I have 7 year old daughter who's been suffering for years with physical and emotional abuse from my exwife. My exwife and I divorced 3 years ago.
Over the years, my daughter has told me about painful physical abuse incidents by her mother. Initially I was reporting these incidents to social services everytime my daughter mentioned them to me. Everytime I reported these incidents social services would visit the child at her mother's place and obviously my daughter is not going to say anything about her mother while she is present, so everytime I would get a report from social services stating they have no concerns and they cannot do any more than they have. I would follow it up with social services and it would be complete waste of time. It was the same story everytime I reported an incident and each time eyebrows were raised towards me as if I'm making this up rather than my exwife. My faith in social services was non existent and the suffering for my daughter and I continued for many years.
I was not going to give up on my daughter so i recently reported another incident relating to physical abuse. Finally my daughter spoke to social services about the abuse she has been experiencing by her mother. They immediately put my daughter under my care and it has been over a week that she has been living with me. Social Services however seem more concerned about closing their case and getting the child back to her mother. To me it makes no sense as the child is frightened to go back to her mother and she has stated this to social services that she is scared to go to her mother and wants to stay with me.
My frustrations with dealing with social services will continue but I keep getting informed by them that eventually my daughter has to go back to her mother so they are pushing me to arrange a contact with my daughter and her mother with the social services officer present. It has taken 7 years for my daughter to pluck up the courage to speak up against abuse and I am being told the best solution is to get the child back to the original court order arrangement.
My question is am I able to have full custody of my daughter? She's gets loved and cared for by my mother and I and as a result she is so happy.
Secondly I am seeing the advice from social services as completely irresponsible as they want to close their case. Am I right in thinking this and how do i deal with these individuals.
Apply for a Child Arrangements Order, so that your daughter lives with you, and contact with Mum will dependent on the safeguarding checks carried out by CAFCASS. The fact that there is a long history of SS involvement and abuse from the mother will have to be factored in when a Judge is making a decision about what type of contact your daughter has with her Mum, such as supervised contact in a contact centre.
It's important that your daughter feels safe and secure, and not have to worry about being returned to her mother.
When you complete the C100 application form, you should also complete form C1A which is for "Allegations of Harm and Domestic Violence" - detail each and every incident (use a separate sheet of paper if required).
Despite previous intervention(s) from SS, the abuse has continued, that would suggest to me that it is unlikely to stop any time soon. It is shocking that SS are telling you that your daughter will ahve to be returned to her mother, when they are fully aware of the abuse your daughter has suffered at the hands of her mother
You really need some legal advice, certainly as a starting point. Wikivorce offer a £200 consultation with a specialist child law solicitor. If money is an issue, please send me a private message and I'll send you some details of advisers who can offer you some free initial advice.
I managed to speak to my solicitor who dealt with the divorce. She's honest and upfront. Her advice was it's difficult to get sole custody for a child unless Social Services are backing you fully which however is not the case as they are backing me to take care of my daughter in the short term only but they also want to start the contact which will follow my daughter going back to her mother as per the court order.
The solicitor also advised that generally these types of contested proceedings cost above £10k for sure and on average can take about 8 to 9 months for all hearings to finish.
Does the above sound right to you as it leaves me in an uncertain place with regards to my next step.
Ah - you didn't mention there was an existing court order- that would ahve been useful information to have known at the start of your thread.
The projected costs and timeframe sound about right - but you don't have to use a solicitor, you could self-represent with the help of an experienced McKenzie Friend, or with a solicitor doing just some of the work and you doing the rest.
Without knowing the entire history (and I don't suggest you share it here as it may identify your child) and the exact involvement of SS and what actions and measures have been put into place; it's difficult for me to comment further I'm afraid.
I do think it is worth seeking independent advice from another solicitor who can appraise the situation with a fresh pair of eyes.