End the presumption of contact with both parents in domestic abuse cases

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Jenny suffers with bipolar disorder. She was vulnerable due to being on medication and side effects not agreeing with her, making her sleep for sometimes entire days at a time and causing her to suffer with memory loss. She soon found herself in an abusive relationship with Ray, a controlling man who was obsessed with her. Ray slowly took control of every aspect of Jenny's life, eventually deliberately impregnating her against her will by interfering with contraception, knowing that they would always be connected if she had a child by him.

Soon after Jenny fell pregnant, Ray's abuse began to worsen. After a stress induced miscarriage scare in early pregnancy, Jenny broke off her relationship with Ray. Ray would not accept the end of the relationship and began following and harassing Jenny. He used his 'desire' to be involved in the pregnancy as an excuse to be around Jenny and track her every move. He made Jenny's pregnancy hell and she was admitted to hospital twice more with suspected miscarriage due to stress. Ray's abuse became so bad that one time Jenny even had to get out of his car whilst stopped at traffic lights, in order to get away from him. 

When Jenny was 29 weeks pregnant, Ray assaulted her because he believed that she was seeing another man. Following this, Jenny broke off all contact with Ray and reported him to the police, but he could not be charged due to lack of evidence. Jenny had to endure hours of social services involvement following her assault and had to prove that she would be able to care for her unborn baby. Ray and his family were never investigated by social services in spite of Jenny's questioning this and raising several concerns with regards to their character.

When their son was born Jenny, allowed Ray to have contact with him, supervised by her mother, until it became clear that Ray had no interest in the child and was attempting to cause problems with her family. Jenny stopped the contact after Ray had falsely told her mother that she had reported him to the police for paedophilia. Ray then brought a case to the family court for contact with their son.

In spite of Ray's character and the fact that Jenny had an active non-molestation order against him, Ray was granted alternate weekend contact with the child, completely unsupervised. Ray now has a new partner who he abuses and controls in front of the child. He deliberately defies any of Jenny's rules regarding the child and makes every effort to counter parent her, even throwing away the breast milk that Jenny had expressed for the child and giving him formula milk that gave him an upset stomach.

Jenny knows that Ray does not care for their son when he goes to visit, everything is done by his mentally unstable mother. The child comes home with stories of nanny 'talking and arguing with herself'. He came home with nappy rash and in dirty clothes every time he stayed with Ray and his grandmother, and has been taught swear words by them. He exhibits behavioural issues for a couple of days after returning from their care including throwing things, shouting and swearing. Ray tells his son 'you don't love mummy' 'mummy is horrible' 'mummy is ugly and fat'. He tries to guilt his son into going to live with him.

In spite of efforts to get the order overturned and reports to social services, Jenny still has to send her son to his father's house every other weekend. She just wants to be free from her abuser but he continues to use their son to control her, stopping her from moving home or taking up job opportunities due to the court order. Jenny may no longer be in a relationship with Ray, but she can never be free of her abuser whilst he has contact with their son. 

This petition hopes to end the presumption of contact with both parents in cases such as Jenny's, where the father has abused the pregnant mother and bypassed several opportunities to prove himself an adequate father before the child was born. We believe that in such cases, the child's right to contact with both parents should be trumped by their right to safety and a loving family environment, at least until the child is Gillick competent and can make an informed decision for themselves.



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