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ukfamilysolicitor
ukfamilysolicitor, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 1494
Experience:  Divorce, Finances, Children, Domestic Violence, Care Proceedings
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My daughter aged 14 was taken away by police and social

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My daughter aged 14 was taken away by police and social services a week ago because she has made an allegation of sexual abuse against her father. They took her away because she told them she doesn't feel safe at home with both of us. She is living with my husbands parents. The police spoke to my husband and told him to attend a formal interview at the police station which was supposed to be last Friday but they had to cancel and now it's this Friday. He was not given any details about the allegation and denies that he has abused her at all either physically or sexually. He has reacted quite calmly to the accusation and is only concerned about my daughter. He was told to stay away from his home for a couple of nights which he did and now he is back living at home. We also have 2 sons aged 10 and 16 living at home.My daughter was depressed, self harming and suicidal starting in December. She has told her counsellor at CAMHS that she's depressed because of arguments at home between me and her dad and that these arguments are violent although she admits that she doesn't witness them and can only hear them from her bedroom. They are not violent. My husband hit me once about 5 years ago in front of 2 of my children. It wasn't a hard hit and didn't leave a bruise. It didn't even hurt so I didn't report it. I did ask him to leave but he refused and as I had nowhere to go and didn't want to uproot my kids as it would have mean they would have to change schools, I stayed with him. I spent the next couple of years tiptoeing around him but he never hit me ever again. My 16 year old son has also told social services that his father has hit him. I don't know the details but I have witnessed this once just over a year ago. Again it didn't leave a mark and was not very hard. He usually has to restrain my son because he is the one who initiates the fight. He has not hit my other two children.The social worker has said that we have both caused our children to suffer emotional abuse because they witness the arguments between us. He has also said that I am guilty of not doing enough to protect them from their father and the arguments (presumably because I haven't moved them out even though we had/have nowhere to go).My legal question is how can we stay in our family home that will satisfy social services and the police that I am protecting all of my children, ie do I have to apply for an occupancy order, change the locks, etc. The problem is that I know that my husband has the legal right to enter the property whenever he wants because he co-owns it. Also, can social services remove my sons from their home if they deem that I am not protecting them by staying in the family home. Is my husband allowed unsupervised contact with his children. Should he move out? What I fear most is that my sons will be taken from my care because social services will say that I have let them stay in the same house as a suspected paedophile and that I have not taken enough steps to protect them. Please help me. I'm so desperate.Caroline

Hello Caroline

Welcome to Just Answer

I am a Solicitor and will assist you.

I am very sorry to hear what is happening.

In relation to your questions - a lot of the answers are going to depend upon the action that social services want to take.

Social Services have lots of different options which they will consider in light of the allegations that your children are now raising in relation to your husband and the risk that they consider that he poses once they have started to investigate the matters.

For now you need to be very clear with social services about what you know has happened. They will think that you are minimising matters and therefore not able to protect your children if you trying to cover matters up.

I suggest that you call the social worker and be frank with them. Explain that you will fully engage with them. Explain that if they considered it best that you would be willing to separate from your husband and for him to move out of the family home.

You are correct in thinking that your husband does have a legal right to reside in the property if it is also in his name. One would hope that if social services do consider that the risk of harm to the children can only be reduced if he moves out that he would do so to prevent the boys also being moved to other relatives or put in foster care if that was not possible. If your husband would not move out in those circumstances then applying for an occupation order is a positive step to show the social workers that you would take action to protect your children.

Once social services have completed their initial investigation they will decide what action to take. Lower levels such as a child protection plan or children in need mean that social services will be offering you support and this could be to you as a family.

If social services consider there is more risk then they may escalate matters to Pre Proceedings Level. This is a kind of 'last chance saloon' for you to work with them to safeguard the children.

If social services are really concerned they may issue court proceedings for a care / supervision order in relation to the children. In such proceedings the court would determine the long term placement of your children. You can still argue that this could be at home with just you and the court may well agree.

If social services do initiate court proceedings or the pre proceedings process then as a parent you will be entitled to free legal aid. This is non means tested and automatic. You would be able to pick a solicitor to represent you. In your case its better to choose a children panel solicitor as they are specialists in this type of work.

In the interim, you need to clarify the position in relation to supervision with social services. This is on the basis that your sons have also made allegations. You have to whole heartedly believe what your children have said until any investigation shows otherwise.

Please do let me know if I can assist you further

kind regards

Caroline

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Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Thank you for your response which was very helpful. Earlier today I told the social worker that I would be willing to undergo couples therapy to get our marriage sorted out for the good of all my children as this was something he suggested during our initial interview with him. I did add that if my husband was found guilty of sexual abuse that obviously this wouldn't work and that we would separate. Did I mess up by saying this because it looks like I'm taking my husbands side over my daughters by even suggesting that we should try to make our marriage work despite her accusation? I don't seem able to get a straight answer from the social worker as to what to do for the best. He has told me it's ok for my husband to stay in the family home so long as the boys are not harmed. I don't think he will harm them and they are happy for him to stay here especially my youngest son who does not want us to separate but if I allow him to stay surely that means that I'm not putting my daughters needs first. My husband thinks he should stay until the investigation is concluded and then if he's found guilty then he will leave voluntarily. What is the best course of action for me? Should he stay for the time being or go?

Hello

Glad I could help.

You just have to be honest with the social worker as trying be scripted wont work. What you need to know is that the family courts work on a lot lower standard of proof then criminal courts basically this means that even if your husband was found not guilty or the matter was dropped by the police then a family court could still make a finding that something had happened. Your husband isnt going to go to prison for a finding but it can affect you both caring for the children in the future if you hadnt believed your children.

It is a positive sign that the social worker thinks the father can stay right now. Just be honest with the social worker. This is not a situation one finds themselves in every day and tell the social worker you are trying to do your best but your priority is the children and you will be guided by the professionals as to what is in their best interests.

You need to be clear with the social worker that if there is any truth to what your daughter has said then she is first.

At this time if the social worker says he can stay then ok, but if their investigation concludes risk or your daughter not being able to return if he is there then you need to be clear that your daughter comes first.

Hold on whilst they investigate but be clear you are willing to put the children first over your husband. Keep strong.

kindest regards

Caroline