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Emotionally abused sister being taken to court by ex over access advice pls

(9 Posts)
Ruprecht Mon 20-May-13 00:15:34

My sister separated from her partner last year after many years together and 3 children. To my shame I have only within the last 6 months found out that she was being emotionally abused by him for most of the relationship. Now I know the full situation I want to support her as much as I can. Due to his abusive behaviour she arranged for him to only have contact with the children under supervision. He is now taking her to court as he doesn't accept that he is abusive (what abuser does) and thinks he should have normal access to the children.
Can anyone offer advice please on what will happen in court during cases like this? What type of things will be said and what will her ex get to say about her in court? I want to help prepare her for the situation she is about to face.
I can't give many details about the case as I need to protect her, but if anyone has been in a similar situation and can advise on the type of the type of stunts are pulled in court, it would be a massive help.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 20-May-13 07:39:56

Does your sister have legal representation? That's the place to start really. She has to think less in terms of 'stunts' and more in terms of hard evidence. Was the supervised contact originally determined by a court? Had she ever reported him to the police or other authority about the abusive behaviour? When she left last year did she ask for help from something like Womens Aid? Did she keep a record of his behaviour of any kind? Does she have supporting e-mails/texts/phone recordings, for example? Are the children old enough to express an opinion? Has anyone else witnessed his behaviour?

Mostly, unless the children would be in some kind of physical danger, courts do not specify supervised access. If there is any evidence of him using emotionally abusive techniques on the children e.g. bad-mouthing their mother, that can change matters. But she needs legal representation.

Ruprecht Mon 20-May-13 07:59:24

Hi Cogito, thanks for posting. Yes she has a solicitor. My sister requested supervised access but it's not a court order. She hasn't reported him anywhere - though she's discussed his behaviour with her GP to get assistance for her and her children. Women's Aid and Caffcass are involved but only within the last few months. She has been writing notes on her experiences since they split up but not while they were together - she didn't realise until it was over that their relationship was abusive. I think most people only think a relationship's 'abusive' if they're being beaten. Our parents have witnessed some of his behaviour but he's kept it pretty well hidden, he's a very intelligent and manipulative person. One child is over 11 and he doesn't want to see his father any more, I am hoping that's going to be enough to protect the other children as they are too young to officially have a voice.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 20-May-13 08:09:46

An 11yo's opinion will be taken into account but is unlikely to be the deciding factor. Courts start from the basis that children deserve contact with both parents unless there are some really solid reasons why not. Unless her ex has actually neglected, threatened or harmed the children in the past or she can prove that he has shown unstable or aggressive behaviour in other contexts then she is probably going to have to accept that he can take a bigger role in their lives than she would ideally like. Has her solicitor not walked her through this?

Ruprecht Mon 20-May-13 08:34:54

I don't know if her solicitor has told her what the whole process will involve. My sister is diagnosed as depressed and is finding it hard just to get through the day.
So the court would not accept that the children are likely to be affected by emotional abuse themselves? The children report that their father is angry all the time - unless someone else is around. The younger children didn't want to stay over at his and ran out the house and hid at a friend's in order to avoid contact.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 20-May-13 10:12:02

Courts do accept that children are affected by aggressive behaviour. They also accept that children are affected by emotionally abusive behaviour e.g one parent deliberately 'poisoning' their opinion of the other. However, it always has to be substantiated... hence the need for evidence supporting your sister's assertions. So if the children fled in terror, would the friend testify to that? That's the part the solicitor should be going through with her.

Ruprecht Mon 20-May-13 13:45:01

The friend may testify to that, our mother has also seen some of his behaviour. Would they need to attend court or do they give written statements?

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 20-May-13 13:46:04

I'm not sure what form it would take but your sister's solicitor should really be guiding and advising.

Ruprecht Mon 20-May-13 13:47:26

thanks Cogito.....

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