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Can we DO something about the awful system in this country WRT courts and access to children after divorce?

(198 Posts)
BertieBotts Tue 09-Aug-11 21:34:49

I've heard one too many awful story now. Why the hell are we letting children down, forcing access with abusive ex partners, even when the children don't want it, making it difficult to gain supervised contact when supervised has already been given, forcing the resident parent (mainly mothers) to make their children available for contact, getting their hopes up and doing NOTHING when the NRP breaks that same contact order by not turning up for weeks on end, causing considerable distress to the children involved. NRPs being allowed to refuse to bring children home if they are repeatedly showing prolonged distress at being away from their main carer. It being extremely difficult to reduce contact or restart it off slowly, regardless of the age of the child, even if the parent has good reason to want to do this.

I understand there are bitter ex-partners who will try to deny their ex access to the children because of personal differences or spats, but seriously? Are there that many that we need a court system which immediately assumes all resident parents are conniving and bitter and all NRPs are loving and involved? Or is this just another fucking media frenzy like how common so-called "false rape accusations" are?

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 10-Aug-11 09:07:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BertieBotts Wed 10-Aug-11 10:06:58

"When deciding whether to allow any kind of contact,
the court should take into account the safety of both
you and your child. When making the final contact
order the court should also explain how any evidence
of domestic violence has affected its decision. If you
have suffered abuse from a former partner, you may
understandably feel hostile towards them but the
court is unlikely to let your feelings stop contact. "

- From this Gingerbread factsheet

It seems that although the court system acknowledges witnessing DV is harmful to children, there is no acknowledgement that men who abuse their wives are likely to abuse their children as well, or that the contact between the ex and the children can become a further means to abuse - oh, we understand you might feel hostile, but you're just being silly, he's such a nice man, he would never hurt the DCs or use them to get at you. (Despite the fact we think you are using them to get to him, because ex-wives tend to be manipulative like that)


Hagocrat Wed 10-Aug-11 10:11:59

got to go out now - just marking a place for later

SardineQueen Wed 10-Aug-11 10:58:26

I have no personal experience of these courts but what is written here, and I have seen thread like the one cited, it seems like a ridiculous situation and I don't see how that has come about.

JeffTracy Wed 10-Aug-11 11:10:29

What situation?

If the parents cannot agree on reasonable contact arrangements then I suppose the courts have to do it for them. This is only about young children anyway, don't courts go with the wishes of the children over the age of about 12? You can't just assume all NRPs are bad and all RPs are good, can you?

I have heard that the American system is tending to go towards shared residency, not just contact. Is that a bad thing in most situations?

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 10-Aug-11 11:20:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 10-Aug-11 11:21:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SardineQueen Wed 10-Aug-11 11:22:20

A situation where people who have been convicted of violent crimes, or have perpetrated violence against the other parent, especially in cases where the children have witnessed the violence, are told by the courts that they must hand their children over to these people who are proven to be violent or face consequences.

A situation where the RP is at thread of jail if they do not adhere to orders but an NRP has no consequences if they do not adhere to orders.

These situations. You know, the ones the OP has highlighted and wants to talk about.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 10-Aug-11 11:26:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JeffTracy Wed 10-Aug-11 11:35:19

Fair enough, if one parent is genuinely abusive. When there is a conviction, it is clear-cut. Otherwise - sadly - from the outside it looks like an argument between the two parents, so Caffcass and the courts in general would find it too complex to referee.

In the circumstances you mention, I thought the courts go for limited contact in contact centres as a way of ensuring safety of the children (and adults).

noir Wed 10-Aug-11 11:39:26

There is a current major review of the family courts being carried out by the Ministry of Justice, I think its due to be published in November. If you really want to affect change it might be worth looking at their website to see if they have opportunities for you to contribute.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 10-Aug-11 11:40:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BertieBotts Wed 10-Aug-11 12:08:46

I know emotional abuse is harder to quantify, but surely by now we should be able to have benchmarks for these kinds of things. Just because it's hard to prove, doesn't make it any less damaging.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 10-Aug-11 13:06:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

EightiesChick Wed 10-Aug-11 13:13:04

How would people feel about a '3 strikes and you're out' policy where when a parent doesn't show up for contact 3 times, they have to go back to renegotiate access? I suppose one difficulty would be though in proving the parent had been a no show for no good reason/ without letting the other parent know.

BertieBotts Wed 10-Aug-11 13:53:26

3 times in a row, perhaps, eighties.

I was thinking more of if child is under X age (10?) if the NRP has no contact for Y amount of time, then contact should have to build up again slowly. Amount of time would be relative to age of child - a school age child isn't going to forget a parent if they are absent for a few months, but a toddler might. Even if it's a planned trip or absence I think this would be better for young children to be reintroduced slowly rather than going straight back to overnight or whatever they have had before.

A poster is asking for advice ATM because the court order she has with her ex requires her to take her DD to a specific place in order to be picked up by her father, who never shows up, which is extremely distressing for her DD, who now associates that place with daddy, expects to see him when they get there and can't understand why she can't. sad And this kind of thing is common, and the "solution" is usually that the other parent let the NRP pick up from their home, which I also don't think is acceptable in post DV or EA situations. But DV and EA in particular isn't taken seriously enough for this to be a valid concern, apparently.

EightiesChick Wed 10-Aug-11 15:29:31

I'd agree with the above. There should be some penalty for a parent behaving like that and not showing up for appointments, that doesn't involve risk or trauma for the other parent. In the instance above, I would like it to be possible to stipulate at least that the father has to show up at the meeting place one hour before the child is set to arrive, so that if he doesn't show, even if the mother and child have been on 'standby' at home, as it were, then they could go about their day from that point without distressing the child.

holyShmoley Wed 10-Aug-11 18:45:29

i must admit i don't feel the certainty about this that you do. It seems to me that what's good for the no-show goose has to good for the gander who frustrates the court order. Among my personal acquaintences there would be about equal numbers. (wouldn't know the details obviously).
Even adults that argue like cats and dogs can separately make good parents. I would worry that you end up with an Assumption in Law that NRPs are unfit until proven otherwise.

OTOH Attempted Murder man should only be given supervised access.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 10-Aug-11 19:09:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SardineQueen Wed 10-Aug-11 19:13:49

holyschmoley the current setup seems to be that the RP has to adhere to the contact order or there can be penalties, while the NRP does not have to adhere to the contact order and there are no penalties.

Correct me if I'm wrong and my terminology may be wrong! But that seems to be the jist. That doesn't feel right to me?

SardineQueen Wed 10-Aug-11 19:15:20

No I don't think attempted murder man should have any access either.

And what about men who won't pay any maintenance. So they get the right to see their children but they are allowed to get away with no responsibility. I'm not sure that is right either.

It all seems weighted one way IYSWIM.

swallowedAfly Wed 10-Aug-11 20:40:32

Message withdrawn

swallowedAfly Wed 10-Aug-11 20:42:01

Message withdrawn

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 10-Aug-11 21:24:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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