Father unsupervised contact

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Xvx
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Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2021 7:00 pm

Father unsupervised contact

Post by Xvx » Thu Mar 24, 2022 10:06 pm

Looking for advice about contact. My ex was charged with dv we broke up and shortly after I found out I was pregnant. When my child was born ss visited and said ex was to have no unsupervised contact with both of us my mum has supervised contact since then.

My ex recently went to a lawyer to try to establish unsupervised contact and they contacted ss themselves he has shown me the letter and it says at the end

“Children and families have not been involved with the family since the initial visit and therefore it is the parents responsibility to safeguard and make informed decisions around contact.unless we are notified of any other concerns social work have no plans to intervene”

Now his lawyer wants me to attend mediation and complete a parenting plan. But I’m trying to be wary as I don’t want to agree to contact and then ss says I’m not safeguarding my child. Any advice ?

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Re: Father unsupervised contact

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed Mar 30, 2022 11:42 am

Dear Xvx,

Thankyou for your post and welcome to the parents’ forum. I am sorry to hear about the difficulties that you have experienced and I hope that the following advice is helpful.
You say that the father of your baby was charged after being abusive towards you.

Children’s services visited and advised you not to allow any unsupervised contact which you agreed to. Your mother has been supervising all contact since the baby was born. The father would now like you to attend mediation and ultimately he would like to have unsupervised contact with your baby. You are unsure what to do as you were advised by children’s services not to allow this and you are concerned that if they become involved again they may suggest that you are not safeguarding your baby by allowing unsupervised contact.

Firstly, the lawyer is correct to say that “it is the parents’ responsibility to safeguard and make informed decisions around contact”. Children’s services can make recommendations about contact, however they cannot legally force a parent to agree to recommendations about contact (unless there is a care order in place which gives them parental responsibility). This is not the case for your baby. If you do not agree for the father to have unsupervised contact then the only way that the father can get this is for him to apply to court for a Child Arrangements Order. A judge will then decide what contact the father should have with the baby. Before making the application to court the father has to prove that he has tried mediation. Sometimes during mediation parents are able to come to an agreement that they are both happy with and then there is no need to go to court. You don’t say if you would feel safe attending the suggested mediation with the father – if you do not then please don’t feel pressured to do so.

From the information you have given I would advise that you continue to follow the recommendations made by children’s services at present. Babies are extremely vulnerable, and the father was abusive to you. You don’t say how old your baby is, and how long supervised contact has been happening for, but it is important for you to feel that enough time has passed to be able to make an informed judgement that your baby would be completely safe in the unsupervised care of their father.

As I explained above, if the father is not happy to continue with supervised contact then he can make an application to court for a Child Arrangements Order and a judge can decide what is in the baby’s best interests. If a judge makes a decision that the father should have unsupervised contact then children’s services recommendations will no longer stand. (It is important to remember though that even if a judge orders unsupervised contact, if there are any future incidents which lead you to become more worried that your child is at risk of harm then you should safeguard your child by stopping unsupervised contact. This matter can then be taken back to court if necessary). This kind of court process is known as a private law application. Child Law Advice can offer more specific advice regarding this if you need it.

You might find it helpful to read our website pages about children’s services involvement when there is a concern about domestic abuse here.
I hope that you have received some support as a victim of domestic abuse? Please see here for some links to organisations that can offer support.

I hope that this has been of some help. Please post again if you have any further queries, or you can call our free helpline on 0808 801 0366 (Monday to Friday, 9:30am – 3pm) to speak with an adviser in more detail.

Best wishes,
Suzie

Xvx
Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2021 7:00 pm

Re: Father unsupervised contact

Post by Xvx » Wed Mar 30, 2022 7:15 pm

Thanks for the advice. It was social services that sent the letter saying it is the parents responsibility to make informed decisions around contact that’s why I’m confused because they told me not to allow unsupervised contact. He has had supervised contact for around 6 months now baby is almost 7 months old. I have discussed with my lawyer and we have agreed to supervised contact for now with an agreement of a hair follicle strand test in the future for illicit substances before any unsupervised contact can occur. Are these steps enough to show social services in safe guarding my child ? Thanks

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

Re: Father unsupervised contact

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Apr 04, 2022 10:44 am

Dear Xvx,

Whilst it is ultimately the parents' job to make informed decision about contact, children's services may also make recommendations of what they think is necessary to safeguard the child. In this case, they have recommended supervised contact due to concerns about your ex-partner's abusive behaviour.

You have agreed with your solicitor that your ex-partner should take a hair strand test for illicit substances before unsupervised contact takes place - whilst this is one step to ensure that he may not be under the influence of anything during contact, it does not necessarily address his abusive behaviour and the risk this may pose to your child.

Did children's services give you a clear idea of what their main concerns about unsupervised contact were or any steps they wanted you to take before unsupervised contact could take place?

Ultimately, in the absence of children's services involvement, it is down to you to assess the level of risk. Have you contacted children's services yourself and informed them that you are considering unsupervised contact?

Best wishes,

Suzie.

Xvx
Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2021 7:00 pm

Re: Father unsupervised contact

Post by Xvx » Mon Apr 04, 2022 3:14 pm

Not really they only told me he was violent not to put him on the birth certificate or to allow unsupervised access. They claim as there is no case open then they do not need to give any further advice and to go to a lawyer. Lawyer has said no protective orders are in place so it’s not illegal for him to have unsupervised contact but there’s the risk of social services again. It’s very confusing and stressful no one seems to be giving a definitive answer on what to allow. Thanks

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

Re: Father unsupervised contact

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed Apr 06, 2022 11:40 am

Dear Xvx,

Thank you for your further post. You say that you are looking for a definitive answer to this which is completely understandable, however unfortunately in these situations there are rarely any definitive answers.

I think that ultimately you need to ensure that you, as the mother, are assured that your baby is completely safe when in the care of their father. If you do decide to make steps towards unsupervised contact then I would encourage do this slowly and cautiously, as it is up to the father to prove to you that he is able to care for the baby safely. This will take time (months, or perhaps even years) and the process should not be rushed. Your baby is very vulnerable at such a young age and is unable to tell you what has happened when they are not with you. For this reason it is always important to act with caution when there are concerns that someone may be violent or dangerous. If the father is unhappy with the level of contact he is having then he can always make a private law application to the family court for contact which would be considered by a judge.

I hope that this is of some help.

Best wishes,
Suzie

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