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TOPIC: alcohol testing / court advice

alcohol testing / court advice 2 months 2 weeks ago #97290

Hi again,

So I have a child arrangements order (Im Dad), son lives with me and Mum is ordered not to consume alcohol 24 hours before or during contact with son. since July (when authorities ceased being involved) son has repeatedly returned and said Mum is getting drunk. Mum is leaving him in her flat while venturing downstairs to 'buy something' (not know as hidden from him).
At the beginning of January I wrote to the Judge who requested that all further correspondence be sent to him relating to this case. i have today received a response stating that he will not enter in to correspondence from either party and that if I want to vary the current order then I would need to apply to the court to do that.
Contact has been suspended since 6th January following advice from Children's services on what we had said and that this was acknowledged as causing harm to son especially considering the complexity of the case to date.
What I am asking is:
Is it vital that I reapply to the court?
Can I buy a testing kit and initiate this myself with the Mum? Currently Mum hasn't got the funds to enforce the child arrangements order but the longer contact is suspended the harder it will be for my son. If I suggested to Mum that she be tested before contact takes place and she refuses but returns to court to enforce at a later date would this not be contradictory in itself that she is trying to see son but not willing to undergo testing?
I dont want it to seem like Im trying to control Mum but son is extremely distressed, he associates her drinking with the past trauma and this is a trigger point for him. I want to ensure that contact continues to take place, safely and in the best interests of my son. I would also like to be able to reassure him that Mum isn't drinking.
Now, Mum usually drinks on a Saturday evening, we collect on a Sunday evening so even if she is tested at the end of contact it will still show as a negative right? So what options are there for testing to be done precisely and know once and for all that she has stopped drinking?
I am not sure about hair strand testing because she does dye her hair and from my assumption it does not give time frames at all. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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alcohol testing / court advice 2 months 2 weeks ago #97296

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To be honest, and this is just my opinion, I don’t think it’s vital for you to make the next move in respect of a return to court.

If she has an alcohol problem, it’s likely that she will top up during the daytime.

I think you could write to her and explain that you want your son to have a relationship with her but due to her drinking this is made extremely difficult. Suggest that if she were to agree to testing at the start and end of contact, this would provide the reassurance that is needed. Explain that if she won’t agree, that contact will remain suspended.

The only other alternative is to use a contact centre and reduce her contact time to a couple of hours a week, supervised, where alcohol testing would form part of the contact going ahead. If she can test negative over a period of three months, then contact can move into the community once again.

I think there are two methods of testing that are instant, a breath test, or a saliva test, a urine test can easily be cheated.

It’s worth looking into further, gathering more information and then making your proposal to her.

Best of luck

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alcohol testing / court advice 2 months 2 weeks ago #97298

Mojo, your an absolute star with this and have always been there when I have asked for advice. Thank you.

That makes sense and I'm thinking that returning to court would be last resort at which presently she would need to enforce the order but if we propose testing and she returns and then we state that she refused testing then thats not going to look very good is it.

With regards to a contact centre, I was under the assumption that this could only be organised through CAFCASS or CS. Is this something that I could organise without those agencies being involved?

Also, our main problem is that we could test her on the Friday when son is collected and she would be 'clean', she drinks Friday night and Saturday night and so when testing is done on a Sunday it would appear that she hasn't drunk. The biggest problem in all of this is that son is distressed that the drinking signifies underlying problems. He thinks that when she drinks she is going to 'cut herself, take sleeping tablets & die' so it is imperative that she gets clean of drink while he is there and we can actually reassure him without her rubbing it in sons face that she can still drink and not be found out because ultimately testing would be done and the results would be negative of alcohol.

I certainly will look more in to this but would ultimately like to be proactive and concentrate on trying to reestablish the contact with little threat of further harm.

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alcohol testing / court advice 2 months 2 weeks ago #97300

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You’re welcome ... and yes you can self refer to a contact centre. Here’s a link to their website, you may also find others that don’t come under the naccc banner, ask your local Social Services if they have a list of local provision.

www.naccc.org.uk

Give them a call and see what options are available.
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alcohol testing / court advice 2 months 1 week ago #97361

Mojo wrote: You’re welcome ... and yes you can self refer to a contact centre. Here’s a link to their website, you may also find others that don’t come under the naccc banner, ask your local Social Services if they have a list of local provision.

www.naccc.org.uk

Give them a call and see what options are available.


Mojo, I was wondering if I could pick your brains on the above if thats ok?
We would like to persue the alcohol testing but we have some concerns.
The Non Mol was dismissed because nothing had happened between October & now. NACCC have said that they would be unwilling to facilitate because the case is so complex and would only do alcohol testing if ordered by a court.
We really don't feel it necessary to return to court. We have suspended contact following CS advice and so feel that if we promote son's welfare in terms of offering this to Mum it would be good to deal with it outside of court. Secondly, we do not want to pay any more when she has to effectively pay nothing.
Now, this is where is gets complicated. Having considered that a Non Mol has just been dismissed wouldn't it be slightly untoward to request that she be tested before and after contact. currently there is no court order requesting this so we (me & wife) would have to facilitate the testing. Considering the Non Mol application, surely it wouldn't look too great if then we are doing this?
Moreso, how on earth would we go about this? Handovers are currently in a High street because its public and less chance of conflict.
We literally have no idea what to do. I have considered contacting CS for advice but would anticipate that they would suggest returning it to court.
We feel that testing is imperative in assuring son she isn't drinking and even more important that contact can resume. At present, she hasn't seen son since jan 4th, she has made no effort at all to contact us. She hasn't asked to speak with son or anything so son feels like she just doesn't care.

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alcohol testing / court advice 2 months 1 week ago #97374

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It’s a shame that NACCC won’t facilitate.

I think it’s likely that CS would advise a return to court, but perhaps you could contact them anyway, to share your concerns about contact and the difficulties you have in trying to facilitate contact in the future. I feel as long as you are making an effort to look for a solution, you can’t be accused of trying to alienate your child from his mother, if that’s your worry.

I agree with you, currently, with handovers in public, it wouldn’t be appropriate to carry out testing. It’s looking like your options are extremely limited.

As said before, I would be loathe to advise you to initiate court proceedings, the ball is firmly in her court in that regard.

If she hasn’t bothered to make contact in over a month, I would question why you should be so intent on an active solution. Whilst I understand that your son should have a relationship with both parents, sometimes it just isn’t possible.

At this point, suspension of contact was for a very good reason, to protect your son from harm, it was decided that it was in his best interests. In my opinion, helping him to come to terms with the situation with his mother, is the lesser of those two evils... but it is just my opinion.

If she isn’t actively pursuing reinstatement of contact, that is likely to mean that she isn’t in the right place to do that... I think the solution lies in her own hands.

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alcohol testing / court advice 2 months 1 week ago #97382

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I have a different view - I think you should take the matter back to court asap. I have been involved in a few similar cases that have returned to court further down the line and at each one the judge has been extremely cross that the resident parent has not taken the matter back earlier.

You could offer a contact centre as an interim measure but any variation to the order should be a decision between the court and Cafcass/Children's Services.

Given the safeguarding element, you might find the judge would be willing to list an urgent hearing.
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alcohol testing / court advice 2 months 1 week ago #97386

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It’s not often Yoda and I have a different view!

I can understand your dilemma, and perhaps I’m swayed by the fact that your experiences in court haven’t always gone well for you... it’s been difficult to get the courts to understand the gravity of your child’s situation... alcoholics are skilled at hiding the truth.

The middle road would be to make the offer of supervised contact in writing, in a controlled environment... but if her addiction is fully active, she won’t make the effort, she will continue to put her own needs above the needs of the child. If that happens, then you have the written reports from the CC to back you up, for a return to court to vary the order.

If she steps up and the supervised contact is successful, then at least you know she is trying and you could then try the resumption of contact in the community again, perhaps at that point asking her to offer testing to prove she is able to meet the conditions of the order.

Whatever you decide , it’s not going to be easy and I can fully understand that you must all be feeling drained at the moment.

All the best
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alcohol testing / court advice 2 months 1 week ago #97387

Thank you both for your valued input.
This has been a very long road and currently we are at a loss as to what to do. i can personally see the negative effect this is having on my child but ultimately I can also see that he does miss his mum and by not seeing her will cause catastrophic changes within his life if it continues for much longer. That said, I have to put his safety and well being first and have closely followed the advice given by Children's services to protect him.
The problem I am having is that a contact centre will not help because of the complexity of the case so that option is out.
I am unaware of how else I would be able to provide supervised contact and mores, in a controlled environment without the intervention from the court.
Generally speaking, returning or even going to court was as a result of parents not agreeing. This time, contact has completely broken down since October 2018. She doesn't respond to letters, telephone calls and I fully suspect that any correspondence from me would result in her applying for a NMO as she would say I am 'harassing' her.
This is all very messed up.
I firmly believe that she is a functioning alcoholic. However, she has walked out of her full time job recently and cited in court last week that this was due to 'stress' that we had put her through. in my view, any workplace would cater for said stress and encourage and support that employee on returning to work.
Our biggest problem is that she said and does what is expected of her while any authority are involved. It is when they are no longer involved which is the problem and this is how it has always been, sadly.
My main concern is getting contact reinstated somehow but I just don't know what to do for the best and I certainly don't want to get in to trouble for doing the wrong thing.

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alcohol testing / court advice 2 months 1 week ago #97389

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Sorry, I thought it was the testing part of the supervised contact that the CC wouldn’t agree to.

It’s so difficult for you, it seems to me that you’re at an impasse and the only way to try and move on is to ask the court to assist, by varying the order to include supervised contact in a contact centre.

Have CS had any contact with her? Could you ask them to liaise with her, to ask her for suggestions on how contact might resume safely.

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alcohol testing / court advice 2 months 1 week ago #97390

I could do Mojo but I know what her answer will be.
“They have stopped me from seeing my son and accused me of drinking when he is with me but I’d never do anything of the sort, my son is lying” was the statement she gave in court last week.

She is quite happy to blame my son for lying despite CS and Cafcass uncovering her dishonesty and medical history of alcohol abuse.
She would literally do anything to not face repercussions of her actions.
Then when it gets dismissed in court she goes back to her normality of her drinking and rubbing it in my sons face. It’s sadly a very vicious circle.
We have a paediatric assessment next week and support from healthy minds at the end of Feb. I am hoping that their assessments will be valuable in advising the court of someone’s views outside of me and his stepmum.

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alcohol testing / court advice 2 months 1 week ago #97393

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I think it’s wise to wait for the assessment and then decide what to do. It’s such a sad situation for your little one. Best of luck

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