LEGAL EAGLE: My abusive husband says he won’t be returning our daughter to me

My husband and I have been separated now for the last two months but prior to this we had a very turbulent relationship.

"He sent me an email to say he would not be returning her because she is not safe in my care."
"He sent me an email to say he would not be returning her because she is not safe in my care."

He has been physically abusive towards me on a number of occasions prior to our breakup. Out of desperation, near the end of the relationship I went to seek help from an organisation that works with women who have experienced domestic abuse. Since the breakup I have allowed him to have contact with our daughter because I did not want her to grow up without a father like I did.

He came to collect her yesterday as normal then sent me an email to say he would not be returning her because she is not safe in my care. What can I do?

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You will need to act quickly in order to get your daughter back into your care and prevent her from being removed in future, you should seek legal advice immediately. There are a number of steps you can take.

Specific Issue Order – This asks the court to make an order on a particular matter. You can ask for the urgent return of your daughter to your care via this.

If granted and your husband fails to return your daughter to your care, then this would be a breach.

This could lead to his arrest and he could face criminal charges punishable by up to five years in prison.

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If you think that there is a risk that he will try to stop you from making the application then it is possible to issue the application without him knowing. If successful, he would need to urgently return your daughter to your care.

Prohibited Steps Order - This acts as a way of preventing your husband from removing your daughter from your care in future.

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If you do not object to him having contact then the order could be amended to show he cannot remove her from your care save for when he is having contact with her.

Child Arrangements Order - As it stands, your husband has every right as the father of your daughter to have contact with her.

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This order provides who your daughter will live with, how, and when, she will spend time with the other parent.

Usually you would need to take part in mediation before you can apply to court for this order but you have mentioned some behaviours which suggest that you are the victim of domestic abuse.

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This order would also be helpful in helping you and your husband agree future arrangements for your daughter.