Advice on informal arrangement

brightcandle
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2011 10:08 pm

Re: Advice on informal arrangement

Postby brightcandle » Tue Jan 03, 2012 9:45 pm

Thanks for the links to advice sheets. I have been reading them but think I am too late to start applying for RO or SGO! I am fairly certain the child will want to live with the father and new stepmother.
The eldest is spending time at the moment with her father for them to decide whether to offer her a full time home. I have no worries about her safety with them.
My worry now is, as we are out of the system of SS or courts, if the father decides not to return the child to me what are the options available to me? and also how can I ensure contact is maintained with myself, mother and brother? Although the child has regularly stayed with paternal grandmother, it has been very much on the basis of a grandmother having care of a child rather than respite care for me. I therefore think the intention will be to remove the child and gradually cut all contact with this side of the family including her brother.
Due to problems with financial assistance from father of second child I am tempted to allow the second child to go to that family thus widening the gap between the children even further.
As you can probably tell I am at the end of my tether and am now working towards just maintaining contact between children and my family.
Is there any way I can get both children an independent advocate who will protect their best interests?

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 435
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:25 am

Re: Advice on informal arrangement

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Thu Jan 05, 2012 12:53 pm

Dear Brightcandle,
I can see that you are the lynch pin in the different arrangements between the 3 families. That is a very important position to be in. But is no doubt a very difficult and thankless position to be in as well. I can see why you feel that you are at the end of your tether!
I assume that you will still expect to see your grand children and will be involved in the organisation of contact. The fathers if the different arrangements go ahead, may value the respite they get by you having contact- so your concerns of contact stopping may be unfounded.

However, it is still worth drawing up an agreement about contact if you feel this may help. Although it is not legally binding-it is good evidence of agreement and can be shown to the court if you or the children had to go to court for a contact order in the future. A mediator can be involved in drawing up an agreement between the family about contact and residence.
Here is a link to the national family mediation
National Family Mediation

The grandparents association also have useful resources about contact on their website here
Grandparents Association

Ultimately, without any court order, the people with parental responsibility will have the final say about decisions that are made in respect of the children. Both children and grandparents can approach the court for contact orders if contact was not taking place.

Have you thought more about seeking support from children’s services? There may also be support available from a family group conference this is where a meeting is convened with an independent coordinator to find out what support is available within the family around supporting children–Here is a link to our advice sheet
family group conferences

There is the national youth advocacy service-they can give advice and can take instructions from children who are old enough to give instructions
Children can also instruct solicitors through an adult if they needed to go to court for contact order.
Please post back if you have more questions.

Best wishes,
Suzie

brightcandle
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2011 10:08 pm

Re: Advice on informal arrangement

Postby brightcandle » Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:28 pm

This situation is now moving swiftly - the father of the eldest has decided he wants to take on full time parenting (he has parental responsibility), the mother has accepted this will happen but is concerned she will be written out! I am devastated but know it is in the best interests of the child, however I think that the mother and her family ie me will be marginalised. It is too late for me to apply for residency or SGO without a fight, which is not in the best interests of the g/d. So now I just want to make sure that contact with the maternal side cannot be dropped - is there anyway I can do this without fighting and going to court?

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 435
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:25 am

Re: Advice on informal arrangement

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Fri Jan 06, 2012 5:19 pm

Hi,

Happy New Year.

You could still apply for a RO or SGO; however I couldn’t say it would be without a fight. The children’s fathers would have to be served with any application you made and given the decision you granddaughter’s Dad has made; it is likely he would oppose it. You would therefore have to go through contested proceedings and the Judge would ultimately decide who they think it is best for the children to live with. It could easily take 9 months or so to reach the final hearing.

In terms of Mum being marginalised, this should not happen because she will always have parental responsibility (PR) that is equal to Dad, so should never be excluded from the decision making about her daughter (i.e. decisions should be made jointly) or be stopped from having information from school, GP etc shared with her. Schools are well used to dealing with separated parents so should be able to send her separate invites to open days, assemblies, parents evenings etc. If she is being excluded from making decisions and she doesn’t agree with the decisions Dad makes then she can apply to court the court to decide. As you don’t have PR, you don’t have these same rights however.

In terms of contact, if none is agreed, Mum has an automatic right to apply to court for it. You can also apply to court for contact but you need to get permission from the court first. Given the high level of involvement you have had with the children, I would not anticipate there being any problems with you getting this permission.

If you want to try to resolve it without going to court, which has its benefits in terms of it being less stressful, the time it will take and the cost but it will not be legal binding, you have a couple of options. They are mediation and a family group conference (FGC). Someone with PR will need to agree to the FGC going ahead. There is more information about both of these things in the previous message from us as well as in the links/advice sheets referred to in that post.

I hope this all works out and everybody is happy with the outcome.

Best wishes

Suzie.


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