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Studio flat and overnight stays.
#1
Hi,

Does anyone have any experience of living in a studio flat, with a young child (15 months) and the court granting overnight stays?

The child's social worker is visiting my boyfriend's studio flat tomorrow. We are worrying that maybe she doesn't understand what a studio flat means, due to her comment about being able to see the child's room. Erm. That would be the same room as dad. And the living room. And kitchen.

The flat is totally child proofed. No access to anything dangerous. He has child locked everything that can be locked, and has a safe for any more dangerous items. It's just him and his daughter. Long term plan is to move in to mine (he virtually lives at mine already). If things didn't work out between us for some reason, he'd find a bigger flat or house. But for now while he is paying court fees and solicitors, this is what he can afford. The section 7 has recommended overnight stays starting soon. But no one has been to his flat before. Tomorrow is the first time.

Hoping for no issues, but we sense they may be coming...
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#2
Ok make it as child friendly as possible. Apart from the safety aspects, is there a cotbed or does child sleep with her Dad usually. You would need an area of the room set up with a cotbed and possibly have a screen to section it off so the social worker can see it could be screened off to a separate area. Child friendly toys and bedding as well. No duvets, just sheets and cotton blankets. You might need corner protectors if you haven't got those. Plastic corners that stick on the corners of furniture, tables etc. Make sure there's plenty of food in the fridge including food suitable for a child and plenty of milk in the fridge. And everything clean obviously.

Plug guards you might need - dummy plugs that cover unused sockets so fingers can't be poked in them. A hob guard if you haven't got one.

Get down to Mothercare and get anything you need! Apart from the safety aspect, a cotbed and colourful toy storage and toys are important and teddies. Assuming child is still in nappies - a supply of nappies and baby wipes.

This might help with anything you haven't thought of. Work on the principle they'll be looking for issues. But I'm sure it will be fine. I don't see why child should need their own room at that age but if it's one open area then they would be more conscious of safety aspects in the room. Or does he have a bedroom as part of the studio flat? A bedroom you can shut the door on so TV and other things aren't accessible. If you have to get a cotbed get one you can put drawers under for storage. And have clothing, bibs and babygrows etc

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-...fety-tips/
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#3
If there is a gas fire in this studio flat it may be deemed unsuitable for sleeping in. Hopefully it is Economy 7 or gas without a fire.

Failing that the child needs their own bed/cot. The rules for contact would be similar to staying in holiday accommodation (think family rooms).
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#4
You could always have a gas fire disonnected and removed :-) Quick job. I had son sleeping in the same room with me till he was three but don't know what the legal situation is.
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#5
All sounds okay then. I was going to add some pictures but there's no option to?
It's one room, all safety equipment is in place (except socket covers as these are deemed more of a hazard than protection, she can see the research if she isn't up to date on it). He's completely secured the oven and hob with a lock, knob covers and a hob guard. Every cupboard and drawer in the place has a lock. The fridge does too. He has a safe to store items in.
Child is 15 months, she has her own cot. Cot has duvet and pillow, and blankets as he doesn't know what she is used to. Pillow and duvet are for use over 1 year.
He has securely attached a curtain pole to divide the sleep area from the living area. So he can close off that section for sleeping. No fire.
2 full boxes of toys, plus activity centre, dolls pram, mini toy ktichen. Highchair, toddler cutlery and crockery. Fridge has food, as do the cupboards. It's all clean, smells beautiful quite frankly! He's given places that needed it a lick of paint.

The ridiculous thing is, she won't be staying there. She will be at mine. The social worker has left him in a catch 22. My house is totally suitable but she has said he won't get the access he wants if he moves in with me! But his flat is obviously tiny.

So very very frustrating.
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#6
Who has said he won't get the access he wants if he moves in with you? The Ex? Assume he has an application in to court in which case she can't tell him things like that. However I would tread carefully and time things. ie if he is thinking of moving in with you it might be better to wait until after he has a court order. How long have you been together and how long have you been involved with his little one?
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#7
No, it was the social worker writing the addenment to the section 7.

We've been together a year. He pretty much lives at mine now. We are waiting until after the next hearing to give up his flat (which is supposed to be the final hearing). The issue is he wants it clear that the flat is temporary. He will be moving to a new town (next town along) and that he wants his ex to share the travel with him picking his daughter up for contact, and her collecting her. He doesn't want to have to go back to court with it. He also wants the social worker to see that the flat shouldn't stop him having the contact he wants (50/50) because it is only a short term solution.

I've been at some of the contacts for 6 weeks (he has 3 contacts a week) and my children have been at some also. We've done soft play, trip to the park etc to get the children familiar on neutral ground. He did the first contact at my house with just him and her so she wouldn't be overwhelmed. Then i was there for an hour. Then we did a bit longer. Then a soft play visit with the children. You get the picture! There's 4 more weeks until court, and we will continue with a combination of his solo contacts, and contacts with me/me and children present. She loves to play with my boys. I expect it's because she has siblings of the same age!

I've made a flickr account with pictures to show the size of his flat. No idea how to share this, but I'll try!
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#8
I've edited out the link as it could identify you from the photos and has your name on the account, but all looks fine. I can't believe social services have said he won't get the access he wants if he moves in with you. Was that social services or was it Cafcass? And is there a time limit on that? Are they just saying he needs to wait a certain amount of time? So he and daughter are allowed to stay at your house but not move in? Anyway good luck with the visit.
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#9
(04-25-2018, 10:33 PM)Charlie7000 Wrote: I've edited out the link as it could identify you from the photos and has your name on the account, but all looks fine.  I can't believe social services have said he won't get the access he wants if he moves in with you.  Was that social services or was it Cafcass?  And is there a time limit on that?  Are they just saying he needs to wait a certain amount of time?  So he and daughter are allowed to stay at your house but not move in?  Anyway good luck with the visit.

The problem is the Social Workers do not know the law on housing, as I experianced in my own case.

The Housing Act 1985, Section 329,

Exception, Visiting member of Family.
"Where the persons sleeping in an overcrowded dwelling include a member of the occupier’s family who does not live there but is sleeping there temporarily, the occupier is not guilty of an offence under section 327 (occupier causing or permitting overcrowding) unless the circumstances are such that he would be so guilty if that member of his family were not sleeping there".

As long as the contact your looking for does not exceed more than 28 days at a time, the house in law is not overcrowded.
As long as the child is not the same sex as you, but is under 10, there is no problem with the child having their own bed in the same room as you.

If it is suggested that you need to have a room just for the child, inform them that following the Welfare Benefit Reforms in 2012, it is no longer considered acceptable to have spare bedrooms just used for contact, hence the way
a, Housing Beneift is calcualted, based on how many rooms the law says you need, with the child only counted where Child Benefit is paid
b, The introduction of Bedroom Tax, to try to force people in Social Housing to downsize, to what the law says they need.
Posts made by me are my opinion and any factual information should be checked out. If you do not have a Solicitor, often your local CAB can get you some initial advice.
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#10
It was the social worker who said it. As mum physically attacked dad, the social worker who became involved wrote the s7.

Good news. She didn't even look at the flat or anything in it. She literally just viewed the contact.

The plan for today was to see the handover (mum requested it) then follow him to his flat for an hour of the contact.

Normally at handover his daughter cries. She stops before they have even left her road (in the car). He has plenty of evidence (dash cam) to prove this. Except on Monday at the last contact, she didn't cry. So mum brought the older sister to his car to say goodbye, thus making the little one cry. Today however, the little one didn't cry at all at the handover. And of course mum had to behave by not trying to provoke a cry in front of the social worker!

So the actual handover, which she is basing her objections to contact on (how distressed the little one is) was tear free. Ooops!

And contact was perfect. Not a single issue.

And as a surprise, when he dropped her back at mum's, out pops the social worker from her car. Turns out she decided to go and see what happens on the return as mum is claiming she is distressed following contacts. Mum didn't know about this, and was furious.

Amazing! We know mum is desperately clutching at straws to drag out progression of contact. And this all adds weight to his fire of a shared care order to address the control issues.

Ahhhh. 2 weeks until the addenment is due. Really hope it will be an increase to full days and overnights.

Tomorrow he has a discussion booked in with the sw to go over events from the previous 2 months of contact (there has been several police incidents, denial of contact, trying to dictate contact through the contact book etc, I've had baby clothes launched through the car window in to my face, malicious messages sent from her partner etc etc. Her mother shouting at my partner to the little one "don't worry, your really daddy will be here when you get back".

Keeping everything crossed for a positive outcome.
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