Another Lincolnshire Highlights news story…
A father has spoken out about his heartache after being denied access to his son by his ex-partner and says the experience has left him ‘in mourning’.
David, whose name we have changed to protect his identity, originally, separated from his partner and the mother of his nine year old son after he claims she had an affair.
“My ex made it very clear that she didn’t want me having anything to do with my son once she had a new partner,” said the 35-year-old who is originally from Boston.
“Initially I was still able to see my son regularly, but one day my ex just stopped all contact.
“I continued trying to text her and my son asking when I might be able to see him. After a while of no response I received a letter through the post from her solicitor warning me that she would be looking to get a court order for harassment taken against me.”
David is just one of many parents across the UK affected by parental alienation.
According to The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, parental alienation occurs in 11 per cent to 15 per cent of cases.
These cases involve the children of the separating parents being turned against the non-resident parent.
“I just couldn’t understand why she wasn’t allowing me to see my son. In the letter it advised that although the solicitors have advised her to seek a court order, that she hoped to work things out,” said David.
“We ended up going to mediation. The first time it was arranged she didn’t turn up. The second time we came together we made an arrangement that I would be able to see my son twice a week and that it would be supervised by her 80 year old nan.
“I thought this was odd but I just agreed because I wanted to see my son.
“This went on for a little while, but eventually she told her solicitor that it was too much for her to travel with our son to meet me and she cut contact.”
Terms agreed in mediation are not legally binding, meaning either party is not legally obliged to uphold the terms of agreed.
“Because she has cut all contact with me, I have no way of being able to see my son. Another worry for me is that if I continue to contact her, she could hit me with a non-molestation order for harassment,” said David.
According to the charity Families Needs Fathers, the number of non-molestation orders – issued by courts to prevent domestic abuse – has sky-rocketed by 37 per cent since the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act came into effect on April, 1, 2013, withdrawing all legal aid except in cases of abuse.
Critics say that the increase can be attributed to individuals using the non-molestation orders to obtain legal aid funding.
If David wishes to take his ex-partner to court, he must pay out almost £30,000 for legal representation or choose to represent himself.
“I’m in a number of social media groups with parents who are dealing with parental alienation. It is mainly fathers to be fair. All of us are essentially having to train ourselves up to become solicitors so we can accurately represent ourselves in court to be able to fight to see our kids,” said David.
“Only the non-resident parent can take the case to court, so until I’m able to do that I’m completely stuck.”
David, who also has two children from a previous marriage, says that he has hit rock bottom since he has been unable to see his son.
“It has got me to the point where I have had to try and force myself to sleep so I’m not having to suffer. An old term is this ‘sleep more suffer less,'” said David.
“I still send them birthday cards and Christmas cards every year, although I’m not sure if they receive them because I never hear anything back. I just want them to know that I haven’t given up on them.
“I actually make photocopies of all the cards just in case their mum is hiding them from my children. So I can prove that if they do ever find me, I can show them that I still tried.”
David now faces the prospect of representing himself in court and a long battle to try and see his son.
“I’ll admit I got to the point where I sat with a bottle of bleach ready to drink it,” he said.
“There does come a point when you just have to learn to forget them because otherwise you’d drive yourself crazy.
“I know there are thousands of parents out there, just like me, who have been alienated and isolated from seeing their kids by the other parent and are now having to fight by themselves to get their kids back.
“I’ll continue fighting because I have no other choice. My son is my world.”