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Ask Clare Your Own Question

Clare
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 33279
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 single parent and my two children have lived with me

Customer Question

I am a single parent and my two children have lived with me since I separated nine years ago. The children stayed with my ex-husband during school holidays. Last week my son told me that his father hits, slaps and physically hurts him on these visits. This is not a one off but has happened on several visits. He has only just found the courage to tell me.
I immediately contacted the NSPCC for advice and they have contacted social services. I have notified the schools and the headmaster informs me that if my ex-husband turns up at the school there is nothing legally they can do to prevent him taking them.
I wish to protect my children both at home and at school. I believe the best way forward would be to go to for sole custody but am unsure how to legally go about this. Also I would like to put a will in place so that if anything happens to me in the future the children are not given to my ex-husband. My sister and her husband are prepared to care and be legal guardians in this situation.
Your advice would be appreciated.
Thank you,
Kim Headington
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year 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 are the children and what time do the children actually spend with their father?
Clare
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

My son is twelve years old and my daughter is 10 years old. This mistreatment surrounds my son who has ADHD and learning disabilities.

I left my husband nine years ago following mental and physical abuse. My ex-husband lives in Liverpool and we live in Croydon, Surrey. At the time I had no witnesses. The abuse was always undertaken when we were alone and with no bruises. I always believed the abuse was against women and when I look back it was at times when I was vunerable ie pregnant or post pregancy.

My son will now not discuss his situation further and I am going to seek professional counceling to gently coax him to talk . I believe this mis-treatment is now happening as my son is growing up and will verbally defend himself. My son will informs me that it happens on every visit. Last week he asked me if we could move away and not tell his Dad the new address or phone number. Which is why I wish to take legal and formal action.

In the past the children have visited for the main school holiday, easter, summer and Christmas. My ex-husband was unemployed for two years but is now working. He now wishes to have them one weekend a month in addition to the school holidays.

The NSPCC said they had a legal requirement to pursue my case but after a meeting felt that it would distract from Alex which I totally agree.

My ex-husband has not been formally interviewed but from the little Alex has told me the mistreatment he has been subjected to is the same I endured many years ago. Always alone and no bruises. It took my son a lot of courage to open up to me and my priority is to take formal control of the situation to protect him.

At the time I left my husband although I saw a Solicitor his family although offering to offer any support to myself and the children they were not prepared to make an official statement against him. My father was terminally ill at the time and I had no where to go with two young children. I therefore did not pursue the case at the time.

I am absolutely devastated as there was and has been no indiction that he would continue the mistreatment in the future and on his children. My ex-husband never acknowledged or accepted that Alex had problems and I believe that this might also be part of the problem.

Due to Alex's condition he see the world in black and white. There is no grey area. He said " I told Dad his not allowed to hit me or hurt me" And his father's reply was he could do what his want. I have no reason not to believe my son. However, where do I stand if his father denies these allegations?

I was seriously ill last year and what concerns me that if I became ill that with parental rights he would take the children to live with him which would have a devastating impact on their lives.

Thank you,

Kim Headington

Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
HI
How much time do the children actually spend with him when they see him?
Clare
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Clare,

The children's father lives with his elderly mother in Liverpool. He was unemployed for the last two years and started a job on 25th October 2014. When his housing benefit stopped last summer he moved from Somerset back to Liverpool to his mother's home.

Over Christmas they were with him the majority of the time but with extended family also staying for the Christmas bank holidays. The next time he has them he wants to take them on a caravan holiday so it will just be him and the children which is concerns me. Since 8th January I have stopped all contact and asked him not ring the house. Since I challenged him he has not rung or made any contact.

Also where do his relatives stand? His sister lives in London but has a high profile job which takes her overseas. When in the UK she will have them for the weekend which they love. This happens about three times a year.

May be slow in replying my mother is terminally ill with cancer. Lives a few houses away and I am down there three times a day also. Will pick up your replies as soon as I am able. If you do not hear from me her condition will have deteriorated.

At home to 4.00 p.m. this afternoon.

Thank you,

Kim

Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
Hi
I am sorry for your troubles.
Do you have any reason to think that he would just turn up at school?
Is your daughter having the same problems with her father?
Clare
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

No due to the distance. But no my daughter has never had any problems.

Thank you,

Kim

Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
Hi
That is fine
Does your daughter still wish to have contact with her father?
Clare
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Yes.

Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
Hi
In fact there is no longer any concept of Custody - sole or otherwise - in UK family law, and even Residence has now been replaced with Child Arrangement Orders.
Given his age it is up to your son what contact he has with his father - and if he does not wish to have contact with him for the time being no Court will force him to do so.
Since your daughter does wish to have contact the fact that she is not yet of the age to fully decide will not be a major issue.
I suggest that you offer to discuss future contact arrangements using Family Mediator using a Mediator who is qualified to work with young people AND offers shuttle mediation so that you do not have to meet
If he declines mediation then simply offer the contact that your daughter wishes and say that unless the matter goes to mediation it is non negotiable.
So far as the situation on your death is concerned you can and should make a Will appointing your preferred choice of carers as Testamentary Guardians.
This would strengthen any future application they might have to make for an Order that the Children live with you after your death
Please ask if you need further details
Clare

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