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Urgent help needed with child arrangement court order from family court - abusive XH(4 Posts)
First time user, and needing some urgent help with responding to a child arrangements court order received from my STBXH. Friends have recommended mumsnet, and suggested posting on relationships for traffic. (If better on legal, I can ask to be moved).
Not sure where to start with this and my friend is telling me not to drip feed so I'll give you some background context.
Married for 20 years with 3 DD together, 16, 12 and 10. Marriage broke down over time, and XH very controlling in relationship and with children, finances, contact with my family etc. Some violence within the marriage towards me, and significant emotional abuse. I've done my best to rebuild my life after coming out of this relationship and create stability for my DDs, we have a happy life in our home now he is gone. (We are still in the family home, in his name only).
I've received a court order from the family court for child arrangements.
Arrangements were in place by mutual agreement covering two youngest DC (eldest refuses to see XH due to previous abusive and controlling treatment of her, plus one major physical incident, which has caused her considerable distress and anxiety). Another DC also now will not see XH due to not being allowed home (locked in the house by XH) at the end of a previous staying contact (this happened shortly before court order was received).
Court order seeks to increase level of contact which DC are telling me they are not happy with, and I only want them to do what they are comfortable with.
I wanted DC to have a good relationship with their father, but his behaviour to them over the last two years has been t increasingly controlling and difficult. His behaviour towards me in the marriage was physically and emotionally abusive, and that continued after we split. I stupidly thought that whilst he was abusive to me, he would not behave in this way to his children but sadly this has not been the case. All of us have had counselling support from Women's Aid, and a multi-agency team are involved after the incident with the eldest DD (but this went no further than a discussion with him). After youngest DC locked in the house and not returned at end of visit, police spoke to him and reported to social services. But it was decided that it was a domestic incident and a matter of family law (no protection required).
I've messed up and missed the deadline for responding to the court order (had 14 days). Completely overwhelmed by the forms and not sure how to respond. Because of the history of the relationship, any interaction with him - even via paperwork - panics me. But I know I need to deal with this, just trying to work out where to start.
I have received a C100 (covering youngest 2 DC only) and need to reply on a C7.
- What should I do about the fact that I am overdue in responding to the forms? I was going to ring the court tomorrow - but what should I say to them? I had emailed them asking to change the date of the hearing and not heard back from them. Also contacted CAFCASS when I received the forms, but we weren't yet on the system. Also not heard from them since. Forms were received 3 weeks ago.
- On C7 I plan to say I oppose the application (subject to DC being happy to see him, I'd be happy with most of the arrangements he proposes bar a few points. But that is all assuming DC agree). But there is no room to put details on the form of why I oppose it or what I propose instead. Do I do this in court, on a separate document or make an opposing court order?
- There is a question about whether the children have suffered or are at risk of harm due to domestic abuse, violence within the household, child abduction or other conduct or behaviour. I plan to say yes - but do I need to give more details, and how?
- C7 asks if I intend to apply to the court for an order - what do I say here, and what order might I need?
- On the C100 he has made some allegations about me that I wish to dispute, including allegations about my mental health, and "issues" resulting in MH professionals being contacted (he contacted them, nobody else, they refused to take action (he wanted me sectioned) and I've never been treated by GP or MH professionals for anything). I feel like he is trying to paint me as a mad, bad mother and it is not the case.
Sorry that was so long, trying to strike a balance between giving enough info but not so much it is identifying. Pls ask if any questions.
Don't worry about responding late. Fill in the C7. You are not applying for any orders. You also need a form C1A to tell the court your worries. CAFCASS will ring you before court or otherwise speak to you on the day. It's likely the court may order a report from SS or CAFCASS before making any decisions given the background and your DCs wishes and feelings will need to be sought too. The court are unlikely to change the hearing date unless there is a good reason.
Thanks for the advice will give the court a call first thing this morning and follow their instructions. Any help / advice about filling in the necessary forms gratefully received.
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