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Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34888
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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I have been separated from my husband for 5 years. We have a

Customer Question

I have been separated from my husband for 5 years. We have a 6 year old daughter. My daughter lives with me and sees her dad on a Saturday and some days during the school holiday. She finds her visit with him distressing and keeps asking why she has to spend time with him. I do not need to work on a Saturday but because she won’t go to him if I am there, I have to leave the house and go to work. She now prefers to stay at home on a Saturday rather than go out with him. She says she feels safer staying at home and is afraid he may take her to his house. I do not like seeing my child distressed. I have looked after her on my own for the past 5 years. Even in the first year of her life, I had basically done everything for her on my own. I support her financially on my own. Her dad does not contribute in any way. My daughter is a confident smart girl who has done extremely well in her school last year. She goes to an independent school paid for by myself. Her dad has not once asked me how she has been doing in school or asked about anything else that goes on. Now he wants more access and wants to apply for a court order. He has been advised mediation and expects me to attend mediation. We do not talk to each other and will communicate via email or text messages if we need to talk. I am not keen on mediation as I have no verbal contact with him. I don’t see why he should have more access as he does not have an interest in her school or what she does. He hasn’t even called her on her birthdays to wish her. What rights do I have as I am the one who has raised her as a single parent in every possible way. I would also like a divorce but I am afraid he will get more access and cause further distress to my child.
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Clare replied 4 months ago.

Thank you for your question

My name is Clare

I shall do my best to help you but I need some further information first

Why does she find visits to him distressing?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
She says he asks her too many questions and she is scared he will take her away. I think she is afraid of staying overnight with him because he has mentioned it to her before.
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
My daughter also mentioned one Saturday that he called her an idiot and he was miserable for part of the day and then was nice again.
Expert:  Clare replied 4 months ago.

Is there any reason why she should not see him overnight - any specific risk?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
No. My only concern is that I don’t trust him waking up if my daughter did wake up at night so I am not keen on overnight stays until she is older.
Expert:  Clare replied 4 months ago.

The law says that children are entitled to a close relationship with both parents and the courts will enforce this if necessary

At 6 your daughter is too young to have any choice in the matter - anymore than she has a choice about attending the dentist

I am sorry but you need to simply reassure your daughter that however long she is away all is well and you will be there when she gets back.

If he decides to apply to the court he will get overnight contact

I do understand that this is a hard thing to accept. You can read more on the website here

The child maintenance is a separate matter - but if he is not paying then you should apply to the CMS for an assessment

Please ask if you need further details

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
even though my daughter is distressed by all of this, I will have no choice but to allow overnight contact? Do I also have to attend mediation. As we have no verbal communication, this will be very odd.
Expert:  Clare replied 4 months ago.

I thought you were talking about stopping the visiting contact - not about it progressing

What is her concern about overnight contact?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
My daughter is not keen on the Saturday day visits but I do kind of force her to stay with her dad on a Saturday. I am concerned that the overnight visit will be hard for her. She has never been apart from me and has never been to her dad’s flat. On a Saturday, he comes to my house and stays home with her at my place. Recently she is refusing to go places with him and stay at home. She says she feels safer at home and she is afraid he will grab her and take her to his house (her words). She says she likes staying in her own home and is afraid of him giving her a bath and of where she will sleep. I don’t mind the day visits either but I do not trust him with her overnight. He has ver been hands in with - never got up at night to do the night feeds. His excuse was always he never heard her. And I think the same will happen. Should she awake at night, he will not even be aware of it. He wants to go to mediation so he can apply for a court order. I just want to know if I have any options or not to keep my child in her stable home environment.
Expert:  Clare replied 4 months ago.

I am afraid that the current contact will not be seen as acceptable by the court.

Contact should not be happening in you home - it should in fact be happening in his home and the courts will order this

However it would not be appropriate for overnight contact to start until contact away from the house is well established - and you have had time to arrange ofr her to s[end nights away from you in preparation.

I am sorry - but at six your daughter is too young for her anxiety not to be seen as a reflection of your worries