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Clare
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34261
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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Again,Last March my adult son received a three-year

Customer Question

Hello again,
Last March my adult son received a three-year community supervision order for viewing child pornography on the internet and requirement to attend
a Thames Valley treatment programme - still waiting for a start date
The police recovered phone messages exchanged with a 15-year-old boy. He admitted
an online flirtation but had no intention of meeting the boy. He was not charged with grooming.
It transpired that son was sexually abused and bullied by an older boy at school when he was 13. Son is severely dyslexic, was recently been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder and has ongoing anxiety and depressiuon.
Before his trial he attended a course at the Lucy Faithfull Foundation,a
charity which works to rehabilitate sex offenders. He has an ongoing programme of paid-fortnightly psychotherapy.
Before his trial, son's ex-partner allowed him contact with their child, then seven, under my supervision at my home. After his conviction she refused any further contact or mediation. She allows the child to visit me and have sleepovers every six to eight weeks. She has told him 'Daddy did something wrong and you won't see him for a long time.' She is adamant she wants to sever all contact.
Son has applied to the family court for supervised access at a contact centre. There is no monety for legal fee4s. The pro-bono unit was helpful but no-one available. Son used a Mckenzie Friend,who has proved competent to date. Final hearing is on 26 June.
When the Cafcass officer compiling a report for the court phoned son, he was on a mobile at work. Because of his difficulties he forgets things and is easily flustered. I think he could have made a stronger case for himself.
By contrast, the Cafcass report had a very full statement by the mother.
She claimed that: son exposed himself to his stepdaughter in 2010 (son is adamant this is not true); he was not charged with grooming because he had deleted material from his phone (his criminal solicitor said the police recovered everything from the phone; she believed his abusive behaviour had gone on throughout their relationship; and she would not allow further supervised access to the child at my home because son's family'did not take his offence sufficiently seriously' (Untrue- we were devastated).
At the second hearing, the judge apointed a Guardian to represent the interests of the child. The Guardian wrote to son saying she would be in touch to arrange a meeting. She spoke to him at the third hearing in April. It sounds as though this was instead of meeting at her office. Unfortunately the Mckenzie friend could not attend this hearing,so there was no-one to clarify this point.
The M.Friend therefore helped son draft a letter to the Guardian, setting out his concerns about his child. The mother has stated the child is happy and shows no signs of missing his father. But the child told me during recent visits he thinks his father might have been abducted or murdered, that he won't see him until he is grown up.I have passed on these comments to my son but am concerned the mother's allegation about his family have undermined my credibility.
The Guardian has not acknowledged his letter, despite a request, and has not replied to his email asking for confirmation of receipt. He is sending her a copy of the letter to in case it went astray.
Son has now received copies of two reports from local Child Care Services.
They were sent to a solicitor who is a specialist in child contgact cases. This solicitor has obviously been belatedly engaged by the mother.
My concern is that this solicuitor will draw on these reports to create a damaging picture of my son, together with the Cafcass report. There was also an exchange of angry emails between my son, his ex-partner and her best friend immediately
after the trial. Son made a few aggressive comments and referred to 'never having those sort of conversations or looking at those sort of pictures again.'
I think these too will be used as further proof that son is not a fit person to have contact with his child. I'm also concerned that the Guardian may not have the full, correct picture before making her recommendation to the judge. For example, the two reports from childcare services present the mother's claims as facts rather than allegations. They also contain minor inaccuracies.
The M.friend says that: neither party has additional information to offer; nothing either party can say will make a significant difference; and that the Guardioan's report and that of Cafcass will determine the judge's decision. He says any discrepancies can be addressed in an updated Position statement and that he can also subm,it an Issues paper.
But he also says unproven allegations have a far lower burden of proof inn a Family Court.
I remain concerned that son will folunder if questioned in court by the mother's solcitior. Should he engage one at this late date?
Sorry this is so long.
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.
What has the Guardian recommended?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Son won't know what the Guardian has recommended until the final hearing.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Was a Section 7 report ordered?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hello Clare,

There is no reference in the court papers to ordering a section 7 report.

Papers for the last hearing (Effective As A Dispute Resolution Appointment) on 16th April say: " The solicitor (ie Guardian) shall file and serve a position statement and any Part 25 application by 5.6.16."

Hope that helps.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
So in fact you will know what approach is being taken by Friday
Can you tell me the wording that appointed the Guardian?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The wording at the hearing on 13th March was : "The Child is assessed as a party to the proceedings in his own right. The court shall send a copy iof this order to the Cafcass Service Manager, who shall appoint an officer as Guardian as promptly as possible."

The person appointed is a Family Court Advisor, who is based at Cafcass.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Excellent - that is what I wanted to check.
Were any other reports ordered at any time?
How many hearings have there been to date
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Yes, at the 13th March hearing, son was asked to give details of professional parties who could supply reports on him and his progress.

The list was supplied to court for the 16th April hearing.

Professionals were:

Son's psychotherapist

Lucy Faitfull Foundation charity

Son's probation officer, requiring details of his current assessed risk, likely start date of TV propgramme and a copy of the pre-sentence report completed in respect of him

The Legal Officer for local childrens services. She wrote to son's former solicitor last year confirming that 'contact should be supervised while he undertakes the work identified by the Probation Service.'

The 16th April hearing also required a letter from local childrens services to give details of their involvement with the family and a copy of any assessments they carried out on the family.

Police also required to disclose documents in respect of son's conviction: logs, reports, interviews, witness statrements (NB: one of these is from ex-partner's best friend, a self-styled expert in grooming).

.There have been three hearings to date: January, First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment; March; April, the Dispute Resolution Appointment.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Thank you - have all those reports been disclosed?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Yes as far as I am aware. I believe the letters from the therapist, probation officer and Lucy Faithfull will be reasonably positive.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Excellent
Your son should receive the Position statement from the Guardian either Friday or early next week
This will be decisive in deciding what his next step should be.
If the statement supports a gradual progress towards contact then well and good.
If not the yes he may need to consider instructing a solicitor or a direct access barrister to represent him at the final hearing.
I hope that this is of assistance - please ask if you need further details
Clare
Clare and other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

That's very helpful. Thank you Clare.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
You are most welcome I hope all goes well
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Clare,

My apologies I have just been through the files again and discovered that the Guardian was in fact allocated to prepare and file a Section

7 report on the current court proceeedings

This was stated in a letter to my son from Cafcass dated 31st March.It had slipped into thick file of papers.

Does this significantly change your conclusion?

Sheila

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
No not at all - the report will be available and should give a good idea of the way forward for your son
Clare