"Radical" court decision

QuestionMark
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Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2018 5:10 pm

"Radical" court decision

Post by QuestionMark » Wed Feb 06, 2019 9:52 am

Yesterday was a whirlwind of a day. We had a IRH booked for 10am and my solicitor told me to be there for 9:15am, so I was. She said that she didn't think much would happen and that, because they're all aware that I want to contest the social workers plan, the hearing would probably be used to set a date for the final hearing. We were waiting around for ages and during that time the guardian told me she'd like to come out to speak with me (she cancelled Monday's meeting as she was ill) and that she'd like to come out to observe my interactions with ****. The local authorities barrister said they'd looked at the judges availability and he wasn't available for a two day hearing until the 21st of May which obviously wasn't ideal but I thought, at least it would give me more time. We didn't get into court until around 11:30am. My solicitor announced that we would like my contact records to be part of the bundle, the Judge essentially said there is no point in acquiring them because he already knows what they'll say; that I'm good with him. The barrister on behalf of the guardian (who wasn't present) then raised that the guardian wanted to observe me with ****. The judge repeated that there was no point; we know I'm good with him. There was some back and forth between the local authorities solicitor and the judge about the phrase 'basic care' in which the local authority said something about how I can meet his basic care and then said something to the affect of that being and understatement and the judge agreed. The judge seemed really exasperated and fed up, he said he was concerned about waiting until May for the final hearing and agreed with my solicitor that the issues concerned were "narrow". He then said he was going to do something "radical" and he's booked **** final hearing - it begins today at 2pm and will be over by the end of tomorrow.

My solicitor pulled me to one side after the judge stated this, who advised we go away and think about it, and she said that this isn't a case about whether I am good at caring for him - they know I am - in this case the judge needs to decide whether he thinks the risks can be managed. I thought about it and I figured, whatever happens at least **** will have stability sooner rather than later - I'm still going to give it my best though. I am worried about how rushed this seems though, especially since the guardian hasn't even had the opportunity to do what she's supposed to do. I also found out the date for ******* Inquest on Monday (it's the 4th of March), so it worries me that they'll finish **** care proceedings before we even know what actually happened to ****** - my daughters dad expressed concern about this too when I updated him last night. We've also figured out that, if the worst was to happen and mam and dad are given a special guardianship order with a 9 month supervision order, their supervision order would finish at the same time my daughters dads does, which can't just be coincidence. On the bright side, at least the social worker will be out of our lives completely come November.

Maybe a miracle will happen and the judge will let **** come home, but I'm not getting my hopes up.

QuestionMark
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Re: "Radical" court decision

Post by QuestionMark » Fri Feb 08, 2019 12:08 pm

An update with what’s went on the past 2 days:
I spoke with my barrister for about half an hour prior to going in to the hearing yesterday. I’d never met her before but I googled her and she’s experienced in complex family causes. Almost as soon as I sat down she immediately brought up that mam has 3 findings against her - all of which are similar to the findings against me (other than the pool). I told her I was really glad she pointed that out because there’s real irony there. She explained to me that she doesn’t actually think my being in the pool is the biggest problem - it’s the finding about dishonesty that’s the issue (again, mam has the same finding so that’s the irony). She said this may be something she raises in her submission but it could backfire so we’re not sure.

When we went in the judge asked, because we’d been here in November, if the cross examination would just be the same. The local authority said that their cross examination questions are pretty much the same. My barrister stood up and drew attention to Re B, Re J, Re S-B, highlighted that neither the overseeing social worker nor the guardian have met with me on a one to one basis or had any in depth discussions with me and said that I need to be heard, so it went ahead.

My barrister did really well yesterday. When the social worker was on the witness stand she took her to my positive parental assessment summary. She highlighted that the assessing social worker said she can’t recommend **** come to my care due to my being in the pool and the she asked **** if she agreed with that and she said she did and basically, my barrister got the overseeing social worker to say that if it wasn’t for the pool, they’d have no reason to keep him from me. **** seemed a bit flummoxed so the judge spelt it out for her and **** then said “well no, there’s other findings”. So my barrister took her through each finding one by one. She got her to agree that the finding regarding the adoption application doesn’t apply to ****. She got **** to agree that the finding regarding misleading statements isn’t enough to prohibit a person from being a parent. She got **** to say there’s a “low” chance I’ll be abused again. She also got **** to agree that there’s never been any sign of me responding in a frustrated manner to ****. She also got **** to say she gives me credit for my level of commitment and motivation and my desire to care for ****. My barrister did really well and even the overseeing social workers barrister seemed upset with her. The overseeing social worker also lied, she referred to the 3rd of January when she announced the SGO but twisted what I said and she even said she’s had “many discussions” with mam when she hasn’t. The judge also pulled her about her not speaking with me about her concerns. The guardians barrister went on about ‘mutual abuse’ which just evidences that these guys really do need educating in DV; my ex husband made it all up and they know he’s capable of doing just that.

When I went on the witness stand the overseeing social workers barrister tore into me about the adoption application and how much I hurt my daughters dad and didn’t put my daughter first and really broke me down but I tried my best so make it clear that I know that was wrong, I’ve apologised and I’m doing my best to educate myself and learn from the past to be the best person for ****. Their tactic was basically drag up the past and character assassination. The overseeing social worker had just said that the adoption application scenario didn’t apply to **** during her questioning so its odd that that was her barristers main line of attack. My barrister gave me a hug and told me to “remember who I’m doing this for”. I then went home and was back on the stand yesterday morning - the guardian didn’t have any questions for me at all (which I was surprised about). My barrister then asked me a couple of questions as did the judge. After, the judge called for a break so myself and my barrister had a meeting and she said she feels the judge may be listening to me. She gave me 4 case laws she’s printed out to give the judge and has highlighted certain paragraphs for him. The case laws are Re S-B, Re B, Re A and Re J.

QuestionMark
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Re: "Radical" court decision

Post by QuestionMark » Fri Feb 08, 2019 12:12 pm

when the guardian went on the stand she was saying that she didn’t know whether she believed that I have accepted past findings or whether I was just saying so because I was under pressure. She also said that acceptance of findings is one thing but having insight is another and though she believes I have developed my insight to the issues the court raised in the past, she doesn’t believe my insight is in-depth enough and she was saying I’d given no examples (but I had on the stand). She was also saying that while she’s aware I’ve explained things on the stand, it’s nowhere in my final statement and she questioned that. My barrister then brought up that she hasn’t actually spent any time with me, so she’s claiming that my saying these things on the stand for the first time is a bad thing but she’s never actually given me the opportunity to express my opinions before now as she’s never actually came out to speak with me since my daughters proceedings finished. I’d previously explained on the stand that, as my sons dad has another child, if **** was to be in my care I intend on contacting his half siblings mother to see if **** can get to know his half sibling which would be good for him. The local authority then questioned the guardian about this and they said this would cause problems for my sons dad - but isn’t this about the best interest of the child? Bare in mind they keep saying I put relationships first over my children (I’m not in a relationship and have made it clear that this is not my priority).

For the submissions my barrister handed the case laws to the judge which highlighted that being in the pool alone is not enough. There was agreement of this then the judge said that this case was about much more than this - the other findings (the one the social worker said weren’t relevant). He said that it is the courts view that my late sons injury was just an ‘incident’ in the grand scheme of things and they want to know if I’ve shown insight. The local authority dragged up the past again and used the as ‘evidence’ that I haven’t progressed and said I don’t take responsibility for things and the guardian didn’t have much more to add except to defend herself for not coming out to speak with me. My barrister highlighted that in my positive parental assessment the social worker who assessed me said that the two ‘risks’ were my history of DV relationships (I’ve had 2) and my being in the pool. She went on to say that this was the local authorities case and no other issues were identified within their final statement- so while the court may hold the view that its insight that’s the issue - this is not what the local authority have raised. She then spoke of how no one has taken the time to discuss their concerns with me or actually ask me what my views were and she’s argued that I haven’t had a fair trial. She also pointed out that I’ve apologised directly to the judge for past mistakes and how much effort I’ve put in. She raised that whilst I may not have conducted myself well on the witness stand throughout, the witness stand is nerve racking and I’ve still been dealing with the death of my son who’s inquest is yet to happen. She also asked for the court to look at the context in which past findings were made and compare them to present day; my circumstances are entirely different as are my relationships with my daughters and sons fathers. She raised that my wanting to aid **** to have a relationship with his half siblings is clearly me putting him first and pointed out that the local authority have put me in a position where it’s ‘damned if I do, damned if I don’t.’ I feel she put a really strong argument forward about fairness. They grilled me about having not put anything about insight in my final statement and she pointed out that my final statement was in response to the social workers who’s only concern was the pool and past DV. The judge did seem to listen and the local authority and guardian had nothing to add. My barrister thinks he’ll be angry with the local authority for conducting **** case so poorly because he agreed - he said if anyone was to read the paperwork who didn’t know this case it does appear that the only concern is the rib fractures ****** suffered and that’s exactly how the social worker who assessed me saw it when she spoke with me.

The judge told us he’d let us know when he’d made his judgement but couldn’t tell us when this will be or how long the wait will be.

My barrister said not to get my hopes up and I don’t want to. Worst case scenario is **** will remain with my parents under and SGO - what’s noteworthy is that the judge said that this means contact will be at my parents ‘discretion’, the guardian made a point of explaining on the stand that that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s over and when I have ‘enough insight’ I can try again.

QuestionMark
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Re: "Radical" court decision

Post by QuestionMark » Fri Feb 15, 2019 4:30 pm

8 days have passed, no judgement yet..

QuestionMark
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Re: "Radical" court decision

Post by QuestionMark » Mon Feb 25, 2019 2:41 pm

18 days have passed and have heard nothing

QuestionMark
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Re: "Radical" court decision

Post by QuestionMark » Mon Feb 25, 2019 7:04 pm

I feel so lost without my children and so empty. I know I did things wrong in the past and I know it wasn't a good environment for my daughter and late son. I've done everything I possibly can; I went through each finding one by one and sought out courses to complete to address each one and took action in my personal life to address each finding where I could.

There was a finding that the relationship I had with my ex husband was abusive - he was abusive. At the time that this finding was made I had been separated from and had no contact with him for 8 months. To date I have had no contact with him directly whatsoever for 17 months. I've began the divorce in September but he is yet to sign the Acknowledgement of Service Form. In order to address this finding further I completed The Freedom Programme and attending some sessions twice (in particular the affects on children sessions) to ensure I understood properly. I've also read up information on the NSPCC and had to learn and accept that exposure to DV is a form of child abuse - it's been an awful pill to swallow but I let my children down and I know that. I've taken this as an opportunity to better educate myself for my son with whom these care proceedings were concerned. To do this I completed 3 online NSPCC courses, 2 of which were specific to child abuse; Child Protection, It's Your Call. I completed these as I truly do believe it was my son's dad who hurt him and I wasn't aware of all of the warning signs and the precautions I should have taken. I didn't know he was hurt or at risk of being hurt at the time!

Another finding was with regards to an adoption application as my ex husband (husband at the time) wanted to do a step-parent adoption regarding my daughter. The issue with this was that we didn't want her dad to know - he wasn't on the birth ceritificate etc and little did I know back then, but that was such an awful decision to make on my daughters behalf. She should know who her biological dad is and I'm so glad she does now. I have apologised prefusely to him and, as my barrister has said, what more can I possibly do but apologies? When it comes to my newborn son his dad IS on the birth certificate, I send his dad updates on how our son is doing (his dad hasn't seen our baby since he was 1 month old by choice). We also share a privatised photo album on Facebook so he see's all of the photographs I take of him. I have made decisions to ensure my new son knows his dad as best as he can and I will always promote their relationship. My barrister pointed out that the previous adoption application was made in a situation in where I was in an abusive relationship - the context is different now - I feel like I can confidently make the best decisions for my children now because my abuser is gone.I've also completed the Separated Parents Information Programme to ensure I have a deeper understanding of co-parenting and how to work with one another with the child at heart.

There was a finding that I made 'false and/or misleading statements to professionals' when my baby boy first died 18 months ago as I didn't say my partner was abusive at the time. I have tried my best to work on myself and improve where I can. I make a point of forwarding emails onto the social worker with updates regarding the divorce and/or courses I have finished and I keep everyone in my personal life up to date with things. My barrister highlighted that, even if this was the case, it is not enough to prohibit a parent from being a parent as I have a "very positive" parenting assessment - absolutely no issues with how I interact with my son or care for him.

Ironically, my mother has the same findings (as the 3 above) against her but it is she that the social worker wants to give the SGO to. My parents want my son to come home to me too.

The last finding is that I have been left in the pool along with my ex husband for the injuries my late son suffered. My barrister made references to a few case laws to raise that this in itself is not enough. I have also noted that the judge said that these kind of injuries that my late son had are typically inflicted through frustration so, although I know I did not harm him, I have completed a Coping With Crying course with the NSPCC to help provided the judge and local authority re-assurance.

In addition to these courses mentioned above I have also completed a Baby and Child First Aid course and bereavement counselling. Since the Final Hearing I have also sought further counselling - they said I am handling all of this remarkably well and don't need medication nor do I need further counselling. They said they feel I've been experiencing 'adjustment disorder' which they said can be caused through something such as divorce; I've been going through a divorce, the death of a baby, learning he had injuries, recovering from DV and loosing and battling for my living children. The doctors I spoke to said that was I NEED is "stability and normality" - how do I get that?

The local authority tired saying my 'insight' wasn't good enough but the social worker who positively assessed me concluded in her assessment that "overall, Ms ******** has demonstrated a positive insight into ***** need and how to meet these" - so I don't understand why they seemed so dismissive of this assessment when it was this social worker and this social worker alone who has actually spent any time with me.

I feel really alone right now and honestly I just want to hug someone and cry. I have tried so, so, so hard and have give my heart and soul to this. I have dedicated so much to be able to pro-actively change and improve myself and my situation for my baby boy so I can care for him and I am terrified I won't win this - absolutely terrified. He's been the reason I have remained strong and kept going after my late son died - I can't loose anymore children and I am so scared because what am I meant to do if he doesn't come home?

QuestionMark
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Re: "Radical" court decision

Post by QuestionMark » Wed Mar 06, 2019 4:33 pm

It'll be a month tomorrow since the judgement was reserved - currently no sign of a judgement. On Monday we had my sons inquest; he died due to suffocation because his dad left him face down on the floor </3 I feel like my entire world has shattered all over again

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Re: "Radical" court decision

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Mar 18, 2019 3:33 pm

Dear SunshineStarRainbow

I just wanted to acknowledge all that you have gone through and how difficult it must be waiting for the judgment and having the inquest for your baby boy.

I hope that you are able to access some support from family, friends, your GP or a specialist listening service or helpline such as the Samaritans if you need someone to talk to or Cruse Bereavement , if that would help.

I am sure you have been back in touch with your solicitor in relation to the wait for the judgement and the inquest findings.

I am sure many of the other parents on the forum are thinking of you.

Best wishes

Suzie

QuestionMark
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Re: "Radical" court decision

Post by QuestionMark » Wed Mar 20, 2019 3:12 pm

Thank you so much for the response - it has been the most difficult and harrowing experience. It'll be 6 weeks tomorrow since we were in court and there's still no sign of the judgement. I received a letter from my solicitor yesterday informing me that, in light of my sons inquest, she has requested "specific counsels advice" from my barrister regarding the "merits of persuing a case" with respect to both my son and my daughter. It's been nearly 19 months of family courts so I'm exhausted, but it would be the right thing to do and my children are obviously worth it. x

QuestionMark
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Re: "Radical" court decision

Post by QuestionMark » Fri Mar 22, 2019 1:12 pm

I forgot to mention - I now get to see my daughter once a week. The overseeing social worker did not support this decision but my daughters dad (who has residency of her and a child arrangement order) overruled her as my daughter has been specifically asking for me. She's not even 3 yet, it breaks my heart that she worries about when she next gets to see me. My daughters dad even said that, on the balance of probabilities, my ex who left our son in distress and alone until he suffocated is also the person who fractured his ribs </3 this is what I've been telling them for 19 months.. I think we're all starting to feel a bit stuck. My late son's dad even stated at the inquest that "none of this would have happened" if the children had been in my care </3

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