How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Harris Your Own Question
Harris
Harris, Family Law Expert
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 2849
Experience:  Family Law - Specialist in Divorce, Financial Relief and Children Matters
90234221
Type Your Family Law Question Here...
Harris is online now

I really hope you can help. My sister is due to go to

Customer Question

Hello. I really hope you can help. My sister is due to go to court for the last meeting before final hearing for the custody of her children. She was forced to leave the family home with her 3 children, 3,9 and 11 as her husband had emotionally and financially abused her for the last 11 years plus numerous affairs, ( only one she has written prove by him) Her husband has now taken her to court for access to the children and wants upto 50% of the time with them. He tried to commit suicide last Christmas, has broken a non molestation order and shown strange behaviour towards both Kids and my sister, including dismantling her car, in front of the police so it was dangerous to drive. There are many other stalking and bizarre behaviours he has shown too numerous but very scary to mention. We have since found out he was convicted of one offence whilst married to her and questioned over another violent attack. Although she has had representation, they do not understand the severity of his behaviour and we are all concerned about the safety of the children. As it stands he was given postal contact only, then it's now supported and he is now asking the courts to change this so he can take them away overseas on holiday. He has contacts abroad and its is quite obvious from the few bits of financial information he has given that he is involved with illegal things too. Please help we need advice and perhaps a barrister/ solicitor who could help. We are in the East Sussex area.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Harris replied 1 year ago.
Hi, thanks for your question. I am a qualified family law solicitor.
Has there been evidence disclosed in the court proceedings regarding the violence and illegal activities?
The court will need to see what is in the children's best interests and if there are any risks towards them - if these have not been raised then your sister will need to do this in her final evidence as she should have been directed to do this.
If there has not been regular and consistent unsupervised direct contact with them it will be highly unlikely for the court to grant him overseas holidays with the children.
Harris and other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Yes the court was made aware of his previous violent past but not the on going illegal activities as her solicitor and his agree the financial bits outside the court. He was asked by caf cars for a letter from his GP which stated he had not seen him since the Nov before the suicide attempt plus no one has looked into his youth which was plagued with behaviour problems and social workers. There has been no contact except for his unannounced stalking visits witnessed by the kids. They were in process of the contact centre organising supervised but the centr were awaiting the verdict from the non molestation case. He was found guilty. Though hard to prove as he's very adapt of avoiding police etc The divorce had been settled only in last month and no mention of the child contact or who was paying cost were mentioned so she could also end up with a bill of thousands. She has no money as he is resided in home and it's been agreed he can for the next 3 yrs and the only saving she can prove is the money in the house. He did not provide his bank accounts so they just agreed on what he told them. His solicitor is very good at not proving info and even tho several important court request items have been asked for they have not materialised. She received the papers today for court Thursday and she is very frightened as they are very intimidating. I can send you them if it helps. This has been a very long 18months plus but they are now forging everything thro very quickly without him completing what has been ordered. An example is she has not been allowed to get any kids things, money that was supposed to be given to her hasn't. It seems his solicitors are only acknowledging things in his favour and ignoring plus stating they are ignoring any other items even if requested by the court. We need to know what to do and say in court to make sure all these bits of info are followed up including the caf cas statement which doesn't actually give the answers that were requested. It's laughable really as his solicitors fees are more than stated income yet the judge seems unaware of this and is keen to push the contact thro ASAP with disregard to he children's safeguarding. Her ex hasn't even allowed her to inform the school of his criminal past even though he is suppose too.
Expert:  Harris replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for expanding on this.
The Court will have to consider the divorce and financial matter separately to the children matter.
His illegal activities will only be taken into account in the children matter if they are relevant to child protection issues - so if they are issues of child abuse or domestic violence then the CAFCASS officer will raise these in the report. However, if they are for example fraud issues, then the CAFCASS officer will comment on them as part of the police enquiries but they are unlikely to result in child protection concerns.
If the court has directed for him to disclose information and documents as part of the financial proceedings he has a duty to disclose these and your sister can pursue contempt proceedings for his non-compliance. This should be raised with her solicitors as if he does not provide full and frank disclosure regarding his financial position then the court will not be fully informed and cannot make an order to provide an equitable settlement. If there is regular non-compliance and her solicitors refuse to pursue this during the court proceedings then she may need to seek alternative representation.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
My sisters solicitor said there would be a fact finding meeting regarding domestic abuse at court for about a day and a half. When she arrived at court, there was no fact finding, the meeting was over after about an hour and no statement discussing any issues of domestic abuse. The police had been called on several occasions to the house and many other incidents yet this seems not to be disclosed to the judge. Unanswered questions from caf cas and to caf cas. No medical help has been sort by the ex since his recent overdose and previous traumatic experiences. He has continued to show strange behaviour.
I feel she has been not been respresented well. She finally had the courage to leave an psychologically abusive marriage after 16 years together, then finding out with proof he had had an affair and even a hidden criminal record. Suffering months of stalking and harassment ( police called again) He was found guilty, again and yet the ex still retains the marital home for 3 years 60/40 split and obvious illegal gains. He has a great solicitor and barrister who have even had the cheek in court to ask for money to support him been though she has been a stay at home mum and he workes as a roofer for his own firm. He has never paid towards their support in that time and froze all accounts. As you can see unfortunately she needs to remind the judge of the actual facts plus the all the outstanding information, with regard to the exs mental ability to look after the children. My sister also has texts from him stating he can't cope with the kids before he tried to commit suicide. At this point she called social services who stated that if she feels there is a safeguard risk she must stop access until accessed. Which it hasn't been.
I would like to know what exactly can be given or said to the judge for him to have all the facts. She unfortunately received this last letter today, for the court on Thursday, stating that he intends to go for 50% even though he has never been the main caregiver nor seen them properly in 18 months. She would also like it noted the effect he had on the two oldest via school intervention as they witnessed his irrational behaviour since the split. I doubt we could find a barrister or solicitor who could represent her better in time so at least if we could file paper tomorrow or if this is to late, have a guide to how to object to the exs proposal that would great.
Expert:  Harris replied 1 year ago.
Your sister should tailor her position in terms of what the court will be looking at when deciding on a child arrangement order application, specifically the following criteria:
1. The wishes and feelings of the children concerned
2. The children’s physical, emotional and educational needs
3. The likely effect on the children if circumstances changed as a result of the courts decision
4. The children’s age, sex, backgrounds and any other characteristics which will be relevant to the court’s decision
5. Any harm the children have suffered or may be at risk of suffering
6. Capability of the children’s parents (or any other person the courts find relevant) at meeting the children’s needs
7. The powers available to the court in the given proceedings
The court will be looking at both your sister's position and the father's position when deciding on making an order, however, if the father has had no direct contact with them since she fled the home, it will be highly unlikely that the court will allow him immediate 50% shared care arrangement based on the information you have provided. The court will want to assess whether the arrangements work in the best interests of the children and there will have to be a gradual reintroduction into their life.