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Almost no contact for 3.5 years - prob in court?

  • wignula
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29 Oct 09 #158315 by wignula
Topic started by wignula
I am new to this site but have found the stories and community spirit very uplifting.

My story is common - my partner is self repping at court for a directions hearing on 7 November for contact with his 11 year old son. After 3 years of regular contact, his ex-wife stopped him having contact with his son 3 and a half years ago.

He has managed to see his son occasionally (at grandparents at Xmas and birthday) and my partner's 17 year old daughter waits for her mother to go out and then brings his son to see his dad (probably about once a month or less) but there has been no formal contact for the past 3 and a half years.

I have read that this amount of time since formal contact could go against him in court and could mean that any contact he is awarded is greatly reduced. Does anyone have any experience of this? The piece of research on this that I read was from 2004 and things seem to have moved on since then.

Many thanks

  • Fiona
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29 Oct 09 #158335 by Fiona
Reply from Fiona
After a break generally contact is reintroduced gradually but if your partner is committed there is no reason why regular contact cannot be re-established. At 11 years of age his son's wishes and feelings are likely to carry some weight.

  • Forseti
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29 Oct 09 #158357 by Forseti
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The courts do certainly overestimate the need to reintroduce fathers after a break. It isn't generally considered necessary, for example, to gradually reintroduce fathers who have been away on military service or in prison. There is no evidential basis for this, it is merely habit and prejudice. This is why establishing a fatherless status quo is such an effective strategy for preventing contact entirely.

Having said that, the courts will probably want to know why there hasn't been contact for so long, why the ex stopped contact, why your partner didn't try to restore contact at the time, and why he is trying to do so now.

The bottom line must be that it is in his son's interest to have a relationship with his father, and that is what your partner will need to concentrate on.

  • .Charles
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29 Oct 09 #158375 by .Charles
Reply from .Charles
It is a basic right of a child to have contact with both parents unless there is reason why this might be harmful to the child or against the child's wishes (subject to a test of whether those wishes should be relied upon).

It might be a bother for a mother to have to provide contact to a father who has been absent for a while but if contact is a positive experience for the child there should be no reason to try to stop it completely.

It's a delicate balancing act and there are fathers who will demand contact because (a) they want to stay in contact with the mother, (b) they pay child maintenance therefore they are entitled to see the child or (c) some other reason that is not based on the child's needs.

Distinguishing fathers with and without good intentions is very diffcult hence the problems with court lengthy court proceedings which are exacerbated by underfunded CAFCASS offices and the insistence upon referring 90% of matters to the Magistrates Court in the first instance.


  • wignula
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30 Oct 09 #158510 by wignula
Reply from wignula
Thank you so much for your responses. We really felt quite alone and it's really lovely to know that complete strangers are so willing to help! It also made us realise the importance of being clear about what had been done to maintain/reestablish contact in that time (which we also realised was 3 years not 3.5...).

Two sol's letters sent but the daughter was shown them and then asked her dad not to go to court. He listened because she was already out of mainstream school (behavioural problems) and on her second course of counselling because of the animosity around the divorce.

There were 3 attempts at mediation, 2 requested by the school who knew about the children not being allowed to see him. His ex refused to attend (maybe we should try and get the school records on this).

Ex also promised the son a few times that she would let him see his dad (most recently was "when you're 11 you can decide for yourself") - we were hoping that these would happen but they didn't.

In the 3 years he did have a fair bit of contact via various methods (we've now documented all of this).

Court was finally decided on because his son started self harming in July and claimed it was because he wanted to see his dad and was unhappy with the way things were between his parents.

Interestingly, his ex claims she has never stopped the kids seeing him but that his son doesn't want to see his dad(we have evidence to the contrary). Son has shown ambiguity - I dread to think the pressure he's under to say he does not want to see his dad.

Underlying all of this is that my partner's self-esteem and feeling of powerlessness hit rock bottom and it's only afer 6 months of counselling that he's felt strong enough to tackle the situation head on. Based on this process being child-centred I don't think we should mention this.

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