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ukfamilysolicitor, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 1387
Experience:  Divorce, Finances, Children, Domestic Violence, Care Proceedings
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I have an 8 year old son. I separated from my husband/his

Customer Question

I have an 8 year old son. I separated from my husband/his father 6 years ago, and divorced almost 4 years ago. We have a childcare agreement in place whereby his father pays towards his living costs and school fees, and he visits his father on alternate weekends, ansd through the school holidays on alternate weeks. We have joint parental responsibility although my son lives with me the majority of the time.
My ex husband and I cannot speak face to face,or over the phone as there has been a history of verbal abuse and intimidation and I sought advice many years ago and was told that I can manage communication through email, which we do.
I have some concerns coming up around the care of my son when he is in his fathers conmpany. Last year he fell into a pond at an adult party whilst unsupervised, he was mouthed at by a wandering dog when his father was busy and not supervising proerly, he has cut his hand badly last year when his Dad insisted he should be washing the dishes and left him with shard knives,his Dad has had him using a flymo, and also getting cooked food out of an oven.
My recent concern is that his father does not seem to be heeding advice that my son needs better care, and I have just found out that my son was left unsupervised at a party, pinned down, slapped and taunted by other children. He has been struggling emotionally for some weeks, and been in trouble at school for lashing out. Had I known about this incident at the time, I could have supported my son. I'm concerned about his emotional, as well as his physical well being and want to know what options I have to reduce the time he is with his father, and if there is anything that I can do to get some education to his father in how to care for the boy in a proper way.
My email communications to his father tend to be factual,non opinionated, and kept to a minimum, swap over logistics etc. I do raise with him if there is a significant issue, although I find that this is not reciprocated.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  ukfamilysolicitor replied 2 years ago.
Welcome to Just Answer
I am a Solicitor and will assist you.
I am very sorry to hear about the difficulties that you are experiencing with your ex.
Please may I ask:
- are there any current court orders in place in respect of the time that your son spends with his father?
- I note your concerns in respect of the lack of supervision - do you have any other concerns about how your ex treats / cares for your son?
- has there been any social services involvement?
- does your son enjoy the time that he spends with his father?
Kind Regards
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
HiThere are no court orders in place.
There are a list of incidents similar to those that I mentioned and I've kept them all documented. I'm also concerned that he may be smoking marijuana when he's caring for my son.
There hasn't been any social services involvement
He does enjoy seeing his Dad, although lately he is becoming very disengaged, developing ticks, and getting into trouble at school and withdrawing from his peer group. I've spoken to his teacher who is concerned about him. He's also making negative comments about his Dad and not wanting to call him on the phone as he used to. I'm concerned that he feels that he "has" to visit his Dad and is suffering emotionally as a result. A few years ago he didn't want to see his dad, and I forced him to as I felt he was too young to make that decision. I strongly believe that if he had a choice he would see less of his Dad. I don't suggest this as it wouldn't be fair to play with his thoughts in that way.Thanks youCatherine
Expert:  ukfamilysolicitor replied 2 years ago.
Hello Catherine
Thank you for your response.
I can tell that you are trying to resolve matters with a child focussed - which is the best way possible. It is also very admirable given the difficulties that you have experienced with your ex.
It really is best for the adults to make the decisions without involving your son. That being said - it doesn't seem as though your ex is going to be able to communicate with you amicably about the concerns you have.
I would suggest that you give consideration to applying to the court for a Child Arrangement Order so that the Court can make a decision as to how much time your son should spend with his father.
Before you can make an application to the court - you do need to refer the matter to mediation first otherwise your application would be rejected. There are lots of mediation services and there will be one local to you. Just Google Family Mediation in your area and give them a call to get the ball rolling.
Normally mediation will try and help parents air their concerns and come up with a plan without the need for court. In reality, however, given what you have already said - it may quite well be that your ex is not prepared to mediate. The mediator themselves might also say that your case is not suitable for mediation and they would sign off the form that you needed to make an application to court.
An Application to court is made on a C100 Form and sent to your local family court. The Court Fee is £215 - although you may be eligible for a fee remission dependant upon your circumstances.
It is the view of the court that it is a child's right to have a good relationship with both of their parents. This should prevail unless there are child protection concerns.
I note that you have detailed various incidents of a lack of supervision which have led to your son being physically and emotionally harmed. I also note that you are concerned that your ex is taking drugs whilst he has your son in his care. It it likely that the court will ask for a full report to be undertaken by the Courts Children's Officer (Cafcass) looking at all of the welfare concerns that you are raising. Cafcass will then make recommendations to the court as to what time your son should spend with your ex.
If you decided to reduce the time that your son spends with his father now - then your ex's recourse would be to have to refer the matter to mediation and then make an application to the court himself. It does not matter if it is your ex or you that makes the application to the court - the court will still investigate the concerns that you have.
If there are any further incidents whereby your son is harmed through lack of supervision - then I would suggest that you report such incidents to the police and social services so that they can investigate.
Please do not hesitate to ask if I can clarify anything for you.
Kind Regards
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