Q: Hi Jackie, I adopted my stepchildren when they were young children (their mum had died [...]
Ask Jackie: Contact ordersCreated by Jackie Highe in Ask Jackie
Q: I’ve been to court today with my son and he has 4 children with his estranged wife. He got a contact order in place and the soon to be ex-mrs has had a residential order. She lied to cafcas about him not wanting to see the kids, where it was her being not nice and wouldn’t bring them, as she drops them off and collects them and she has the dla car as one of the granddaughters has special needs.
Because of her lies the judge looked at him and said he’d end up in prison if he failed to have them, but nothing was said to her! My son asked for the contact order. Does the same apply to her if she fails to bring them down to where we live and on the days set out in the order?
P.S: Cafcas were of no help and I told my son when it all finished that maybe he should have ended his interview with the cafcas chap and asked for his wife to leave the room, cause all she did was argue over money and made him look stupid.
He had a solicitor and she represented herself and she thinks she won. The kids live with her so there was no problem about that, but reading through the residency orders it also means that the guy she now has living with her is abusive to his ex partner. If the oldest child repeats what has happened he has to send them back or the police will come for them and cafcas said not to listen to the 6yr old! How can you ignore what she tells you and I thought cafcas were supposed to be an advocate for them.
They haven’t asked to see or speak to them and my son and his estranged mrs have to go to classes on how to communicate to each other!
She won’t leave my son alone, ringing him on a blocked number and he’s been told she doesn’t have to give her number to him and the only number he does have is her new fella’s who has a harassment notice against him for threatening to breaking my windows and 5hrs later almost did. She’s threatened to stab my son, the police Sargent went to her house to tell her how serious it is to threaten someone like that over the phone and I’m not even sure if my son told the cafcas chap about that, as she’s got worse since her fella moved in with her and he’s been in and out of prison a lot for diff things…phew.
A: If ever there was a situation where people need to get together and talk, then this is it. Bitterness is, sadly, often the tragic aftermath of break-ups. Things are said and done which perpetuate the anger and resentment until it’s impossible to unravel.
Let’s get a few things clear. First, Cafcass is supposed to be there specifically to represent the interests of the children concerned and therefore is duty bound to listen, and evaluate, what they say about everything. Second, social services are legally bound to act in ‘the best interest of the child/children’. They are also legally bound to mediate between family members and to help uphold contact orders issued by the court. Third, your son has such a contact order, giving him access to his children, and it is being broken. Fourth, your son’s wife’s boyfriend has a harassment notice against him, which he has broken.
So your son needs to fix a meeting between himself, his solicitor, the cafcass representative who has been dealing with this case, and social services – ie the social worker on the case. By the way, it’s important that the solicitor is an expert in family law. You can find one through the Law Society Children Panel – www.lawsociety.org.uk or www.solicitorsonline.com, or ask the Citizens Advice Bureau, who are in the phone book.
At this meeting your son should keep his temper – this above all – and explain, reasonably, his point of view – that he wants to have the access to his children that the court has awarded him – that he’s concerned about their proximity to their mother’s boyfriend, and that boyfriend’s aggressive behaviour. Getting angry and making accusations – whether founded or not, will not help him. He should listen in his turn to what the others say, and try to find some common ground.
The solicitor will help and advise him. You won’t want to hear this Tracy, but it might be wise for you not to be at this meeting – you are not the parent, and as a grandparent you have no legal rights whatever where your grandchildren are concerned, despite the fact that your son is living with you. The access granted is for him, not you. Hard to take in I know, but a fact.