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SASH_Law
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Experience:  LLB (Hons)
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I am in the process of child contact at family court. At

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Hi
I am in the process of child contact at family court. At last hearing court ordered a FFH and in the interim supervised contact via a company that I had chosen. Defendant agreed to pay for any sessions.
I contacted the company the day after the hearing (over a month ago), sent them the court order when I received it (3 days later) and despite many emails, phone calls, messages etc from both myself and my solicitor heard nothing. Not even an acknowledgement that they had received anything!
They finally got back in contact with my solicitor on Tuesday who advised me they would be in touch with me. They called me yesterday to arrange a contact session for next week (which is now less than 2 weeks from the FFH) stating that defendant is now saying he can only afford one session despite being sent details including prices prior to the last hearing.
I have 2 children (5 & 3) eldest is on the autism spectrum and I was assured by this company that they would meet the children prior to contact and get a more detailed understanding of their needs in order to properly safeguard them. None of this is now being offered. I need time to prepare the kids for session as I have no idea how they will take it.
My questions are thus:
- Can I refuse a session next week given the short notice?
- Can I also state concerns about lack of support especially given the situation with my eldest son?
- How much will court / judge use the report from the supervised contact in making a decision about further interim contact? Surely one session is not enough to gain an insight ?
Hope that makes sense!

Hi, I'm Lea and I have reviewed your query.

I am going to answer the questions you raised, please bear with me.

Please bear in mind this is an email service and not a live chat so responses may not be instantaneous. I am not available for calls, but in all cases it is very likely you can be helped online.

  1. Yes, you can refuse the session, but I would suggest you state that you are refusing it on the basis that they had stated that they would meet the children prior to the first session in order to get a more detailed understanding of their specific needs. You can reiterate that you need time to prepare the children and do not feel that the short notice allows you to do that. However, I'd advise caution in taking this route - it may be better to attend the session - if it goes badly due to the lack of preparation, then that will re-inforce your point to the court that there needs to be proper planning for future sessions.
  2. Yes, of course - you need to raise any concerns you have.
  3. It really depends on how the contact goes - but given your children's ages, contact should be little and often, so if the father is saying he now cannot afford it, then there seems little point in a single visit if there aren't going to be any more set up. One session is definitely insufficient to get a full insight beyond stating that further sessions will be needed.

Can I clarify anything?

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
No that's all very clear. I've been very mindful that I was proactive about the supervised contact even though I did not want it until after the FFH and Cafcass have undertaken further reports as defendant has previous criminal convictions and is a registered sex offender and I have concerns about the lasting damage of emotional abuse and coercion on the children especially eldest as he has communication difficulties and cannot tell you if unhappy etc.
Little & often is what I was told contact would be given the children's ages so I imagine this was the same information given to the defendant and I'm unsure as to why there is a sudden change in circumstances.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Can I also ask a couple of things regarding the FFH?

If the father cannot commit to little and often contact (which is in the children's best interests), the court may decide to give him indirect contact only.

What are your questions regarding the FFH?

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Who will be questioned on their statement first - me or the defendant?
I got the impression from my last barrister to make a bigger focus on the sexual abuse and coercive element of the relationship. I am concerned that if I tell them such information like leaving the children in the car asleep whilst he coerced me into sex outside the car (with the car in full view) I will be seen as failing to protect them?
Will court accept any references / drawn similarities to his behaviour with me and his behaviour with the victims of the sexual abuse he was convicted for?
  1. The Applicant is always questioned first.
  2. There's always the chance that the court will see things in a different light to the manner in which they actually occurred - but given that this man has previous convictions for similar behaviour, I would expect them to put your actions into the context of his coerciveness and manipulation.
  3. Yes, it is very likely that the court will take the previous convictions into consideration if they are offences of a similar type to that which you are complaining of.

Does that answer your queries?

Hello?

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Thank you. ***** completed the c100 form initially it was the day after being issued a non-mol which offered no protection to the children. I was in a total state of shock at everything happening and did not imagine he would deny all his behaviour. I did state on that first form that I was happy to allow supervised contact but I thought this meant indefinitely and that he would admit to his behaviour towards the children at least.
He currently has indirect contact with the children which has a negative effect on them (behaviour, nightmares / disturbed sleep/toileting accidents) every time it's received (once a fortnight) so I have serious concerns about what effect actual contact will have.

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