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Have I made a terrible mistake?
#1
Hi All,
So the quick background, split up 3 years ago, on and off for a little while but been a year since it was final. Have a daughter nearly 4 and have been raising her with overnights, childminder runs, day to day care. I recently told my control freak ex that I want to increase to 50% shared care. I live in the same road, there are no domestic issues, drugs, alcohol, none of that. I have worked hard on my career recently and earn a lot and pay more child maintenance than I gave her when I lived there. 
Her reaction to the 50% was complete control and the rhetoric immediately swapped to "contact" "sleepovers" and "visitation" she made no attempt to discuss just said she would attend mediation. [But we all know thats because she is going to refuse it]
So I said I would have her over night this last sunday so I could take her to child minders and she flatly refused saying its now disruptive.
So to my possible mistake...... Saturday morning I sat in a solicitors office at £ an hour and was buoyed by his attitude of "she cant do anything about it" He stated its time I stand up to her and I certainly agree, Ive been kow towing to this woman for years. After much discussion about police and kidnapping the decision was made that I would defy my ex and keep my daughter overnight on the sunday.
I heard nothing Sunday night! no police, no psycho ex banging on the door, no meeting me at the childminder to snatch her away.
I phoned my solicitor this morning and explained that my fears of her not letting me have her anymore were likely to be true now and asked if we could prepare the urgent court application and have her served asap, as discussed.
Here comes the shock of my life, he reneged and said no youll have to go through the normal court application process. Ill be lucky if I can get it heard by Christmas. In complete shock I asked if I can take her from the childminder and he said yes but she will then make an application against me. What was a simple disagreement about Saturday or Sunday night has now turned into my worst nightmare. I WAS sure that if a child is whitheld you can apply for urgent court. [Naive]
Clearly Im in this battle lock stock and barrel now and realise I must see it through to the bitter end, I have the resources to do so, but now Im terrified by the irrevocable damage caused to my daughter by her father suddenly disappearing from her life and the lies she will be told as to why. My narcissistic ex's control and authority has been directly challenged, there is no turning back, on my knees or otherwise.

Whilst Id like to throttle my solicitor, its done so....

Is my solicitor right? do I have to wait for a normal hearing? anything I can do?
Tell me Im an idiot and have been cavalier with my daughters life.
Being a narcissit she cares much about what people think, she will of course wage a PR battle to justify what shes done but should I go full on fathers for justice on her, daily facebook updates, telling everyone who'll listen, posting on the village sites. Has anyone tried this successfully?
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#2
the only reason anyone applies for a court order is because their child has been with-held from them, there is certain criteria that would get it urgent for you but based on what you've said i dont think you will get it, though someone else with more knowledge will explain it better than me.

To be able to go through court proceedings you need to have attended mediation at least once, if she doesn't show up, or its a 'deadlock' and you cant reach an agreement in mediation, then you can apply for court proceedings, your solicitor is probably right with Christmas time for a hearing.

If you want to go through court i'd look around for mediator's and find one with the earliest slot, if she doesnt attend then get back to a solicitor to fill in the C100 child arrangments order form and send it off ASAP, then wait for a reply on a date
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#3
You've done nothing wrong so stop worrying

Until a court order exists (and even after) you have exactly the same rights as the mother - you are EQUAL parents... you pick the kid up at what ever time you like and keep her until what ever time you like ... .and so can your ex

As neither of you are going to play nice... the kid will suffer so start mediation to agree a schedule and then if that fails head to court to get an child arrangements order

You live on same street and can do 50:50 and no welfare issues... you should be successful getting what you want.

You can't get an urgent court order for something that hasn't happened and as I said as you are EQUAL ... she could take one against you (or not take one as nothing really is happening here) The child is not being with-held ... you are both acting like enemies and can't get your minds set on putting the kid first and at the centre of the situation ... you will end up in court for sure... both of you ... until you settle this.

Read your post... battle, bitter end, war, resources, damage, throttle... these are words of a narcissist and i suggest you are both as bad as each other!

If she refuses your access for a week or disappears with the kids ... different story but you live on the same street... you are not being removed form your daughters life and you should not remove your ex from her life either... get a friend to help with handovers if you can't get on

So YES you have to wait for a 'normal' hearing because this is 'normal' at the end of a relationship

But let me be honest with you ... wage your war... throw all your resources at your ex ... do your worst... and guess what... neither of you will win and your kid will be the biggest loser ... but that is what you want eh?

Get to mediation... now!

As for your one man army on FB... good luck with that... she is the mother of your child and despite what she does to you or the lies she tells... you will be a better person for not indulging your own ego in that sort of crap... no-one has EVER tried that successfully and the mother has ran back increasing access and calmed down to become a normal co-parent over night ... good luck with the strategy!
"Being a good father, for its own sake, does not require your ex to see it or agree"
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#4
I agree with LTCDAD, you both need to chill the 'F' out and put your little girl first.

There is a way she can come out of this relatively unscathed, and that is for the both of you to try and get some common ground on what's in your daughter's best interests.

Seeing Mummy and Daddy engaged in a war over her will not help her.

I understand that it may be hard to get things on an amicable level with your ex, but if you both engage in mudslinging you won't get anything done in mediation and it will go to court. You will both look just as bad as one each other and your daughter will most probably end up with your ex, with you ending up with access every other weekend and half the school holidays.

What you need to do now is calm down and get yourself on an even keel - of course the pain and anger of all this is all-engulfing and feels like it will never end, but your daughter needs a good strong father figure she can count on during all of this.

Direct your anger elsewhere, go to the gym, go for a run - join a boxing club if you feel you need to wallop something, but you need to be an adult in all of this and put your daughter first. You both do.

As I said, it may be hard to open discussions amicably with your ex, but if you end up in court with a level head and nothing but your daughter's best interests at heart it will be taken into account and you should get a better slice of the childcare pie.

It's not about making yourself look better than your ex either, it really is all down to your daughter's best interests - get those straight in your head, and the rest will come after.

I will say this though, your experience with the solicitor sounds eerily similar to mine - was basically told to man up and stand up to her, put my foot down and all that jazz too.

It's since been bought to my attention that a lot of solicitors smell money in situations like this.

The last thing you want to do is sink your monthly earnings or whatever savings you have in to a court case you can't possibly win.
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#5
My Solicitor is a waste of space too and talks for too long while charging me. It's difficult when you want to be treated like an equal and aren't. And I do know how wound up it can make you being messed about like that - my son's Mother is also outrageous. But just get focused and channel the anger into getting things sorted. Pragmatic. In my neck of the woods, if you put an application in you can expect a first hearing within 4 to 6 weeks. You can ask, in your application, for an interim order to reinstate "contact" as before. If it's sorted at the first hearing that won't be necessary. If it isn't then you should get it back while waiting for next hearing.

Google mediators in the area and ring round them and see who can give you an urgent appointment - I got one within 24 hours last time. Meanwhile email your ex and ask if she will go to mediation to sort things out in an amicable way. Go for the MIAM and ask to be signed off. They don't like that, but they will if you insist. You need to take the C100 form with you so they can sign the page. My argument was - yes I am happy to do mediation after I have my court application in because it's urgent.

So whether or not she agrees to go to mediation you can get your application in. She hasn't stopped it yet has she? Try and keep communicating, bite your tongue and bend over backwards to be amicable and just accept whatever you're offered meanwhile. If she stops it, write a polite email saying you are concerned about the effect on daughter of this sudden change of routine and it will cause her to be anxious. Even if she ignores you, it's evidence.
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#6
from my personal experience you dont need a solicitor, all they do is drag it on to make money, they have no compassion for your situation, to them you are another customer and they have a business to run.
ive been to court 8 times now and 3 of those were alone and she had representation funded by the tax payer.
As long as you are honest, polite, wait for your turn to speak, dont interrupt, dont be cocky or rude/arrogant, then the judge will realize and see her for what she is

the minute you show hostility and it gets picked up in court room, its downhill.

as far as urgency goes, unless there is a real risk such as her leaving the country with kid or something else that would make it urgent then its a normal process.

so step one book mediation, get 4 copies of the c100 form filled in and ready  (any questions you are not sure off, write on different paper before final draft. and keep it short and to the point. no he said . she said rubbish..
look on the family mediation council site, ring around a few mediators for availability and prices. tell them you have been denied contact and dont want to waste too much time waiting for her to reply etc so if they can contact her and see you for your initial consultation straight away. I managed to get my form signed off for court at the first consultation as she kept making excuses and delaying booking her session,
you can tick the "urgent hearing" box and fill in the relevant box on the form with a reason, if they think your reason is valid, you may get it.
2) once you submit form and payment, you will get a hearing date approx 6 weeks later.
3) cafcass are usually asked to do a safeguarding letter before the first hearing. this will involve a phone interview with both parents. asking what happened. how, what you want etc.
4) they will make recommendations as to what they suggest and at the first hearing the judge will decide what steps are next. sometimes it is possible to come to an agreement outside court room but unlikely.
if she makes allegations of abuse, then you can expect a finding of fact hearing at some point
5) then keep attending the hearing, do what they ask and eventually the final hearing will come.

my advice is protect your self from false allegations, keep all communication via text etc
remember avoid he said . she said, unless you have evidence to back it up , leave it out. at the end of the day, no matter what its about the child and whats best for the child. most courts decide that it is in the childs best interest to have contact with both parents unless you are a proven threat to the child.

i would direct acess a barrister for the fact finding hearing if you have one and the final hearing, no need for a solicitor.
keep yourself organised, keep logs of everything. all the help you need is available online
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#7
(11-14-2017, 04:24 PM)LTCDAD Wrote: You've done nothing wrong so stop worrying

Until a court order exists (and even after) you have exactly the same rights as the mother - you are EQUAL parents... you pick the kid up at what ever time you like and keep her until what ever time you like ... .and so can your ex

As neither of you are going to play nice... the kid will suffer so start mediation to agree a schedule and then if that fails head to court to get an child arrangements order

You live on same street and can do 50:50 and no welfare issues... you should be successful getting what you want.

You can't get an urgent court order for something that hasn't happened and as I said as you are EQUAL ... she could take one against you (or not take one as nothing really is happening here) The child is not being with-held ... you are both acting like enemies and can't get your minds set on putting the kid first and at the centre of the situation ... you will end up in court for sure... both of you ... until you settle this.

Read your post... battle, bitter end, war, resources, damage, throttle... these are words of a narcissist and i suggest you are both as bad as each other!

If she refuses your access for a week or disappears with the kids ... different story but you live on the same street... you are not being removed form your daughters life and you should not remove your ex from her life either... get a friend to help with handovers if you can't get on

So YES you have to wait for a 'normal' hearing because this is 'normal' at the end of a relationship

But let me be honest with you ... wage your war... throw all your resources at your ex ... do your worst... and guess what... neither of you will win and your kid will be the biggest loser ... but that is what you want eh?

Get to mediation... now!

As for your one man army on FB... good luck with that... she is the mother of your child and despite what she does to you or the lies she tells... you will be a better person for not indulging your own ego in that sort of crap... no-one has EVER tried that successfully and the mother has ran back increasing access and calmed down to become a normal co-parent over night  ... good luck with the strategy!

Youre completely right, in the heat of the moment, when its a possibility you might not see your daughter for weeks/months until court it can feel like a battle. Reading it again I can see what youre saying.

Thank you guys, great advice. And I can understand it comes off as a power struggle. I need to deal with the feelings of being buried under her mudsling, allegations, ulterior motive claims and rise above it. She did attempt to withold contact, thank God, so I wont be doing that again soon. Hopefully it will be a wake up call, as you said, that neither has the right to dictate to the other. Mediation is on Wednesday and Im mentally preparing myself. I intend to be as reasonable as possible and compromise for my baby but lets put it this way. Im hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.
Thank you all, Ill post after Wednesday and let you know how it goes.

I really do want to thank you guys for taking your time to post, especially for not holding back, it needs to be heard, to snap out of it. When I feel like my girl is slipping away I realise the resolve to fight to death for her comes off as very combative.

Cheers
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#8
Thought I would let you know, had mediation yesterday. It was brutal, I could tell by the way she walked in the room, she launched into a flurry of accusations, criticisms and abuse. It lasted an hour and ten minutes and mostly consisted of me defending myself or trying desperately to get back to the point of, which days, when and how. Ex stated on several occasions 50% shared was out of the question and the only "positive move" was, she would re-visit the issue in 6 months. Got no where close to Xmas, school, holidays, communication or conduct.
I finally stated that we've been here for over an hour and got absolutely no where so Id like to finish. The mediator agreed that it should end and signed the C100 form immediately. She then began to explain what happens next and spoke directly to my ex and said that a court is very likely to give an order granting shared care. I think she wanted to scare my ex into being reasonable.
Whilst the mediator was explaining how its important for her father to be in daughters life, my ex cut her off and said its actually more important for her to have a relationship with her sibling [teenage girl] ........ Then ensued the strangest situation I have ever been in when my ex and the mediator had a flaming, full on shouting match.

So, Ive heard conflicting reports, is whats said in mediation usable in court?
I keep thinking, would it have been better to do shuttle mediation as the mediator wouldnt have bothered repeating 90% of what ex/I said and stuck to practical arrangements.
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#9
(11-23-2017, 09:07 AM)Naive Wrote: Thought I would let you know, had mediation yesterday. It was brutal, I could tell by the way she walked in the room, she launched into a flurry of accusations, criticisms and abuse. It lasted an hour and ten minutes and mostly consisted of me defending myself or trying desperately to get back to the point of, which days, when and how. Ex stated on several occasions 50% shared was out of the question and the only "positive move" was, she would re-visit the issue in 6 months. Got no where close to Xmas, school, holidays, communication or conduct.
I finally stated that we've been here for over an hour and got absolutely no where so Id like to finish. The mediator agreed that it should end and signed the C100 form immediately. She then began to explain what happens next and spoke directly to my ex and said that a court is very likely to give an order granting shared care. I think she wanted to scare my ex into being reasonable.
Whilst the mediator was explaining how its important for her father to be in daughters life, my ex cut her off and said its actually more important for her to have a relationship with her sibling [teenage girl] ........ Then ensued the strangest situation I have ever been in when my ex and the mediator had a flaming, full on shouting match.

So, Ive heard conflicting reports, is whats said in mediation usable in court?
I keep thinking, would it have been better to do shuttle mediation as the mediator wouldnt have bothered repeating 90% of what ex/I said and stuck to practical arrangements.

No way man, that sounds awful but I think it will totally stand in your favour in court - I don't know if what is said in mediation can be upheld in court, but I imagine the mediator will have made some notes on the situation? Hopefully those will be passed on to the court.

To be frank, your ex's behaviour was awful and the fact she had a row with the mediator doesn't bode well...let's see her try those tactics in court though, she'll be absolutely blown out of the water!!

I think you did the best thing though mate, trying to get the flow of the conversation back on topic and as long as you remain calm and collected during court proceedings you should come out of it fine.

Expect every other weekend and half of the school holidays as a minimum, but with your ex's behaviour I'd be tempted to go for 50/50 care as the judge will not entertain her being argumentative and pointing the blame at you all the time.

Remember to compose yourself as a well-adjusted adult with your children's best interests at the forefront of your mind throughout, and if you have to offer any supporting information make sure it focuses solely on what you believe is best for your kids and avoid any slagging off of, finger-pointing or blaming of your ex whatsoever.

The better prepared and composed you are will only stand in your favour, so keep at it!

I've got the MIAM in two weeks and I'm crapping myself, lol - I want to go for 50/50 but the ex wants complete residency (bar the minimum I'm allowed), and has even flat out stated that she doesn't want mediation and feels bullied/pressurised in to it, even though she's the one who suggested it in the first place (I have that in writing though)!
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#10
(11-23-2017, 10:17 AM)AKentishMan Wrote:
(11-23-2017, 09:07 AM)Naive Wrote: Thought I would let you know, had mediation yesterday. It was brutal, I could tell by the way she walked in the room, she launched into a flurry of accusations, criticisms and abuse. It lasted an hour and ten minutes and mostly consisted of me defending myself or trying desperately to get back to the point of, which days, when and how. Ex stated on several occasions 50% shared was out of the question and the only "positive move" was, she would re-visit the issue in 6 months. Got no where close to Xmas, school, holidays, communication or conduct.
I finally stated that we've been here for over an hour and got absolutely no where so Id like to finish. The mediator agreed that it should end and signed the C100 form immediately. She then began to explain what happens next and spoke directly to my ex and said that a court is very likely to give an order granting shared care. I think she wanted to scare my ex into being reasonable.
Whilst the mediator was explaining how its important for her father to be in daughters life, my ex cut her off and said its actually more important for her to have a relationship with her sibling [teenage girl] ........ Then ensued the strangest situation I have ever been in when my ex and the mediator had a flaming, full on shouting match.

So, Ive heard conflicting reports, is whats said in mediation usable in court?
I keep thinking, would it have been better to do shuttle mediation as the mediator wouldnt have bothered repeating 90% of what ex/I said and stuck to practical arrangements.

No way man, that sounds awful but I think it will totally stand in your favour in court - I don't know if what is said in mediation can be upheld in court, but I imagine the mediator will have made some notes on the situation? Hopefully those will be passed on to the court.

To be frank, your ex's behaviour was awful and the fact she had a row with the mediator doesn't bode well...let's see her try those tactics in court though, she'll be absolutely blown out of the water!!

I think you did the best thing though mate, trying to get the flow of the conversation back on topic and as long as you remain calm and collected during court proceedings you should come out of it fine.

Expect every other weekend and half of the school holidays as a minimum, but with your ex's behaviour I'd be tempted to go for 50/50 care as the judge will not entertain her being argumentative and pointing the blame at you all the time.

Remember to compose yourself as a well-adjusted adult with your children's best interests at the forefront of your mind throughout, and if you have to offer any supporting information make sure it focuses solely on what you believe is best for your kids and avoid any slagging off of, finger-pointing or blaming of your ex whatsoever.

The better prepared and composed you are will only stand in your favour, so keep at it!

I've got the MIAM in two weeks and I'm crapping myself, lol - I want to go for 50/50 but the ex wants complete residency (bar the minimum I'm allowed), and has even flat out stated that she doesn't want mediation and feels bullied/pressurised in to it, even though she's the one who suggested it in the first place (I have that in writing though)!

Good luck buddy, my only advice at the moment would be, speak to a solicitor first and find out your true rights. Knowing exactly where you stand helps a lot.
If your ex has already made it clear shes not budging then have your C100 form ready and expect to go to court. I was far calmer knowing ex wont agree to anything and that it was really a formality, although deep down I hoped it would go well ha, plan for worse, hope for best.
I was pretty nervous but in truth it was just like it was during the relationship [minus the emotion] if you got out of the relationship alive then there shouldn't be anything unexpected to worry about. The way I see it is, mediation is somewhat under your control, staying calm, being reasonable, fighting your corner are all things you can affect. Its court that scares me.
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