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Domestic violence - disparity in views of social services and family courts

(12 Posts)
inaquandry11 Sat 17-Sep-11 12:43:19

Hi, Just wondered if anyone has experience of leaving a physically/emotionally abusive relationship via divorce, and what their experiences of the family courts are? I have never told anyone about the bruises/emotional stuff that goes along with it and have no proof. I get the impression it would not even be taken into consideration.

I am afraid that if I leave and the divorce ends up in the family courts (which it inevitably would, because my husband has threatened in the past to do everything in his power to 'get' the children if we ever split up) I would end up in a worse situation than I am in. I wouldn't want to stop him seeing them, because that would be no good for the children ( two under 5's) but I currently do everything for them apart from one half day a week, where he has them while I'm at work. They are in a nursery another 2 days. I understand that there is a starting point of 50:50 shared residence unless there is a good reason otherwise. Therefore if I leave they will then end up being with him much more than they are now, and I won't be there to protect them/move them away if he is shouting/angry/violent in any new relationships or with his family! The shouting, manipulation, violence is aimed at me, never them, but he has done it with them in the room (albeit asleep).

I know if he does it again and I tell anyone in health services/police they will expect me to leave to protect the children, but I worry about making things worse that way. What are others' experiences? Feel like I'm going mad. The decision would be easy without children, I would go.

notsorted Sat 17-Sep-11 12:55:09

Talk to Women's Aid in first instance re your concerns. Children witnessing abuse is abuse towards them.
Document everything that has happened - dates and times. Any nasty texts, emails keep.
Have you left already? Or are you thinking of it? Again WA have good info and they can direct you towards solicitors in your area with experience of this. It is a requirement now, I think, that everyone has to consider mediation before ending up in court. Also post this on Legal thread, and if it helps there is a long-running thread on emotional abuse that has some great info as well as lots of supportive people.
WA are very good to talk to in any case, keep trying to get through you will eventually.
Look after yourself and so sorry you are in this mess

blackeyedsusan Sat 17-Sep-11 14:05:59

I don't think you have to go to mediation if there has been violence. but it is important to get it on record.

ss will ask you if it is ok to talk and you should be able to go and see them there. and no they do not ask you to leave to protect the children. they will put the responsibility on you as the non risky parent to protect them and they may require that you phone the police if there is another incident.

contact womens aid to get some help/

babyhammock Sat 17-Sep-11 14:08:11

I wouldn't want to stop him seeing them, because that would be no good for the children why? You've already said you need to protect them from him. * won't be there to protect them/move them away if he is shouting/angry/violent in any new relationships or with his family!*

Abusive men are damaging to the emotional welfare of their children.

Everything notsorted said too and they will take you very seriously providing you have enough to back you up like a diary for instance. Is it possible your neighbours heard anything?
Mediation isn't advised in cases of domestic abuse though.

Also google the effects of witnessing domestic abuse on children. If he hits you again or threatens you call the police! You need to start compiling all counts xx

cestlavielife Sat 17-Sep-11 21:06:36

You need to start telling people so it will be taken into account.
You can then argue supervised contact for the dc for many months .
Keep good records tell gp start planning how to leave with the dc

inaquandry11 Sat 17-Sep-11 22:16:01

Thanks everyone for your advice. No I haven't left, as I am worried about how he will react regarding the children. He may well 'punish' me by doing anything he can to gain residency, and prevent me seeing the children. After years of putting up with his abuse I know too well how his mind works. He would make stuff up about me as he would be so horrified I had told people. Not that he thinks he is that bad. Everything is my fault. He comes across as very charming, he could convince anyone and twists things all the time. I did talk to women's aid after the last incident, who were lovely, and I started a diary then, as e-mails to myself. Are emails ok for this? I can't risk a paper one. Would anyone in a divorce process take any notice of this as surely it is just my word?

I told him how it was affecting me after the last incident, not that he really cared, but now he doesn't 'trust' me (what a joke, him not 'trust' me!) and has been very careful not to hit me since, or even shouting, but is stepping up the emotional blackmail/controlling behaviour. Which makes things very difficult to prove and in a way is worse.

I am probably being stupid, but how do I copy this post to the 'legal' topic board? I've read all the talk guidance but can't work it out. I really want to know as much as possible about what usually happens in family courts re residency/contact in these types of cases before I can make any decisions. Terrified I could make everything worse.

izzywhizzyletsgetbusy Sun 18-Sep-11 02:04:16

I get the impression it would not even be taken into consideration I'm not sure how or why you've formed this impression, but it is erroneous.

Your email diary can be used as grounds for divorce on account of his uneasonable behaviour.

It's only natural for you to do so, but you are currently overthinking what may or may not happen if you take the dcs and leave him, or are able to stay in your home while he lives elsewhere.

One of your concerns is 'He would make stuff up about me' That's par for the course for jealous/spitelful/manipulative spouses and, while he may pull the wool over the eyes of some people, he's unlikely to be able to fool the trained professionals who may be assigned to deal with your case.

You should also take into account that, while he may bluff and bluster to you, his threats may be hollow and it could be that his contact with the dcs can be agreed without need for Court involvement.

While issues of contact may be assigned to a Family Court if agreement cannot be reached, this will not impede the divorce process.

With the best will in the world, no responder can advise you in any other than the most general way without being in possession of all of the facts.

However, you need to know that in freeing yourself and your dc from your abusive spouse, you cannot possiby make anything worse than it is now.

To this end I suggest that you contact the Women's Aid 24 hour Helpline on 0808 2000 247 and also make contact with NCDV

togetherwehaveitall Sun 18-Sep-11 12:19:15

There is not the chance of 50/50 residence with kids of that age...........!!!! No way!!!

He will get standard contact and you will agree. The two of you must communicate regarding the children and nothing else. Like a game of tennis, if he lobs a ball over the net at you, shaped like 'Mean comment of any sort not regarding the kids' you give it you te cops if its bad enough or your solicitor if its not that bad but still inappropriate.

Your solicitor then writes to his solicitor to advise him on this and that gets read out in court. You win that point. You must never lose by texting back etc.

I would also advise you that emotional abuse is looked at very seriously, because it can often be worse than other forms of abuse.

Tell the solicitor everything. Be prepared to facilitate contact tho, but with big caveats attached. 'What is hidden in winter shall become manifest in summer' regarding his behaviour. Sit back, watch and wait.

togetherwehaveitall Sun 18-Sep-11 12:32:06

Using the kids is a form of DV, don't forget that. 'If I can't have you, I'll cause you so much trouble you will wish you were dead!!' type thing.

But it doesn't work. Often they f off when they realise they can have the kids every weekend but never get to see you so can't have a go.

The main thing is that you don't fall for it. Don't believe HIS hype - I'll lie about you and get the kids taken off you! I'll say you have mental health problems and so on.' One sniff of a false allegation like that and CAFCASS / solicitors / Police if needs be would be all over it. ;)

NicknameTaken Mon 19-Sep-11 10:02:34

I've been in this situation - it's very common to be afraid of the ex punishing you through the children. It's not an easy road, but it will not be as bad as your worst imaginings.

You're doing the right thing by talking to WA and keeping a diary. You need to plan how and when you will leave, and make sure you have a solicitor's advice as you do it. It's true that the court is unlikely to stop all contact with the DCs based on his abuse of you. But you can get a court order which will ensure that he has to hand the dcs back when they are due, and that is great for peace of mind. Make sure it specifies that handovers take place in a public place. Rather than 50:50, given their age, I would expect it to be every second week and one midweek overnight.

It may well happen that when it comes down to it, he won't want all the work associated with young children. This wasn't the case with my ex, and I'd be lying if I said I was always happy with the contact. But I can tell you absolutely uncategorically that I was right to leave. True, I worry about what happens during contact, but I can create a peaceful home that shows my DD what family life should be like. I can be a better parent because I'm not constantly stressed and on edge. This is hard, but it is infinitely worth doing. He's not the all-powerful bogeyman that he wants you to believe in so he can control you.

butterflybee Mon 19-Sep-11 12:41:45

Thank you for this thread, I'm reading and watching with the same questions as well (but from the other side - moved out! yay!). I guess I just wanted to agree with nicknametaken that it is much better not living with this person.

inaquandry11 Mon 19-Sep-11 17:46:23

Thank you so much everyone for your advice, I am trying to take this all on board.

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