First hearing advice
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13 January 2020 at 8:20 pm #35470
Hi all, first time posting on this, hoping for a little help.
My ex and I have been separated for almost 4 years, during which she has been in a new relationship the whole time. During this period we had a verbal agreement that visitation was every other weekend stay over visits and a day during the week every week. I started a new relationship almost 2 years ago which is when my visitation with my son was terminated by his mother.
So far over the last 20 months, I have hardly seen my son, and even then it’s only been from me applying to a local contact centre and having one successful session. This fell through due to non attendance from his other parent. Mediation failed when they didn’t attend that either. I have been left with no other choice than to go to family court.
I have taken every sensible option to avoid any form of confrontation however I’m aware court may send the wrong message. I am planning to head into the first hearing without any form of legal representation to show that I am not there for a lengthy, expensive custody battle; I’m there to restart my relationship with my son.
Can anyone on here please help, not sure if this is a gullible approach like a lamb to the slaughter? Would it be better to take legal protection and hope that I don’t need it? So far I’ve tried to keep it out of court as I haven’t saved up for this and court has a habit of getting expensive, based on what I’ve read.13 January 2020 at 8:50 pm #35472
Rob in LeedsParticipant
Sorry to read this, what an awful situation.
Was your mediation appointment via Cafcass? I’m not an expert in this area but I believe you need to have had an appointment with Cafcass first before you can go down the court order route.
If you’ve had no legal advice then I would suggest that perhaps you should get some. Don’t be afraid of it, it should have no negative impact on your case.
You don’t have to “instruct” a lawyer, you can simply make an appointment to get advice. Some firms give you a free 30 minute first consultation, and then you pay an hourly rate as and when you may need further advice. If you “instruct” a lawyer then that is when it can get very expensive very quickly – especially if your ex doesn’t do the same.
Do you have a mortgage and if so does it come with legal cover? If you do, and it does then call the legal helpline number on your mortgage documentation as you may find that they will cover you for this. Sounds a little odd but but worth checking – I had an employment issue years ago and the legal cover of my mortgage at the time covered me through that!
Good luck and I truly hope you get something formalised so you can spend that precious time with your son.13 January 2020 at 9:12 pm #35474
How old is your son?
You definitely need to seek legal advice and make sure you get yourself a solicitor.
Is your name on your son’s birth certificate? If it is then you have parental responsibility to see your son.
The best way to regain your contact with your son is to go to court and get an order in place. Otherwise go to mediation first to arrange contact. I find mediation is a waste of time.13 January 2020 at 9:54 pm #35476
Your not going to be like a lamb to the slaughter in representing yourself, it’s the smart way to do it. You have tried everything you can think of and left with only this choice – to go to court. I have done it countless times and in my experience it isn’t that difficult. I think going to court will not be sending the wrong message, quite the opposite. It will be saying you are willing to go to these lengths to have a relationship with your child.
Have you got the court forms you need yet?14 January 2020 at 7:20 am #35491
Thank you for the responses. To answer all of the questions above:
Yes, they were a CAFCASS registered mediation and I have already the court forms.
I have spoken to a Mckenzie friend who helped me fill in the C100 and I have spoken to a family solicitor using a free 30 minute session but his approach was quite aggressive.
my son is 5 years old and I am named on the birth certificate. I will have a copy in the post any day now so I can have parental responsibility through his school.
my biggest fear was that I walk into court alone, with no legal counsel, and she is stood there with a solicitor and I get torn apart. Might have seen too many films, not sure how family court works.14 January 2020 at 9:36 am #35496
In my experience family courts work in the best interest of the child always. These people tend to have a common sense approach to making judgements in favour of the child. I have come up against solicitors in family court tons of times when it’s just been me with no legal training and I have been successful each time simply because I was there in the best interest of my child every time. Solicitors are not allowed to use legal jargon to to confuse you or try get the upper hand because of their training and if they do that speak directly to the judge explaining you are not legally trained and could the solicitor explain in normal terms just what they are saying. It wouldn’t go well for the sol. If you are unsure about court use the McKenzie Friend to speak on your behalf?
Before parties go into court they try and get things sorted before seeing the judge. When this happens do not believe for one min that you have to agree with what they propose. View it as your ex talking to you, would you agree with things she proposed if it was not in the best interest of your child and yourself. It is just the sol being the mouthpiece of your ex, they really are of very little importance. the important one is the judge.14 January 2020 at 10:19 pm #35574
Yes, that’s right in that sense, the important one is the ‘judge’.
And the law of the land needs to be respected.
I’m not sure why you would be viewing yourself as ‘a lamb to the slaughter’.
If you are a responsible parent, there is really no reason to think that way.
Read up on the Children’s Act.
not reason to fear anything from a judge if you respect the law. Which includes the Equality and Diversity Act 2010 , respecting of course people with disabilities and peoples with regard to gender, sexuality, diversity and religious orientation.
Good luck with that one.
jj15 January 2020 at 8:01 am #35577
I’ve been through the children’s access hearings and if I can help, please feel free to pm me15 January 2020 at 9:51 am #35578
Ive been through the court process and I’m still enduring it. I have a solicitor but many hearings I choose to represent myself in the court room. I have taken her (the solicitor) along before a few times though it’s expensive and I don’t think the outcome would have been different had I not. She’s great for me to check in with and make sure I’m on the right track prior to hearing though. She gives me things to consider, like a different angle on the situation. I think in the main, the judges starting position will be your ex partner proving why 50% contact would not be in your child’s interests. I think you should chat with a solicitor about your situation though then represent yourself taking any evidence with you such as failed attempts of reconnecting