Can we reduce contact

jeanp
Posts: 35
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:35 pm

Can we reduce contact

Postby jeanp » Mon Nov 14, 2011 11:07 am

Hi everyone, just need a little bit of advice.Our gd is 71/2 and we have had residence of her since she was 3 mths old.Contact is set at 2hours a week supervised by us,mum has recently (Sept 16th) had another baby and she and her boyfriend are being assessed by SS to see if they can keep baby(are in a residential placement ordered by court).

This is where mums involvement with Gd has fallen completely by the wayside.Mum has only seen Gd once since Aug 11th and that was when we took Gd to see her new sibling in hospital, she does not contact her daughter at all, even by phone (another story).

I contacted her Nov 3rd(dont usually have replies to my texts), arranged for mum to ring Gd next day,no phone call, then lots of accusations by text basically calling us liars, so i forwarded all the texts to her and we have heard nothing from her since.Her boyfriend has got himself involved in our business and is being mildly aggressive.

Our gd has NEVER got anything worthwhile out of contact with her mum and always ends up angry and distressed (Gd is Autistic and is SN ) as mum either ignores her or else winds her up to such a point we have a major meltdown,mum wont listen to our advice about keeping calm and consistant with Gd.

Gd enjoys seeing her mum, but we now feel that once a month would be more than enough for Gd to cope with, added into the situation is that the babies SW has no immediate plans for Gd to see her sibling.I am waiting for SW to ring me for an update of the situation.

Sorry for such a marathon, hope to hear from you soon x

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Robin D
Posts: 1848
Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2004 12:58 pm

Re: Can we reduce contact

Postby Robin D » Mon Nov 14, 2011 12:13 pm

As always with these situations there is no definitive answer.

If contact was ordered by the court, then technically, if you refuse contact you will be in breach of the court order. That said, mum is the one who has voluntarily reduced contact so my view would be to do what you consider right for the child and if mum doesn't like it she can always return the matter to the court. In that scenario, have a good diary of events around contact will be vital to supporting your case, so I hope you are logging everything including gd's behaviour around any contact that does take place. (It would seem you probably are).

However if contact was 'as agreed between the parties' then you have no contact order to be in breach of, but the reality is that mum could still stake it back to court as above so no difference really.

I would also have words with the SW for the baby, and gently seek their view.

Setting to once a month is going to be difficult I suspect. However, striking while the iron is hot and perhaps writing to mum may be the way forward, saying its become clear that since the new baby was born that she has understandably struggled to make weekly contact, and suggest that for the sake of your gd you both try to make monthly contact so at least she gets to see her mum on a regular basis, albeit less frequently. I would also stress again that such contact needs to be calm and of benefit to your gd.

If mum then goes mad, just appear to back down and then see how long it is before she bothers again. As after a little flurry, its likely to be more than a month, you can then again advise her that any attempt to restart contact is going to have to be done carefully and over time, and there is no way of resuming weekly contact without severely affecting the child. Keep copies of everything.

If she then threatens legal proceedings, you have all the documentation you need to justify the decision based on that fact that you alone are acting in the best interests of the child.

Of course, if Children's Services decide they need to take further action over the baby, that may affect things.

If boyfriend gets aggressive, dial 999. Its not worth the risk to you or your gd and if the police do get called, its something you could use to support your decision and I'm that will be taken into account in any SW decision on baby.

In the unlikely event that she does return the matter to court, you should in my opinion immediately apply for a Special Guardianship Order giving you much more control of the situation.

Others will of sure also be along with some good advice.

Good luck ...... Robin
Former F&F carer, foster carer, adopter and respite carer for umpteen children. Now retired and when with kids, making sure they 'go home' at the end of the day.

jeanp
Posts: 35
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:35 pm

Re: Can we reduce contact

Postby jeanp » Mon Nov 14, 2011 12:55 pm

Thank you for your reply Robin,,I do keep copies of every communication we have with mum,i will only text her because she denies what is said in phone calls, having a text also avoids face to face arguments which mum will start in front of Gd without a second thought.We have kept a diary for the last 6 years and i record all contacts, conversations, text messages and phone numbers as well as dates and reasons for her not turning up for contact.We can,t write to her as she will not give us her address, but we have suggested that she write to Gd if she cant get to contact, at least then some lines of communication are kept open.

Her boyfriend is not involved with Gd and they are in a fairly new relationship,mum met boyfriend in Dec10 and then gets pregnant straight away :(, so he doesn,t have any contact with our Gd,he just likes to get his point across via text messages, as the only way i can contact mum is on his mobile phone.

We went through all the assessments for an SGO but the LSC turned our application for legal aid down on the grounds that we had a full RO and they didnt feel an SGO was warrented,so unless we self represent we cant go for SGO,(SW backed our application and assessments were in our favour).We will probably apply again and do it ourselves, we,ve just had a busy 12 mths sorting our Gd,s educational needs out and now she has been statemented we have more free time.

Contact was ordered through the court as " we make the child available for contact 2 hrs per week supervised by us and any extra contact as decided between us and mum"

We are waiting to speak to babies SW to see what she says then i will be having a quick chat with our solicitor to try and resolve this matter.

we feel that mum is like a child playing with dolls,, when she gets a new one she discards the old one !

thanking you

Kate
Posts: 2444
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2005 5:33 pm

Re: Can we reduce contact

Postby Kate » Mon Nov 14, 2011 9:48 pm

Hi jeanp
Our situation is different as there was no court involvement in contact. G/d will have been with us 6 years in March, and it started out as weekly visits from her mum, which we kept up for some time. After a time she never kept back the busfares for the visit on the 2nd weekend after getting her benefit so there was always a lot of tension about whether she would make it on that 2nd weekend.

In the end we changed the visits to fortnightly and were lucky I suppose that she didn't kick up too much of a fuss. Around a year ago it was getting to the point that she was only making it every four weeks instead of every two - always with reasons/excuses that she was ill (stomach bug is the most frequent one) or even a couple of times that her boyfriend had to go to hospital. Most of these were almost certainly untrue/inaccurate, though no doubt there will have been some upset stomachs due to drinking binges after getting her benefit, just before she was due to visit.

We have no way of knowing when she's telling the truth as we no longer have anyone in contact with her who can confirm anything for us. Her facebook is now hermetically sealed from the entire extended family so we can't ever hear anything that's on there - I used to have a way of getting into it (!) and it was clear as crystal how many lies she was telling us.

It was obvious anyway that she was effectively choosing to come monthly rather than fortnightly so we changed it to monthly, putting it in writing, and also saying that she had to realise the implications of this, ie if she didn't make some changes, visits would end up being even less, and less. Since then she seems to have made an effort and has visited monthly but she missed her last visit, sending a series of texts graphically describing how violently sick she was being that weekend! We could have left the next visit to 4 weeks later but to give her the benefit of the doubt we offered a visit two weekends later (when she will just have had her fortnightly benefit) and she said she'll come, so we shall see.

My view is that those of us bringing up the children should be able to make judgements as to what's in their interests - they are affected by being messed around and less is more in terms of contact, if it's more consistent for them that way. Even if the visits are still not consistent, it's cutting down the number of times the children are set up for yet more letdown.

I hope you can get agreement from mum on reducing contact. I think wording it in the way Robin suggests - ie she has understandably struggled to make contact with having the new baby - is the most tactful way to do it. Good luck.

jeanp
Posts: 35
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:35 pm

Re: Can we reduce contact

Postby jeanp » Mon Nov 14, 2011 10:34 pm

Hi Kate,, our "mum" always has illness as an excuse for missing contact, it averaged that she was missing at least one contact per month , it was either a migraine or stomach bug or a cold.She always sounded perfectly chirpy when she rang us to say she wasn,t coming !.We are lucky that we can still view her FB page and she cant work out how we get our information , it was how we saw that she had used a picture of Gd and new baby as her profile picture, which i asked her to take down.I have this big no no about making childrens pictures public on social networking sites,I only have family on mine and it is totally private,(i know the reputation of some of her so called friends ! )

Mum is not very receptive to polite chats and is very volatile and confrontational , that is why hubby is always here to help me with contact visits as it takes both of us to handle her !!

i am hoping to hear from babies SW by the end of this week, so i will ask her to have a chat with mum as we dont even know where mum is at the moment, just at an assessment unit somewhere in the west midlands and is likely to be there until January (according to mum ) as she is having a psych report done for court.

Kate
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Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2005 5:33 pm

Re: Can we reduce contact

Postby Kate » Tue Nov 15, 2011 12:28 am

Hi jeanp, sounds very simiilar with the "illness" excuse for missing contact! Facebook can be a godsend if you can get into it - on the other hand I don't get as stressed since I've not been able to see my daughter's :roll: But the chance of finding out the truth about anything is pretty much zero without it.

I feel extremely strongly about using children's pictures on social networking sites too. Although I can't get into her FB I can at least see my daughter's profile picture (using a FB name which she doesn't know so she can't block it!) I have seen photos of g/d, including one where she had put g/d's first name across it - anyone could work out her full name as she has her mum's surname, so I was pretty furious. Thankfully our daughter took the photo down as soon as I texted her about it. I said she would have to give us her phone when she visited so she couldn't take any photos of g/d but I'm afraid I didn't see that through because we try to keep things on an even keel when she visits. She can be very confrontational too, but thankfully things have been on a more even keel lately, though there was a scene a couple of visits ago. She knows we won't tolerate it around our g/d though so there would be repercussions if it happened again.

It must be difficult not having a clue where g/d's mum is. I hope the social worker is some help.

jeanp
Posts: 35
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:35 pm

Re: Can we reduce contact

Postby jeanp » Tue Nov 15, 2011 1:51 pm

Hi kate, it's actually a godsend not knowing mums address, things have never been so peaceful :D .Gd,s behaviour has totally changed and school can,t believe the difference in her,, she is calm and concentrating much better.Gd doesn't mention not seeing mum and actually said to us (last time mum let her down) "thank god for that " :!:

As to FB, we set up an account with a male name, invited mum to be a friend and mum accepted :mrgreen: .so we can at least keep an eye on proceedings lol .mum refuses to take Gd photo down and her boyfriend told us to keep our nose out of their business,but when so called boyfriend tries to interfere with Gd's wellbeing i find the hackles starting to rise but have to keep a civil tongue.SW can talk to them about it :!:

Mum knows our feelings about photos after we caught her taking photos of Gd on the toilet using her mobile phone,SS then made her aware that any photos of gd would be provided by us and that her mobile phone stayed in her pocket !

bye for now

Kate
Posts: 2444
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2005 5:33 pm

Re: Can we reduce contact

Postby Kate » Tue Nov 15, 2011 3:32 pm

Hi jeanp, so glad it's calmer and better for your g/d not having the contact with her mum. I thought about doing the same as you have with FB but haven't got around to it yet - I think my daughter's probably a bit more savvy these days and might see through it but it might be worth a try.

It's hard to imagine why mum would take photos of your g/d on the toilet - good job you caught her doing it. Sigh.

jeanp
Posts: 35
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:35 pm

Re: Can we reduce contact

Postby jeanp » Tue Nov 15, 2011 5:05 pm

Hi Kate,, "sigh" indeed !, we never ever saw the photos because she deleted them very quickly.Her boyfriend tried to argue that she hadn't done it since until i pointed out that she hadn't been given the opportunity to do it again ! Gd mum fell for the FB thing as she is not awfully clever in that department lol

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:25 am

Re: Can we reduce contact

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:26 pm

Hi Jean,

I’m glad to see you’ve had lots of advice from Robin and Kate already. I’ve just got a couple of points to add.

SGO
Often people will recommend applying for a SGO as it does have added protection to a RO. However, the view of the court (and LSC as you’ve discovered) might be that there is no need to make an order as the child/ren are already in a secure placement. The court will only make an order if there is a need to; this is called the “No Order principle.” Perhaps take advice from your solicitor to see whether they think a court could be convinced that a SGO should be made. If they do, as CS is in favour of it, you could ask them to pay for it. This is something they can do and it is not means tested. If CS agrees to pay for it, get this in writing.

Contact
As there is a contact order, you do have to stick to it. I can see from the wording you’ve given that the obligation is on you to produce your granddaughter for contact. If you want to vary the order you will have to make an application to court for them to consider it. However bringing it down to once per month would be a big reduction so you could find that very difficult.

One thing that is worth considering is having someone else supervising the contact, such as a contact centre. Your solicitor will be able to give you details of local contact centres and there is more information on the National Association of Child Contact Centres website. I think it is rarely a good idea for family members to supervise contact as it is usually stressful for all of the adults involved and the child will pick up on that even if nothing is explicitly said. It would seem your granddaughter is picking up on negative feelings between you and her mum by saying things like, “Thank God for that,” when contact didn’t take place.

You also need to be aware that at 7, although your granddaughter’s wishes and feelings are discussed with her, she would not get to make any decisions about contact.

Have you considered going to mediation with your daughter – if she will obviously. I can see that you find it difficult to speak to her but in a formal mediation setting she will not be allowed to be aggressive or speak over you etc. Also if you do apply to court to vary the contact order, you will have to at least attempt mediation first. Again, your solicitor will be able to give you details of local mediation services and make a referral if you want one. You could also check out the Family Mediation Association for more information.

I hope this helps and good luck with sorting everything out.

Best wishes

Suzie


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