Are we getting good advice?

4 posts in this topic


My wife and I are raising our granddaughter who has just turned 6 years old; at the time of her birth her mother was suffering from depression and was unable to cope with a baby, she was also no longer involved with the child’s father by the time she was born; consequently our granddaughter has been with us since birth – we have a residence order.

We have a very bad  and extremely stressful relationship with our granddaughter’s father who has always had his daughter every Sunday; back in 2009 there were court proceedings regarding him having overnight contact, eventually a plan was agreed to gradually phase this in with the overnight contact periods getting longer. The Father had her on the first of the agreed overnight occasions but didn’t turn up for any of the subsequent ones. We reported this to the magistrates on our final court appearance and said that we were happy to leave things as they were, just Sundays, if he didn’t want her overnight. We did not have a solicitor representing us during these proceedings but he did.

During 2012 the father said he wanted to re-start overnight contact, he expected to just continue the old court order after over 2 years. I told him that we would not oppose overnight contact but would only agree if it was done formally through court; the father is too volatile to trust with a verbal agreement alone. I did some research and advised him that filling in and submitting a C100 form was the way to proceed, he agreed but did nothing.

Again in 2014 he mentioned the issue and I informed him that the answer was the same. This time he did appear to be going through with the C100 process. It became apparent that there was now a new process were mediation had to be attempted before going to court, as such in November 2014 we attended a mediation meeting with a company in the city centre. An agreement was reached but the mediation failed before the first agreed overnight date was reached due to him not honouring his agreement to start paying maintenance for his daughter. The mediator told him that they would sign his C100 form so the matter could proceed to court but I don’t believe he ever took it in.

As well as Sundays the father has his daughter on the afternoons of Christmas day and her birthday, on her last birthday he did not bring her home after his contact and refused to answer his phone or reply to text messages. We went to the police who said that  even though we had a right to know where our granddaughter was there was nothing they could do and advised us to see a solicitor as a matter of urgency the next day; we found a solicitors and went in first thing. Initially the solicitor was going to get an appointment with a judge to force the father to return our granddaughter to her home, before doing this the tried contacting the father and his mother to see if this could be avoided. Via his mother the father eventually contacted our solicitor, much to the solicitors surprise the father eventually turned up to his offices. Our solicitor spoke with him in a separate room and then came to speak with my wife and I. Much to our amazement he said that the father was willing to return his daughter that afternoon if we agreed to re-negotiate the failed mediation, otherwise he would return her the next day, the solicitor advised us that re-negotiation was the best course of action. We reluctantly agreed.  We found out that our granddaughter had spent the night at her father’s partner’s house, we do not know this woman or where she lives, our solicitor spoke with the father’s partner regarding her address being on the agreement but she did not want her name/address to be involved in the proceedings. An overnight contact arrangement was agreed and signed by both parties, it was based on and almost exactly the same as the previous failed mediation agreement. The re-negotiated agreement states that our granddaughter can only stay at her father’s address overnight. We got our granddaughter back later that day.

The first overnight contact from this agreement has recently taken place and our granddaughter told us that, once again, she had spent the night at her father’s partner’s house; he also did not make that maintenance payment he agreed to start paying.

So, it appears that (i) the father can keep her when and where he wants to, (i) we don’t need to know where she is staying (iii) that we are paying for a solicitor to grant him overnight access, (iv) that there are no consequences for him breaking any agreement and (v) doing the right thing when dealing with a volatile threatening father does not in fact work out well in the end.

We have never stopped the father from seeing his daughter on Sundays/holidays except when she’s been ill, and even that is a battle. We aren’t actually that bothered if he makes a financial contribution to his daughter’s life at this stage. But we really need to have something sorted where he has his daughter under agreed conditions and with as little contact with my wife and I as is humanly possible.

We are pretty much ignorant of family law but we were literally shocked that he could keep her overnight and there not be any consequences for such cruel and worrying actions, and of course he now thinks he can do this whenever he feels like it. Is he right and our solicitor is just too polite/scared of the father to tell us the way it is? We have yet to hear our solicitor’s advice on these latest events but we expect him to pander to the father and send us the bill. If we are getting good legal advice I am happy to be told that I am wrong in my doubts, If we’re getting bad advice can you help us to sort this situation out properly?

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When no Order exists, if the father has PR then he is not committing any criminal act by keeping his daughter overnight. There is little the police can do to intervene.

Nowadays the family courts make Child Arrangement Orders which include conditions and restrictions including a Penal Notice which would make it an imprisonable offence to breach the Order (Contempt of Court). If such an Order is made the police can intervene, return the child and keep the other parent in custody.

It would depend on how the Residence Order has been drafted on whether or not the Police can intervene. It may be that the Grandparents need to return to Court to have the Order amended.

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