Mother fights for custody in online dating nightmare

The eight-page, 60-section Common Assessment Framework (CAF) asks invasive questions: how a child feels about its developing body; whether parents encourage cultural diversity; and if they work too hard to play with children.

A brilliant postgraduate recently asked me to attend a final care hearing in Britain’s notoriously secret Family Courts.She feared that social services were about to wrongly remove her children permanently from her care, and wanted a journalist to bear witness.But new child protection procedures – over-cautious, inflexible and based on tick lists – mean that parents needing practical help increasingly find their children wrongly classified as “at risk” rather than “in need”.Adult and children’s social services have been separated, there is almost no budget for the former and no longer a holistic approach to families: a parent in need is often treated as a threat.A teacher said that Charlotte’s queries about the quality of her daughter’s school meals meant that she did not cook enough at home. Extra stressed this week: problems at university – timetable errors.” Neither she nor the police saw any need for child protection, and a social worker confirmed: “Charlotte shows warmth and affection...

she also has a good relationship with her health visitor and has acted on all advice given.” Charlotte’s father’s died that Christmas.Charlotte, as I shall call her, was a former RAF cadet, law graduate and legal practitioner.After the court decreed that she should never see her children again, she said: “My children were deeply loved and privileged, and everything I lived for.Her ex-partner provided no support so she bought a wrecked house cheaply at auction. Labour, in its dying days, used panic about child abuse to introduce continual monitoring of families.Her nanny proved unsuitable, so she spent hours driving between school, nursery and child-minder. When a tutor postponed classes to the evening, after the nursery closed, she accused him of sexual discrimination. All state employees in contact with children are now expected continually to note and electronically pool their observations.On October 16 2009 she blurted out to her GP that sometimes she thought of suicide and taking her children with her, rather than leave them motherless. My pain was acute, but I would never harm myself or my children.