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Harris
Harris, Law Specialist
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 2732
Experience:  Family Law - Specialist in Divorce, Financial Relief and Children Matters
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I cant afford a solicitor but my ex husband has taken me to

Customer Question

I cant afford a solicitor but my ex husband has taken me to court over access to our children. The children do not want to see their father anymore as he has been using drugs, physical violent to others including his partner in front of the children and did not return one of my children when agreed leading to her missing a week of school. CAFCASS have already spoken to me and the children and have filed a report today with the court suggesting access be re instated.
I'm at my wits end, the children are distressed with them threatening to run away, not sleeping etc.
Is there any way for me to be able to have a solicitor or advise and help?
Thank you
Emma
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I cant afford a solicitor but my ex husband has taken me to court over access to our children. The children do not want to see their father anymore as he has been using drugs, physical violent to others including his partner in front of the children and did not return one of my children when agreed leading to her missing a week of school. CAFCASS have already spoken to me and the children and have filed a report today with the court suggesting access be re instated.
I'm at my wits end, the children are distressed with them threatening to run away, not sleeping etc.
Is there any way for me to be able to have a solicitor or advise and help?
Can the children be physically forced to have to see their father, as I have been told that is they don't attend then I will be in breach of the court order?
Expert:  Harris replied 1 year ago.
Hi, thanks for your question.
How old are the children and what is the current arrangements for them?
In relation to the concerns raised, was the CAFCASS officer informed of this and is it mentioned in the safeguarding letter/report? If there are issues in relation to drugs or physical violence it is usual for the CAFCASS officer to make recommendations that further evidence is required such as drug testing and possible domestic violence / anger management courses.
Some courts have a duty solicitor who can assist or represent you free of charge on the day of the hearing and it would be helpful to check with the court. If they do you should attend early so that you can meet with them.
If the court grants and order for the father to spend time with the children, the order will likely state that you have to make the children available to see the father and promote contact. The CAFCASS officer should have been informed that the children's wishes are that they do not wish to see the father, and if they are aged 13 or above this should be taken into account.
In relation to child maintenance, have you submitted a formal application to the Child Maintenance Service? If not, her is not legally obligated to provide any maintenance. I would suggest that an application be submitted and they will work out his legal liability and advise you of the options you have for payment to be collected from him.
Please let me know if you have any further questions regarding this.
Harris and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The children are 7 & 10 years old and there are no current arrangements for them, they have not seen their father for 13 months. The CAFCASS officer is aware of the concerns raised, I have yet to receive a copy of the report but she telephones yesterday to inform me of her suggestion for contact to resume in a supervised capacity.The court involved does not have a duty solicitor unfortunately. The children's wishes are not being taken into account because of their ages, but I cannot forcibly push them through a door to see him f they wont and they are adamant they don't. One of my children has already in the past run away from his father to come back to me and the police had to be involved in finding him.
I have made an application to CSA but as he is on benefits he only has to pay £19.33 although he has still not made the first payment and hey are chasing him now. Even though he is on benefits, he is somehow funding a solicitor, so I feel I'm behind and not as well prepared.
I'm very concerned over the children's welfare, they trust me to keep them safe but I cannot stop them being forced into seeing their father.
Expert:  Harris replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. It is helpful that CAFCASS have recommended supervised contact as during these sessions the contact supervisor will take notes of the sessions and how the children are. If the children are uncomfortable and contact does not go well, then this will be recorded and used in any recommendations for future contact.
Given their young ages it will be your responsibility, if the court agrees with the CAFCASS recommendation, to take the children to the contact centre, and it may be necessary for you to remain in a separate waiting area if contact does not go well and needs to be ended early. This should therefore be suggested to the court.
You should also be requesting for him to undertake a drug test for the suspected drugs. This will have to be privately funded - initially you should be requesting for him to pay for it solely, but the court may request that it be shared between you. If he does not comply with the testing or it comes back with a result that he has used drugs, then this will impact his contact.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
If the first supervised contacts do not go well, what could happen ? Would the court continue with contact or stop given the views of the children and that contact has not gone well ?
Expert:  Harris replied 1 year ago.
If they do not go well, and there has been an order for them to take place at specified days and times, you would still need to promote and take the children to these sessions. The court will likely list the hearing for a review within a few months to see how things have progressed and review the arrangements based on the notes by the contact centre and any other evidence directed by the court.