1st Court Hearing
23 September 2020 at 12:01 pm #44198
I would appreciate any advice from those that have been through the courts as I am unsure as to what will happen at this 1st hearing and how the situation will be judged.
In a nutshell, I split with my ex partner approximately 16 months ago. It was a very bad split (effectively she was out meeting others). We have 3 children now aged 6, 10 and 15.
At the very outset my eldest had arguments with his mum over what had happened and chose to live with me. Approximately 9 weeks ago my daughter refused to go back to her mums and has been with me since, prior to this and since the split I effectively had custody of the 2 youngest almost 50/50. My ex in response to my daughter not returning has withheld my youngest child (son) who I have now only seen twice in 9 weeks.
During this 9 weeks she has also proceeded to try and change my youngest school (which his sister also attends) without consultation with me or his current school. Therefore in summary I am contesting the school change (I have the support of the current head teacher) and applying officially for 50/50. My ex currently states that I can only facetime my son.
I guess my question is, at this first hearing am I likely to be awarded interim access to my son (I miss him, he wants to come here and his brother and sister miss him and it is causing them emotional damage) whilst this goes forward and secondly is the court likely to postpone any school change until this whole matter is considered appropriately. I have no doubt that my ex is trying to change school to skew the end result of custody, it would however impact on my sons relationship with me and his siblings and would distance him from us.
So much more I could add but i’ll stop there.23 September 2020 at 6:02 pm #44203
If everything is as you say above I’d guess with the 1st hearing that contact between yourself and the sibling group will be reinstated provided there is no safe guarding issues. It might not be 50/50 immediately though, it maybe a period of brief regular contact and you’ll need to agree on how transfers take place. It depends whether overnights are immediately agreed as to whether you could transfer via school ie. mum drops off as you collect then return the next day. With regards to the 2 older children living with you, I can not imagine that the court will change where they’re staying without a section 7 report. This will likely be lengthy and Cafcass will perform this. The older 2 children’s opinions will be taken into consideration. The courts do not like separating sibling groups and will usually only consider this (as young as 6) where siblings can not live together due risk ie, violence against each other. I would guess that if the older children do wish to reside with you (Even with visiting mum) then you should stand every chance of obtaining at least 50/50 with the youngest sibling. The fact she has withheld contact for 9 weeks for yourself and other siblings will not go down well. If you have genuine concerns with good reason re the school moving situation, you can apply for an emergency prohibited steps order to stop this from happening but it sounds like now you’re already in the system2 October 2020 at 12:04 pm #44519
Thank you for the reply.
As the hearing was only to discuss the school issue the wasn’t sufficient time to look at the custody arrangements and due to this I was given supervised (at her families house) access to my son which is unbelievable given that he had been staying here 50/50 for over a year and his siblings live here currently. I understand however that the court always take the most cautious route and it was purely because they didn’t have the time – but it still hurts – have saw my son and he’s calling out to me and his brother and sister as we have to drive off at the end of the visit – truly heartbreaking.
I am waiting for the first hearing where custody will be discussed and I will be hoping that we either reach agreement on the whole custody issue or if not at least this supervision will be thrown out as it not necessary whatsoever – only due to my ex partner accusing me of alienating the other 2 (I have taken by daughter to her since this and they have seen their grandparents – whilst I have to have supervised and my parents are not able to see my little one) and the lack of time to consider.3 October 2020 at 6:53 am #44526
It’s really positive that you’ve managed 2 keys things in your first brief hearing and that was to stop the school transfer and also reinstate sone regular contact with your child. I know it’s supervised, I know it’s not fair however, clearly your child loves you to pieces and it hurts to leave them potentially distressed after contact. I really wouldn’t want to be in the mother’s shoes picking up the pieces after you’ve left. I know this isn’t a game but you have no power to do anything other than what is currently being permitted by your order. If mum doesn’t handle this well then it won’t only be the eldest 2 who decide to live with you. Ultimately, the children will be our judges and they grow so quickly into young people with a voice that they deserve some respect, otherwise we’re at risk of losing them altogether. Hopefully the courts won’t keep you waiting too long14 October 2020 at 8:34 pm #44818
So I now have a FHDRA shortly. I have received the section 2 report back from CaffCass where there is no accusations e.g. domestic abuse and caffcass have stated there are no statutory safeguarding concerns. Background checks clean apart from her losing licence DUI.
My question however is in respect of some of the absolute rubbish spoken by my ex partner. She is still stating that she does not agree with shared custody (although in previous letters from her solicitor and to the 1st court hearing she stated she saw the sense in such an arrangement). Her dialogue is full of holes and untruths about events previously. She is also still stating that she wants contact with my youngest supervised as she is worried I (or the older children) will alienate him – supervised was only put in place in the interim as the 1st court hearing did not have time to review custody.
As mentioned previously 2 of my children live here – the oldest (15) will not even consider living at hers whilst my 9yr was resisting it but seems to accept that she will need to be with mum 50% of the time.
Anybody have any idea on how this may go at the FHDRA – I have a clean background check, 2 children living here yet she seems to be arguing for continued supervision and does not agree to shared custody for all 3 children – I am a little amazed to say the least
She has even said to caffcass that the little one does mention me or his brother and sister – almost like its a positive – I find it quite frankly horrific (even though its not true).
With the above in mind15 October 2020 at 10:14 am #44829
Unless there are serious safeguarding concerns, you will be able to see your children. Parental alienation is based on pseudo-science though she may make this a case with the oldest having no contact. I’m not legally trained, I ave just been a LIP throughout family court. I would suggest you show how you’ve tried to encourage contact between the eldest and mum. For example ‘*child* has a lot of anger towards mum because of the break-up. I think given a bit of time, and perhaps mediation with mum the two can begin to re-build a relationship which I’m keen to help facilitate. If mum books a family therapy session I will ensure *child* attends’. ‘Whilst there’s a lot of hurt between us as parents, I still respect her as our children’s mother, and I think a positive relationship with both of us is what is best for the children. I would never talk badly about her in front of them, in fact I would like us to have better communication – perhaps she could call *children* whilst thy are with me, at an agreed time?’. It also looks good in court if you can see things from the other parents perspective ‘I can see why she has concerns, I would be heartbroken if any of our children did not wish to see me, to be honest I’d probably blame her for that decision to, as it’s such an emotive thing. I can, however, promise that this is not the case here and I’m willing to take what ever steps are necessary to reassure mum that this will not happen’.
You need to show that you are balanced in this, you’ve not gone for full custody, you just want the children to have equal access to both parents15 October 2020 at 10:26 am #44830
IIlya many thanks for your reply.
I guess what worries me is her continuance to talk about supervised access – it is not good for any of us. My son wants to stay down with me and the 2 other children but can’t and I just wonder at the FHDRA if the court will remove this ridiculous restriction given there are no safeguarding concerns or will her continued claim that I am liable to ‘brainwash’ him mean the court will keep supervised access until the final hearing (if we cant agree).
Do you think they will remove this supervision measure?
I don’t think we will agree as she is stating she does not agree with shared care despite all the above and she is not asking for anything specifically herself. How likely is it that the court will order my daughter (and little boy) to live with their mum more than 50/50 given that for 15 months they were effectively 50/50 between us (until recent arguments 11 weeks ago), my daughter I have had to encourage to consider 50/50 as she just seems to prefer it here and my eldest has lived with me since the beginning – I am hoping that given that there are no concerns (aside from this brainwashing theory) that no court will make such a dramatic change.
This is so stressful. I try to put myself in my ex partners shoes and when I do shared custody given the current situation makes perfect sense to me, I just cant fathom it out,15 October 2020 at 11:34 am #44831
The courts are primed to award 50/50 custody, as this is how it should be. They also do not like change things for the children, so if you have proof it was a 50/50 arrangement prior to this they will more likely find in your favour. Unless there are serious concerns about safeguarding they will not continue with supervised visits – have Cafcass done a report yet?
If she’s going with potential alienation you can counter this with a) she’s the one who has denied contact, tried to move schools and insisted contact be supervised and B ) that you are willing to work to alleviate those fears however unfounded they are. I really cannot see she has a leg to stand on, also highlight to the court all the things you did with your son before he was taken away and the things you miss doing together. Maybe strongly hint that parental alienation is coming form her, but it really is an unproven theory and not as powerful in court as we are led to believe.
Do you have a solicitor? Or a McKenzie friend?15 October 2020 at 11:52 am #44832
Effectively for approximately 14 months the arrangement was practically 50/50 (they used to go back on a sunday afternoon but then return to me on the monday after school until thursday at which point it would flip but on her sunday they would spend the day with me but go back to her s0 sunday evenings were always spent at hers – this was disruptive in that they never had a full weekend with either parent and were going back to only come back the next day, taking clothes etc).
It has been almost 3 months now where the 2 eldest have lived with me and the little one with her – I hope they do not think or see that as the status quo as it wasn’t or isn’t.
Yes Cafcass have done a report and there are no statutory safeguarding concerns only her claims that I am brainwashing the children. No police records apart from her DUI ban (now expired very recently). No claims of DV or anything. I am asking for 50/50 but all she is stating is that she doesn’t agree – she has said that has I work she doesnt believe I can be there for them (I have been when she had her crazy year and have always been – I work desk based and job is very flexible – I work from home 3 days a week).
Yes I have a solicitor which is costly but I hope this ends soon.
The removal of supervised access is the big thing for me well obviously custody in general – I just cannot see how a court will a) make such a seismic change as to say my daughter has to live with her mum more than 50/50 or b) if 50/50 is the case with my daughter how they would treat my little boy any different as that would be splitting siblings.15 October 2020 at 12:13 pm #44833
Honestly I think you’ve got a real chance here. I’m surprised they even stuck to supervised for the interim order. Keep highlighting how much you think BOTH of you should be in the children’s lives. This will counter her accusations of alienation, particularly as she is the one who has stopped contact and tried to move schools without your permission.
You’re the one making reasonable proposals, as for working that means nothing. many parents work and look after their children just fine and that’s without home-working. I know it’s easy to say but try to relax, there is nothing in anything you’ve said that would prevent that 50/50 access.
Best of luck!15 October 2020 at 2:21 pm #44836
Thank you llya what you have said is appreciated and makes me a little more confident.20 October 2020 at 11:30 pm #44955
Your eldest is 15? If nearing 16 the court may not even consider him.
This happened to me. My eldest was approaching 16 and the judge disregarded him in the proceedings.
I’m probably speaking out of turn, but your ex seems to be acting unreasonably, which any judge will be able to see that she isn’t really acting in your children’s best interests.
Good luck with everything and take care21 October 2020 at 10:32 am #44970
Thank you Schubert.
It has been a terrible time and as parents we have both failed in keeping a lot of the argument away from the children. I recognise this but the ex has gone down the path of forgetting anything and everything that her and her family have said and decided to just accuse me of alienation which is far from the truth.
I have a strong feeling that she is intent on trying to achieve more than 50% custody for the little one irrespective of what the situation is with the 2 other children. I do not want this at all as why should the little one not see his father, brother and sister equally – it would be splitting them and they are/were so close.
If we dont reach agreement at the FHDRA then my position statement is to ask for a cafcass report as to where the children wish to live have contact etc. I only worry about the little one, he is young and has been with his mum for a few months – what if he says what he has been told to say or says what he thinks he should say to not upset his mum – I worry it could end up with the siblings split up to a degree.
Also I am asking for the dismissal of this supervision as there is absolutely no reason for it – cafcass have said there is no statutory safeguarding issues but obviously within the report they have stated what the ex has said in terms of alienation and her worry about emotional wellbeing – given everything surely her view/anxiety isnt enough to keep supervision in place – she could say that forever – in fact I could say the same thing – it is just her word.
I am glad it would seem it worked out for you as well.
Stressful times.30 November 2020 at 4:57 pm #46426
So I have my FHDRA soon. A question, it is before lay magistrates (as opposed to a judge which I had at the earlier court hearing) – can they amend the existing court order? Since the initial hearing I have taken my children to see their mum, allowed mum to pick them up etc. They have seen maternal grandparents also. I have genuinely encouraged the children to see her. I have seen my little supervised as directed without any issues (aside from him crying first time to come with me and his siblings and he repeatedly asks when he can stay down).
Mum has let him come in the house several times unsupervised (only for like 15 minutes when she has dropped the other children off or taken them out in the car for a drive). I see him unsupervised at the school bus etc. The CaffCass report stated no safe guarding concerns so to be honest I will be devastated and amazed if she is still allowed or to be calling for supervision at the FHDRA – there is absolutely no reason for it (aside from her accusations of alienation), surely this will not be allowed to continue right?
It is affecting all the children, the 2 that stay with me are finding it difficult having to go up grandparents house to see their brother, they have homework and things to do and just want to see him normally. I am having to cook their food late etc – it is ridiculous.
Now we have xmas upon us – this year it is mums turn to have them xmas eve etc. as I had them last year and I am trying to be fair. However she doesn’t think its a good idea (kids scarcely know her partner and/or are upset at thought of waking up xmas morning with a different man). I can understand this is awkward to a degree but she has already stated her intention to keep the little one – I cannot do anything about this as it is her turn (and her days according to the initial agreement we had for 16 months) but this will mean the siblings being split on xmas day of all days – this has already depressed my eldest. I just find it crazy how mum would rather the 2 elder children be with me (me – the person supposed to be alienating them) – it makes no sense and totally contradicts her argument. I have no issue with them being here I was just trying to be fair but obviously feel sad for my little one and the other 2.
Also mum has given me the impression that school is now no an issue as he is doing well – this is good news but wait a minute, 3 months ago she was intent on changing his school without telling me or speaking to the school, now suddenly its ok, this is what I mean about stability.
I am still heading to the FHDRA still asking for 50/50 – do you guys think I still have a good chance? And will this supervised access been removed?
The 2 other children are still living with me and the younger of the 2 still seems intent on not wanting to spend half the time with mum despite me trying to encourage – I cant bear the thought of the 3 children potentially being split (in custody terms) surely 50/50 makes absolute sense.
So glad when all this ends.30 November 2020 at 5:26 pm #46429
If an ex partner contests what you are asking for unfortunately not a lot happens until final hearing. The lay magistrates will try and get your ex to allow more contact but if she refuses nothing can be done until final hearing. If your other 2 remain living with you it is more likely judge may look at 50-50 shared care or residency with you. I think Cafcass may have to do a report to establish your middles ones wishes and feelings as only 10 years old. Its highly likely whatever order a judge makes that youngest and middle one will be kept together and oldest wont be part of proceedings and will be left to decide himself.
Also if your 10 year old doesnt wish to spend half time with mum they may as long as they dont feel anybody has influenced decision order less 10 or 12 nights out of 28 instead. Older they get more they will be listened too in family court depending also on their understanding of whats going on .