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Child Arrangement Orders, Contact and Domestic Violence

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25 Jun 21 #517116 by MovingOn2021
Topic started by MovingOn2021
Hello,

New member here. I am looking for some insight (and possibly reassurance).

I assaulted my wife over a year ago. Without minimising it (nor wanting to sound like I am), it was very low-level in comparison to some of the things I have read/heard. We were having an argument and i pulled her out of the door of the room by her forearm to take us away from the children, so they wouldn't see us. It was wrong and I accept that and I am very sorry (to her and children) that I pulled her. She called police, I pleaded guilty, have a criminal conviction for assault and she then asked for a restraining order. I self-represented and couldn't argue against it really. I applied for a divorce as a result as the relationship was clearly over by then.

I never returned home after this incident and so couldn't see my children (3, ages 5,7,9). Wife only allowed contact at a contact centre, which has been weekly for ~9 months now. I have spent over £10,000 on the contact centre to keep up contact but have no run out of money.

Background: this is the only incident of note in our marriage. No other issues with children/welfare/police etc. I haven't spoken to her since, no harassment, no other incidences of note. All very sad.

I made a CAO application, Cafcass have done a S7 report and advised I do my probationary work (light version of a domestic violence course) and maybe do some parenting courses. The only concern they have identified in their S7 report is that I "may say something mean about mummy" and have said that this justifies the need for me to continue to be supervised.

Since the incident over a year ago, I've tried to do everything I can to show that I am sorry, that I regret my actions and give my reassurances that it will never happen again. I've done a DVPP (through probation), done 3 parenting programmes online, a dads programme (over 17 weeks), read about 8 books on parenting, DV, raising children, done various healthy relationship courses, seen a therapist, got the all-clear from doctors and psychiatrists etc. In short, I'm trying to show that I am learning from my mistake and that I'm doing what I can to make sure that I'm the best possible parent i can possibly be.

40 or so reports from contact centre all show glowing and overwhelming positive relationship between me and all 3 children.

I've asked for a shared-care children arrangement. But my wife has asked the court to order that I only see them at the contact centre 2 hours each week (which she knows I cannot afford, at £240/week for those 2 hours, including report, handovers, VAT etc). Despite the conviction for assault, I think her request/position is unreasonable. I am a very good father and have done everything I can to prove this.

My question is this: Are the court likely to treat me as an ongoing risk forever more and therefore that contact can only be supervised in the future? This, effectively, removes me from their lives. They don't have access to me outside of this time otherwise. I know my wife feels angry at me and resentful, but she also knows (and has said to Cafcass) that I am a great dad and how much the children love me etc.

Surely a court will either say "he is a risk, he cannot see children unsupervised/overnight/staying" OR "he is not a risk, he can see children unsupervised/staying"... is this right, on a very basic level? Having spoken to lots and lots of family law professionals and others, there doesn't seem to be anything more that I can do to show I've learned and am mindful of my mistakes and do not present a risk of harm.

If the answer is "he is not a risk" then the next position the judge should consider is "how much time should the children spend with him?" and the answer to that is surely a 50/50 split (with minimal contact between me and mother) or other similar shared-care timetable? It's not like they could say "he's a partial risk so he can have children for part of the time". Surely, i'm either a risk (and get no time with children) or am not a risk (and then its just a case of working out what the timetable should be)?

I genuinely consider myself not to be a risk [any more!?] and want an amicable, shared-care arrangement in place. Surely my conviction cannot work against me and the children forever more it being an overriding factor in preventing contact? Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

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