FAQs on Domestic Violence for fathers
What if children’s services say that they will go to court to remove our child if my partner and I stay together?
Where social workers assess that the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering serious harm due to domestic violence it may not be possible for a couple both to remain together and to continue to care for their child. You may be asked to end your relationship, leave the family home and have no further unsupervised contact with your child. If you disagree with this you would need to ask the social workers to tell you what will happen if you do not cooperate. They may start a legal process, beginning with sending you a letter before proceedings, to start care proceedings to remove your child from your care if you do not separate.
There are a number of steps that children’s services should take before starting court proceedings, except in emergency situations.
They should set out concerns to you in a letter before proceedings and invite you to a pre-proceedings meeting. You will be able to bring a solicitor with you to this meeting. There may be steps that you can take to prevent the case going to court or your child being removed from his family. This could mean that you do have to separate from your partner to allow her to care for the child without the risk of domestic violence. You can also involve your wider family and close friends, perhaps through a family group conference (FGC) to work out how they can help to keep your child safe or help to care for your child. You can find out more about FGCs in this advice sheet or by watching this short film.
If the situation does not improve and children’s services are not satisfied that your child is safe in the period following this meeting they should send you a letter of issue telling you that they are starting court proceedings. This means that they can ask the court to make an order to protect your child.
It is very important that you get legal advice from a solicitor who specialises in children’s law immediately. You can find a solicitor by searching how to find a solicitor on the Law Society website. Parents are entitled to legal aid to cover the cost of a solicitor representing them in care proceedings.
You will find advice and information about care proceedings here. You can also contact an adviser on Family Rights Group’s free advice line 0808 8010366. There is also lots of helpful information for young fathers on care proceedings on Family Rights Group’s specialist young parent’s advice website.