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SASH_Law, Lawyer
Category: Law
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Experience:  LLB (Hons)
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I am currently in a custody battle with my ex in court. My 8

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I am currently in a custody battle with my ex in court. My 8 year old went to live with him in December but now wants to come home to me. He lives 5 hours away from me. My daughter had her cafcass interview this week whilst on holiday at mine and told the worker that she wants to come home. Where do I stand with all this
JA: What steps have you taken? Have you filed any papers in family court?
Customer: Yes I've done a c100 and had 2 court hearings so far
JA: Have you talked to a lawyer about this yet?
Customer: No
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: No

Hello, how are you today? 

My name is***** would be nice if you could let me know your name, so that I know who I am talking to. I am going to see if I can assist with your query. I may need to ask you additional questions and it is important for you to answer all the questions clearly, so that I have the information I need to give you an accurate response for your specific legal situation. JA is a Q&A website, and this ‘chat’ is email based, which means responses may not be immediate. Do rest assured however, that I will be providing you with an answer to your query today.

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Please confirm that you have read and understood this message and then we can begin.

Customer: replied 11 days ago.
My name is***** and I am happy to answer all questions fully

Hello Kathryn

How did the child come to live with the father - is this under a child arrangements order?

Customer: replied 11 days ago.
No. So she went to his on the 27th of December for Christmas contact. On new years eve he told me she didn't want to come home. I'd managed to persuade him to bring her home so we could discuss it properly, but then his car died and he apparently had safeguarding concerns. Social services contacted me and told me that the complaints he'd put in weren't safeguarding concerns and they closed the investigation. At the 2nd court hearing The judge said the girls had to see each other so we had Grace for 3 days in May. She has then come up for a 2 week holiday and has told us she wants to move back home

You've had two hearings, when was the first?  What reason did the judge give for not ordering the child's return at that stage?

What happened at the 2nd hearing?

Customer: replied 11 days ago.
The first was the 16th of February, Dad didn't answer his phone for that date. I wasn't given a reason for the judge not ordering graces return

Did the father put her in a new school?

Customer: replied 11 days ago.

What were the safeguarding issues he raised?  Did he raise them again in court?

I am struggling to see why the judge didn't order the child's immediate return, given she had school, and siblings, and didn't live with the father in the first place.  There must have been some discussion in court regarding why the judge felt leaving the child with him was the better option.

Customer: replied 11 days ago.
The concerns were 1)that Grace had to get herself up for school and take herself to school (false) 2) that I sleep until past 10am and no one is allowed to wake me (false) 3) that she now has to share a room with her sister because we've recently become connected carers to my husbands 2 younger brothers (true but not safeguarding issue) 4) that I'm an alcoholic and my husband a druggy (both false statements)
Customer: replied 11 days ago.
The judge never said a thing about Grace being returned home, she said we needed a section 7 before anything was discussed

Okay, so how can I assist you with this today?

Customer: replied 11 days ago.
Grace has recently told me and the cafcass worker that she wants to move back home with me and not her dad. I have no idea where I stand legally with this. She's going down to his on Friday with her older sister for 2 weeks and I am picking her sister back up on the 19th. Grace wants to come home on that date too but court isn't until the 22nd. The cafcass report should be recieved by me and dad by the 15th, at what point do I try and discuss this with dad?

What does the interim court order say about where the child should live?

Customer: replied 11 days ago.
I havent recieved one

You said there had been two hearings, ergo there should be two orders.

Customer: replied 11 days ago.
The first hearing was just a phone call between me and the judge as dad didn't answer. Then I recieved this paperwork for the 2nd one which we didn't need to attend

Where did the arrangements you refer to above come from then?

Customer: replied 11 days ago.
The judge told us on the 18th of March but I haven't received any more paperwork since that date
Customer: replied 11 days ago.
File attached (6S274QL)
Customer: replied 11 days ago.
File attached (1LMM33T)
Customer: replied 11 days ago.
File attached (34GTT64)
Customer: replied 11 days ago.
File attached (3SL5PV6)

What did cafcass' initial safeguarding letter recommend?

Customer: replied 11 days ago.
I cant find my safeguarding letter but these are the letters received after court received it

That is a court order.  Which I asked about above.

Customer: replied 11 days ago.
Ah okay, sorry I have no idea what I am doing

I am struggling to know what you applied for when you sent in your C100 - did you take legal advice when he kept the child?

Customer: replied 11 days ago.
I did and they told me to put the c100 in as he refused to return her to me

Did they advise you to apply for a specific issues order for her return?

Did cafcass give you any indication of what they might put in the order regarding the children's living arrangements?

Why does the father want one child and not the other?

Customer: replied 11 days ago.
Yea they advised for me to put in a request to have her live with me permanently and for there to be certain restrictions on him. When we had our interview on Monday she said she was putting in that Grace has requested to be returned home. Oh if only I knew the answer to that, he has all these 'safeguarding concerns' but is quite happy letting his older daughter live with me

What I don't understand is why a) the application wasn't listed urgently if you were asking for the child's return, b) why it isn't mentioned in the order at all, as to what you applied for and what the court is considering and c) why the only thing the court seems interested in is the kids seeing each other, despite the fact that the child was removed from her home and family, as well as her sibling, AND was removed from her school and plonked in a new one, all without her mother consenting.

I just cannot make sense of why the judge is choosing to see this as a simple case of 'oh the kids live one each with the parents'.

It's odd to say the least.

Your hopes are obviously hinging on what the cafcass officer recommends in their report. A child of 8 has a view, of course, but their view will not be determinative to the court.  Her having been with her father for the last 8 months and transferred and presumably settled into a new school, will be factors the court has to consider.

I am sorry, but it sounds like a complete mess and I just cannot fathom what the judge is thinking - as I do not have information about what cafcass said in their safeguarding letter, or what the father said at the hearing in May...

Customer: replied 11 days ago.
I have found the safeguarding report just trying to send it
Customer: replied 11 days ago.
File attached (S7Q36Z5)

Now it makes sense.

Really this will come down to whether the s7 report indicates that the children should live together, and if so, with which parent.  I would hazard a guess it may well recommend the return of the child to your care, as you have been the children's main carer all along, and there are no issues with your care.

But, that is just my opinion and of course the s7 report is the key factor in this now.

To answer your specific query, if the s7 recommends the child's return, or not, you and the father should have a discussion at that point as to what you are going to do.  The decision is ultimately the parents, and if you can come to an agreement, the court can record that as a consent order.

Customer: replied 11 days ago.
Okay so basically I just need to wait for the report to come and hope its got in it that Grace should be returned home before discussing it with Dad?

Yes, that seems to be the most sensible option at this stage.

Customer: replied 11 days ago.
Okay, thank you for all your help

You're welcome, glad to assist.

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Customer: replied 10 days ago.
Hi are you available for some advice please. Thanks

Sure, please open a new thread as indicated above.