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The little girl is 5 years old and goes to school near to her home where she lives with her mother and 2 year old brother - the new term starts on Friday this week. Her father lives with his wife and two sons (aged around 3 years and 6 months) in the next town seven miles away. The court order was granted two years ago, and runs to 10th September this year. At the time of the order the judge (only verbally) told the father that he must stop continually falsely reporting to social services, etc. - SS had investigated several times (they have to follow up any complaint, of course) and found that the child's home is a good one and that she was happy and well cared for. We have always encouraged the little girl to love her father as she has to go to him regularly and we want her to be happy. (I am her great grandmother).
Not really. The mother and grandmother attended the court this morning, and the judge asked mother to fill in a lot of forms, etc. regarding the problem, and these would be sent to the father. The judge said to appear in court on Friday morning. The judge then issued an order for the father to return the child immediately - mother and grandmother to present the order to the father this evening when he returned from work. This they did. He said he was not happy and went into the house closing the door on them saying he would be five minutes. 35 minutes later while they were still waiting outside his house his solicitor arrived. Mother spoke to the police who also attended, but said that although he was flouting the judge's order they had no power to arrest him. He obviously has a solicitor, but the mother cannot afford to employ one, so will have to represent herself in court on Friday. She is very frightened as well as being under tremendous stress over this, as the father is one of those people who can sound very plausible and will twist her words. The child is also to be interviewed by the court, but the father now has two days in which to prepare her for this. We cannot help very much with solicitor costs, as we don't have the money either. They will go back to the judge tomorrow morning and see what else can be done to get the child back.
Thank you for your advice. Both father and mother separately contacted the court yesterday morning, and there will be a half-hour hearing tomorrow. The father has engaged a solicitor, but the mother cannot afford one, so will have to represent herself. It does seem strange that the law says that even though there is a court order the mother cannot get legal aid unless the father physically abuses her herself - neither the breaking of the court order by the father nor the mental brain-washing of a child seems to count. But that seems to be the law, so we have to work with it. I will let you know the outcome of the hearing - but I suspect that this is only the beginning again, as last time it took nearly two years! Thank you for your help and advice. I will, of course rate you positively, but prefer to wait until after tomorrow (just in case I need a bit more advice!). The family has used up a lot of tears this week.
The court case took place this afternoon - the father had written a very thick wad of really nasty comments on the child - she is, apparently dirty and smelly, etc (worse than that). She is always clean and (fairly) tidy, as normal 5 year olds are. Also numerous personal things which he said she had told him - and which he could not have got unless he spent a good deal of time grilling her, poor little thing. The father also spoke first thing this morning to the deputy head of Summer's school. But the school now has been told that only Mother, Grandmother or Great Grandmother may pick her up from school unless Mother has contacted them in the morning to say that someone else may do so. The judge stated that he must go back to the agreed original court order. When father said that this was his weekend with the child (it isn't actually) the judge told him that, as he had kept her for four extra days, she didn't think so! This afternoon we got her back, picking her up from school. She was very subdued at first, but is now laughing and cuddling us all, especially her little brother. It's such a pleasure for us all. As far as we know she is not aware of all the stress, and we hope she won't be - we are very careful not to chat about it in front of her. This isn't the end, we know, as Social Services will visit and listen to the mother's complaints and we are sure that unless a long term solution can be found, the father will continually do this every so often - this is not the first time. We believe him to be unwell and have some sort of a slight mental problem, but Summer is the important one here and we will protect her as far as we can, while obviously recognising that he is her father. Thank you for your help and advice.