Court of Appeal says no to more contact with abusive father

Children|Family Law|News|June 10th 2013

Court house doorA father found to have abused his stepdaughter and been violent towards his partner has been denied increased contact with his child.

In Re W, the father’s marriage had broken down. After divorce the father saw his daughter and her older half sister, who was born  to the mother during an earlier relationship. However, the older girl then made allegations about the man, saying he had behaved in a sexual way towards her and in an inappropriate way towards his daughter. She also claimed he had been violent towards their mother. The claim regarding the older girl and her mother were found to be true during a subsequent ‘fact finding’ hearing.

Contact with the younger child was therefore reduced to supervised visits only at a contact centre. The younger child wanted to see more of her father and he applied for the arrangements to be relaxed, allowing him to see his daughter for longer periods and have overnights visits.

His application was refused, on the grounds that the child was not old enough to understand the potential risks given the findings against the father. He appealed, claiming that the judge had not given sufficient reasons for not allowing the contact arrangements to stay as they had been before the allegations.

But his appeal was dismissed. Sitting in the Court of Appeal, Lady Justice Black, Lord Justice McFarlane and Sir Stephen Sedley said the original judge had to make the best decision for the child without allowing previous arrangements to limit his decisions. He had to balance the relationship between the father and his child with her best interests and safety.

Photo of county court door via Flickr by Elliott Brown under a Creative Commons licence

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  1. Anon says:

    my almost 6 year old sons father has been awarded unsupervised contact for 6hrs 3 out of every 4 Saturdays plus extra in holidays, he was having 2hrs supervised by me every 3 weeks because he went to prison for downloading child pornography and is a registered sex offender but because the sexual behaviour unit has deemed him safe he has been granted this,

    the supervised contact made in dec 2010 was supposed to be a final order, apart from a review in 6 motnhs to ensure everything was going ok and it would preventing him from applying for any further increases but due to a court error it was not listed until may 2011 and he has continued to ask for increases which resulted in a final hearing in march 2013, this was reset as the judge (a different one) agreed with a letter from my Dr that is would be detrimental for me to represent myself, it was rescheduled for June 2013 and I was only given a few days notice and could not attend, legal aid was still not sorted so my solicitor could not attend either, I asked for it to be rescheduled but the judge refused, saying I was trying to frustrate my sons father (this was the same judge who has insisted upon having the case throughout)

    my son does not want to see him and I don’t trust him for obvious reasons, social services were involved because of his offences when my son was a baby but they ceased to be involved when I moved out of the area, the judge refused to involve cafcass or anyone else

    I feel the judge is against me because I have missed some court hearings due to being unwell (I have heart failure) or due to not being informed

    since the unsupervised order was made in June he has had no contact because he would not agree to supervised and my son is adamant he does not want to see him (I have not influenced my son in any way)

    I have mostly had to represent myself due to problems with legal aid, he took me back to court to enforce the order and the judge said he would not change the order but that I could appeal and if I didn’t there would be a penal notice and action against me if I continued to breach the order

    cafcass have become involved and prepared a short statement to court after speaking to my sons father but failing to speak to me as they said they had no contact details for me and the court said they could not give them any info

    I am struggling as to what to put on the appeal other than for obvious reasons I don’t think its right, he is being given all the rights in the world just because his name is on the birth certificate yet I appear to have none

    he was imprisoned when my son was 3 weeks old and initially was allowed no contact via social services and there were even restrictions on him being at the birth, this has been going on for years now, he has contacted my sons school and demanded a parents evening which they have agreed to against my wishes, I just want my son to be happy and to move on with our lives

    any help would be greatly appreciated, I am hoping to get legal aid and instruct a solicitor but she does not seem very interested and the one I had at the beginning of the case has since retired

  2. Paul says:

    You need some support, my friend. I don’t want to lambast you for breaching court orders but you ought not to play that game. Eventually it rebounds.

    Unless you get some half-decent communication going with your ex, enough to cooperate anyway, your child will end up screwed in the head. Contact Karen Woodall at the Centre for Separated Families. They can either help directly or put you in touch with the people who can. She is a very compassionate, helpful individual who is highly skilled in working with troubled families.

    I don’t think the answer is to keep fighting with your ex. He seems to have the court on his side, for one thing. Stay alert but make peace would be my advice.

  3. Anon says:

    I do not have an issue with him I have been more than accommodating, he refuses to communicate with me, I just will never agree to unsupervised contact whilst my son is so small and does not understand how to protect himself, I don’t want to breach the court order but I have not choice, I asked the judge what I am supposed to do when my son refuses to go and he said to appeal

    thanks I’ll give her a try

  4. Paul says:

    If you remain so brazen in your intention to defy a court order, you will find the court will hit you with a series of larger and larger hammers until you do break.

    If the father fails to communicate with you, then he needs help more than you. Clearly, you are the sensible one. Apply that sense to restore the peace with the help of additional support from someone like Karen. It’s your son’s life that matters here and your hard work will pay off. In fact the harder you work at it, the luckier you’ll get and the better off your son will eventually be.

    A judge ought not to be provide you with legal advice. It is improper to do that in my view. Good luck anyway.

  5. Luke says:

    If he was convicted of downloading child pornography – I assume this means small children and not 15 year olds’, which is still bad but not the same thing – then it seems nuts to me that he is allowed unsupervised contact with a 6 year old – why would they agree to that ? 🙁

  6. Paul says:

    Nuts it may seem, Luke, but you don’t know the facts and it’s better not to start winding someone up. Half the country’s parents seem to be looking at child pornography these days and their children seem to be getting on okay. A pervert or ex-con does not necessarily mean a bad or undeserving parent and we don’t know the circumstances anyway. If he’s done his bird and the professionals have assessed him as ok, that ought to be enough as far as any internet examination of this case is concerned.

  7. Anon says:

    I will not whatever the consequences, I donor want to defy the court but would you allow your child to go alone with someone who had downloaded child pornography?

    I have done all I can he won’t speak to me just keeps dragging me back to court he is not interested in what is best for my son.

    I don’t want the judge to give me advice but how can I comply with the order when my son does not want to I’m certainly not going to force him

    Thank you, I suspect I’m going to need it

    After looking at the website I don’t think Karen can help because it is already in the court arena and mediation is no longer an option

  8. Anon says:

    Luke that is exactly what I would like to know and in sure if the general public were aware this happens they would be horrified

    He was convicted of downloading almost 1000 images of children from birth upwards over all 5 categories, he visited a website on several occasions known for child pornography

    He was arrested due to this investigation

    I’ve is still signing the sex offenders register

  9. Anon says:

    I’m not wound up I’m just fed up that he is getting away with this, no one is thinking about my wishes or most importantly my sons

    I’m not sure about your comment about half the country doing it and the kids being ok, that does not mean it’s right or I should take the chance with my son

    He went to prison for 3 months which is pathetic, he did not want to be assessed he only did it to get contact with my son and with that being in mind he is hardly going to say anything to them which would make them think he is a risk

    He had always denied it was deliberate, despite pleading guilty, but he did express an interest in incest (although he said between adults), he was physically beaten by his father when he was young and I always suspected sexual abuse by his mother but he never admitted it to me over our 10 year relationship and he still lives with his parents where he wants to take my son

    This all came out when I was pregnant with my son, I did not find out the full extent until he was sentenced when my son was 3 weeks old and I ended up in hospital with heart failure (which I don’t think was a coincidence) but at first I was in complete denial as I couldn’t believe he would do this but when faced with the facts from the police and the threat of social services taking my son away from me if I did not end my relationship with him I knew it was true and there was no was I was risking my son he was only allowed limited supervised contact at his birth and was not allowed to return home with us, I ended it the week before he was sent to prison

  10. Anon says:

    And I’m sorry but I think being a pervert in relation to having an unhealthy interest in children makes you a bad and undeserving person full stop and your actions should mean you forfeit your rights as a parent. Would you want a child sex offender as your parent? It is not just the physical harm my son could come to but the longer term effects on his mental health I’m concerned with. It is no coincidence either that all the child abuse , abductions & murders that have happened lately have all involved child pornography being viewed first. These professionals are not concerned about my son, they are only bothered about being seen to rehabilitate offenders so they keep being funded and ultimately it’s not their children in danger and if anything were to happen they would not be held accountable.

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