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Ask Clare Your Own Question

Clare
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 33276
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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Family LawyerHello. It is now 1 1/2 years since

Customer Question

For Clare, Family LawyerHello. It is now 1 1/2 years since the final hearing, which allowed F contact with our daughter L, half of every weekend and half the holidays. Before this, F attended a course for violent men. He was violent towards me and his son, though it was not what would be considered very serious.Contact has been basically a positive experience as far as I can see although there have been problems and I have been dealing with them as best I can. You may recall I discussed with you that F was banned from taking our daughter on to a sailing vessel because of a history of dangerous sailing with children on board, that was picked up on by the judge. I asked for the ban to be until our daughter was 18. I ended up agreeing in court to the age of 11 because I was under extreme pressure that day and was not strong nor clear-minded. You may then recall that the second weekend of contact after the final hearing, F took our daughter kayaking and she capsized. He made light of it. My daughter was shaken when she told me but then didn't mention it again. The following summer F took her and the children of his now girlfriend kayaking again. L didn't tell me about it. Then, again, he intended to take her. This time she told me she didn't want to go because she didn't like kayaking. I passed this to F who basically took no notice. She rang me from somewhere private, as far as I recall, and told me that F had threatened to "leave her on the bank on her own" as he and the others "had a right" to go kayaking. I spoke to F who denied saying this.She has had no training at all. F and I used to have Solution Focussed Therapy as ordered. In a session we discussed this and I asked him not to take L kayaking until she had had some basic training. He said he had no problem with me organising this but that he didn't think it was necessary. The weather has not been good so I have not been able to organise this as yet, but her new school does kayaking classes in their swimming pool so I will get her on to this as soon as they start.I mentioned the kayaking class to her recently and mentioned that I wanted her to do some classes at the school so that she was more safe if Daddy took her. She told me that she did not want to go kayaking, that she didn't like it since they had capsized. She remembers what he said about leaving her on the bank. I suggested she tell her F how she felt. She said she was afraid to. I asked why and she said "something bad might happen". I asked what she meant and she turned her back. She said "He might get mean", I asked what she meant, she said "angry". I explained it was important for her to learn to express her wishes and feelings to her dad. She then said something very strange - she said "Then he might think I am making it up because you told me to." I reminded her I had never done this and asked why she thought he would think this. She seemed confused so I left it there.The same has happened around Sunday/Monday contact. L has said she doesn't like this and I have asked her to express her feelings to daddy as well, but she has said she "can't tell him what she really thinks because she is scared he will get mean." I have no idea what she is referring to.Given that he was so unkind as to threaten to leave her on the bank of a river while he went off kayaking with the others, I am of the opinion that he has not really changed in his approach to watersports - when he wants to do them, every one has to follow and that is that. If they express a feeling that they don't want to do it, he forces them or plays mind games until they feel they have no option. I watched many years ago as he physically restrained his son, pushed him into the back of his car and drove off to cross the channel to France on his yacht with his son as his only crew. The boy was 12 or so at the time.At what point is it realistic to intervene? At what point do I no longer sit back and do nothing, for fear of doing the wrong thing? Should I be emailing F about these things, when he will always deny it or twist it around to suggest Lily is saying one thing to me and another to him, which she used to do but not really anymore? I am interested in your suggestion of a mediator for our little girl, who is 8, or is she too young. Please tell me more.
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Clare replied 10 months ago.
HI Have you looked at what kind of talking support is available in your area for children?
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
No, I have no idea where I would start. I also feel it is not time yet - that things would have to be worse.
Expert:  Clare replied 10 months ago.
Given the history of matters between you trying to talk to him about it is not wise - even if you use a mediator trained to work with young people -although you can attempt that if you wishThis is really going to have to be dealt with by helping your daughter build her confidence and helping her find the words to express her wishes and feelingshttp://www.relate.org.uk/sussex/children-and-young-peoples-counsellingand allowing her to reach a position where she has control over her contact - but you also need to pattern an approach that removes power from your ex - and at the moment you are failing by continuing to let him dominate your lifeClare
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
You are right. I am failing by allowing him to dominate my life. I don't know how else to deal with it. Because we are not sticking to the court Order. So I feel like he has a lot of power, to say yes or no to things I ask. For example, Paris at Easter...my family are going for a 90th birthday and the trip falls over Easter itself. Do I not have to ASK him if we can go? Given he has been granted half of the holidays by the court and this trip falls bang in the middle.Other issues that have involved emails are - Weekend contact eg. when one of us can't make contact at the exact time in the order, when L wants to, say, have a sleepover which would involve changing weekend contact day, changing contact weeks around, me asking him to contribute financially to things for L eg. shoes, nits, the bus stop she will get off at etc.Please advise me on an approach to take with F that would be seen by the court as fair. Thank you!!!
Expert:  Clare replied 10 months ago.
Hi
Yes he does have power if you wish to change the order - so only do so when it is unavoidable
Keep your emails short and matter of fact - if you are asking for a favour then offer something in return
No great explanations just a simple request or sharing of information
Clare
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Given the court order was drawn up before we moved and given the conflict, would a new order be a good idea?On the subject of my daughter also feeling bullied by F but not being able to stand up for herself, again, surely it is my role to do so given she is only 8. I think she is too young.And at what point do I say, enough is enough, I am stopping contact? I am not suggesting we are at that point yet. But at what point does that become the right thing to do?
Expert:  Clare replied 10 months ago.
In your circumstances given the past history you do not ever stop the contact unless Social services tell you to do so - based on their enquiries and not on your reportThere is no basis for a further application to the court - the pressure would not be fair on your daughter - or on you.Your daughter needs to know that you will always support her wishes - that does not mean you take preemptive action
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
I do not understand your last sentence Clare. What do you mean I do not take preemptive action? If on the one hand, for example, l, aged 8, tells me she is terrified of a kayak and does not want to be taken, but I then send her off to go kayaking, my words would be empty if I did not attempt to intervene?I would not allow my daughter to get harmed to the extent that social services were alerted by others. This is neglect isn't it?
Expert:  Clare replied 10 months ago.
When she is with her father he has Parental Responsibility and decides what she does - not you. That is a full stop.IF HE endangers her then HE is guilty of neglect not you.You have NO control over what she does with him - as he has none over you

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