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Ask Clare Your Own Question

Clare
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 33291
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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My previous partner who fathered my 5 year old twin boy and

Customer Question

My previous partner who fathered my 5 year old twin boy and girl, and whom i terminated our relationship because he was violent towards me during pregnancy. this man was given an IPP sentence for possession of firearms, kidnap with intent and aggrivated burglary when the twins were approx 18months old and has had no contact with them since they were 2. the court granted him a contact order november 2013 as i had no representation i am now forced to comply with my children visiting the specialist psychiatric prison in which he resides. My little boy has become so distraught at missing a school day which he enjoys greatly he is braking down and wetting the bed. He has expressed his wishes to me and the social worker but i am powerless to defend his emotional stability against the court order. I believe the court has not considered their rights and safety or my right as a mother to protect them from emotional distress and harm or being exposed to a man who is using them as stepping stones for his rehabilitation regardless of the impact on the twins and also the rest of the family. This is affecting my health and i need help in finding a way to fight this. Please can you help?
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.
Was there a CAFCASS report and what did it recommend?
What contact was actually ordered?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

hello Clare


thank you for your response. Yes the CAFCASS ordered a section 7 report from social services and both reports recommended indirect contact to start and be monitored by social services. The actual order was made to the effect of one letter per month from the applicant. 3 visits per year (first one is tomorrow) then summer then christmas. However the monitoring of the twins emotional distress has not been carried out at all and their views have not been taken into account by the social worker that visited them only once last week. My son said she had not listened to him and I am concerned about the emotional harm this is causing.


Camilla

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
For clarity
In fact the first visit is today?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi yes I dropped them at 8am this morning they were absolutely hysterical I am very upset
Camilla
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
What were they actually frightened of?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi they are frightened of visiting a prison in general and the fact they have to travel for 2hours journey with strangers they have not seen in over 3 years thank you
Camilla
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Who is taking them - and what do they know of Prisons at 5 - and how?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The paternal grandmother who has also been absent for the past 3years is named on the court order she had to get a lift from a work colleague, a lady the twins are not familiar with. They know what prison is from recent topics at school around services and people that work for emergency services etc. they did work on burglar bill children's story. Also their father has been in prison the majority of their lives. Before contact was stopped by the grandmother they used to visit her and speak to Him on the phone. They were told he was at work and would question me as to why they do t see him etc. they also took the twins to see him in 2010 against my wishes thank you
Camilla
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
was this also the first time they had seen their Grandmother?
What does the CAFCASS report say is the point of this?
Claire
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Yes the first time they had seen her since 2011. I believe the report expressed 'the right for a child to see their absent parent' and also the fact the father has parental responsibility. When I represented myself prior to the order being made, I contested the true meaning of 'parental responsibility' as an imprisoned person and the fact he has no adult responsibility for himself. All of the contact made has to be from the children's point of view will not be beneficial to them and their needs. Also he is unable to provide any kind of financial, emotional or educational care or support towards them. They have been awake since 6am this morning and they are still not home as I write this message nearly 8pm. I need to find a way I can change the court order with this information and without having to pay the fee they're asking? Thank you
Camilla
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Your focus at the hearing was on the wrong aspects I am afraid.
The legal meaning of Parental Responsibility is clear and is not changed by the fact that he is imprisoned so that was doomed to failure from the start
In addition your failure to understand the fact that the children are reflecting your very understandable fears and concerns will not have been well received nor well your belief that the wishes of a five year old have any real relevance
If you did refer to the distress to the wider family then that will also have caused a problem
Yes your children are undoubtedly showing very real and genuine signs of unhappiness fear and distress - and they are picking that up from you
This has to be the case because they are frankly to young to have any concept of what Prison is and what it entails - that kind of conceptualising does not start until the age of 9.

This is not to say that I agree with this order - like you I fail to see how this is child focussed in any way which makes me wonder if it was actually properly thought through
It is difficult to see the best way forward at this stage.
Certainly IF (and it is a very big if) the next contact goes ahead then I would respectfully suggest that there is much that you can do to minimise any distress to the children - and certainly any application you make to vary the order must acknowledge this.
However I do believe that it is worth applying to vary the Order after today
Spending a long day with strangers is not good - nor is the fact that their mum (you) was undoubtedly distressed thus causing more pressure on them
The only way to do this is to apply to vary the Order - which will incur the issue fee I am afraid
In the application you need to focus on the fact that the day is too long and the pressure that it is placing on the children is out of proportion to the benefit they gain form contact with their father
I know that this is not what you wish to hear - but you do need to be careful in how you build your application and much of the vocabulary you have used in this question would cause you problems with a Judge
Please ask if you need further details
Clare

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