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Clare
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 33293
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 court case next week. My ex partner has applied for

Customer Question

I have a court case next week. My ex partner has applied for a defined contact order to see his daughter following some incidents of domestic violence, none of which has resulted in injury. Most of them happened over two years ago, but the one that happened most recently (2nd March 2014) has lead to me stopping contact. I want him to have contact with her but through a third person taking her to and from him so that he does not see me, e.g. a member of his family. I am happy for him to have her alone. I am not sure what to propose in court. He used to have her every week for 26 hours, in the day and overnight. I don't know whether to propose this, or propose less in case they give him more hours, or whether to suggest a contact centre. I am worried if I suggest a contact centre he will get to keep her for a whole week as they are only open for two hours on a Saturday. Any advice as to the way these cases usually turn out would be great. I have also applied for a residence order as there have been past threats to take her from me. I also wanted to ask if you could advise me on whether I can have any input as to how the defined contact order is worded. For example, if someone has to come and collect my daughter from my property, I would not want it to be my current address on the order, but to say something like "the property of Miss Brindley" in case I decide to move far away, and then my ex partner could go back to court and have my daughter for longer because I live further away. Thank you.
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.
How old is the child and what was the pattern of contact before it was stopped
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks for getting back to me. She is 2 years old and will be 3 on 1st July. She was seeing her father once a week from 10.30am on a Saturday until 12.15pm on the Sunday (so approximately 26 hours). She has previously had one holiday for two nights/3 days last year. He has her at his mother's house as it was previously agreed that his house wasn't a suitable place for her to stay, but I don't know if he will stick to this in court.


 


If you need any more information let me know.


 


Thanks

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
What actually happened in March?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

This is what I have written on C1 and C100


form:


18/11/2011 – Incident number: WK – 20111118 – 0185: Following an argument Sammy Lee threw Darcy at me and hit me in my ribs whilst holding Darcy. He slammed my door and broke it so it was unable to lock.


 


30/07/2012 - just one example of continuous aggressive with the doorbell and knocking my door and talking about me inappropriately to Darcy: Sammy Lee was aggressive with my doorbell pressing it repeatedly. When I came to the door he told Darcy I was horrible and threw her at me.


 


03/08/2012 – Incident number: WK – 20120803-0117: Mr Lee attempts to take Darcy, pulling her violently from my car. During the same incident he pushed me forcefully against the wall whilst I am holding Darcy. Tax disc stolen from my car.


 


02/03/2014 – Incident number: WK – 20140302 – 0185Mr Lee banged my door aggressively in the presence of Darcy, and was verbally abusive. Mr Lee attempts to force his way into the property and breaks my door.


 


A month prior to the incident on 02/03/2014 - another example of Sammy using inappropriate language in front of Darcy: Mr Lee said to Darcy when he picked her up from my property, "Come on Darcy, let's get away from this f****** b****". I again reminded Mr Lee that this was not appropriate language to use in front of Darcy, it can affect her mental well being.


 


Continuation Sheet


Why are you making this application?


Following the incident occuring on 18/11/2011, Mr Lee’s father, Steven Lee came to my property, and threatened to take Darcy away from me. The incident occuring on 03/08/2012 was an attempt by Mr Lee to take Darcy from me. In November 2012, Mr Steven Lee again threatened to take Darcy from me. Mr Steven Lee also told me on this occasion that Mr Sammy Lee had plans to take Darcy and run away with her.


 


It was agreed between myself and Mr Lee that he had to see Darcy at their address, 70 Camphill Road, as his home that he shares with his cousin Sean Gilbert, at 15 Auden Close, was not deemed a safe place to take Darcy, as both Mr Lee and Mr Gilbert and their friends smoke marijuana indoors, and Mr Gilbert and his friends also take cocaine at the property. I have concerns about Mr Lee’s marijuana intake, and I believe that this is a contributing factor to his aggressive behaviour. Every week Darcy is returned from Mr Lee smelling strongly of smoke.


 


Another concern is that neither Mr Lee or his family believe that Darcy is lactose intolerant, and continue to feed her whatever they like without taking her special diet into consideration. This means that she has often come back from their care with diarrhoea, and it has affected the healing process for her intestines to repair themselves.


 


I have concerns about Mr Lee looking after Darcy for longer than the current agreed time of approximately 26 hours, based on a number of incidents such as severe nappy rash, not caring for her eczema properly and more recently on 27th January 2014, when Darcy had reached a temperature of 40 degrees, had been sick more than once and was severely dehydrated, and Mr Lee did not think she needed to see a doctor. When I collected her I took her straight to George Eliot Hospital where she was diagnosed with high fever and a chest infection. If she had been left any longer she would have had to have been hospitalised.


 


I was also concerned that Mr Lee had bought a bunk bed for Darcy, and she was sleeping on the top bunk, which she could easily fall out of and harm herself, as she is still unable to use the stairs unaided, and sometimes falls out of a normal bed in the night. Mr Lee did not agree with my concerns, and so I allowed him to continue to have Darcy for a sleepover on the condition that he put her in the bottom bunk of the bed, and took a photograph for my own peace of mind to send to me via iMessage, which is free of charge. Mr Lee did not do this and I planned to speak to him about it on the morning of 02/03/2014, incident number: WK – 20140302 – 0185.


 


It also concerned me when Mr Lee refused to put up stair gates on the stairs of 70 Camphill Road, as he deemed them unnecessary, which in the end I supplied on 21/09/2012.


 


For these reasons, I believe that Darcy should have a residence order stating that she lives with myself, Laurel Brindley, both for Darcy’s safety and my own peace of mind.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
What contact has he asked for?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

All I've had through is an application for a Defined Contact Order. It doesn't state what type of contact he has applied for. I ticked the agree box as I do want him to have contact with her.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Have CAFCASS phoned you yet?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Yes I've had a call from a lady from CAFCASS she said I am doing the right thing by stopping contact, and the fact that I am an Early Years teacher should mean that I get taken seriously, however I have not mentioned this in my application. I don't know how much of a chance I will get to speak at the court case, or what questions they might ask me.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Do YOU have a family member who can deal with the handover?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

My family don't want to commit to anything or be involved with him, and I wouldn't ask them to. I feel if he wants to see her it should be down to his side of the family to fetch and collect her.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
You have taken a rather scatter gun approach and you need to be very clear to the Judge about what your concerns are and how they should be dealt with.
You have listed a number of serious safeguarding concerns about his care of the child - but then you say that you are happy for him to have overnight contact
If he can have one night then why not two?
You identify serious problems with handover that cause you concern - but then are not willing to do anything to help the situation
I agree with the CAFCASS officer - there are serious issues here but YOU need to be both clearer about what your concerns are and what YOU are willing to do to address them
If you are worried about his ability to care for the child then this needs to be addressed before there is overnight contact. This could be via parenting classes; a meeting with the health visitor or something similar
If you do not wish to meet him at handover then YOU must go half way and not just rely on his family
maybe you can deliver the child to his family member and agree for his family member to return the child to your house
I hope that this is of assistance - please ask if you need further details
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks that was very helpful, however you have not answered my original question which I am still stuck on, from a solicitor's point of view, what should I do in terms of contact?:


I am worried if I suggest a contact centre he will get to keep her for a whole week as they are only open for two hours on a Saturday. Any advice as to the way these cases usually turn out would be great. I have also applied for a residence order as there have been past threats to take her from me. I also wanted to ask if you could advise me on whether I can have any input as to how the defined contact order is worded. For example, if someone has to come and collect my daughter from my property, I would not want it to be my current address on the order, but to say something like "the property of Miss Brindley" in case I decide to move far away, and then my ex partner could go back to court and have my daughter for longer because I live further away.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
This goes back to what i said about you needing to decide what your concerns are and what is or is not important to you
If you are happy for him to have her alone then a Contact Centre is not an appropriate option unless you are near one that is open all day
In that case you should offer a handover at a mutually agreed safe place - with you doing part of the travelling - anything else is simply not going to be seen as reasonable by the court
This will mean that the address issue is not relevant.
however be aware that if you do move further away then it will be up to YOU to do the travelling for contact
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

So should I suggest that he can have her for just day time for now once a week? I want a reasonable suggestion for how long he should have her from a solicitor's point of view that the court would agree to.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
There is no set answer as every case depends on its own facts - no two children or two families are the same
Given the concerns about her care that you have raised I would suggest all day every saturday or sunday subject to him promising the court to respect her dietary requirements.
Alternatively offer him Saturday morning to sunday afternoon alternate weekends subject to the same promise and a report from her Health Visitor that he has has suitable equipment
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you that's very helpful.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
HI
I hope all goes well
Clare

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