Stepfather dangerous – can anyone with experience help?
8 September 2019 at 3:15 pm #30148
I have a ‘shared care’ arrangement with my 11-year old daughter’s mother. My daughter lives with me but spends alternate weekends with her mother and also spends a proportion of school holidays with mother.
We went through extensive legal proceedings during 2011 – 2017, during which time, my daughter ended up living with me. The primary reason why she is with me and not mother is that mother’s new partner has an ‘interesting’ background, including spells in prison and allegations of domestic violence (I saw the CAFCASS report – very uncomfortable reading). On the occasions that I’ve seen him in court / handovers, he has regularly sworn at me and not presented himself as the sort of person you’d wish your child to be around. Back in 2011, when the marriage broke down, I was telephoned by social services telling me my daughter was ‘at risk’ in his presence and I was advised to apply for residence. Later on, however, he was deemed to be a ‘changed character’. Mother is highly educated and was said to be a stabilising influence on him. The couple gained residence of a child of his from one of his various previous relationships. I was never convinced that he was very much of a changed character and made my feelings very clear to the court at the time, only to be labelled as some love-sick, rejected husband. This was extremely frustrating, to say the least.
My daughter has just returned from three weeks at mothers during the school holidays and has told me that she does not want to see her stepfather again because he ‘petrifies’ her. He stoops down, close to her face, to cell her ‘smart arse’, apparently, and screams at her and her stepsister, so she told me. My daughter also told me the other child (age 10) was being called a ‘*****’ by him and being spanked very hard so that she ‘howled’.
As soon as I heard this I made my daughter write everything down. Then I sent a C-100 and accompanying allegation of domestic violence form to the court to say that I didn’t want any further contact between him and my daughter, but I am happy for contact to continue with mother and the step sister. I am now waiting for the court to come back to me. I was planning to seek legal advice (have spent a lot of money on solicitors in recent years) to find out how the court may respond to me witholding contact before a variation is made – can anyone please advise on that? Material I’ve read online suggests that a parent is within their right to breach a contact court order if they feel that their child is at risk of harm.
Has anyone been in the same situation? Any advice would be much appreciated. Right now, I want to do everything I can to ensure my daughter only sees mother and stepsister in a contact centre only, without him present. I’m assuming that soon a CAFCASS officer will sit down with my daughter and that she can tell them all her fears about this man. Social services said that they would make enquiries about the welfare of the child living with the couple. I feel that I have to be careful about making too much of a fuss because last time I was painted as some jealous, rejected husband, when all was concerned about was my child’s safety. Please help.
Michael9 September 2019 at 1:27 pm #30176
I can’t offer any support, but I wanted to say that it sounds like you are doing the right thing. I don’t know what damage to a court order you might do by keeping her from visiting her mum (with him there), but I’d be inclined to worry more about the damage to your daughter, physically and mentally.
Can’t imagine dropping my daughter off to go and stay in the same house as I man who exhibits the type of behavior that your daughter has described. I would worry that my daughter thinks I’m not protecting her, which has the potential to manifest itself later in life as an issue between us.
As long as the legal rules are being followed to report this and also you substantiate the threat is as real as described (kids can exaggerate), then keep her away from him at all costs. You wouldn’t be able to forgive yourself.9 September 2019 at 8:48 pm #30191
Thanks very much indeed – absolute common sense – all agreed. I cannot see how the court would look unfavourably on me for breaching the contact order, given what my daughter has disclosed. I did speak to a secretary in a local solicitors firm today who said that I had a very clear case (although I balked at paying the £75 no doubt to be told something likely similar by a lawyer).
So, just waiting now for the court to get back to me. I know they’ve received the C100 and accompanying C1A (allegations of harm and domestic violence) as I sent them Special Delivery. I texted my concerns to mother the day after my daughter made the disclosures. She replied saying that my daughter was cheeky and needs better discipline. She also asked if she could speak to my daughter first “to find out how she really feels” about the stepfather. Lo and behold, the phone rang that evening. I let mother speak to my daughter for a few minutes, but we genuinely were on our way out the door. From her text message, I got the impression she wanted to influence my daughter’s recollection of events. She can be manipulative.
I’ll let you know how things progress. Thanks again for the advice and solid common sense. It is good just to that know that other people are out there.
Al the best,
M13 September 2019 at 1:01 pm #30332
Hi – just a quick update. In court today, the judge ruled that there should be no contact at mother’s house until another hearing in 4-5 weeks. Mother was offered the opportunity to meet daughter at a contact centre but declined it. Mother told the court she was happy for daughter not to return to her home for future contact. We’re back in court in 4-5 weeks by which time CAFCASS will have spoken to parents only. In the meantime also, mother, daughter and I will attend a mediation session to establish what my daughter wants. I would prefer a contact centre going forward but if mother can convince me she can see my daughter without him being present, I may be happy for them to have days out together. It seems that holiday stays at mother’s house will / must stop.