The right decision for my daughter

lovingdad26
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2018 6:19 pm

The right decision for my daughter

Postby lovingdad26 » Wed Mar 14, 2018 12:59 am

Hello all, I am after some advice on what to do in regards to my daughter and was hoping this forum and its members would be on hand to help... the situation is a little odd granted but please bear with me as i try to explain...

I am a father of a (nearly) 3 year old girl who means everything to me. She has been living with me for a full year now, just me and her in the house I own. I am fortunate enough to be able to work from home on a full time basis so we have built a bond that is just magic. Her mother and I are no longer together however her mother does visit her at my home very regularly. The reason why our daughter lives with me and not her mother is due to my exes eldest daughter being an abuser of domestic violence spanning back almost ten years mainly against her mother but also against her younger siblings living with her mother from a previous relationship. When my ex was pregnant with our daughter her eldest tried to cause a miscarriage by beating her mother saying "I will kill this baby" and disgusting things of that nature. The police were called however for some unknown reason her mother decided not to press charges. Since then my ex and I have lived together (minus the eldest daughter) however this did not work out due to her other children being too much for even the sanest of people with constant truanting and screaming fits each morning when they where made to go to school. Since they moved out our daughter has remained with me due to her eldest moving back with her mother at the same time.

Being a parent, the first job is to safe guard your child from harm so having parental responsibility I firmly stood my ground as any parent would and said that I would not like her eldest to be anywhere near our daughter - if that meant I had to do this legally I would spend every penny I had doing so - not surprisingly my ex agrees with me totally that our daughter should not be anywhere near her eldest as she is in my exes words "nuts". This is not a controlling method of any kind from my part, purely a concern for our daughter if exposed to this violent person that my ex chooses to live with.

So my ex would spend her time seeing our daughter and seeing her own children - but this turned into another issue.... my ex would spend a great deal more time at my house than at home - I must make it clear that I did not encourage this at all and often prompted police involvement in order for her to leave just so she would go home and attend to her other children. Social Services then got involved with my ex and have expressed concerns regarding this. Social Services (the so called child protection experts) have now started to question why our daughter is not able to be taken to her mothers house despite their own records showing nearly 10 years domestic violence within their family, long before I was around! I have openly stated that I am willing to speak about the matter with Social Services however no visit has ever come about!

My questions then are pretty straight forward:

1. Can I apply for a prohibited steps order (or a more appropriate one) to keep my daughter away from this violent domestic abuser?
2. As my daughter has been living with me and seeing as my ex is reluctant to get rid of her eldest daughter and have our daughter stay, would I be best placed to apply for residency or what is now known as a child arrangement order?
3. In order to go down route 1 or 2 would I need to apply for information via the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme in order to obtain factual evidence of what I am alleging?
4. Would I be able to gain Social Services reports containing reports of the domestic abuse via FOI or would step 3 be enough?
5. I understand that if I go down step 2 I would need to enter into mediation - however seeing as this is linked to domestic violence would this then not be needed?

I do not wish to stop my ex from seeing our daughter at all that could not be further from the truth. My exes daughter has been arrested again a number of times for again domestic abuse and still my ex lets her back in the next day! I have clearly stated that if my ex where not to live with her eldest I would be more than fine with 50/50 care however nothing has changed! I want to be able to give our daughter a stable home which is why I feel I have to now go down the legal route.

I also pay for everything my daughter needs, clothes food, nappies etc and yet my ex has been claiming the child benefit for the past year without a hint of contributing towards our daughters upbringing - its not about the money for me I am well paid its more the principal.

My daughter is the most important one in all this and regardless of how i feel towards anyone else involved it is her welfare I value the most which is the whole reason I am asking for advice.

If anyone here could provide some sound advice I would really appreciate it, legal insight would also be a big help, I know that legal aid is not available for matters such as these which is fine, my income would warrant an exclusion of this for me anyways.

Thank you to responses in advance.

User avatar
Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 1988
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: The right decision for my daughter

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Mar 19, 2018 4:54 pm

Dear lovingdad26

Welcome to the parents’ discussion board and thanks for posting. I am sorry to hear about the difficulties you are having and your worries for your little girl, who lives with you but spends time regularly with her mother.

I understand that many of your concerns stem from your daughter’s older half-sister's violence. I am not sure if the half-sister is an adult or an adolescent? However, her behaviour is what worries you most as you state that she has been very violent to both her mother and her other siblings in the past. If she is a young person then services such as Yuva (London-based) or Respect Young People's Programme may be useful for her mother to know about. If she is an adult then any of the specialist domestic violence help and legal advice services which you can find here may also be helpful.

You also describe a very serious incident when this older half-sibling assaulted and threatened your ex-partner and your unborn baby whilst your ex-partner was pregnant. Although the police were called to this incident you don’t mention children’s services’ involvement. However, I would expect that the police would have made a referral to them and that they would have become involved at this time due to the harm which mother and baby may have sustained and the potential future risk. We have a FAQ on domestic violence for fathers: pregnancy which may be helpful to you although the focus is more on domestic violence from a partner rather than a child. You can ask children’s services to confirm in writing that they received a police referral and what action was taken about this incident – this may help answer your question 4.

It sounds as if your ex-partner shares your concerns about your little girl coming into contact with your ex’s older daughter and to avoid this mother and child see each other at your home. However, this has also lead to police and then children’s services’ involvement probably because your daughter is being exposed to conflict which may be harmful to her?

If they are completing an assessment in relation to this then you should absolutely be fully involved as your daughter’s father and main carer. There are some FAQs on child in need which explain more about assessments and how to be involved. It might be a good idea to write (or email) the social worker to confirm your willingness to work with them and to formally ask that they involve you.

You are now considering the legal routes to make sure that your daughter can continue to live with you, to make safe arrangements for her to spend time with her mother and to prevent her coming into contact with her older half-sister who you believe poses a risk of harm to her.

In addition to legal options, you as parents working with children’s services might be able to make a plan for safe contact which could include supervised contact. From what you say, at the moment, children’s services are querying the current arrangements so it will be important for you to hear and consider their views. They must also hear your concerns.

You are right that a child arrangements order is the order that you would need to apply for to make legal arrangements for your child. You may find this DIY Child Arrangements Orders: information for family and friends carers helpful. Here is an explanation of a prohibited steps order order here. It prevents a person taking a certain action.

As both of these orders are what as known as private law it would be a good idea for you to get some legal advice from an organisation which specialises in this area such as Child Law Advice or to find a solicitor. You are right that mediation may not be required if there is evidence of domestic violence. There is some more information here about what is mediation and do I have to do this? but again do discuss this further with a specialist legal adviser as above.

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (sometimes known as Clare’s Law) allows the police, where appropriate and on a case by case basis, to disclose information to protect a potential victim from harm. I would suggest that you look into this by checking the protocol on your local police service’s website.

I don’t think you could do a Freedom of Information Act request but you can (if you have parental responsibility) do an access to records request to children’s services in relation to information they hold about you or your daughter. This advice sheet on Access to information held by Children’s Services may help.

You are clearly very worried about your daughter’s welfare and have given a lot of thought to how to keep her safe and maintain a relationship with her mother. I hope this information has been useful to you. Do feel free to post again or if you would like to speak to an adviser please ring our Freephone helpline on 0808 8010366 Mon- Fri 9.30 – 3.00 if you have questions or queries about children’s services’ involvement.

With best wishes

Suzie


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