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Clare
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34271
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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I have a Residence Order in my favour and currently live in

Resolved Question:

I have a Residence Order in my favour and currently live in Germany with my husband, who is in the forces, and my 4 year old son. There is a Contact Order in place for my son to see his biological father. I have kept to this order, until I was informed that his father was arrested for a stabbing in January. Since then, I have contacted County Court, CPS, the local police, the national police helpline, Children Services and Army social services to find out if firstly it was definitely him and secondly what I should do. I recieved an email back from Children Services confirming it was him, and have since spoken to social workers who recommend I take steps to safeguard my son from him. Last week, my son's father also made a vicious accusation and threat towards my husband, which I have reported to the police and is currently being dealt with by the crime bureau. My son is due to have physical contact with his father in April holidays but I am heavily pregnant so my husband was going to take my son back but I don't believe my son will be safeguarded from witnessing violence at the least, following these threats. Furthermore, my son is now refusing to talk to his father on the phone (it is in the contact order that he speaks to him every night on the phone), following his father saying some disgusting and derogotory comments about me directly to my son. The last time my son spoke to his father is a week and a half ago, when he made my son cry by arguing with him! I realise I am currently technically breaking the order, however I am not stopping contact. My son's phone is always switched on but I can't force him to answer it and talk as he gets very distressed. The last court case cost me £20,000 and I just don't have the money to go back to court but am scared of what will happen now. Any advice will be appreciated?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Hi
Thank you for your question.
My name is Clare
I will do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
What do you think is the risk to the child?
Clare
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi


 


The risk to my son is where are the weapons kept when my son would be in his father's care? He has a previous conviction for possession of a deadly weapon and obviously still owns and carries these.


 


Secondly, what is his mental state and is he even capable of looking after a young child since the court order was made. It is my opinion and that of children services that the crime of stabbing someone can't really be committed by someone of sound mind.


And thirdly, can I be assured that no form of retribution will be sought by the stab victim or his family and friends, potentially while my son is in his father's care.


 


Furthermore, my husband was meant to take my son back to the uk for contact in April since I can't travel due to pregnancy. However now my son's father has made threats against my husband, I am concerned what will happen if they start fighting in front of my son.


 


Kind regards


 


Andréa Hannon

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Hi
Have Social workers confirmed in writing that if you send the child for contact they will take action?
Clare
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi


 


No, I have an email from child services stating he was involved in that incident, and have had a conversation with a social worker on the phone who recommended I go back to court to have the contact order reviewed and said in the meantime break contact. The problem is that I really can't afford another court case and also seems harsh that once again I have to pay and ask permission to safeguard my child from someone who is a dangerous criminal?

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Hi
has he been convicted?
Clare
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No I contacted CPS and they couldn't give further information as it is an ongoing investigation so no conviction as yet or surely it would be public record.

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Hi
When was the Order made - and is there a family member who could deal with the handover for you?
Clare
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The court order was made in June 2013. No there is no one who could take my son instead of my husband.


Furthermore, in terms of contact it would have to be my husband taking my son as he can use a trooper flight. In my original statement to court I suggested that the CSA money my son's father paid would be put towards travel costs, however he has not paid since he lost in court. Even if I could have someone else take my son we would be paying over £600 in back and forth flights.

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Hi
I was thinking more in terms of someone in the Uk who could manage the actual handover?
Clare
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi


 


No, my mother and brother live in the uk but neither of them drive and would refuse to have contact with my son's father.


However even with someone to handle the actual handover I would still be concerned for my son due to the other reasons given. Children services recommendation came before the threat to my husband as well.

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Hi
Do not rely too much on what Child Services have said.
They have in fact simply said go back to court - not that they would feel that the position was sufficiently bad that if you do send the child they would intervene and remove him from his father's care.
Accordingly there is no force in what they say - and frankly they will simply not support you in court.
Equally at 4 your son should not be responsible for answering or not answering "his" phone and a court will have concerns that you feel that this is appropriate
I put these first as they are important in respect of the next action that you decide to take
You have a number options.
You can decide the risk is too great and simply refuse to return the child.
This is not necessarily an unreasonable option given the threats that he has made - but clearly there is a risk that the court will not agree with this when he takes enforcement action against you.
It also makes it likely that you will be facing Court proceedings in April/May if your ex decides to try and enforce the order.
You can make an urgent application to the court to vary the order. This will give you some control of the timing and will allow the proper assessment of the risks - but may result in the contact being enforced
You can allow the contact to go ahead
You could write to your ex highlighting your concerns about the recent threats and the criminal prosecution and offer contact in Germany instead.
This will not mean that there will be no enforcement action - but it does show that you are concentrating on the safety of the child not simply trying to stop contact.
If a court hearing is called you can ask the matter to be dealt with via Video Link given your current inability to travel
at the same time please change your approach to the phone.
When it rings you click the buttons and tell your son to say hello.
Make sure that you can hear what is being said to him and terminate the call - calmly if what is said is inappropriate
He is 4 not 14 and accordingly his calls DO have to be monitored
I hope that whilst not all what you wish to hear it is at least of use
Clare
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