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Court order - child contact with an abuser (desperate for help or advice)

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  • Court order - child contact with an abuser (desperate for help or advice)

    I will make this as short as possible, thanks for taking the time to read. Any advice will be highly appreciated. I am the partner of a woman who has an abusive ex who is ruining her sons life and has ruined our lives for the last two years.

    Brief summary of situation - My Stepson is 8 years old. Partners Ex is a doorman, he abused my Partner physically and mentally throughout there very short relationship (they split before child was born). He refuses to pay maintenance has links with known criminals, extensive criminal record, battery, carrying weapons, assault etc. He had contact every Tuesday night for 2 hours and overnight contact every weekend alternating between Friday and Saturday nights. We stopped contact around a year ago due to numerous safeguarding issues around mental and physical abuse. The tipping point came when my stepson stated he saw drugs and a large wad of cash in his dads car, he also gave the name of a known drug dealer and stated his dad often leaves him with him while he goes out to do "favours" for people. By this point my step son was wetting the bed, having panic attacks and was often highly disturbed when returning home from contact, the dad was completely uncooperative, calling us and his son liars. Due to this we stopped contact as we knew the neglect and abuse would continue.

    We went through the family courts but being naive to the situation did not record or provide any real evidence, social services blamed our "heightened anxiety around contact" for the problems my stepson was having and also raised a child in need order for us failing to report things sooner (complete contradiction as they didn't believe us anyway). The courts gave the ex partner everything he wanted, unsupervised contact for two hours mid week and overnight stays on the weekends. .

    Unsurprisingly once contact started again my stepsons problems began immediately, behaviour deteriorated, panic attacks came back, he has been removed from his child minders due to behaviour and getting in trouble in school. Again he returns home disturbed every weekend. We have had weekly problems with the contact since it began, the child has been neglected, shouted at, shown inappropriate material, been around heavy drinking, the list goes on and on. He is now having panic attacks due to being shown horror movie clips on youtube and has contacted us on several occasions to say he is frightened and wants to come home early. Again we have tried to communicate with the ex and got the same result as always, the child is lying and we are lying.

    We stopped the mid week contact due to my stepson being removed from the childcare, we have multiple incident reports to show his behaviour was always following the mid week contact. We are down to the last childminder in the area and cant risk loosing another one so had no choice but to do this. We informed her ex he could see his son more over the weekend or during school holidays but he has declined. Shortly afterwards we received court letter, he is taking us back to court for the sake of two hours on a Wednesday.

    Since this my stepson has recently disclosed his dad has weapons in the house, knifes, guns and a taser. He described the taser in detail and said his dad lets him play with it zapping bits of wood etc. This was raised with the police who have put a safeguarding referral in to social services, my stepson disclosed all this to them at his own free will. At this point the school, the childminder and now the police have raised concerns to them. Social services have contacted us and said this is not a safeguarding issue, it is a police matter and they will not get involved! They have also implied we are the problem and are now complaining that we keep contacting them to report things and believe we have a vendetta against this man. Due to the above we advised we will also be stopping overnight contact until the outcome of the court case and the ex has declined and now refused to see his son full stop until after court.

    The court case is on Monday, we have sent evidence and a full diary of events to the court however I have zero confidence that this will be looked at, that we will be heard or given the chance to show the evidence and I'm absolutely appalled at the failure of the authorities to do anything to help. We have concrete evidence this time, videos of my stepsons behaviour, videos of the panic attacks following contact, videos of him disclosing he is scared of his dad but doesn't want him to get in trouble, text messages from my stepson saying he is frightened and wants to come home We have child minder reports, text message evidence of abuse and complete noncooperation. Social services have made their decision without viewing any of the evidence or even coming to see us, they simply speak with the dad who tells them we are lying and take his word for it. We can't win, if we report incidents we are blamed for heightened anxiety and trying to defame the dad, if we don't report we are blamed for not reporting.

    Please help, this Child's life is being ruined by this man. I have some specific questions if anyone can advise.

    1. can social services have any influence in the pending court case if they have not re opened their case and state their is no safeguarding issues?

    2. Is there any higher authority we can speak with to get help, we are completely unheard and being fobbed off and blamed by everyone

    3. How can we get someone to view the concrete evidence we hold

    4. If they force contact again and he wins the case what will happen if we stop contact again to protect this child

    I am having to watch as this man uses the courts to abuse my partner, he has no interest in his son and uses him to control my partner. My poor stepson is a complete wreck, riddled with anxiety and fear, he is very confused about everything as he loves his dad and does not want him to get in trouble but he is terrified of him. We are in danger of this man flipping and arriving at our home to attack us. Despite all this we remain positive when talking about his dad and don't show any of our concerns to him yet we are blamed by the authorities for "heightened anxiety". The evidence we have is non disputable, we have caught this man is a lie multiple times, we have evidence of the abuse, the trauma this is causing. So what next? This can't be the end of the line, I'm absolutely not willing to watch this child's life be destroyed and as a step father I have no rights and can't even step inside the court room. I'm at breaking point and don't know what to do.

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  • #2
    Hi Nowhereboy,

    I'm sorry I didn't see your post sooner. Has the hearing happened and what was the outcome. Your stepson is the priority here and his welfare is the most important thing. It sounds like you have justifiable concerns and are only trying your best to protect him.

    Has anything come from reporting to the police? You mention you have supplied the Court with everything, how did you do this? Was it in the form of a witness statement that was ordered to be filed by the Court. Has the Court made some directions at the hearing on Monday that statements should be filed? Have you sought any legal advice yourselves about the issues and what options you may have with regard to ensuring your step son's safety and welfare?

    Sorry more questions I'm afraid. Hopefully the Judge has made some directions and we can point you in the right direction when trying to deal with them.

    Of course it is important for children to know both parents but if there are safeguarding issues then it is also right that they are protected. This may mean contact or the way contact happens has to change for a time, maybe contact centres or at a specified location that is known to be safe by you all and not leaving him with other people when he is having contact could be a start.

    It is a fine line to tread. Unfortunately you can well imagine how many parents do get into the petty tit for tat type situations and the children suffer however from what you indicate here this is a far more serious situation which needs to be looked into further.

    See if you can find a lawyer specialising in child law who can give you a free appointment or reduced fee appointment just to set out the options available to you.

    It may be worth getting your step son to a GP regarding the anxiety he may be referred for some counselling if appropriate or other treatment could be recommended that may help ascertain what is causing the issues and hopefully will shed light on what is actually happening when he is with his dad.

    Do post again and we'll try and give some guidance if we can.
    I am a qualified solicitor employed by the LegalBeagles forum to provide guidance on a wide range of legal queries. I am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

    Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

    If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.


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