DEAR MRS MACAULAY,
I have been having an issue for the past four years and I just can't take it anymore. I have an 11 year old son. We live in close proximity to his father and his father's family. I am married and have a child for my husband. My son's family keeps telling him not to have any respect for my husband and his behaviour has gotten from bad to worse. They don't want him to live with them, but they are making it unbearable for me to live with his behaviour. They tell him that they will take him soon, but when I got the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) involved they told the officer that they couldn't keep him. They want to interfere, yet they don't care about his well-being. I am tired of this situation and I feel hopeless. I can't discipline him because he leaves for their home and gets refuge. So now at 11 years old I can't talk to him, I can't tell him to do anything, and if he leaves the yard and I call, they lie and say they don't know where he is. At this point I just want an end to the situation and to hand the child over to them. Can I get some advice please on what route to take?
The conduct of your son's relatives is so cruel, as they must have convinced the child that they love and care for him, yet their conduct demonstrates the opposite, as they are not in any way acting in his best interests, and are hampering his wholesome development.
I can sense your upset and frustration and despair about the situation. I am surprised that the CPFSA does not seem to have tried to assist you and your son in any way. It is clear that your son and his development and future have been and will continue to be jeopardised if the current situation is allowed to continue. It is a very serious matter as I am certain that it is and shall take a toll on your marriage and poison your home life and so also affect your child with your husband. You clearly must act, and act quickly.
Your son will need regular therapy to erase the bad influences he has already absorbed from his biological father and his family. So you may consider starting with counselling, but I suspect that your son may refuse to go to any such sessions and you may need a court order to have him participate, with a mandatory injunction directed to his biological father and each and every member of his family, that they are not to admit the child to their home, and that they must stay away from the child and have no contact with him except for supervised access as ordered with his father. You did not say whether his biological father is contributing to his maintenance.
I would suggest that you try the following: (1) That you first go to the Children's Registry created in the Child Care and Protection Act on the basis that your child is in need of care and protection pursuant to section 5 (1) and section 6(2)(b) and explain the impossible position you have been placed in and the adverse effect his biological paternal family have had on him, so that you cannot in any way control his conduct or movements and there are adverse effects on each member of your family and your home life. Tell them everything so they can understand how 'beyond'control' he has been for the last four years, and is getting worse. There is full confidentiality. You must do this and as quickly as you can. I suggest that you consider recording some of your son's utterances and behaviour.
(2)You can go to the Family Court and speak with the senior clerk of the court and explain what is happening in your home life as a result of your son's bad behaviour, which was caused and is getting worse as a result of what his father and his family are telling him and have made him believe, so that his conduct is beyond control. If the biological father is not contributing to his maintenance then you must state this and that he and his family should be the ones to pay for the cost of your son's therapy or counselling sessions, since he and his family are responsible for his bad and disrespectful behaviour. Ask for orders for the necessary injunctions and for such orders to protect the child from their influence and for you to have sole custody of the child and the father to have only supervised access away from his home and the rest of the family.
You may also consider going straight to the Supreme Court, which is the 'Superior parent' of every child in Jamaica and which has inherent powers to make orders which the presiding judge deems necessary to make the fractured situation whole. It can also make the protective orders for not only your son's welfare and in his best interests, but also make orders to protect you, your husband and your other child from any push-backs from his biological father and family, so that your lives and home life can be saved and protected.
You can go to the Children's Registry on your own, and certainly with your husband and any other person who can support your complaint. For court action you need to retain a lawyer, to whom you would relate your son's and your's and you other family members' lives in full detail and who can prepare the necessary applications for you all in proper form and contents, invoking the inherent jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, so your son can have a chance at a proper upbringing, or place a truly difficult choice on you to get him out of your home and into an institution.
So please act now as quickly as you can. Go to the Children's Registry and they may render to you the legal assistance you need to solve your very serious situation. If not, then get your lawyer and go to the court for the orders you need, to change the existing circumstances for your son.
Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to email@example.com; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.