Any advice for FDH
5 February 2021 at 4:42 pm #49127
Hey, I have a first direction hearing in a couple of weeks. I wondered what to expect.
Long back story.
My kids dad and I split 8 years ago. It was fractious, we were together for 3 years and had 2 kids. Bonkers, but my kids are amazing. I left him as he became increasingly antagonistic and more and more ‘pushy’ during arguments, and waking me up at night because he was cross. The final straw came when he poured a pint of water over me and told me I deserved it for annoying him.
Skip to 2018 and my ex has a 3 year old son with his new partner.
So, the crux is, ex has assaulted his new partner several times in front of the kids. I spoke to the school about the first incident 2 years ago, they have kept an eye on the kids to make sure they are settled.
The children have disclosed experiences to myself and family members, experiences of witnessing fights, being kept up all night with arguing,being forced to learn how to keep safe (eldest takes youngest kids into bedroom, they tuck themselves under the bunk bed). One friend had to remove her daughter from the property during a sleepover because the couple were fighting so loudly, the daughter asked to return home.
This year they went on holiday with their dad and the relationship broke down again, he threatened to take the children away from his partner. My DD heard everything and was terrified and in a foreign country.
My son approached his teacher at school and spoke to them about his dad. This triggered a meeting, which my ex didn’t turn up to. He did however, march into school and make an appointment with the headteacher to explain his side of the story.
We were asked if we would speak to SS, we all agreed. We were all spoken to, the kids were interviewed. The SWorker sign posted ex partner to counseling and his partner to a DV service. Kids said dad’s is scary sometimes and spoke about being worried about leaving their younger brother there.
With all this information and the involvement of SS i I made the difficult decision to change the shared care routine because of the detrimental effect the 50/50 split and arising arguments between ex and partner, were having on the kids. He did not like this. He sent repeated emails and at one point tried to keep the kids overnight against their will. I informed the school about this incident too.
I have received court forms which were sent in by my ex for a return to 50/50 care. The addendum is a fairy story which makes wild claims about things he ‘thinks’ I ‘might’ have done. In the form, some of the statements he makes he claims he has a ‘gut feeling’ it was me. Honestly, that’s written on there.
I have had the safeguarding interview. It was maybe 30 minutes long.
I made it clear to the officer the issue isn’t really about how he treats me (whole other side issue) the problem is the children have witnessed things they shouldn’t and I can’t explain it away as a misunderstanding. She said I’m in a difficult situation because i risk normalising the behaviour – which is exactly why I left him!
During the interview I was informed the ex has an assault charge from 2019 (not sure who) and his partner has told services she is his ex partner. At one point she was getting her own flat. I didn’t know anyone of this, I was told this during the interview. As far as I’m aware, they are still together.
Today, kids went to dad’s as per our personal agreement (every other weekend, half holidays) kids were really nervous, but I think he has a very good reason to be ‘top dad’ so I’m cautious but accepting. I have always been of the mind that he is their dad, despite our stuff, their relationship with him is separate from me.
So I’m sat here, a sweaty anxious mess, wondering what on earth will happen next. At the end of the interview, the officer lightly said “it sounds like he needs to sort out his relationship”. She then explained an outside agency may be in touch to discuss DV allegations.
It so tough. I am trying so hard to advocate for the needs/desires of the children and I have done for years. Even with him initially low level stalking us, turning up at my house on my kid free days to tell me how to spend my time, telling me I have to give him half the benefits, turning up late always, when I started a new Job he would park outside my work, my manager was really unhappy and I had to tell him to stop. Despite all that, I have worked hard to maintain the relationship he has with the kids.
And I read this back and think, wow, do I need to worry? Is a section 7 inevitable? I’m so scared and I feel so exposed. Is there anything I can do. Should I write a position statement? Thing is, I think a position statement might be pointless with all his history. But I really do not know. My hope is, the paper trail is enough for a professional to see his behaviour is at best erratic, at worst cruel.
Thank you for reading. I know it’s a lot.5 February 2021 at 5:22 pm #49133
hi, your ex partner will not get 50/50 shared care. He is lucky actually you want him to have a relationship and contact with children . At the FDH a s7 report is likely to be ordered and another hearing date set. I think there is going to be a fair few reasons why he wont get 50/50 straight away. Reading above what you wrote it seems likely they already have a issue with your ex and new partner and about childen possibly witnessing forms of domestic abuse.
Its likely at First directions hearing that because u want kids to see their dad they will go with every other weekend and half of holidays whilst section 7 report is been done as a interim contact order.
Cafcass depending on childrens ages will highly likely want to speak to children and school to ascertain there wishes and feelings.
From what you wrote i cant see you having anything to worry about at all , but your ex could be in for a rough ride. His best option would be to reach an amicable agreement with yourself and accept your current proposals.5 February 2021 at 10:40 pm #49138
yes you should write a position statement, 2 pages max ideally. are you self-representing or using lawyer? if so they can do all that for you.6 February 2021 at 8:34 am #49140
Warwickshire1 – Thank you. This is what my gut is telling me. I am uncomfortable with his decision to proceed in this way but I am not surprised anymore.
Steve3334 – at this stage, I am representing myself. We were made aware of the case 2 weeks ago so I will attend the First Hearing independently. If we proceed, have to provide evidence, need to give witness statements in court, I will bring in a lawyer. At this stage, I would like to hear how we are instructed to proceed by the judge.
I do feel very anxious about the situation, but I feel that is reasonable given the circumstances.
The first hearing will be over the telephone. I was informed we would be contacted by email to provide information. I have not received the information. Nor has anyone responded to my email to enquire about bringing someone with me. I assume they are busy.6 February 2021 at 10:03 am #49144
Hi, The 1st hearing is really nothing to worry about. Hardly anything happens and is over very quick. A s7 report will be ordered and cafcass will speak to both parents and children and do checks with police and local authorities etc and its likely your next hearing wont be until may at the earliest.
At these hearings they will only allow dad whatever contact you agree and put it in an interim order for now. Most mums offer no contact at these hearings and dads sometimes walk away with nothing at all . With you allowing contact with your child and coming across more than reasonable you are unlikely to need any representation. Its your childs dad that could be in for a hard time although with you being reasonable he should be ok.
Things could be very different if you was totally obstructing contact for dad in that he could spend months not seeings kids . The s7 report normally recommends what contact should take place.
You should just before your hearing receive something from cafcass about whats been said by your ex and what they are suggesting to court should happen in interim.
If you are concerned about your ex partner and his current partner arguing in front of your children especially with police been called is for your ex partner to do an undertaking which is a promise to the court. So if they start fighting or do anything really untoward you could stop contact particularly every other weekends as u would have legitimate reason too. This is also showing to the court that you are not accepting their behaviors in front of your children , but infact just a mum that wants your children to have a relationship with father and promoting it.6 February 2021 at 12:47 pm #49149
there is some good advice on writing position statement here: https://childlawadvice.org.uk/information-pages/writing-a-position-statement/
you should take one to each hearing.8 February 2021 at 1:18 pm #49257
I’m Michelle one of the moderators here in the forum.
The forum is not aimed at providing legal advice. This is because situations are often unique to an individual, and legislation is frequently changed or updated. To avoid any risk, we’d always recommend that you seek professional support with issues such as those that you’re describing. This will ensure that any actions you take and any advice that you’re given will be up to date with current legislation and regulations.
It’s good to see you here posting and I can see that a lot of progress has been made with your situation so far. You can speak with the Gingerbread Single Parent helpline for further guidance and signposting to relevant services and information. Here’s a link to the contact details:
Gingerbread Single Parent Helpline – Freephone 0808 802 0925
Opening hours: Mon 10 – 6, Tues 10- 4, Wed 10 – 1 & 5 – 7, Thurs 10 – 4, Fri 10 – 4 They can be busy so callers can expect to wait up to 20 minutes before the call is answered
You may also find some of the following links helpful:
Civil Legal Advice helpline on 0345 345 4 345 https://www.gov.uk/civil-legal-advice to check to see if you qualify for legal aid and for details of local family law solicitors that provide advice and representation funded by legal aid
Family Law Panel https://thefamilylawpanel.org/categories/1 A free directory service for members of the public to access professional and independent family law information. Solicitors offer an initial free advice session.
Family Rights Group on 0808 801 0366 https://www.frg.org.uk/ They advise around options where decisions have been made by the courts or social workers around their children’s welfare
I hope this helps