Andy’s Story: Getting custody of his unborn baby
Andy was delighted when his partner Siobhan told him she was pregnant. Andy was only in his 20s, but he had always wanted a child. Andy and Siobhan had only been together for a short while, but this was exactly the news he wanted to hear. Unfortunately for Andy he didn’t know Siobhan had a secret. Siobhan had another baby, but it was taken into care. A few years ago, Siobhan had been in an abusive relationship. The abuse got so bad that Social Services got involved and took away her son. Siobhan was devastated but got on with her life. She never told Andy.
Social Services try to take the baby
The first time Andy heard about Siobhan’s past was a month before the baby was due. Andy had been working hard to get everything for the baby when he received a letter from the Local Authority. It said as Siobhan had already had one child taken away, they wanted custody of Siobhan and Andy’s baby. Andy was furious. He didn’t understand what was going on. He was so happy to be having a baby and now he found out that he could lose it before it was even born. And all for something his partner had done, not him! Andy thought this wasn’t right. He wanted to be a dad and wasn’t going to let the Local Authority take his kid away for someone else’s mistakes. That’s when he called HRS Family Law Solicitors.
When Andy first arrived at HRS he was shaking. He was confused, angry, scared and really upset. He’d never been involved with social services before and never been in trouble. Now social services wanted to take his baby away before he’d even had a chance to say hello. Andy couldn’t understand why Siobhan lied to him or what he needed to do next. We helped calm Andy down with a cup of tea and introduced him to his very own specialist family lawyer. Andy’s Lawyer helped Andy understand what was happening and what was going to happen next. She explained how there would be a special hearing shortly after the birth and this would be the first chance for Andy to state his case. If Andy didn’t win custody, then there would be other chances in the future. But if Andy wanted a chance, he would need to show he was going to be a good parent.
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Applying for Legal Aid & Getting Ready for the Case
As this was a care case Andy’s lawyer filled out legal aid forms for Andy so he wouldn’t have to spend a penny on legal fees. Then we got to work helping Andy prepare for the case. We asked Andy to reflect on all of his behaviours and list out all the things that Social Services might think were negative. Andy admitted that he did drink quite a lot and used cannabis and he wasn’t sure he’d know how to look after a new baby. Our team were determined to help Andy, so we booked him into some alcohol and drug misuse courses and some advanced parenting classes. Andy also reassessed his relationship with Siobhan. He decided after she lied, he couldn’t stay with her.
As the big day approached Andy was so nervous. We called him regularly to make sure he was okay and sticking to his classes. It wasn’t long before the baby was born and sure enough the Local Authority applied for an interim care order right away. This meant an emergency hearing was held two days after the baby was born. We were there for Andy and put up a good argument for him taking custody right away, but Siobhan argued she was the best to look after the baby and the council wanted the baby to go into care.
Proving he’s a good parent
We asked social services what they would like to see before they would consider giving custody to Andy. They said they wanted to see evidence that Andy had made all the changes he said he had. So, we asked for some tests. We asked for parenting assessments, family assessments and drug tests for both Andy and Siobhan. Parenting assessments are where social services test the parenting skills of someone. Family Assessments are where they test how suitable the rest of that person’s family are.
The court agreed and over the next few weeks Social Services carried out their tests. Andy passed all of them. The classes he had helped him understand how to be a good parent and he stopped using drugs and drinking a while ago. The tests also found Andy’s family were nice and stable and Andy could rely on them to help out with his kid, especially his mum.
Standing up for his baby in court
At the next hearing Andy had a chance to speak to the court himself and tell them about all the changes he made. He was so nervous that he might say something wrong. So, we coached him and practiced in the office so Andy was feeling ready and confident. At the final hearing we represented Andy. We showed the court all the improvements he had made and how he had passed the parenting assessment, family assessment and drugs tests with flying colours. We introduced the court to Andy’s mum who promised she would always be there to help look after Andy and her Grandchild. At the hearing Siobhan argued she should have custody, but she had failed her tests. At the end of the hearing Andy read out his statement in front of everyone. He told the judge how he always wanted a child and how with HRS’ help he now had the right skills to be a good Dad.
Bringing the baby home
The judge and the Local Authority agreed to let Andy have full custody with Siobhan getting visiting rights every two weeks. Andy was so happy. He worked hard and fought hard and with HRS’ help his daughter was finally going to return home with him.
We are really proud to have helped Andy. It’s inspirational seeing how much someone can turn their lives around with a little help. We helped Andy by:
- Applying for Legal Aid so he wouldn’t have to pay a penny in legal fees.
- Helping him understand the legal process and what he could do to keep his daughter
- Introduced him to training courses that would help him win
- Called him regularly to make sure he was still taking his courses
- Represented him in court
- Made sure he got the tests that would prove he could be a good Dad
- Fought for him in court
- Keeping his daughter in his care
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If you have a story like Andy’s and want some help gaining custody of your baby, just hit the button below and book your FREE appointment today. We can arrange everything for you.
Margaret needed assistance adopting her grandchildren to stop them going into care. She gave us a call to book her first free appointment and came to see a specialist care and adoption lawyer at our Birmingham Central Office.
After a few days of this the police were called and soon after social services paid Michelle a visit. Social Services said that because the abuse was so bad, they would have to take the kids away into care.