Question about unsupervised contact

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Win198
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Sep 14, 2019 11:32 am

Question about unsupervised contact

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

Hi
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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Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

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,
Suzie

jgirl45
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Joined: Fri Feb 19, 2021 3:13 pm

Re: Question about unsupervised contact

Post by jgirl45 » Sun Feb 21, 2021 6:46 pm

hi I am in a very similar situation as this and was just wondering what you were told about unsupervised visits in the future? I don't want to be in the situation where he could get unsupervised visits when he had harmed my child (shook my baby)
thanks

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Question about unsupervised contact

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed Mar 10, 2021 5:47 pm

Dear jgirl45

Welcome to Family Rights Group’s parents’ discussion board and thank you for your post. I am very sorry to hear that your baby was harmed by being shaken by their father. I am also sorry that there has been a delay in my response to you.

I hope that my response to another parent on the thread you posted on helped. It is not possible to give you any detailed advice here as I don’t know if you are currently in care proceedings or whether there is an ongoing police investigation into the incident where your baby was hurt.

Perhaps you could post again letting me know what children’s services’ current involvement is with you and your baby. If you are in care proceedings your solicitor should be able to advise on what to do if your baby’s father sought future unsupervised contact. If you also have a social worker now you can discuss your worries that your child’s father may seek unsupervised contact in the future and ask for their professional advice too.

If he did apply to the family court in the future for unsupervised contact, then the court would uses the welfare checklist to decide if this was in your baby's best interest or not. This would include assessing any risk of likely future harm to your child especially as you explain that they have already been harmed. The court would want to check that it was safe before allowing any unsupervised contact.

If you are not involved in care proceedings and children’s services are no longer involved you can get private law advice from Child Law Advice or Rights of Women.

I hope this helps.

With best wishes

Suzie

jgirl45
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Feb 19, 2021 3:13 pm

Re: Question about unsupervised contact

Post by jgirl45 » Mon Mar 22, 2021 3:23 pm

thank you for the reply. basically this was a few years back and the family court found the father guilty. nothing happened on the police side as there wasn't enough evidence. in my case it went to guardianship of the grandparents (i believed his lies and then when I finally woke up to his lies it was too late to prove to the court). the children are back living with me now. grandparents were happy with this decision and informed the guardianship contact people they were back living with me.I do plan on going back to court to revoke the guardianship but just wanted to know what was likely to happen to the fathers contact if the court does revoke the guardianship. as far as I am aware the father still denies hurting our child.i don't have any contact with him as the grandparents supervise his contact with the children. Once the pandemic eases I do plan on making an appointment with a solicitors to see where I stand with going back to court. just wanted to hear of other peoples experiences with it.
thanks

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Question about unsupervised contact

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Thu Mar 25, 2021 1:12 pm

Dear jgirl45

Thank you for your further updating post. From what you say, there is no children’s services involvement currently and your situation is a private law matter. I would recommend that you contact one of the services I previously recommended, Child Law Advice or Rights of Women as they can give you this advice. You can also contact a solicitor as you intend to do. However, I think you/the Special Guardians should do so as soon as possible.

As there is a court order (the SGO) in place, the current arrangement needs to be determined and formalised by the court. It is better if this is done before children return home to a parent as the court had decided that they should live with their Special Guardians until they were 18 unless the court ended the order sooner. In your situation, the return home has already happened (by agreement between you and the guardians) before the order has ended. From what you say, the Special Guardians have informed children’s services (the Special Guardianship Support Team?) already that the children have returned to your care, although the SGO is still in place. You should confirm directly with children’s services that they agree with this, too, and be willing to cooperate with any assessment if you are asked to.

Either you or the Special Guardians can make an application to the court to discharge the SGO. They can apply directly to the court, but you would need permission. The court will request a report from either your local authority or Cafcass on whether it is in the children’s interests to discharge the order and, if ending it, may make a Child Arrangement Order (CAO) to you.

The children’s father will be a party to the court process and the arrangements for him to have contact with the children will need to be considered; if there is agreement about supervised contact continuing at the grandparents’ home this could be put forward. Please see my earlier advice about the welfare checklist too.

If you have any queries about children’s services please post back or call the freephone advice line on 0808 8010366, Mon to Fri, 9.30 am to 3.00 pm. But do get legal advice about applying to end the SGO and obtaining a CAO.

I hope this is helpful.

Best wishes

Suzie

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