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How to help my friend LT emotionally abusive B without losing custody of child?

(9 Posts)
PrimsGoat Wed 05-Apr-17 08:43:11

I apologise, this is very long but there are just so many factors here.

My friend, A is in an emotionally abusive relationship with a fucking bastard guy, N, who has a history of anger management issues, alcoholism, substance misuse and some criminal behaviour. (He would never admit to any of these things.) She usually calls a few times a year saying she wants to LTB but then never does, partly because of money.

Neither of them is working, they have been getting by on the proceeds of his growing and selling cannabis for a while (although he is not doing it at the moment - they sold a property recently and have money from that).

Just as A would have been free to take her cash and go, N decided to move the whole family to another part of the country where he has some friends but she knows nobody and is stuck in a remote area, not being able to drive. The plan was to buy another property there, a renovation project (so that she's stuck with him again, presumably.)

They have a nine year old who has just switched schools due to the move. They are not married.

A has schizophrenia in the family and is very worried about getting it. N knows this and uses it against her. He tells her and other people that she is 'ill'. He has told her that if she leaves, he gets custody because she is 'mentally ill'. (She does not have any MH diagnosis, except maybe depression and anxiety.) He is legally qualified and can come across very intelligent and charismatic, when he wants to. He tells A that she has all sorts of things, including 'narcissistic tendencies'. This is blatantly untrue. In actual fact, he has such tendencies! (I have lived with them on occasion, so I know him a bit.) He has managed to convince a few of his friends and family that she is 'ill'. A doesn't really have any friends besides me.

A recently called, saying she was 'so relieved' because she had a GP appointment booked and N was going to come along, and they were going to get help for her. And then, everything was going to be OK. Because all of their problems stemmed from her mental health issues.

I balked at this and told her not to forget that N also has problems, they've had relationship issues for years and that he cannot just put everything on her. We talked for ages (for the first time in six months) and she told me that I had 'reminded her of who she is' and helped her see how manipulative he is. She seems to have no sense of herself and is easily controlled. I only pointed out really obvious things!

I suggested she visits me for a few days. He was out for the day, she jumped on a train (4 hours) and then texted him on the way, saying they needed a few days apart. (He always blankly refuses to take a break when she suggests it, and would have stopped her coming if he knew.)

The child was visiting N's mother in London, where I also live. This is where they lived here before the recent move. She is picking up the child and bringing her here today and they will stay with me for a few days.

Now she is saying she wants to LTB. Great. But how can I help, when:

1) The child attends school in the new area, 4 hours from London. I guess A will have to continue to live there now? She cannot move back here without the fathers consent and put the child back in the old school, right? Would that be parental abduction?

2) N wants sole custody if they break up. He is legally qualified. I'm not sure how it works but I guess if he moves out it weakens his case to present himself as the main carer? So how can she avoid weakening hers? I'm not sure how this works.

3) She has been aware of his drug dealing, so if she tried to use that against him (the way he tries to use her 'mental health'), she might be viewed as complicit. Also, what happens to the child if SS gets involved...

4) If A stays with me in London for a while, or goes to visit her family in her home country (in Europe), does this somehow weaken her case if there's a custody battle? That she left the home temporarily?

Thank you if you have read all of this. I have no idea how to help her. She has a number for Citizens Advice but it takes ages to get an appointment and I think she will lose her nerve if it takes too long.

If you have any suggestions at all, please let me know.

PaterPower Wed 05-Apr-17 10:12:27

There's enough going on here that I think she will need to bite the bullet and pay for some legal advice.

I doubt he'd be able to stop her moving, at least within the U.K. I know, from my own fairly recent experience, that FC tends to side with the mother.

The MH stuff is just a smokescreen. He'd have to be able to show she was a risk to DC, and I doubt he can do that. DC will also, at 9, be able to express an opinion which the court should take into account.

Can your sister check with the original school in London as to places? If he had good friends there it would strengthen the case for going back.

PrimsGoat Wed 05-Apr-17 10:31:15

Thank you for responding. Yes, I know it's all very complicated. Add to this whole mess that N has been telling the child that 'mummy is not well' and undermining her constantly for a long time. A does get very angry when he does this, and of course that affects the child.

RoboticSealpup Wed 05-Apr-17 10:47:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MusicIsMedicine Wed 05-Apr-17 10:54:19

This guy hasn't a hope in hell of getting custody.

Mental health problems are not enough to remove a stable settled child from the mother.

She can explain that she was unaware and uninvolved in the drug dealing and only learned the extent of it recently but she was too frightened to leave and the whole thing has been affecting her mental health.

Contact women's aid and tell her not to look back.

Cheering her on here and very glad she has such a decent friend in you.

Overduelibrarybooks Wed 05-Apr-17 11:21:52

Definitely call WA.

I have left an EA relationship 5 weeks ago and moved my DC 300 miles to my family. My situation is slightly different as STBXH did assault me (a shove and calling me a fucking cunt in front of our 3 year old), for which he has been convicted.

My point is though, that I had always thought like your friend; I couldn't legally move them away so far, SS would interfere etc, but I was so wrong . I am told I have a very strong case for staying here as this is where my support network is (fortunately he has actually agreed to it now anyway). SS stated that they are fully supportive of my move, to get away from STBXH.

I agree with a pp that the MH issues are a smoke screen. STBXH is trying to use my history of depression and anxiety against me and is getting nowhere with it.

Also children really do adapt. It happens that we had also moved areas 12 months ago, so my 7 year old is facing moving schools again so soon, but she has been amazing and incredibly resilient. The damage of moving schools is far less than the damage of me staying in an unhealthy relationship with her father.

Best of luck to her.

Lovelilies Wed 05-Apr-17 11:27:53

She needs to see a solicitor who specialises in family law. And speak to Women's Aid.
She has a strong case.
You sound like a lovely friend, I wish you all well flowers

PrimsGoat Wed 05-Apr-17 11:36:12

Thank you all. I guess one problem is that the support network she has in London consists mostly of his family and I don't know how supportive they would be if she left.

His mother was in a similar situation (until her H died) and she takes the attitude that men are difficult but women should just suck it up and medicate themselves.

I've sent her links to women's aid. I hope it doesn't put her off that they seem to focus quite a lot on physical abuse, as (to my knowledge at least) he has never hit her.

PrimsGoat Wed 05-Apr-17 13:21:13

OK so she says she wants to stay in the new area rather than move back. She will try to find another place to stay near the new school and split the child's time between them. I really hope she does it this time.

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