Question about unsupervised contact

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Question about unsupervised contact

Post by Win198 » Mon Sep 16, 2019 7:59 pm

I wonder if anyone can answer my question- my baby’s father shook her and rough handled her when she was 5 weeks old. She had lots of tests at hospital and thank god she was fine. Social services are involved. My baby daughter is now 1 year old.
Her father has supervised contact with her- supervised by my parents. Social services are proposing to court that contact remains as it is, and I can accept this, as it is just once a week for 3 hours and it is a safe environment.
I am worried that he will eventually get unsupervised contact with her. What are the chances of this happening? I’ve been told that I will be getting a CAO and that all decisions will be down to me, and that if I refuse unsupervised contact he can take me back to court to get this. I’m hoping he doesn’t have the resources to do this. What are the chances of him getting legal aid to be able to do this?
Thank you in advance for answers.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Re: Question about unsupervised contact

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Sep 30, 2019 11:42 am

Dear Win198,

Welcome to the Parent’s Board.
I am so sorry to hear that your daughter was roughly handled and shaken by dad when she was 5 weeks old. I can’t imagine how worrying it must have been at the time. You must be so relieved that she is fine and now thriving in your care.

You are worried about dad’s future contact with your daughter. He currently has contact which is supervised by your parents. Children services are proposing to the courts that this remains the same-which you are happy with.

However, you are worried about him going back to court later on and asking for unsupervised contact. Your question is whether he will get legal aid to fund a solicitor to represent him.
Currently, legal aid has very limited availability for private law proceedings (for example an application for contact) so it is extremely unlikely he will get legal aid.
To do so, he would have to show that you have been domestically abusive to him or that he is making an application to protect your daughter from you abusing your daughter and he would need evidence of this from children services or the police. Clearly, this is not the case. I do not think he has any chance of getting legal aid, based on what you have said in your post.

There is the chance that you may be able to get legal aid, to protect your daughter from child abuse, if he made an application for unsupervised contact. You would need to pass the "means test" as well as the "merits test".

For more information about getting legal aid see the guide to legal aid written by Rights of Women .

I can see that you are still in court. If you are in care proceedings, you will have access to a solicitor. You could ask your solicitor about future contact. I wonder if there is there anything that can be done now such as putting something in or attached to the court order, about future contact.

I am not sure whether he may be able to have unsupervised contact in the future.

If he was to make an application for unsupervised contact, then the courts would decide whether it was in your daughter’s best interests. The court uses the welfare checklist to guide it.

The checklist includes the risk of your daughter being harmed. Given she has already been harmed when she was a baby, there will be a risk he will harm her again in the future. This risk would need to be assessed. Has he changed? What courses or support has he completed to reduce his chances of abusing your daughter in the future?

In any event, I imagine that you may not be able to make that decision yourself about his contact becoming unsupervised. You would want the court to check things were safe first.

While your question concerns future private law, I suggest you contact Rights of Women as linked above or the Child Law Advice Line who also specialise in private children law proceedings.

I hope this advice helps. If you have any questions or need further advice, please post again or call our confidential advice line on 0808 801 0366.

Best wishes,

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