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 Clare Your Own Question
Clare
Clare, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 34105
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practice since 1985 with a wide general experience.
13262538
Type Your Law Question Here...
Clare is online now

my step daughter has a child with a chap who has mental issues,

Resolved Question:

my step daughter has a child with a chap who has mental issues, years of Police offences, years of drug abuse and has a history of abuse (physical and mental) with his former partners. He has beaten up his dad and his ex partners. we have his medical, mental and police records which are an horrific read, we have been through the courts to agree his access to the child but the courts don't seem to want to consider his history, we feel the child will be at risk in his company but the court appear to be trying to appease new fathers rights and laws. we have no problem with the childs dad having access to the child but don't want to put the child at risk.the main concern is overnight stays, the court do not see any risk but we feel he has to prove that he has changed and is no risk. Is there any legal angle where we could defer the overnight based on his history until he has proven himself as there does not appear to be any alternative but just to hand him over. The court appear to be pushing overnight but I am not wanting to put the child at risk.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: 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.
How old is the child and what contact does the father have at the moment.
When was his last conviction and what was it for?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Clare many thanks for responding. The child is 2 and a half years old, the father currently sees him twice a week, once for 4 hours and the second for 6 hours. he was charged in march for assault, and prior to that early last year. he has attempted suicide on 3 occasions, the last being August last year.

We have been to court over the last 10 months, at the last hearing the court were going to award over night stays, this was not acceptable so has been taken to a final hearing.

we feel that despite the history, the court appears to have totally disregarded my step daughters concerns and the child's welfare.

we need to stop him taking the child overnight at least until he has proven himself. one thing I did not mention is he has another child with his current partner who is three months old, this child was put on the child at risk register before birth and is still on the list to be reviewed in May.

Our question to the court is if his unborn child was on the risk register why is our grandchild not protected, and is the Judge making decisions to appease a new law/policy.

I understand this is a complicated case and you only have a small amount of information, but there must be some way that we can ensure our grandchild is safe and not put in a position that we may regret.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
What do Social Services say about overnight contact?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Social services have advised that if his baby is considered safe, and is still on the at risk register but being monitored then our grandchild is considered to be ok and its acceptable for him to stay overnight. Our concern is who is monitoring our grandchild.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
What reports have the Court ordered?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

We have had a CAFCASS report, to support this the court ordered him to produce his police, mental and medical records for them to review, unfortunately the CAFCASS officer did not review them prior to the COURT hearing and his report made no reference to them.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Was that the short report for the first hearing?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

It was the second report, the first report was basically an assessment of both parties. There is an addendum report that CAFCASS are producing for the final hearing but it is only an update on the way his supervision is proceeding.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Where does contact take place at the moment?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

initially he came to our house, he stopped seeing our grandson for 12 months due to him attempting to take his life and other involvement with the police, however after the hearing in September the court order allowed him to take him unsupervised. He was not able to take him to his own house due to the social services investigation, but was only able to take him to his girlfriends mothers house. He has since been allowed to take him back to his own house, this was following the birth of his own child 3 months ago. he is currently taking him twice a week for the hours previously mentioned.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
How has contact been going?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Contact appears to be going ok, however we have increased his hours recently with a view to move things forward and on the basis that he was going to wait until my grandson was ready for overnight contact, he has however gone back on his agreement and is pushing for a ridiculous amount of contact during holidays and weekend periods. He is looking for him 50% of holidays and every other weekend.

we don't feel he is anyway ready for this and his father has brought him back on occasions wet, his nappy so tight its marked his leg and his back. he has not yet in our opinion gained the parenting skills required.

notwithstanding this our concern is his past and the potential harm he poses to our grandson. perhaps I did not mention they were not married and only had a short relationship, he appears to be working on the basis they were in a marriage.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
What do you know about his current partner who is I assume involved in the contact?
How often has your grandson spent the night away from mum so far?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

we don't know a great deal about his current partner, however our solicitor seems to think that she is venerable hence the protection on their baby. He has not to date had our grandson overnight, he is pushing for it and the final hearing in January is to agree the times and timescale, however the judge at the last hearing was more than happy for him to take him straight away which we find incredible based on his history.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Was he convicted of the assault in March?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I believe he was convicted, albeit he had community service. He also has a restraining order against him from the girl he assaulted who was one of his previous girlfriends.

He has been to prison for I believe 2-3 months but this was related to another incident.

He also had another appearance in court relating to another girl but she dropped the charges as she was put under pressure from him.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Has the Domestic Violence issue not been raised at all?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The domestic violence has been brought up in court but the judge said it was historical and did not want to consider it in this matter. Even the CAFCASS officer ignored the reports, even though they were as recent as last year.
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
There has been no change in policy or approach - and there is no difference in approach where the parties are actually married.
There is indeed an assumption that contact should take place so long as it is safe.
I agree that there are concerns.
There appears to be a lengthy record of domestic violence - not just involving your step daughter and that rather than the domestic violence experienced by your daughter is what gives me concern and where you should concentrate the arguments.
Having said that since it appears that the contact has gone well so far means that the next logical step is indeed to extend the contact to include overnight contact, and it is almost inevitable it will happen UNLESS (as is very possible) he starts on his current partner.
Your focus shoudl be on limiting the contact rather than preventing it
One night a month given the potential risk would be a place to start - building up from there.
The emphasise should be that the pressure on his family unit will increase when overnight contact begins and it is necessary to take time to see how it works out to ensure that the child is never exposed to witnessing Domestic Violence
I am sorry - I know that this is not what you wish to hear - but it is a realistic assessment of your position
Please ask if you need further details
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Clare may thanks for your assistance, your response basically confirms the advice we have been given. I was just looking for a second opinion which you have given and I appreciate.
We will try to move things forward on this basis and hope that he appreciates what he has and does not want to jeopardise this.
May thanks for your assistance and have a great Christmas.
Peter
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi Peter
Thank you for that.
I will be frank - there will be problems and you will need to tread a fine line between being over anxious and watching for trouble.
If there is any chance of cultivating a relationship with his current partner then it should be taken as she will be the barometer for any problems that are arising
I hope all goes well
Clare
Clare and other Law Specialists are ready to help you