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No overnight stay allowed
#1
I am new to the forum so apologies f this is a bit long winded. 

My son was in an abusive relationship for 6 years (mental and physical) until she left him when i involved the police. I have to say they were marvellous due to domestic abusive becoming a crime.  They had a child after 5 years together and she left to return to her mum and sister's place when the baby was 3 months old.  But my son is still not the person he was, I can only describe him as being crushed from what was horrific treatment and still is after nearly 4 years of being separated from her.  He has had regular access to his daughter because she got a part time job and needed him for 2 days a week. He adores his daughter who is now 4 years old and she is a proper daddy's girl but the mother still abuses my son every way she can. She has anger management problems, OCD, an eating disorder and she constantly lies. So basically he is still in an abusive relationship because she "punishes" him and us by using the child as a weapon.
I must get to the point.  Two major problems.  One is that she has said her daughter will never be able to stay the night at my sons house or ours (we both have lovely bedrooms ready).  She is 4 now and it is heartbreaking as she asks to stay every time she comes to us or her dad.    The other problem, which is awful, is that it is so obvious she is being brainwashed and manipulated by her mother (and the sister and nana) because the little one is so confused and often withdrawn and sad.  She said she can't tell us why because mummy said its a secret  and not to tell daddy but then gets upset and cries. She has changed a lot recently and it is worrying.
She has 2 wonderful days with him and us and then does not want to go back.   She gets very upset  and begs to stay.
I know it might sound dramatic but this situation has had a dramatic effect on  our lives.  Retirement plans all gone out of the window! My husband is battling cancer and we struggle.  My son wants to go to Court (but cannot afford to) and has suggested mediation (to try and get her to allow his little girl to stay overnight sometimes)  but she blew her top and flatly refuses to go.    Could anyone tell us if she has a right to stop him and us having her even just the occasional night?
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#2
she has no right to stop your son having his daughter overnight. the fact that she already allows him to have her 2 days a week shows there are no concerns or issues. However unless she is going to allow overnight contact which she isnt , you will have to attempt mediation to try and resolve this . if no joy then submit c100 to go to family court to apply for it. mediation is around £100 and an application to the courts £215. Your son could represent himself and come on here for advice and theres many topics/threads with loads of other people that have trouble seeing children for various reasons.
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#3
Thank you very much for the useful information.
Several times court has been considered and 2 years ago he was in touch with a local family law solicitor to discuss this. To be honest it cost him £300 for their time and it came to nothing as they made out he would probably see less of his daughter than he is now! That worried him obviously.Then his ex initiated mediation and it was the worst experience ever. It turned out (as we found out much later) the female mediator his ex chose was a good friend of her aunty and she gave my son 4 or 5 sessions of hell. They were told to come together which was awful as his ex called him all the names under the sun and made slanderous completely false allegations (she was warned by the police about this a couple of years ago). Anyway he ended up breaking down and crying and this mediator asked him why he was crying and that he should pull himself together! She sided with his ex on everything including he should pay more maintenance than he currently does (which is far more than if he had gone through the csa). His ex said she wanted £85 per week and the mediator suggested they negotiate it down to £75! I had done my research and said that this is not normal mediation which is supposed to be impartial. Looking back, we should have reported her. But lesson learnt, it will be very different if he initiates mediation again.
We know if court is initiated she will give us hell. She says"bring it on", that she will get legal aid and he won't because he is working (self employed, works like a trojan but not a high earner). There is always the fear that he will not get to see his child until the court case is decided but even then, if it goes in his favour, she and her family will definately cause trouble. Even the police advised my son to walk away and have absolutely nothing to do with her (family well known to them) and we both had counselling with victim support a couple of years ago. My counsellor also advised he must distance himself from her but if he did that, he would never see his child. He is useful to her and she uses him because she enjoys being powerful
and in control. He was her victim from 2 weeks into the relationship when she smashed things in his flat, stole his money screamed at him constantly, threw his meals on the floor and pushed him around. To my face, she was as sweet as sugar. Now this little girl is her victim and it is heartbreaking but trying to prove that would be difficult and I know a little about that because I worked for social services for many years (although not in children & families) and i got some advice just before I retired. It seems the system is loaded against the father apart from his parental responsibility just being to provide money. But I know we must be grateful her daddy and us see her, sometimes even at weekends as ex has been (secretly) dating someone for 6 months and he is at her place a lot. Why it is a secret, God only knows (unless benefits) but my son is hoping this will make things easier for him. But he is stressed that his daughter will be replaced by a new daddy and he does not know who it is or what he is like.
Forgot to say..when he asked her the other day why he cannot have his daughter overnight, she replied that she did not trust him. Or his family. Following day, Sunday, he had her all day and did not hear from ex until late evening! My son has been hands on from the day she was born, even getting up in the nights because he was concerned when the mother started shouting at her for waking her up (at 8 weeks of age). All he ever wanted was a family and children but now he says he does not want to get with anyone else ever. Very sad at his age, I hope he does eventually meet someone who will love and care for him especially as we will not be around for ever.
Thank you again for your reply.
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#4
Don't let her scare you. Easy to say I know when he's had such an awful time. Detach from her and her antics and focus on getting yourself a court order for regular staying contact. Do you have it in writing that she won't go to mediation? In an email or a text? If so he can just go for a MIAM (first mediation appointment) and ask the mediator to sign him off so he can apply to court. He can then honestly say in his application that he has attended a MIAM but his ex refuses to go to mediation. If he doesn't have it in a text or email you can do one of two things.

1) The mediator will invite the ex to the next mediation session. If she refuses or doesn't turn up, then the mediator signs him off. The sign off lasts for 3 months (ie if you want to apply to court it needs to be within that time).
2). He could send her a brief, polite email, saying he wishes to discuss arrangements for their child and ask her if she will go to mediation to resolve issues. If she phones, don't answer the phone. Hopefully she will text or email no.

Anyway - it just speeds things up and might be less traumatic than actually having to sit in mediation with her again or have her insist on using her own mediator. If she does that just say no.

So google mediators in your area, ring round them and go to the one you like the sound of. They do vary. I've seen three different ones at various times. One was nice but useless. Another was awful. The last time I said I wanted the senior mediator and got her and she was brilliant.

So basically he needs to apply to court. She needs curtailing and tieing down and it needs defining in a court order who can do what and when. It also means if she ever doesn't keep to it he can enforce the order. And there will be a penalty for a breach which can range from a fine, to community service to prison. It's very rare for them to send a Mother to prison, but if she breaches a few times a Judge may add something to an order to say residence will be transferred.

So you need to start with a good defined order and have his daughter coming regularly and as much as possible. Until you have that you can't deal with the parental alienation as well.

He can do it himself - plenty of people on here do - it costs a lot of money using solicitors and some aren't that good or just run up loads of bills and don't do much.

So at the moment he sees his daughter two days a week but not overnight. The standard a court would order would be every other week-end and a midweek overnight, plus half the school holidays.

Some people have applied for 50/50 shared care and got it. Or if you don't it gives room to negotiate down to something that is acceptable.

Child support is a separate thing and doesn't come under Child Arrangements orders but it helps if you can say you have always paid it and more than assessed for.

Don't be intimidated by the court process. It can achieve things and empower you. The important thing with the court process and Cafcass is - (and this is hard!) is to NEVER say anything negative about the ex. So he doesn't say he was abused or she is a headcase or whatever. You stay totally child focused and talk about the child, not the ex.

Courts only deal with evidence. Anything else you say is dismissed as slagging off or he said/she said. Evidence is something that is written. Emails and text messages can be used as evidence, Doctors letters, social services reports, police reports. Evidence speaks - explanations don't.

The rights belong to the child. A child has a right to have significant and regular contact with both parents. Unless there are any welfare issues. Unfortunatley it is very hard to prove welfare issues regarding a Mother without really hard evidence - eg social services recommending the child is removed from her. So you're in a grey area there.

On the other side it is common for ex's to accuse domestic violence by the Dad - out of the blue sometimes. Do not be intimidated by anything she threatens. Stay calm and child focused and go through the process and he will have his order at the end of it. In the long run his child will benefit from that and will see that he didn't give up on her. She also needs to provide evidence if she makes any accusations and if she doesn't have any it will come to nothing.

Things can actually settle down once there's a court order in place.

I can recommend a couple of books. One helps with Parental Alienation but a bit technical - the chapter on the court process in these cases is very very helpful. I think it's chapter 8 - worth getting it just for that chapter.

The other helps you know how to deal with the alienation stuff and how to handle it with daughter. Not a great title but it's a very good book you can dip in and out of - written by a parental alienation expert and much more user friendly than the other one.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Understanding-P...en+woodall

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Co-parenting-To...a+toxic+ex

If you only get one, get the second one. Helped me enormously when my son turned into an angry alien and I couldn't speak to him normally any more - helped him too as I learned some strategies to help him.

We can help you with the court side.

Just to say a 50/50 shared care option could be 2-2-5-5. ie 2 nights a week each week and every other week-end. Which is more than he has now. So if it was Wed Thurs night every week it would be Wed Thur nights one week then Wed thurs, fri, sat, sun nights the next week.

The problem with every other week-end and a midweek night is you go a long gap without seeing them one week and a short gap the next. I have alternate Mondays and Thursdays to get round this so son is here every 3 or 4 days.
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#5
Thank you so much for all the information you have given us. I read it quickly this morning and we will digest it more thoroughly when my son and I meet later and little one has gone back. I feel so much better just having contact with someone who understands and can relate to what is going on. No-one outside of our small family understands the situation and I no longer talk about it with my friends who have grandchildren themselves. Not that I blame them, I should imagine it sounds like one big overblown drama to them.
The relief when you sent your message was great. We must stop being scared and try and keep strong, especially as my other half is battling illness.
Thank you.
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#6
(11-19-2018, 11:10 PM)Charlie7000 Wrote: Don't let her scare you.  Easy to say I know when he's had such an awful time.  Detach from her and her antics and focus on getting yourself a court order for regular staying contact.  Do you have it in writing that she won't go to mediation?  In an email or a text?  If so he can just go for a MIAM (first mediation appointment) and ask the mediator to sign him off so he can apply to court.  He can then honestly say in his application that he has attended a MIAM but his ex refuses to go to mediation.  If he doesn't have it in a text or email you can do one of two things.

1)  The mediator will invite the ex to the next mediation session.  If she refuses or doesn't turn up, then the mediator signs him off.  The sign off lasts for 3 months (ie if you want to apply to court it needs to be within that time).
2).  He could send her a brief, polite email, saying he wishes to discuss arrangements for their child and ask her if she will go to mediation to resolve issues.  If she phones, don't answer the phone.  Hopefully she will text or email no.

Anyway - it just speeds things up and might be less traumatic than actually having to sit in mediation with her again or have her insist on using her own mediator.  If she does that just say no.

So google mediators in your area, ring round them and go to the one you like the sound of.  They do vary.  I've seen three different ones at various times.  One was nice but useless.  Another was awful.  The last time I said I wanted the senior mediator and got her and she was brilliant.

So basically he needs to apply to court.  She needs curtailing and tieing down and it needs defining in a court order who can do what and when.  It also means if she ever doesn't keep to it he can enforce the order.  And there will be a penalty for a breach which can range from a fine, to community service to prison.  It's very rare for them to send a Mother to prison, but if she breaches a few times a Judge may add something to an order to say residence will be transferred.

So you need to start with a good defined order and have his daughter coming regularly and as much as possible.  Until you have that you can't deal with the parental alienation as well.

He can do it himself - plenty of people on here do - it costs a lot of money using solicitors and some aren't that good or just run up loads of bills and don't do much.

So at the moment he sees his daughter two days a week but not overnight.  The standard a court would order would be every other week-end and a midweek overnight, plus half the school holidays.

Some people have applied for 50/50 shared care and got it.  Or if you don't it gives room to negotiate down to something that is acceptable.

Child support is a separate thing and doesn't come under Child Arrangements orders but it helps if you can say you have always paid it and more than assessed for.

Don't be intimidated by the court process.  It can achieve things and empower you.  The important thing with the court process and Cafcass is - (and this is hard!) is to NEVER say anything negative about the ex.  So he doesn't say he was abused or she is a headcase or whatever. You stay totally child focused and talk about the child, not the ex.

Courts only deal with evidence.  Anything else you say is dismissed as slagging off or he said/she said.  Evidence is something that is written.  Emails and text messages can be used as evidence, Doctors letters, social services reports, police reports.  Evidence speaks - explanations don't.

The rights belong to the child.  A child has a right to have significant and regular contact with both parents.  Unless there are any welfare issues.  Unfortunatley it is very hard to prove welfare issues regarding a Mother without really hard evidence - eg social services recommending the child is removed from her.  So you're in a grey area there.

On the other side it is common for ex's to accuse domestic violence by the Dad - out of the blue sometimes.  Do not be intimidated by anything she threatens.  Stay calm and child focused and go through the process and he will have his order at the end of it.  In the long run his child will benefit from that and will see that he didn't give up on her.  She also needs to provide evidence if she makes any accusations and if she doesn't have any it will come to nothing.

Things can actually settle down once there's a court order in place.

I can recommend a couple of books.  One helps with Parental Alienation but a bit technical - the chapter on the court process in  these cases is very very helpful.  I think it's chapter 8 - worth getting it just for that chapter.

The other helps you know how to deal with the alienation stuff and how to handle it with daughter.  Not a great title but it's a very good book you can dip in and out of - written by a parental alienation expert and much more user friendly than the other one.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Understanding-P...en+woodall

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Co-parenting-To...a+toxic+ex

If you only get one, get the second one.  Helped me enormously when my son turned into an angry alien and I couldn't speak to him normally any more - helped him too as I learned some strategies to help him.

We can help you with the court side.

Just to say a 50/50 shared care option could be 2-2-5-5.  ie 2 nights a week each week and every other week-end.  Which is more than he has now.  So if it was Wed Thurs night every week it would be Wed Thur nights one week then Wed thurs, fri, sat, sun nights the next week.

The problem with every other week-end and a midweek night is you go a long gap without seeing them one week and a short gap the next.  I have alternate Mondays and Thursdays to get round this so son is here every 3 or 4 days.
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#7
Sorry me again..it helps to get this off my chest!

Yesterday we had to listen to the little one saying she had a secret to tell daddy but she had been told not tell him. She repeated this several times over the day and got upset. Something was obviously worrying her but he did not question her as she has enough of that from her mother. Then she said she wanted to stay at night but mummy had said she would never stay with her dad or us. Today she said she wanted to change her name and that mummy wanted to change it but she wasn't to tell. That was her secret. Change the surname to hers. Which i believe legally she cannot. When she went back tonight,my son said she changed from a sweet gentle little girl to one who went ballistic the moment she went inside.
I will order those books you recommended as we need to understand how to deal with this.

Mediation has now been booked but i feel its such a risky process for us. They contact his ex if we go ahead with another session and the likelihood is very much that she will refuse to attend. Even if she does, this is not someone who will take any notice of what others think and she will know anything she agrees to is not legally binding. This family are aggressive and lawless to put it mildly.
Anyway then we instigate Court and may have to wait ages for the case especially as our Court in the area has closed. During that time, his ex is very likely to stop all contact which makes it worse for my son than it does now as he cannot protect his daughter if he does not see her. In fact he will not cope with that as he is in a fragile state as it is and I know he will go round the the house banging on the door as he did that before. The result was the three women (ex, sister & mother, no men) gave him verbal abuse and then slammed the door on his arm but it could have been far worse. They are capable of anything. History of abuse, domestic violence (gbh) and alcohol (dad) in the family but excellent at making out they are the perfect family.
I am not sure a mediator will understand any of this "drama" (very bad experience last time) but this practice has been recommended to us so best be positive and give it a go. I am actually thinking counselling might help me as I counsel my son and that is such a burden but there is no-one else to listen to him. He lives alone and I know gets depressed with his life so I will always be there for him but right now I feel I need help so i can help my husband with battling C!
But we will see what this assessment session brings.
Thank you for listening.
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#8
In my experience a mediator is there to get an agreement between the two parties, and isn't really so interested in who is in the right and who is in the wrong. You do need to try mediation though in order to advance the case to court, so you will need a MIAM in any case, as Charlie and warwickshire stated. Mediation is necessary, and is not risky - there's no binding need to get an agreement from it and if she starts kicking off or doesn't turn up your son can just walk out and ask for a C100 to be signed to go to court.

The problem with stating what you have posted above to a court or via any official channel is that it will just be met with a denial and a swathe of counterclaims. The court won't know who is lying and who is telling the truth. Much better to ignore what she is doing and push to a court-mandated solution. The daughter is 4 years old, which means she won't really have much of a scoobies about how the mother is trying to influence her.

It's important to remember you cannot influence anything the ex does. Easier said than done, but you need to focus on getting the best result for the child. Confrontation or a he-said-she-said battle will likely result in less access, not more... If she stops access or no good reason you will be able to get some access restored in the interim, and in the medium term it will make her look foolish at a later hearing as she would be stopping contact for no good reason.

Of course, if she can say she stopped contact because your son threatened her, or if she can get some kind of order against him, then she will go for that. He needs to be smart and avoid that kind of situation from occurring.
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#9
also ex partner might be telling her daughter things knowing full well this will be passed on to daddy. then you react in an aggressive manner and lose the plot. u then played into her hands and she will also deny ever saying anything thats been suggested making u look the bad person.
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#10
Yes that is a common tactic (what Warwickshire said). Don't worry - mediation won't work! There is no way she will agree to a legally binding consent order and is likely to refuse to go and then you get signed off. The only way to get this sorted is via a court order. If she stops contact, yes that would be a very anxious time, but it's 4 to 6 weeks for a first hearing and you will then get interim contact. It's a difficult time but worth it in the end. It's hard to think the child will have stress and anxiety during that time but you have to look ahead. The child is already getting stress and anxiety and it will continue. You will have more control when you get to see her regularly.

That was very brave of the little girl to tell you. I had things like this and couldn't say I knew because that would have dropped my son in it - and he would have been punished for telling me. It is a very good sign though. It shows she is trying to be loyal and negotiate being in the middle. I would get my son turning up and repeating all sorts. He'd sort of stand up as if making a speech and say "Mummy says I have to tell you I don't want to come here". ie trying to do what he's been told to do so he doesn't get into trouble, while still telling me it's not him, it's Mummy.

He was on the verge of being severely alienated before I went to court and it was extremely distressing to see a child you have known since birth turning into a kind of supercilious brainwashed alien. That has worn off now - I see him every 3 or 4 days and he's great. It's hard for them being in the middle but they learn to compartmentalise a bit and switch off.

So if the ex is planning to change daughter's name that's another reason to get to court asap. It wouldn't be legal anyway unless your son signed a document agreeing to it. At the bottom of a court order it states that no-one may change the child's name without agreement of the court (or something like that).

It takes some adjusting to but he needs to be able to detach from the ex while being a parent to his daughter. Once an order is in place he won't have to have so much contact - most arrangements will be defined so less communication needed on that, just for emergencies etc.

The process is - signed off at mediation, submit the C100 application to the court with a fee of £215. Within 2 weeks the ex will have been served with a copy of the application and your son will too and it will have a date for the first hearing and say what needs to be brought to court if anything (sometimes they ask for a parenting plan eg).
The ex will have a form to respond to the application and may come out with all kinds of twaddle - which you will get a copy of. Try to ignore all the nasty stuff and not worry.

You then get a letter or email from Cafcass to arrange a telephone interview. You have to sign up with their email service and confirm your details and then get a letter with a date for the telephone interview.

The telephone interview with Cafcass is very important. That's when you need to stay child focused, calm, normal and don't say anything negative about the ex. They expect both parents to say negative things about each other - and they're not looking for who is right or wrong, or justified. They are only looking at whether your son is a good parent and they consider a good parent is someone who does not say negative things about the other parent, and who is concerned about their child's interests and well being and wants them to enjoy a loving family life with both parents. Ultimately that is what a child wants. To enjoy both families and not have conflict. You can't do much about conflict if the other parent is conflict driven but you can show the child a normal happy life when they're with you.

So it's a bit nerve wracking, but he just needs to be himself, answer any questions honestly (missing out something if it involves something negative about the ex). They seem to tend to speak to the Mother first so may say something like "Mrs Ex says you force your daughter to do too many chores and shout at her all the time what do you think about that?" And you'd say something like (calmly) "No that isn't the case, I have a great relationship with daughter - she likes doing xyz and tells me about her school day and we go to the park, just normal family time".

That kind of thing.

Anyway - the next thing is you get the copy of the Cafcass report which comes just before the first hearing. They usually get some things wrong or misquote you but unless it's glaringly bad best just to let it go. They will have formed an opinion after speaking to both you and may recommend what they think should happen next.

My letter was fairly positive but non committal. Reported that Mum had called me xyz and accused me of xyz and claimed that son didn't want to come. Reported that I had said son had a great sense of humour and was very cheeky and I was applying because the previous order wasn't being kept to. Mediation was recommended and an inference that a defined order was needed.

In your case as there hasn't been a previous order, there may be more questions about how much he sees daughter and how much he wants to see her etc. I think it would be absolutely fine for your son to say to Cafcass that daughter has told you she wants to stay overnight but that it's a big secret and she is worried about getting into trouble, and he would appreciate it if that wasn't referred to in the report directly so daughter didn't feel caught in the middle (which shows he is concerned for daughter's welfare). The mantra is "I just want my child to enjoy plenty of happy times with both families". You have to just stick with that even if you think their family is hell. Because she will keep living there some of the time regardless, unless police or social services remove her for some reason.

Not much happens at the first hearing really - in terms of courts and Judges. It is mainly with Cafcass and they try and broker agreement so it doesn't have to go to a final hearing (agreement for a consent order that is). If you don't have a solicitor I wouldn't go with any agreements at first hearing. If you do, the two solicitors sometimes thrash out an agreement before the hearing (ie threaten each other to get agreement!). But it really depends on the circumstances,

Some ex's make false allegations before court. I think this is unlikely to be taken seriously as you have regular contact, but if she does happen to make some horrendous allegation then the worst case scenario is Cafcass will want to do a section 7 report to look into things and speak to both of them personally.

When submitting the application it's important to ask for an interim order to be made at the first hearing, to either reinstate contact as before (if it's been stopped) or for it to continue as before until final hearing. ie specify what you want.

If she did stop contact a well worded solicitor's letter may make her think twice. But it would be about four weeks. Cafcass put a leaflet in with my stuff saying how to explain it to children and it said that most children are relieved when they hear someone is going to sort things out.

My ex told son "Your Dad's taking me to court". I told him Mum and Dad couldn't agree on some things and the court were going to help sort it out and not to worry and just carry on being a little boy and having fun.

You can take the application to another court if your local one has closed. I opted to go to a bigger city court about an hour away because local one didn't have family Judges sitting regularly.

Not sure if your son has done this anyway but having some counselling is often recommended. Supports you through the process and also to deal with the past stuff. Believe me I was relieved when my ex refused to sit in the same room at mediation after the foul accusations made against me (after 8 years of parenting) and felt quite traumatised at even seeing her. But it's temporary.
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