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Clare, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 35058
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practice since 1985 with a wide general experience.
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Urgent - child being hit and Mother has stopped access.Our

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Urgent - child being hit and Mother has stopped access.
Our little boy has been telling us his Mother has been hitting him hard on the head quite regularly, and we have been worried and going round in circles wondering what to do. We were on the point of going to see a Solicitor today to see if we could keep him here rather than take him back to school, but decided to think it through until he was back here on Friday and said to him that if he has any problems before Friday to talk to his teacher.
But before we have done anything his Mother has stopped access completely over some minor issue to do with child forgetting to take something back with him (which was a misunderstanding - we thought we were supposed to take it back at the week-end, not send it to school with him) and has said he needs to be punished for forgetting so couldn't come here this week-end. My Partner replied that he though the teddy was supposed to be coming back at the week-end and if she wanted to discipline him please could she do it in her time not on his access week-end. She has just stopped all access and said we won't see him again until after Christmas and will have to go to court to see him. Stopping the access is bad enough and we are in tatters, but I am so worried about the little boy after this talk of punishing him because he has been getting hit over the head.
We are going to see a Solicitor in the morning but my head is all over the place. Can we still go and ask for an emergency order to keep him here because of the hitting (this would mean picking him up from school) or should we do something else? History wise, little boy is 6, Partner has PR, no court orders, regular access schedule since birth (although plenty of threats to stop it but not for the last 3 years). Little boy has been living here about a third of the time the last 3 years.
Thank you for your question.
The law says that a child is entitled to contact with both parents and the courts will enforce this if necessary.
In a way the mother has done you a favour as I know how you were agonising about the way forward and now she has solved the problem for you since an application will have to be made.
The issue will be whether or not to make an urgent application and avoid the need to attend FamilY mediation first.
Given the concerns you raised on the other thread - and frankly the hitting round the head is almost the least of the concerns - it could certainly be argued that the delay of going to a Mediation Meeting - and the risk of his mother reacting badly to what the child has said merits an urgent application - so an application for a short notice hearing on Friday would certainly be a reasonable option.
Whether that should be for a shared care order or a n order that the child lives with you for now is harder to assess and is something you should discuss with the solicitor in the morning
Tonight you need to create a time line concerning the child and what has happened when, and also a list of all the concerns regarding his care - many very serious issues were raised by you in out last thread.
You may also wish to complete the form in draft as it will ensure you have all the necessary information with you
I hope that this is of assistance
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you Clare - I'm not sure we are up to much preparation and organising tonight but will try. Thank you for the form. I know there are a lot if issues that are serious, I thought hitting was the worst one (apart from the nastiness of course). What is it that is seen as most important in case I forget something - the stopping access, threatening to stop him coming here? We think it might bankrupt us actually and his Mum will probably get legal aid as she is a single Mum on benefits. She said something about she was working with OT's and Surestart to improve child's memory problems and if he has forgotten to do something she asked him to do he had to pay the consequences (I forgetting to bring a teddy back today). We are not too intimidated by that because it is contradictory.

Deep breaths
Legal aid is no longer available so his ex will not get it
These are the quotes that concerned me most
"His Mum has always used smacking as punishment and told my partner this, and particularly since coming out of nappies. He is still in nappies at night there, but dry here and most of the punishments seem to be about wetting his pants and getting his coat dirty and not doing his chores properly"
"look after his little brother and he says that is all he does before and after school and is regularly sent to his room without his supper if he does something wrong. He quite clearly says he can't know how to do chores or look after little brother properly unless someone shows him how to do it and it's not fair to tell him off if no-one has shown him how to do it properly"
"We see no signs of dyspraxia, flat feet, balance problems or bed-wetting all of which are being investigated'
All of these were for me red flags that this child is in an unhealthy environment so please make sure that all of these are mentioned
Clare and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you very much. Partner is still having panics about saying some of these things as he thinks it looks like fighting dirty but I said we should just state the facts and our concerns. To be honest our heads have been reeling with it just recently as it all seems so unreal and we can't believe the medical professionals haven't picked something up because he has had so many medical appointments and assessments. Maybe he really does have mild dyspraxia, but I am concerned that if he has memory problems at school and at his Mum's house it could be due to the stress.

Partner is very anxious it could all go wrong and he either won't get to see child again either way. I think he is hoping she will back down in a couple of days, but then all the other issues wouldn't be resolved.

Thank you. I'll sign this off now. Best wishes.

I understand the concerns - but the court is going to give a Child Arrangement Order stating the times that the child spends with you and this will be enforceable no matter what is said
However this is the point at which you can raise your worries about the care of the child and you have reason to be concerned
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you. Unfortunately our Solicitor was quite anti us going for an emergency order and said we didn't have enough evidence to prove something. She said the only option was to go the normal route, get signed off at mediation and apply and it would take 2 to 4 weeks. She did say that if we took little boy to social services and he told them what he told us that yes they would do something. So, we couldn't do that unless he was with us and given the concerns we had about him we decided that getting the access back asap was a priority, so partner decided to try and talk to her, which he did and the upshot was access was back on but we couldn't see him for a week. We were very anxious about how he was so we decided to ring the school and say there were some issues and could they keep an eye out for him and call us if he had any problems. We couldn't give all the details and just said he was having some problems at home at the moment, although it was reassuring that the head teacher said we could tell them anything in confidence and it wouldn't get back to the other parent. We have since seen little boy and he is a bit 'closed' now and I think is too scared to say anything to anyone and his trust in us is a bit shaken because he said Mum told him he wouldn't see us for a very long time. All he said was 'why didn't you call the Police?' Hopefully he will start to feel more normal with us soon and then we can talk about how to deal with the problems. We have told him he can talk to someone at school if he has a big problem at home when he is not here, and reassured him it won't get back to his Mum (as we have been informed). He still doesn't trust this.

We felt very underconfident after seeing the Solicitor who wasn't that helpful and didn't seem to believe us. Little boy is not talking about what happened the night Mum went ballistic, except to say he was sent to bed with no tea and no supper again and was very hungry. Our heads are a bit done in as well, so we will just try and have a normal few days with him and see how it goes by next week and then think about taking him to social services.

Change Solicitors.
Make an appointment for Mediation - tell his ex that you just wish to discuss the recent disruption in contact.
Start the process and then you can raise the other issues as well
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you. Yes we should have seen another Solicitor but couldn't get another appointment quickly at the time. In future we will use a different Solicitor. We are fairly sure Mum won't want to go to mediation and will see a request to do so as a threat of some kind. She clearly didn't want to go to court, so for now she might behave a bit, but that doesn't stop the issue of how the little boy is being treated. This week-end he will be here for 3 nights and will have chance to get back to normal a bit and maybe he will agree to go and talk to social services about what he has told us. But yes, if anything else happens (he might feel guilty and tell his Mum he has told us things), then we will try and start mediation.

You can pass the mediation request off as simply a step that has to be taken in case there has to be a court case in future
Encourage the child to speak to his teacher at school if you can
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you. We are getting confused about what to do next now. We did encourage him to talk a teacher but he doesn't want to. I explained that it is 'private' and they don't tell his Mum, which he thought about. Yesterday we saw him for a few hours and he didn't want to go back. We told him it was just for one night and he would be here for 3 nights this week-end. Now tonight has been cancelled, and I am half expecting Sunday night to be cancelled too. Little boy is showing stress and has started punching us.

I am now trying to remember something - I think you said we couldn't go for an emergency order over the hitting and other things (like punishing him by not letting him see Dad or sending to his room without food etc), until she stopped access and then it was the case that we could go for the emergency order. Since then we negotiated access back, but is it now the case that because access isn't actually stopped completely, that we can't now go for an emergency order over the risk to the child, even if we went to social services and he told them what he told us?


Actually you can go for the emergency order at any time - I just said that the fact that she had stopped contact made it easier as she had made the decision for you.
I would suggest that an urgent mediation appointment is sought to consider that way forward.
The easiest option would be for him to tell his teacher about the abuse - they have no option but to notify Social Services
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you. I think that maybe what we have to do. I will finish filling in the court forms as well so we can just take them in quickly if necessary. Thank you for your help.

You are welcome - good luck
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello. Child is too scared to go home tomorrow - after a conversation between Mum and Dad in which child feels Dad slipped up and gave away 'one of his secrets' (ie that child had told us something about not liking being in nappies - a small thing, but to him he is scared because he feels his Mummy will know he has talked to us). He thinks he is in for a very bad time when he goes home tomorrow. He says he will talk to someone at the school if we go with him. My Partner doesn't want to do anything just yet and I think is too scared of things going wrong. Things are very tense between us and I want to protect our little boy and not wait any longer. I am thinking of going to the school myself and wondering if I can make an application to the court myself - either for a child arrangements order or a special guardianship order. I have been looking up trying to find out about this and I read something about if the child has lived with you for more than 3 years (I will have lived with him for 3 years by Christmas of this year and semi lived with him since he was 18 months old). I am not married to my Partner though.

Would I be able to do this please? It's not ideal but I don't feel right sending him back when he has talked to us and is scared to go back. Partner is being very logical and maybe a bit in denial I think.

May I ask why your partner does not think he shoudl do anything?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I think he has decided that it could make things worse if social services were involved, in that they might decide not to do anything, Mum would stop contact and probably accuse us of something if social services investigate, and then things would be worse for little boy. He feels if we talk to the school, social services will become involved. He is taking the logical approach that we need to keep child here as much as possible and tell him he can tell a teacher if something bad happens when he isn't here. I called a Family Helpline today and they suggested we could call social services when child is here next time and they could come round and speak to him. But I guess we would still have to take him back as NSPCC said social services wouldn't do an emergency order unless something immediate and serious happened. I still think we should try for an emergency residency order and then get social services involved, but because the Solicitor we saw said he couldn't do this and wouldn't get it, that is what he believes and has made a decision to just keep an eye on things until after the Christmas holidays - child is supposed to be here for a week after Christmas.

In that case the only option is to start the mediation using the recent disruption of contact as the reason so that you can make an urgent application when you need to.
It would not be possible for you to make an application at this time
However your partner must start accepting that he is going to have to stand up to his ex at some point to keep his child safe
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you. Partner won't talk about it any more and says he has decided there isn't really a problem and doing nothing is the best thing.

Right now I don't think anyone is sticking up for child and I feel a bit powerless.

I am afraid that the only option available is for you to report the matter to Social Services or the NSPCC yourself
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you. Partner had a general chat with little boy's Mum and suggested taking the pressure off him (re wetting pants). This seemed to work this last week, although he was smacked once for something minor. We also made sure little boy knew he could speak to his teacher in confidence. Partner wants to get Christmas holidays out of the way before considering anything else. He is only at his Mum's for 5 days over Christmas and I am just hoping this will be ok too. If anything bad does happen I will suggest we get social services to come and see him here to talk to him. I am a bit worried about the 5 days but hoping stepdad will be around more so he won't be on his own with his Mum. Best wishes and thank you.

I also hope all goes well!