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Clare
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34106
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 am a separated father with a single six year old son Raphael

Resolved Question:

I am a separated father with a single six year old son Raphael who lives with my ex-wife Rachel. My wife will not let me spend time with my son on our own because I have epilepsy and she suggests that I will hurt him some how.
I rarely have seizures now. I have had hundreds in the past in-front of my son and he would not be frightened by them. Raphael could use the telephone or ask someone for help confidently if he were to see me having a seizure.
My ex-wife says I can see my son whenever I want to as long as it is with someone else she has arranged for or if I sit outside her workplace office in University Campus Suffolk where she tutors Mathematics.
I was made redundant from University Campus Suffolk over the Summer and I simply do not want to sit in these buildings several times a week. I want a complete break from this organisation.
Prior to our separation my ex-wife was far more flexible with my ability to look after Raphael on my own.
Within 6 years I have fallen on top of Raphael once; I have a letter from a Doctor confirming that I have never injured anybody (including him) with my condition. If I was to fall on top of him it is unlikely to do anything other than shock him.
I am worried that my wife will not let me spend time on my own with my own son for years to come.
My wife is in another relationship with a man with a child. I am not in a relationship and have no intention for some time because I am spending my time setting up a business.
Is it legal for my wife to prevent me spending time with my son alone despite only having a well controlled form of epilepsy?
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.
Prior to the separation did you often spend time alone with your son?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hello Clare,

Thanks for your response. Prior to my separation I frequently spent time alone with my son - I took him swimming and trampolining for instance.

A couple of catalyst events happened this year - me and my son were in my flat together and I unusually had a seizure when I was sitting on the sofa with him. My son was not hurt, he took a telephone and called his Mother, who came to the flat and my son let her into my flat.

The next week I was due to meet my son and had a seizure prior to meeting him; the paramedic who picked me up from the town centre took me to my son's to appologise to him as it was not appropriate for me to take responsibility of him.

It is highly unusual that I have a seizure during the day; even more so that I have two so close to each other.

Good luck and best wishes,

Stephen

p.s. my son is more likely to be injured by my ex-wife's driving or the behaviour of some of the people who my ex-wife gets to look after my son.

p.p.s. Up until recently I have been an Higher Education Lecturer - now I am setting up my own digital business.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Do you have any friends or family who could be with you while you have your son?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Dear Clare,

Thanks for the quick response. In theory probably, I guess it is just the the principle.

My parents and family live in Wales and the west country; I am in Ipswich.

For quite some time me and my ex-wife had an agreement where by I spend time with my son in the company of someone that wife arranged (usually a student of hers - Clarissa). Clarissa has recently started a job in Top Shop and has gone to College. I never had a seizure in the company of Clarissa.

I guess it is the principle. I am not a heavily disabled or dangerous person. I could arrange not to see my son on a day that I have had a seizure (over 90% take place whilst I am asleep).

When I have spent time with my son and another person; whether that be my ex-wife, my mother in law, Clarissa or one of my ex-wife's friends - the quality of my experience has been far poorer than if I had been on my own.

My son loves me and I love him. My ex-wife has not had a Father live with her whilst she grew up ( he is in Spain) and she has been affected by just having a Mother.

If legally there was no other option in the eye's of the law; of course I would be accepting of it. But for a decade I have been teaching three hour classes at under-graduate and post-graduate level in the local college and the risk of me having a seizure is minimal.

I do not want my son to sleep over in my flat because of the higher risk and I do not want to take him on long journeys out of our home-town (Ipswich) because of the additional risk were I to have a seizure.

All I want is a couple of hours several times a week without being made to feel valueless.

Best wishes,

Stephen

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
How long ago were the two incidents that you refer to?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Both in some time between early December 2013 and early January 2014.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
have you had any other fits at unusual times since then?
Have you any idea what triggered those two?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

These seizures were probably triggered by an alteration to my medication that was taking place at the time under the instruction of a Doctor.

I have had one other seizure this year at an unusual time and place - early in the year in Waitrose in Ipswich.

The number of seizures I have now are fewer than I have had at any stage since diagnosis in 1995.

Apart from straight forward seizures in my sleep every two to three weeks - unusual seizure times and places are triggered by:

Cold viruses - uncontrollable but easy to plan for.

Upset stomachs - quite controllable (I am trained as a cook)

Heavy amounts of alcohol (I used to drink too much - binge drinking, I do not now, I am separated)

Insufficient sleep - I always get sufficient sleep (8 hours)

Missing medication - highly unlikely - unless I am already unwell. 1 would lead to the other.

Extreme one-off stress events - My self-employment has significantly reduced my work based stress. My separation has significantly reduced my life stress.

Best wishes,

Stephen

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
All of that is good news.
Could you get a report confirming that?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I have a letter from a doctor saying that my condition is improving and I have never hurt anybody with my seizures.

I could get any type of letter saying virtually anything if I went to a Doctor; but I guess they would be almost worthless. I do not go to see a Doctor after having a seizure and anything that I say to my Doctor is my word which they will put in a letter unless it is something silly. If they ask me how my epilepsy has been I tell them the truth that it is better than it has been.

Maybe the information to be relied upon the most would be hospital records. I used to be taken to hospitals quite frequently to spend time, sometimes days on end. However now that my medication has been improved significantly, if I have a fit in public, people call a paramedic (which is what I would do) who attend to see me and then usually take me home or leave me in the company of someone I know.

My medication has improved significantly since attending an Expert Epilepsy Surgery twice a year in a London Hospital (my ex-wife organised this for me several years ago); who noted what I was taking was extremely old-school and could be improved upon.

I do not have a criminal record and have never been aggressive towards anyone. I have fallen on my son once in 6 years which did not hurt him. We have recently spoken about this and he is not concerned about it.

Best wishes,

Stephen

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
The issue is not that you are aggressive - it is the risk that you will have a seizure when you are alone with the child in circumstances which will place the child at risk.
This need not be by your falling on him.
Having said that it seems that you are once again stable and your consultant would be willing to confirm this.
Your son is aware of your condition and has coped appropriately and well in the past and that you your self are willing to restrict your contact to ensure his safety at all times.
This being the case your starting point is to arrange an appointment with Family mediation
www.familymediationhelpline.co.uk
to try and discuss a new pattern of contact that reflects this.
If that fails then you can apply to the court for a Child Arrangement Order
The Court will wish to be assured of the matters outlines above - and it may be that the addition of some form of alarm system might also assist.
You can read more here
http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/courtfinder/forms/cb001-eng.pdf
I hope that this is of assistance - please ask if you need further details
Clare
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