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How much pressure can the courts place upon an eight year old

(34 Posts)
ilovemilton Thu 08-Jan-15 17:03:13

I posted yesterday about an enforcement order being applied for by exh in a contact order case. I found out today that it is in actual fact the guardian who is applying for it. exh has said he doesn't mind.

So far, the children have been subject to a four hour psychological assessment, a cafcass visit at home, a cafcass visit at school, two hours with a social worker at the contact centre prior to contact commencing and dd is still refusing contact.

I have now been told I have to take the children to her office at 4pm one day next week, to see what other further action is to be taken to ensure dd attends contact.

How many times does she have to keep saying no for until she is listened to, or will she be subject to this heavy handedness until she gives in and attends?

No matter what I say to encourage her, at the end of a day she has a memory and cannot forget the abuse he inflicted. I don't know what more I can do and how many more meetings I can drag her to before she starts hating me too.

Starlightbright1 Thu 08-Jan-15 21:57:03

I really have no answers ..It sounds an awful situation for your DD and you... As EX is abusive I doubt he cares.

ilovemilton Thu 08-Jan-15 23:15:19

Its awful. She says she hates me for taking her there every week. We have to sit in a corridor for three hours and wait for ds. It's like she is being punished until she agrees.

cestlavielife Fri 09-Jan-15 10:39:49

get a(nother) child psychologist involved. - who did the four hour assessment and what did they conclude?

if there has been serious abuse then an independent report from psychologist to say this is damaging might help your case.

explain to dd that this is not from you but from outside

STIDW Fri 09-Jan-15 13:58:30

Be careful. The rules on expert witnesses have changed. No one can put expert evidence before the court without permission from the judge, and permission can only be granted if the court is of the opinion that the expert evidence is necessary to assist the court come to a decision. See Part 25, Family Procedure Rules 2010.

ilovemilton Fri 09-Jan-15 17:14:11

The report consisted of about 30 pages of all three of us detailing the abuse, all telling identical stories. His report also concluded that yes, there had been physical abuse.
However, there was then two pages of research as to why children need a relationship with both parents, regardless of what had happened. Dad could do a parenting course and kids can have counselling and get over it. Mum has already been told by the court to stop harping on about the violence.
Then the final conclusion was, mum does not agree with this as she does not believe dad can change, so I recommend changing residency. However, dad does not request the children, so I suggest care being transferred to a third party.

In any event, I don't think going backwards to more expert witnesses will help. I just want to know at what point dd's no is ever going to be taken seriously and how much pressure they can put her under until she says yes.

The guardian said today it is the mothers duty to ensure dd goes into and engages with contact.

cestlavielife Fri 09-Jan-15 17:27:57

blimey...

I guess all you can do then is go along with complying to the letter of the order and hope over time it gets easier/things calm down ... sad

cestlavielife Fri 09-Jan-15 17:29:20

and just support dd saying this is only xx hours per week and unfortunately we all have to do things in life we don't like...breath deep and try and stay calm and in a few months time we can hopefully go back and get it changed ... as she gets older yes will have more say.

ilovemilton Fri 09-Jan-15 18:01:56

That's what I don't understand. The order just says make available. So how am I breaking the order? What will they do to her until she agrees with them?

I do encourage but still can't force her. She is terrified. By the end of next month they will be alone with him at his house. Both of them are saying they will never do that, it's too dangerous. What do I do then?

Starlightbright1 Fri 09-Jan-15 18:51:17

OMG your report is shocking... It is also very sad..

cestlavielife Fri 09-Jan-15 20:07:15

Encourage dd to speak to someone at school and express her concerns there. To her tutor or pastoral care.
School can refers on if they have concerns.

ilovemilton Fri 09-Jan-15 21:37:15

School did a safeguarding referral. It was classed as irrelevant by the court as it would be biased towards me.

STIDW Fri 09-Jan-15 22:02:59

Was the abuse inflicted on the child or just you and was it a once off, or was there pattern? Has there been any criminal convictions, DASH assessments, a MARAC hearing or finding of fact hearing? Did the violence involve drunken arguments, mobile phones being thrown or smashed, threats made, doors kicked etc or police call outs which involved ‘advice given’ rather than arrest?

ilovemilton Fri 09-Jan-15 22:23:45

It was incidents towards me that were seen by the children plus police call outs that lead to nothing because I was too scared to speak.

It was also physical and emotional abuse towards the children, when I was away from the home working shifts.

There was quite a clear pattern.

STIDW Sat 10-Jan-15 01:35:53

The thing is there are clear principles of both international and domestic law of the child’s right to have a relationship a natural parent even if the behaviour of the parent leaves something to be desired by most people's standards.

Although children are very likely to suffer harm if they are exposed to DV that harm is balanced against the harm children suffer when one parent is cut out of their lives. Based on consistent and clear evidence from psychiatrists and psychologists harm children suffer when they lose contact with one of their natural parents outweighs the harm they suffer from being exposed to low levels of abuse. Orders for no contact are rare and usually only granted when the level of abuse is high.

Although the order only requires you to make your daughter available for contact Parental Responsibility bestows a duty on parents to do their best to meet their child's needs including facilitating contact. Children's views are important but not determinative. Good parenting involves persuasion and even coercion e.g. to brush their teeth, go to bed, not to hit the dog or run in the road, go to school, help with chores, do homework etc etc. It sounds as though that is what is expected of you.

I understand what you say about your daughter's anxiety but saying ‘no’ to strategies designed to improve the situation is likely to prolong the pressure and a transfer of care to a third party isn't beyond the realms of possibility. Sometimes children who resist contact are fine after one or two contact sessions in a contact centre. Other times it gives CAFCASS/Social Services the opportunity to re-evaluate and put in other measures such as indirect contact instead of direct contact.

AmantesSuntAmentes Sat 10-Jan-15 01:42:28

Have you had any final hearings and if so, have you submitted an appeal? If I were in your position, I would have a second solicitor review the case, to check for grounds for appeal. For e.g. if there was no fact finding (which there must be when abuse has occurred), then you should have grounds.

Section one of the Children Act 1989 states that, when the court is making a decision about a child’s upbringing, it will have regard to “the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned in light of his age and understanding”.

It doesn't sound as though this is happening and it should be!

AmantesSuntAmentes Sat 10-Jan-15 01:51:27

Cross posted. I agree with this...

Other times it gives CAFCASS/Social Services the opportunity to re-evaluate and put in other measures such as indirect contact instead of direct contact.

I personally know of one father barred from contact and one who's was reduced to indirect only, following ongoing and re-evaluations.

The problem is, cafcass often have to witness negative effects before recommending reductions. To us, as mothers, it is senseless to allow our children to be subjected to possible harm (often harm we've already witnessed). To them, it enables them to act protectively, more easily.

ilovemilton Sat 10-Jan-15 10:59:56

We tried indirect contact. That didn't work as he didn't bother. I was even told to reduce my feedback to him as it was making him feel bad.

How much more coercion and persuading can I possibly do? She already turns round and says she hates me for making her do this. Yes children have a right to a relationship with both parents but at what point do they have a right to choose not to? She isnt just flatly refusing and having a sulk, she lays down very good reasoning.

At what age will she be listened to?

3xcookedchips Sat 10-Jan-15 11:47:33

The report recommends transferring residency from mother to father?

Lonecatwithkitten Sat 10-Jan-15 12:26:09

I have been the most evil parent (in DD's eyes) for persuading her to attend contact with her Dad who did verbally abuse her.
It was hard work and sometimes reduced me to tears. I stuck with it and a year on her relationship is good and he hadn't repeated the behaviour. She is a much happier child.
My DD is about to turn 11 the problems occurred when she was 9.
With hindsight she was angry with for allowing it to happen, she was angry with him that he did it and she was sad that her beloved Dad had failed her. The persuasion to gradually increase contact helped her to resolve her anger.
It nearly broke me doing it, but it was the most worthwhile thing I have ever done.

ilovemilton Sat 10-Jan-15 12:52:07

Thanks for that, that's reassuring smile

STIDW Sat 10-Jan-15 14:26:02

"Section one of the Children Act 1989 states that, when the court is making a decision about a child’s upbringing, it will have regard to “the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned in light of his age and understanding”."

Although regard is given to children's wishes and feelings in light of their age and maturity their views need to be evaluated in context of all the circumstances and family background. For example loving parents would ask children how they feel about moving house and changing school, but ultimately it would be the adults who weigh up the job opportunities, economics, standard of education etc to come to a decision with the interests of children at heart. Or a young teenager may say they prefer to live with a permissive parent who let's them stay out late drinking on a school night. Clearly it would be in the interests of the child to live with the other parent if they are authoritative and can establish some boundaries.

Children shouldn't be put in the position of choosing between separated parents because if they do they shoulder an enormous burden of guilt into adulthood.

STIDW Sat 10-Jan-15 14:58:40

“if there was no fact finding (which there must be when abuse has occurred)……”

The Family Practice Directions - Child Arrangements & Contact Order Domestic Violence and harm directs judges to establish the extent which allegations, admissions or evidence of abuse are likely to be relevant in deciding whether to make a Child Arrangement Order. When there has been an admission or allegations /abuse where the nature of the allegation/abuse isn’t going to be relevant a fact-finding hearing isn’t necessary.

https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/family/practice_directions/pd_part_12j

AmantesSuntAmentes Sat 10-Jan-15 19:52:05

Children shouldn't be put in the position of choosing between separated parents because if they do they shoulder an enormous burden of guilt into adulthood.

Or, they feel heard and empowered. I'm glad my DC were. It's made a massive difference to their sense of security and emotional wellbeing. If any possible "burden of guilt" outweighed this positive, children's thoughts and wishes wouldn't be a protected right. I'm glad they are.

Regarding fact finding, I have known, in one case, one court to feel it wasn't necessary but a second court in the same case to find (rightly) that it was.

Had the first court acted appropriately, the children involved would have been protected from further harmful incidences and extremely protracted proceedings.

Which is why I suggested appealing. It is quite possible for one court to find a need for fact finding, where another has failed to.

AmantesSuntAmentes Sat 10-Jan-15 19:52:10

Children shouldn't be put in the position of choosing between separated parents because if they do they shoulder an enormous burden of guilt into adulthood.

Or, they feel heard and empowered. I'm glad my DC were. It's made a massive difference to their sense of security and emotional wellbeing. If any possible "burden of guilt" outweighed this positive, children's thoughts and wishes wouldn't be a protected right. I'm glad they are.

Regarding fact finding, I have known, in one case, one court to feel it wasn't necessary but a second court in the same case to find (rightly) that it was.

Had the first court acted appropriately, the children involved would have been protected from further harmful incidences and extremely protracted proceedings.

Which is why I suggested appealing. It is quite possible for one court to find a need for fact finding, where another has failed to.

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