SO ANGRY at family law court system (big rant)

(67 Posts)
tomsellecklover Fri 02-Aug-13 20:13:01

Hi all,
I won't go into all the ins and outs of my case as I would be here forever however, I was in court today for a directions appeals hearing regarding my ex's admission to 'sexually inappropriate behaviour' and how I am concerned about this in relation to the contact he has with our DD. In my opinion and I would have thought many others what he describes are sexual assaults. To my utter dismay in court today I was absolutely vilified by the judge who asked me what on earth was I bringing this issue to court for?? !!! I have tried and tried to get cafcass to take notice, I have tried in previous court hearing for magistrates to take notice but the furthest I have got is some ignorant old biddy telling me 'he was under the influence of drugs' as if that matters?! why are inexperienced magistrates making decisions about our children's future? the judge said 'I dread to think how much time and money this is wasting' - well you know what, if the system wasn't such a mess and people actually read the f*cking evidence then maybe it wouldn't take so long. I am drained mentally and physically and feel I cant go on but the mother instinct in me tells me I will not be quiet over this. does anyone know of organisations/campaigns for family law reform? I'm sick to death of this. taking legal aid away from vulnerable women, what planet are we actually living on??!! sorry if none of this makes any sense my head is spinning.

starlight1234 Tue 19-Nov-13 20:31:37

My heart goes out to anyone who has genuine concerns and the courts /Cafcass don't listen...

commie Tue 19-Nov-13 15:40:42

New member- I'm amazed to find all these cases of miscarriages of justice by the Family Court. Our little grand-daughter at 4 years old said something unexpected during a bedtime. Our daughter questioned her the next day as gently as possible. We video-recorded the interview without the child knowing and were stunned at what she said. Things that she couldn't possibly know the significance of. So to police, police interviewed and got similar answers. Then to CPS who said evidence wouldn't pass a jury. Social Services supported our daughter. Her ex-partner applied to the Family Court for resumed contact. It took the FC 18 months to fix up a 'Fact-Finding'. Ex is well-off and had a top barrister. We are on pensions but lent our daughter money for lawyers while she applied for legal aid which has not given an answer after 6 months. The judge was charmed by Ex and thought our daughter too emotional. She dismissed the views of the experienced police and social work Child Protection Officers, and decided in her own inexpert view that the video evidence could be explained by Ex putting cream on the child's bottom, or else sex play with other children, when the child had described quite unambiguously that F had done certain things to her. The barrister charged £4,000 to review the judgement and tell us there was no 'legal' error in the judge's findings and therefore appeal would not be possible, though he 'sympathised' with my daughter's position. Now Ex is preparing for unsupervised contact sessions to resume including overnight stays. We were advised against getting an Expert Witness (child psychologist) by our lawyers but have consulted once since the case finished. He looked at the recordings and said in his opinion the child was disclosing genuine sexual abuse. But this is 'new evidence' and cannot be taken into consideration without going through everything again. We are almost bankrupt and cannot believe this is happening. I now realise through Mumsnet that others are suffering too.

babyhammock Sat 03-Aug-13 21:44:28

I had exactly the same concerns, but you'd be amazed how similar the two systems are and they both have exactly the same issues. And of course all the research and papers are relevant whichever side of the pond you're on.

Did you feel that cafcass actually dealt with your issue? Because if you didn't you need to go to the parliamentary ombudsman which is their governing body. To do that you need to write a quick explanatory note to your MP who will refer you. It sounds difficult (totally designed to put people off) but it really isn't.

Ah better seriously its brilliant! xx

tomsellecklover Sat 03-Aug-13 21:34:31

babyhammock - the only thing is isn't lundy Bancroft American? does the book still apply with laws over here?
the judge mentioned yesterday that a cross examination might be possible if I still want to pursue it but in judges opinion it wouldn't get anywhere...
I will try get my solicitor to sort this for our next court hearing. I wrote a massive complaint to cafcass and spoke to the manager, got a long reply back which said basically we know you are not happy, we didn't mean to upset you, got any more problems with this then contact your MP!! :O

betterthanever Sat 03-Aug-13 21:21:37

I think I will get that book.

babyhammock Sat 03-Aug-13 21:15:29

Its really designed for court personnel and those 'officials' involved with custody cases, but invaluable for anyone caught up in the process. Lundy totally gets the dynamics of abuse and just reading it was therapy for me especially, as you well know, when you're dismissed at every turn.

That 26 weeks is bollocks... they may aim for that, but it is also known than in cases of alleged abuse a quick turnaround is NOT in the best interests of the children involved.

Did your barrister ask the Cafcass officer who wrote the report why they didn't think it was necessary to consider the SS report? You should get a chance to cross examine them.

Also yes, in the lower courts I absolutely got the impression that no one was actually reading anything! xx

betterthanever Sat 03-Aug-13 21:08:43

It's another 16 weeks before my case goes back in - hope that is the case as it should then end next time - I very much doubt it.
Let us know what your sol says about going to the circuit judge/high court.

tomsellecklover Sat 03-Aug-13 20:59:31

thanks babyhammock. i'm not alone in how drawn out this whole thing is then! my solicitor says there are rules now that it has to be in and out of court within '26 weeks' even if it involves peoples kids going into care.
I am going to ring solicitor on Monday and discuss what my options are (she wasn't at the hearing). I haven't read that but I will look it up thank you. read his amazing 'why does he do that?' helped me so much!

betterthanever Sat 03-Aug-13 20:57:43

Babbyhammock knows more than me but I thought even if they just dismiss it you can still go higher. I posted to lostdad if he knew the point of law relating to the fact that the risk assement had not been done, he knows a lot of stuff (and is always looking to learn more to help people) he may reply.
Does your lawyer not know about the next way to apeal? I think you can go higher and I agree your case sounds strong.

I am a year to date with my case angry the lawyers are creaming it....

babyhammock Sat 03-Aug-13 20:39:34

Have you read 'The Batterer as parent' by Lundy Bancroft? Its excellent and has helped me so much.

Mine's been going on 2.5 years. Its exhausting sad x

Did they simply refuse you leave to appeal (they always do that!), because you can apply directly to the relevant court for permission. If it was a district judge it will go to a circuit judge at a county court. If your case was heard by a circuit judge in a county court then it goes straight to the high court of appeal.

Your case sounds really strong. In my experience the lower court judges can be really rude and dismissive but there's certainly more respect the higher up you go. I've been treated with utter contempt by some of the lower court judges, but very kindly in the higher courts.

As far as your evidence is concerned, get that book as it will help you focus on what you need to make your case more sustainable. xx

tomsellecklover Sat 03-Aug-13 20:13:35

better-.I think the trouble is my appeal didn't even.get off the ground the judge wouldn't even hear it so if county court wouldn't hear it then higher courts wouldnt either. all to do with not enough evidence to actually investigate even tho dad does not deny it.

sorry to hear what your friend is going through, what a nightmare. blatant that they haven't got a clue what they are doing. 2 years is ages! I thought my case was unusual in being a year so far.

betterthanever Sat 03-Aug-13 19:58:13

tom can you not now appeal to the high court? did your barrister suggest that at all?
if they refuse you would then be able to take it to the ECHR?

I have a friend going through similar with two girls the alleged abuse is connected with them both and the courts are looking to transfer residence to HIM or No Contact - they can't decide confused. She has been in the system two years - evidence wise they keep saying they can't decide if mum is making it up or dad did do it, lost paperwork, incorrect information given even the case mixed up with another one regarding an epert report which was submitted - you could not make it up - mum had suspicions but it was the nursery her youngest went to who raised the alarm with the authtorities, he was arested and then got off - based on that they say they can't refuse contact, mum said he cant have contact - hence the situation....

Lionessnurturingcubs Sat 03-Aug-13 19:52:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tomsellecklover Sat 03-Aug-13 19:41:35

hi better - thank you for support. I was in.county court yesterday n basically got told I had no grounds for appeal. even.the barrister thought id get one but judge got on their high horse about what constitutes assault... turns my stomach.

betterthanever Sat 03-Aug-13 19:33:26

lostdad thank you for jumping in with that good advice. As you put on the other thread - Op can now appeal to a higher court is that right? but she needs to find the point of law?
This is where I see the issue with the system law/welfare where is the line?
lostdad can she not say that as the risk assessment was not done she has grounds for apeal - is there a point of law there?

tomsellecklover Sat 03-Aug-13 19:26:03

cafcass did a report and put in info from social.services which said based on sexual behaviour info dad*should not* be seeing dd. cafcass basically ignored this in the report and gave no reason for so. we requested a risk assessment be done to c what risk he poses to dd, court said they'd done one, they hadn't. told me to appeal if I disagreed with this so I.did n it got thrown outof court.

lostdad Sat 03-Aug-13 19:19:17

You can only appeal if you can demonstrate there has been an error in law - not because you disagree with the decision.

I can see from your post there is lots more than meets the eye and I feel like I'm going to end up asking you more questions than actually providing more help.

Was it SS who did a report (section 7?) or CAFCASS? You say SS advised that he should be seeing your DD but the courts can (and do!) ignore recommendations?

I get the feeling from your post that your DD was known to SS before your last case was opened.

tomsellecklover Sat 03-Aug-13 19:11:15

it is indeed very disturbing.
lost dad - I wasn't very clear in my original post. bit worried about putting too much info on here but I was told in.writing from him about 2 incidents which involved 2 different females. it was not my dd that was involved but still worrying, I Do not feel I can trust someone who has 1) been violent to me and 2) sexually abused others. is this the type of person who should be allowed around a child? court took domestic violence quite seriously and ge has to do a course. social services advised that he should not be seeing dd at all but cafcass have this info and advised otherwise not giving any reason for this decision. I tried to appeal this and the judge told me where to go and that they thought that it waa completely irrelevant!

lostdad Sat 03-Aug-13 18:50:48

She's in an awkward situation.

I would say to the OP that if she genuinely believe that her DD is in danger she should stop contact. It's the only thing she can do as a good parent.

The caveat here is that if she does this there is the risk that she will (and I would say there is a good chance of this as there has been a case investigated by CAFCASS, etc.) end up in court being told that she is breaking a court order for no reason and risks the terms of the order being changed to stop her doing so.

I would hope that in her last case that the evidence for allegations would have been investigated inappropriately. She says he admitted 'sexually inappropriate behaviour'. Was there anything more to it? If he did say it was it something he said (stupidly, admittedly) in temper just to mess with her? Is there evidence of him saying it...or was it simply a case of her saying in the hearing that he did...while he denied it? Did he say it but jusWas her DD interviewed? Examined? Was he? I am assuming this is the case because CAFCASS would have definitely been interested and dealt with it.

To sum up - if she is sure this happened I'd recommend she stop direct contact and gather evidence to support her case, writing to him to let him know that you are doing this and why.

betterthanever Sat 03-Aug-13 18:37:59

lostdad if I was unaware of the reality of the system, every thing you say is spot on. It is how I wish the system was. Sadly it is not and as a result, good, honest and loving fathers also end up in the system for longer and put through the mill i.e. you and a very good friend of mine but more importantly the children suffer from being apart from someone they love and would beenfit frm being with.
The Op seems to be at the end of the case. You have a lot of very relevant expereince, where do you think she should go from here to ensure the safety of her DD?

lostdad Sat 03-Aug-13 18:13:43

tomsellecklover - your first and last duty is the best interests of your DD. If you know she has been abused you will do everything you can to prevent contact. Or at most make sure the contact is supervised and the abuser deal with any issues.

If it's just your belief however that is a different matter. Who did your ex admit 'sexually inappropriate behaviour' to? You? CAFCASS? Someone else? Could it look like you are saying he said this to mudsling?

The Family Courts work on `the balance of probabilities'...meaning proof is not needed (as opposed to criminal law which is `beyond reasonable doubt'.

If you know abuse has taken place you need to build a case to show that in the balance of probabilities it took place. Depending on the age of your DD this may include psychological reports, interviews, physical examinations, etc.) and is something your solicitor/McKenzie Friend should be assisting you with.

I would (not surprisingly!) recommend Families Need Fathers....forget the name. A third of the members are female - which includes mothers. They are a support organisation but also campaign for reform of various parts of Family Law. There are support meetings around the country where you can get advice (very often solicitors and McKenzie Friends (legal assistants) attend and give free advice and pointers).

As I say - the safety of your DD is paramount that should be your first and only consideration.

Bruthastortoise Sat 03-Aug-13 17:58:11

Just reading through that link tomsellecklover and it makes for seriously disturbing reading. It seems womensaid have been calling for reform since at least 2004 and no progrss has has been made sad

tomsellecklover Sat 03-Aug-13 17:32:19

In three-quarters of cases when courts have ordered contact with an abusive parent the children suffered further abuse

http://www.womensaid.org.uk/domestic-violence-survivors-handbook.asp?section=000100010008000100380002

just a quick post, need to make the tea!

Bruthastortoise Sat 03-Aug-13 17:30:24

Absolutely agree. I know that there was a case this week in Ireland where two little boys died and it appears that their father may be responsible. Obviously I'm not aware of the exact details of that case but fathers killing their little one's while on contact is not an unheard of event. Maybe if there was some joined up research between these kinds of occurrences and the role of family courts in ordering contact with abusive parents some headway could be made.

betterthanever Sat 03-Aug-13 17:02:33

Sorry my typing is shocking today - think I need a nap fat chance.

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