but it seemed out of date , how do we start a new one? something along.lines of 'scrap cafcass , overhaul of entire family court and system' ???

babyhammock Sat 03-Aug-13 14:08:44

That's it, the authorities and systems making these decisions have no idea about the dynamics of abuse let alone the resources to investigate properly. I know our experience has been horrific and I know that sadly we're not alone.

honey86 Sat 03-Aug-13 14:34:48

u can go on or the govt one, create an account then i believe theres an option saying create a petition... create it following instructions, and after you submit it itll be reviewed then published ready to collect signatures xx

tomsellecklover Sat 03-Aug-13 14:40:09

thanks honey. anyone want to help me decide what to call the petition / write in description what its for?

tomsellecklover Sat 03-Aug-13 14:40:34

I will try put on both websites.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Sat 03-Aug-13 15:54:57

'he hasn't done anything to dd yet' . how can I live my life handing my precious little girl over to.him and thinking 'what if?'

The counter-argument and reason that courts do work on the principle that parents are responsible (until they are proven not to be) is very simple.

If every parent who was convicted of a criminal offence; be it violence, sexual offences, drunk driving, speeding (or anything else that could put a DC at risk) were limited to supervised contact only, then the care system would collapse. There would be literally tens of thousands of DCs in care, only able to see their parents during supervised contact just in case their parents caused them harm, too.

I fully understand how that feels if your DCs other parent has been violent/abusive towards you - I've had to come to terms with it myself - but society would not accept a situation in which DCs were removed from their parents 'just in case'.
Arguably, a DC whose parents are separated and the NRP has a history of abuse/violence to others is more protected than a DC with a RP with that criminal history - where there may not be another parent looking out for signs that their DC is being harmed.

honey86 Sat 03-Aug-13 16:00:48

thats a good idea as from what ive seen recently, the seems to grab more media attention than the govt one. the govt one rejects thousands of petitions... ive seen some on there with nearly 50,000 signatures and the response is no change is being made on that issue cos (in a nutshell) their ideas are best. it annoys me that the govt are so quick to dismiss peoples objections.
ill see if i can think of something... x

honey86 Sat 03-Aug-13 16:12:07

valid point respectfully taken- but ironically, if theres a situation where contact is enforced after concerns have been raised about potential abuse... and the involved child was indeed abused by the accused parent/carer and possible escalated, thered be a backlash towards the professionals/authorities that dismissed the allegations- for example, in the way it did after baby p. people asked why it wasnt nipped in the bud.. op is obvs trying to protect dc, referring to abuse that was even admitted to. i find it shocking it was dismissed sad

there must be a midpoint, a line to be drawn- family law just seems too blase about things like this and i find that worrying xx

tomsellecklover Sat 03-Aug-13 16:39:02

chinacupsandsaucers. thanks for posting. I do see why they would think this, innocent until proven guilty etc. its just I wish when it comes to protecting children they took a completely different view. it needs to be done perhaps in a new way, outside of the courts. studies have shown that 70% of men who abuse their children's mothers go on to abuse their own children. Now I understand that doesn't mean that he definitely will but why not put measures into place to lessen this risk? I have totally supported my daughters contact with her father but within limits. Its mostly about money, the standard procedure goes supervised, supported then unsupported contact. it is extremely rare that contact stays in supervised/ supported forever . so then whats the point in dragging us through this whole farce of a system when we already know what they will decide to do in the end anyway??

Bruthastortoise Sat 03-Aug-13 16:44:38

Have there been any studies done specifically relating to the volume of children who are abused while attending court ordered contact? If so that might be a place to start with your petition, I think the petition would do better if there is solid fact to back up common sense which obviously would suggest that known abusers shouldn't have contact or at the very least it should be supervised.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Sat 03-Aug-13 16:47:04

studies have shown that 70% of men who abuse their children's mothers go on to abuse their own children

Is that uncontested, unequivocal research? Can you post some links/references?
I'm certain that if those statistics were more widely known, and proven beyond doubt, that people like myself would be convinced of the need to change the system - at the moment, both arguments seem equally strong to me and depriving my DD of a dad seems like the lesser of the two evils even considering the risk.

My solicitor didn't refer to that research, either - is it recent?

I suppose my other question would be what about parents who have abused their DCs - is there evidence that they are likely to do it again?

betterthanever Sat 03-Aug-13 17:00:06

bruth you are spot on - research is needed. Cafcass don't keep it, in fact I don't think anyone does. This is one area that I think could be addressed - asking the government to start to collect data on post court order outcomes.
I think it could also help put in place more accountability - extreme example but unsupervised contact is ordered and the DC dies... nothing happens to anyone except the person who has killed the child who have often killed themselves anyway this works both ways. Both for mother's and fathers who kill thier children - and the parent may have needed help - it lets them down too.
Children are often not able to excerise thier rights. Thier right to a relationship with both parents is only one of many, it should not be held in top spot as I was not aware of any legislation that says it is. When a parent tries to protect other rights of a child and the right to have a relationship with both parents is given top spot, I want to know why in law that is?
The Lords are looking at reform alonside the government and one Lord, I can't remember her name sadly, said during the debate which I was on the parliament channel - that at the moment their are two presumptions: `the welfare of the child is paramount' and the `presumtion of contact' she said: you can't have two - one has to be given priority. She is correct - she wanted the first to remain the case.

- and guess which one it usually is sad - because it keeps the lawyers getting paid cases going. it is barbaric. My case should have never come to court. It was not approporaite for mediation but there needds to be something else. My case and many are more ficussed on the welfare issues and not the law side - cafcass has been set up to try and brige that gap but for many reasons it doesn't.

This is how I am seeing things at the moment.

betterthanever Sat 03-Aug-13 17:02:33

Sorry my typing is shocking today - think I need a nap fat chance.

Bruthastortoise Sat 03-Aug-13 17:30:24

Absolutely agree. I know that there was a case this week in Ireland where two little boys died and it appears that their father may be responsible. Obviously I'm not aware of the exact details of that case but fathers killing their little one's while on contact is not an unheard of event. Maybe if there was some joined up research between these kinds of occurrences and the role of family courts in ordering contact with abusive parents some headway could be made.

tomsellecklover Sat 03-Aug-13 17:32:19

In three-quarters of cases when courts have ordered contact with an abusive parent the children suffered further abuse

just a quick post, need to make the tea!

Bruthastortoise Sat 03-Aug-13 17:58:11

Just reading through that link tomsellecklover and it makes for seriously disturbing reading. It seems womensaid have been calling for reform since at least 2004 and no progrss has has been made sad

lostdad Sat 03-Aug-13 18:13:43

tomsellecklover - your first and last duty is the best interests of your DD. If you know she has been abused you will do everything you can to prevent contact. Or at most make sure the contact is supervised and the abuser deal with any issues.

If it's just your belief however that is a different matter. Who did your ex admit 'sexually inappropriate behaviour' to? You? CAFCASS? Someone else? Could it look like you are saying he said this to mudsling?

The Family Courts work on `the balance of probabilities'...meaning proof is not needed (as opposed to criminal law which is `beyond reasonable doubt'.

If you know abuse has taken place you need to build a case to show that in the balance of probabilities it took place. Depending on the age of your DD this may include psychological reports, interviews, physical examinations, etc.) and is something your solicitor/McKenzie Friend should be assisting you with.

I would (not surprisingly!) recommend Families Need Fathers....forget the name. A third of the members are female - which includes mothers. They are a support organisation but also campaign for reform of various parts of Family Law. There are support meetings around the country where you can get advice (very often solicitors and McKenzie Friends (legal assistants) attend and give free advice and pointers).

As I say - the safety of your DD is paramount that should be your first and only consideration.

betterthanever Sat 03-Aug-13 18:37:59

lostdad if I was unaware of the reality of the system, every thing you say is spot on. It is how I wish the system was. Sadly it is not and as a result, good, honest and loving fathers also end up in the system for longer and put through the mill i.e. you and a very good friend of mine but more importantly the children suffer from being apart from someone they love and would beenfit frm being with.
The Op seems to be at the end of the case. You have a lot of very relevant expereince, where do you think she should go from here to ensure the safety of her DD?

lostdad Sat 03-Aug-13 18:50:48

She's in an awkward situation.

I would say to the OP that if she genuinely believe that her DD is in danger she should stop contact. It's the only thing she can do as a good parent.

The caveat here is that if she does this there is the risk that she will (and I would say there is a good chance of this as there has been a case investigated by CAFCASS, etc.) end up in court being told that she is breaking a court order for no reason and risks the terms of the order being changed to stop her doing so.

I would hope that in her last case that the evidence for allegations would have been investigated inappropriately. She says he admitted 'sexually inappropriate behaviour'. Was there anything more to it? If he did say it was it something he said (stupidly, admittedly) in temper just to mess with her? Is there evidence of him saying it...or was it simply a case of her saying in the hearing that he did...while he denied it? Did he say it but jusWas her DD interviewed? Examined? Was he? I am assuming this is the case because CAFCASS would have definitely been interested and dealt with it.

To sum up - if she is sure this happened I'd recommend she stop direct contact and gather evidence to support her case, writing to him to let him know that you are doing this and why.

tomsellecklover Sat 03-Aug-13 19:11:15

it is indeed very disturbing.
lost dad - I wasn't very clear in my original post. bit worried about putting too much info on here but I was told in.writing from him about 2 incidents which involved 2 different females. it was not my dd that was involved but still worrying, I Do not feel I can trust someone who has 1) been violent to me and 2) sexually abused others. is this the type of person who should be allowed around a child? court took domestic violence quite seriously and ge has to do a course. social services advised that he should not be seeing dd at all but cafcass have this info and advised otherwise not giving any reason for this decision. I tried to appeal this and the judge told me where to go and that they thought that it waa completely irrelevant!

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