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Clare
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 33506
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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Hi Claire. Unusual case of co-parenting of two children. One

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Hi Claire. Unusual case of co-parenting of two children. One boy ages just over 2yrs and a baby girl of 4mon. Mum started getting strange with us as the baby cam to full term. Joint attendance of scans was stopped and the birth was unattended by dad. Not because he didn't want to, but because mum stopped telling him. She also registered the baby without dads name. The boy for two years was good access with two or three days a week every week. Then after his second birthday problem's arose around the boys contact with our dog. An issue that had never arose before and there have previously been no problems between dog and child, nor either with our other 4yr daughter (by another mum). In the past there was an issue between me and the dog and a specialist was called into and all was resolved to my satisfaction. In order to address mums concerns I am in the process of building a compound in the garden to keep the dog and the boy apart when he visits us to satisfy the mums concerns. In the meantime I spend time around my mums with the dog when the boy has previously visited since these issues have arisen. However, the mum is not convinced. She is till refusing reasonable access and has prevented us from seeing him at all over the Easter. I think our only option is a contact order, although I am still trying to mediate with the mum at the same time. Dad is disabled and I am his main carer and friend. I am doing the right thing and do we need further professional help? I think eventually, because of the way I have gone about the communications with mum it will show her to be unreasonable and us to have been entirely reasonable.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Clare replied 2 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.
Exactly what contact has the father has with both children in the last three months
What was YOUR issue with the dog?
Clare

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Since mid February, since the boys second birthday we have had him come to stay just twice. Prior to that stay overs were roughly two to three days a week, usually across a weekend.The daughter has only been seen a half dozen or so times as she is still too young to be away from her mother as she is breast feeding. Therefore, we have visited at her home for maximum of two hours or so. Of course at the same time we visited with the boy and on one of those occasions took him out for a trip to the local Tesco and then back home to mum.


 


With regards XXXXX XXXXX daughter breast feeding, the mother has informed us that she intends to continue this for at least twelve months or so. We suspect this is to prevent us taking the daughter away from her mum for any length of time. This was not the pattern with the boy. On that occasion the boy was quickly fed via formula which allowed us to take the boy for longer periods and over night.


 


Mum says we can come and visit both children when we want to, subject to appropriate notice at her home. This as you can appreciate is not what we were used to before and can be very awkward for all concerned. It is also very difficult in terms of journey - Sidcup to East Finchley - and does not take into account work commitments. It is also not fair on other daughter who adores her little brother and loves to spend time with him also. Previously we tried to coincide the stay overs of both boy and other daughter for the same times. Her permanent location is Whyetleaf in Surrey which makes for a nearly two to three hour journey for her to get to her brother at his mothers home.


 


This weekend there has been an exchange of text messages again with promises to talk to us over the phone, but she still fails to pick up when called. I have purposely made a text message to her after every failed call and failed promise so that there is a record of what has and has not taken place. I am due to call her at 1pm today if she decides to pick up, but I am not hopeful and I think we have gone as far as we can on an informal basis.


 


It may be worth noting that the mother has three other children by a previous failed marriage. She often has them over for stop overs as I believe that although the dad has custody, it suits him to allow them to spend every weekend with their mother. We understand that part of the break up of the earlier marriage involved social services getting involved as there was a neglect charge as a result of some sort of breakdown of the mother. As a consequence there for the early part of our boys life some involvement of social services because he was placed on a risk register of sorts. He was signed off that about six months after his birth. The boys dad was involved in those meetings and the social services assessment included a visit to our house to assess us and the dog. We apparently passed the assessment and the risk notice on the boy was subsequently lifted.


 


When the dog incident happened at our home, I was accidently attacked by our confused dog whilst trying to break up a fight between dad and his cousin, we were required by social services to get an approved animal psychologist to assess the family dog and submit a report. This was done to the satisfaction of all and we carried on as before. The children have grown up with the dog and there has been no incidents whatsoever. Mum has more recently raised concerns about the dog and has requested that the dog and boy are separated when he is here with us. We have done as requested and the dog, as a short term measure has been staying at my mums. At times with me in attendance also, especially over night. This is a short tern solution and I have agreed to build a garden compound/kennel for the dog as a more permanent solution to reluctantly keep dog and boy apart. It is also worth noting that the boys grandparents (mums parents) also have a dog albeit it a small one.


 


The argument between dad and his cousin was on dads birthday after a big family meal out. Cousin, wife and their children and both the boy and daughter (latest daughter was not even conceived at that time) were all in the house at the same time. I was stone cold sober all the time. I have put the children to bed and gone to bed myself as I was working the next Monday. An argument developed between cousin and wife, which dad tried to prevent getting any more serious. It was all fuelled by drink. I heard the argument and came down stairs to see dad and cousin about to grapple with one another. I came between them to keep them apart. I was facing dad and was pushing cousin backwards. A gap opened up between dad and me and the dog obviously confused by the whole thing came up between dad and me, thinking that I was attacking dad. The dog then bit me on the throat. Fortunately for me its looked worse than it was and I was able to retire and get a towel from upstairs to cover my would. In the meantime cousin put the dog in the garden and the row between the two continued and dad was knocked unconscious. I came back downstairs with towel to my neck and told cousin to get out as I had already called for an ambulance and for the police upstairs. Cousin ran off to be arrested later. The ambulance and police arrived and checked on the children before calmly leading the dog on a lead upstairs and locked him into an empty bedroom. Then later with the police and ambulance peoples help I arranged for the daughters mum and partner to collect her, the boy and the cousins wife and children and take them back to Whyteleaf. Dad was released from hospital the next day and I had to stay in for an emergency cosmetic operation to repair the damage. The dog and I have no issues and fully accept that he was confused by the situation and lashed out to protect his No1 master, dad from an apparent attack by his No2 master, me. The psychologist concurred with this assessment having observed me and the dog and dad and daughter together for a number of hours and during a walk together.


 


We accept that the mum has some legitimate concerns and have accordingly done all she asks with respect of keeping the boy and the dog apart. This is despite both boy and dog previously getting on well and playing together without any issues whatsoever. We are not stupid to think that we cannot do as mum asks because although we believe there are no issues between the dog and the boy, the mum obviously does have worried and we have/are doing all that we can to address those worries. Thank you for your efforts so far. Barry Winters

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
The law says that a child is entitled to have contact with both parents and the courts will enforce this if necessary.
Since he has had overnight contact with the elder child until recently there is no reason why this should not continue - even if he cannot have overnight contact with the baby for the time being
The starting point is for your friend to try and discuss matters with his ex using Family Mediation (www.familymediationhelpline.co.uk).
If that does not solve the problem then he will have to apply for a Child Arrangement Order (brand new name) which sets out when he sees the children
I hope that this is of assistance - please ask if you need further details
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

What are your thoughts about the dog matter? The materials for me to build an external compound arrived today and its my intension to build it this coming weekend, weather permitting. We are doing this because we acknowledge that the mum may have a minor point regarding some concerns and worries about the dog and boy being together.


 


Also, because we did not want to be accused of ignoring her concerns or of making light of them, I thought also that if the matter ever came to court we would be able to show that we were addressing seriously all her worries and have taken all reasonable steps to keep what we think is a perfectly safe dog and the child apart. As a by the ways the other mother of the older daughter has no qualms or issues about the dog and can see that both children (prior to these recent problems) had a good and healthy relationship with what is generally regarded as a good family breed of dog.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
I think that you have addressed the dog issue fully and in a very open and honest way and it should cause no problem once your precautions have been outlined
Clare
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 33506
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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