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Clare
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 33519
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practise since 1985 and have specialised in Family Law for the last 10 years
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HELP! My daughter has a small son who will be 4 in January.

Resolved Question:

HELP! My daughter has a small son who will be 4 in January. He is the result of a brief liaison of only a few months with a man who is....ultra controlling; has extreme racist views; has connections with the National Front; has fundamental religious views; is articulate; but has dire personal problems ( he is an habitual masterbator!) and is not a man whose paternal rights (which he is seeking) be granted without significant safeguards. My daughter "escaped" from his clutches when she was 4 months pregnant and was protected from him in a Refuge in Southampton. She has never disputed paternity. During an early contact session he told his son not to be friendly with children with black faces as they were bad! (White children were good). The little boy had been told not to tell anyone but my daughter eventually got him to explain what was upsetting and confusing him (a very bright three year old).

The father is pursuing his right to have unsupervised access to his son through the Family Court in Southampton. He has legal aid and has been represented by an aggressive barrister in court.
My daughter has no legal aid and has chosen to represent herself before a judge who
did not allow her to speak at the last hearing in August. My daughter feels the system is letting her down; she believe that to appeal/complain that the process is treating her unfairly will alienate the judge. Her intimate knowledge of the father is being dismissed as malicious allegations and not "evidence" even though they are true! She has texts, e-mails etc which confirms her assertions about him.The thought that this man, whose only means of transport is a moped, can take her small (sensitive) son away for a period (2 hours or overnight) of unsupervised contact is the manifestation of her worst nightmare! Nobody is listening to her. She respects his paternal rights but believes absolutely that the welfare of the child must take precedence. She is happy to co-operate with ongoing supervised contact but is now desperate that her worst fears will become real in the New Year. Social services are not listening to her. She is convinced that in previous times, a psychological assessment of this man would have raised significant concerns.

This all smacks of a madness that is driven by political correctness. The welfare of the child is threatened but is being risked in order to ensure the fathers rights. When the new family laws were put in place (2003?) no-one could have had in mind a man like this!
PLEASE...can anyone rescue us from this impending nightmare?

Geoff Paling (Grandfather)
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Hi
Thank you for your question.
My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
What is the current contact pattern?
Clare
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I believe it is 2 hours at a contact centre every other Saturday...not supervised but constrained to the Centre only. My daughter delivers her


son and waits and then collects him.

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Hi
Have there been any problems at the Centre and has a CAFCASS report been ordered?
Clare
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Re: Problems at the Centre ....my daughter did challenge her son's father about comments he made to the child about "black faces = bad; white faces = good" which confused and upset her little boy". He responded very aggressively and his behaviour frightened both mother and child. No repeat of the racist comments have occurred, as far as can be known.


 


Re CAFCASS report. A report was requested, produced and submitted to the court. My daughter had compiled an extensive log and account of all the factors leading up to her going into a Refuge whilst pregnant and certain events in the child's first year. My daughter believes that the Court is unaware of much of the detail that elevates the risk to the child of unsupervised contact...or has dismissed some of this information as merely unsubstantiated allegations and not evidence. This, of course, is true but this doesn't mitigate the risks to her son's well-being. How does


common sense prevail?


 

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Hi
What incidents revolving around the child or other children gives your daughter cause for concern?
Clare
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Since the episode about black faces and white faces (see above) was reported by the child to his mother (my daughter) and the row which ensued, he has been "on his best behaviour". He did not expect his three year old son to mention his remarks as he had sworn him to secrecy (hence the anxiety and upset for the little boy). He (the father) realised he may well have damaged his case for contact. He is now behaving reasonably well but the child displays no real enthusiasm for seeing his father. Unfortunately he is a large chap with a rather menacing appearance and demeanour.


 


There have, to my knowledge, been no other incidents.

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Hi
What has the CAFCASS report recommended?
Clare
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

CAFCAS recommended a progression of contact from Observed;


Supported; to Supervised (or whatever is the normal progression).


 


This was not observed by the father (he has legal aid, my daughter does not have legal aid!) and his barrister was extremely aggressive and


even "blocked" my daughter having a Residency Order which the Judge


agreed (denied the Residency Order). They are pushing hard for unsupervised contact...that is to take the three year old child away...even


overnight visits...he has no transport....and is not fit and has no experience of looking after any child, let alone a sensitive little boy.


 


All my daughter's revelations about this man's views/values/behaviours are dismissed as "not evidence" and even scurrilous. Nevertheless,


the child would be at risk and the judge told her that the father's right of contact took precedence. Please....what can my daughter do to protect her son? The system is failing her. She has complained in writing to the Court that she did not get a fair hearing (not allowed to speak even when representing herself) and she feels that she has alienated the judge who is not at all sympathetic nor concerned. What can she do? PLEASE!

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Hi
In fact the law in this are has not changed since 1989 and whilst the financial constraints mean that in the past a Psychological report MIGHT have been ordered frankly in the circumstances you describe it is unlikely
The problem that your daughter is facing is that many men can be dreadful partners yet still be adequate parents
Your daughter has spoken of his failings as a partner - this is of no interest to the court and is the reason she feels that she is not being listened to.
Because they are mixed up in the recital of his failings as a partner her actual concerns about his parenting are being missed.
These should centre around both what he said to the child and the fact he asked him to keep a secret - children should NEVER be asked to keep a secret
There is nothing in what you have said that makes it likely that contact will not progress to his taking the child out of the centre - BUT when it does it woudl be reasonable for your daughter to ask that her fears that the child would not be returned are addressed by the Residence Order in her favour being made
She can also calmly point out that his lack of experience with children, coupled with his racist comments, mean that there should be no progression to overnight contact until he has completed a parenting course and the child is old enough to express any anxieties (say 5)- if of course contact is still ongoing by then
I am very very well aware that this is not what you wish to hear and you will find it difficult to accept - HOWEVER it is important that your daughter changes her approach as she is at present being seen as simply being opposed on principle and her very real concerns are being lost
Please ask if you need further details
Clare
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 33519
Experience: I have been a solicitor in High Street Practise since 1985 and have specialised in Family Law for the last 10 years
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