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Care Wars - A New Hope!
#1
So my court process has recently finished, and I'd like to share the story in the hope that it will help or inspire other dads who are just starting out or in the middle of the most difficult set of circumstances a dad can endure. I'm going to provide my story and offer help, advice and guidance, and what I learned, at the end of it.

Let me start out by saying this: I won. In fact I utterly trounced my ex. And not only did I win, she was utterly embarassed and publicly outed for the nasty piece of work she is.

When we split my ex accused me of everything under the sun, like most dads on here. I didn't find out about the false allegations until the last two court hearings of course. They were sprung on me. But the accusations included alcoholism, child abuse, emotional abuse, bullying, violence; insisted on minimal or no contact with my child then wanted supervised contact in a contact centre. However, she was doing and saying all of this to her family and friends and the relevant authorities all the while acting all sugar and spice with me, communicating well, discussing how to move past our problems etc. I would later find out that this communication that I thought was going well, she was actually telling people that I was controlling and emotionally abusing her.

It got to the point where I had to launch court proceedings and my contact with my son was supervised twice a week with various family members at my home. I was fortunate that at the first hearing I was granted this time as normal with an additional day added on every other weekend which was recommended by CAFCASS. CAFCASS were ordered by court to carry out a section 7 report which was quickly transferred to social services after they - and I - found out that my ex had called the police citing domestic violence against me therefore had been involved already.

Having taken a great amount of advice from this site, I began to think ahead, protect myself and focus entirely on my son, forgetting about anything she was potentially saying about me. I gathered evidence of date-stamped photographs of me and my son together unsupervised, in her presence and otherwise. I screenshotted texts of good communication, printed emails of us discussing progression etc. I ensured that whenever she attempted to hurt me or get me to react, I stayed calm, took advice from family, friends and dads on here. I maintained an unmatched poker face during all correspondence and contact with my ex. I was unflappable - of course, I'd shout, rage and rant at family and friends. That's the support network we need. But I maintained a cool exterior around her and her family.

Despite her behaviour, my ex and I were still communicating and getting on well, if only for the sake of our son. Remember, I didn't know about any of the accusations until the S7 report was underway. Having read horror stories online about bias from social services I was extremely concerned about it, especially as CAFCASS had recommended an extra day's contact and appeared to be on my side.

The social worker assigned to the case was active, engaging, inquisitive, impartial and excellent with communications. Throughout the investigation for the report, they simply  wanted what was best for my son and used common sense, experience, and professionalism to find out the situation. In short, they were superb. The S7 report was heavily in my favour but, it must be said, was entirely factual. My ex was not happy as it outed her as an embittered liar. All of the accusation she'd levelled at me? They were stated in the report but the social worker had also stated that I'd provided evidence to them that refuted her allegations. The hard work of gathering evidence, maintaining my cool, being civil etc had paid off. My ex was utterly discredited.

As we approached the final hearing, my ex became more and more desperate to slander, accuse, and sully me as a person and father seemingly oblivious to the fact that she was coming across as bitter and emotional and not at all thinking about our son. This became apparent when the court asked us to prepare position statements for what contact we'd like. My proposal was half a page long, clear and concise. My ex's was 15 pages of accusations, allegations and finger pointing with a few sentences at the end outlining her contact proposal. Mine was reasonable and progressive. Hers was to continue the current contact with overnight contact to begin from age 6. (My baby is one year old).

The final hearing itself was a stressful, tiring but ultimately wonderful day. As I arrived at court, I discovered my ex had accused CAFCASS of previously bullying her into agreeing an extra day's contact way back at the first hearing. I also learned that she'd also levelled the same charge at social services as she disagreed with the section 7 report. It seems she'd accused myself, my family, my solicitor, my barrister, CAFCASS, and social services of emotionally abusing her. It was desperate, desperate behaviour.

We attempted a resolution but she was being stubborn and non-communicative. My barrister was an absolute wizard of law and was champing at the bit to cross examine her on the stand as we went into court. It turned out this wasn't required. Social services backed everything I'd requested and stated on the stand that my ex was thinking about her own needs as opposed to our son. The magistrates took five minutes to come back with a verdict: I got everything I asked for. Overnight contact to begin immediately (my son is under age two so this is huge), an overnight during the week and another afternoon, half the holidays, Christmas this year etc. I couldn't really have asked for more. I was overjoyed.

I would later discover my case was so strong that I had an argument to go for residency. I also learned that social services are keeping an active case going in relation to my ex as they're concerned her behaviour might impact my son as he gets older. So her bullshit has blown up in her face and it's now her who needs to be very, very careful. 

Advice

Here's my tips for dads going through this:

Be the nicest person you can be - however you're treated, or whatever you're accused of, be the bigger person. Do not snap back, text back anything that could be construed as inflammatory, do not argue, moan, cry, whinge or come across as anything but a wonderful human being to your ex. Literally anything you deem to be normal, she could construe as abusive and would use as such in order to restrict contact or, in my case, delay and delay and delay. Rant and rave to your family and friends behind closed doors. That's what they're there for.

Be honest and truthful - I was entirely honest and open with social services - I highlighted my failings, what I could and should have done to prevent things getting this far, and how I was going about remedying any ongoing problems. (Eg I confirmed I was seeing a counsellor to help with the stress of the proceedings, as well as to help my mental health). Social services see confirming your faults as actively taking responsibility and looking for ways to better yourself. My ex didn't do this and it was to her discredit.

Get people on your side - again, do this by being honest. When I discovered my ex was accusing me of alcohol abuse, I went to the doctor and explained everything. He backed me, and suggested a medical for general health which included kidney and liver function tests. They obviously came back clean, and saved me £1000 to go privately. Social services were in regular contact with my doc as my ex had accused me of being 'a psychopath'. He confirmed that what she was saying was - in his words - 'utterly preposterous'. All of this found its way into the report, heavily supporting me.

Gather evidence - the example above is just one way of doing it. I backed up everything I said with hard evidence. Relevant photgraphs, correspondence, agreements, even stuff not directly related to the case. My ex accused me being a compulsive liar on certain issues in my personal life - I was able to refute her claims with evidence, and again this all found its way into the S7 in my favour.

Don't be afraid to play the odds - my ex presumed whatever she said or accused me of would just stick. It doesn't work like that. Unless it's a CAFCASS or social worker, opinions don't count. I understood this quickly but my ex didn't. I would get to the point of thinking, 'what are the odds of social services or court believing her latest lies?' And it would become clear that unless it's directly related to your child and with hard evidence, the answer to that is extremely unlikely.

Acknowledge who you're dealing with - in most cases, your ex will be highly emotional, irrational and spiteful. Her family and friends will likely back her with whatever she does. Don't try and go toe to toe with people like this. The only proportionate response is to go down the legal route, be civil and courteous, patient, and, most importantly, put your child first, not yourself.

Take responsibility - be aware of your attitude, behaviours, faults and negatives and address them as such. Don't be afraid of admitting you could and should have done something better, or handled something differently. Doing this improves you as a person and as a father. Acknowledge your faults and seek to better yourself going forward. Don't be afraid to highlight this to the relevant authorities when they ask - don't put yourself down of course. Don't come across as self defeating and negative - but, if is normally the case with any person, do admit to past mistakes, and show how you hope to move forward positively for yourself and your child.

Conduct yourself appropriately - the fact of the matter is this: if you're a bit of a bastard, or have genuinely treat your ex like shit, or have been a poor father, social services, CAFCASS and court will see this, despite how much you attempt to conceal it. You'll just have to, as I've mentioned, take responsibility. If you're whiter than white, the authorities will also see this, and it will show when you win your case! Little things count too: turn up to court dressed well in a shirt, trousers and shoes. Don't rant or rave. Talk calmly, clearly and on point. This is most important when interacting with social services or CAFCASS. Use common sense - look around your home: is it a perfect home for a child? No? Then make it so. Do everything a great dad is expected to. If you're struggling, get help and advice.

Get the right legal counsel (and get it funded if you can) - mine cost a lot but were absolutely superb. My barrister was an utter maestro on the final hearing. My solicitor kept me level-headed, managed my expectations, and reassured me that I'd get there in the end. Everything they said would happen, happened. Be realistic in what you're wanting to achieve. And here's a tip: my family and friends were so support and appalled with my ex, that they started a crowdfunder page for me to help pay for my legal fees. People I didn't even know donated as they could see how upset I was, and how unjustified it all was. I ultimately had money left over!

Make it all about your child - ignore the bullshit, ignore her accusations and falsehoods, do your best to distract yourself from the pain of it all. Keep it about your beautiful son or daughter - how you behave and react ultimately affects your relationship with them. So be the best dad you can be. Put the squabbbling and anguish to the side, and mentally tell it to fuck off interfering with your relationship with your kid. Cherish every second you have with them because, unless you're genuinely not a nice person, you'll get there. You'll have to make compromises but you'll eventually get where you want to be.

Also, use this site. It's a superb resource and full of helpful information with dads in various circumstances. I found it utterly indispensable. I'll be using regularly to offer help, support and guidance based on my experiences.

Finally, big thanks go to everyone who's helped me during the lengthy struggle especially MarkR - who should go into family law! - Frisbos, Drew65, StartingLifeAgain, and invisibleintellectual.

Stay strong. There's always hope.
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#2
Thanks for posting this, and glad it turned out so well!
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#3
Strider
So glad it turned out well for you my friend.

I hope you dont mind, but the advice you have given at the end, was worthy of being stickied at the top of the forum for ever. You have shown all here that with level headed tenacity, you can come out the end of the tunnel.
See I told you it would be tough but worth it in the end!
Well done
Advice & opinions on this forum are offered informally, without any assumption of liability. Use your own judgment. Seek advice of a qualified and insured professional.
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#4
(09-23-2017, 05:38 PM)Drew65 Wrote: Strider
So glad it turned out well for you my friend.

I hope you dont mind, but the advice you have given at the end, was worthy of being stickied at the top of the forum for ever. You have shown all here that with level headed tenacity, you can come out the end of the tunnel.
See I told you it would be tough but worth it in the end!
Well done

Thanks, man. Appreciate all your worldly words of wisdom!

Yeah, no problem. I hope the advice helps and my story reassures dads just starting out or in the middle of a soul-destroying but ultimately winnable set of circumstances.
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#5
Great story strider....and some great advice also....thanks for sharing this with us...and congrats bro on the result....nice one ☺
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#6
This is pretty much the most amazing post I have read and mirrors my situation almost exactly. I am just starting though and don’t seem to be getting anywhere. Would you be happy to share who your solicitor was? I don’t know if I should be sticking or twisting at the moment!
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#7
An amazing help, thank you. I’m awaiting Cafcass report following all sorts of allegations, including to the police (these have been NFA’d and I was able to provide evidence they were false).
I’m truly hoping the Cafcass report will be positive for shared care of my 2 disabled children- the telephone interview seemed positive and I was honest and open to them. I suppose I’ll find out next week as the report is due Wednesday with the hearing on Friday!
Truly hopeful
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#8
Hi Strider, 

Such a nice story, 

I will definitely follow your advice.

Can you please send me advice on what is the best way to get a good Lawyer?

How to go about it. I don't believe that my lawyer is very effective.

Many Thanks.

Guy Kioni

Sent from my iPhone.


(08-31-2017, 09:17 AM)strider Wrote: So my court process has recently finished, and I'd like to share the story in the hope that it will help or inspire other dads who are just starting out or in the middle of the most difficult set of circumstances a dad can endure. I'm going to provide my story and offer help, advice and guidance, and what I learned, at the end of it.

Let me start out by saying this: I won. In fact I utterly trounced my ex. And not only did I win, she was utterly embarassed and publicly outed for the nasty piece of work she is.

When we split my ex accused me of everything under the sun, like most dads on here. I didn't find out about the false allegations until the last two court hearings of course. They were sprung on me. But the accusations included alcoholism, child abuse, emotional abuse, bullying, violence; insisted on minimal or no contact with my child then wanted supervised contact in a contact centre. However, she was doing and saying all of this to her family and friends and the relevant authorities all the while acting all sugar and spice with me, communicating well, discussing how to move past our problems etc. I would later find out that this communication that I thought was going well, she was actually telling people that I was controlling and emotionally abusing her.

It got to the point where I had to launch court proceedings and my contact with my son was supervised twice a week with various family members at my home. I was fortunate that at the first hearing I was granted this time as normal with an additional day added on every other weekend which was recommended by CAFCASS. CAFCASS were ordered by court to carry out a section 7 report which was quickly transferred to social services after they - and I - found out that my ex had called the police citing domestic violence against me therefore had been involved already.

Having taken a great amount of advice from this site, I began to think ahead, protect myself and focus entirely on my son, forgetting about anything she was potentially saying about me. I gathered evidence of date-stamped photographs of me and my son together unsupervised, in her presence and otherwise. I screenshotted texts of good communication, printed emails of us discussing progression etc. I ensured that whenever she attempted to hurt me or get me to react, I stayed calm, took advice from family, friends and dads on here. I maintained an unmatched poker face during all correspondence and contact with my ex. I was unflappable - of course, I'd shout, rage and rant at family and friends. That's the support network we need. But I maintained a cool exterior around her and her family.

Despite her behaviour, my ex and I were still communicating and getting on well, if only for the sake of our son. Remember, I didn't know about any of the accusations until the S7 report was underway. Having read horror stories online about bias from social services I was extremely concerned about it, especially as CAFCASS had recommended an extra day's contact and appeared to be on my side.

The social worker assigned to the case was active, engaging, inquisitive, impartial and excellent with communications. Throughout the investigation for the report, they simply  wanted what was best for my son and used common sense, experience, and professionalism to find out the situation. In short, they were superb. The S7 report was heavily in my favour but, it must be said, was entirely factual. My ex was not happy as it outed her as an embittered liar. All of the accusation she'd levelled at me? They were stated in the report but the social worker had also stated that I'd provided evidence to them that refuted her allegations. The hard work of gathering evidence, maintaining my cool, being civil etc had paid off. My ex was utterly discredited.

As we approached the final hearing, my ex became more and more desperate to slander, accuse, and sully me as a person and father seemingly oblivious to the fact that she was coming across as bitter and emotional and not at all thinking about our son. This became apparent when the court asked us to prepare position statements for what contact we'd like. My proposal was half a page long, clear and concise. My ex's was 15 pages of accusations, allegations and finger pointing with a few sentences at the end outlining her contact proposal. Mine was reasonable and progressive. Hers was to continue the current contact with overnight contact to begin from age 6. (My baby is one year old).

The final hearing itself was a stressful, tiring but ultimately wonderful day. As I arrived at court, I discovered my ex had accused CAFCASS of previously bullying her into agreeing an extra day's contact way back at the first hearing. I also learned that she'd also levelled the same charge at social services as she disagreed with the section 7 report. It seems she'd accused myself, my family, my solicitor, my barrister, CAFCASS, and social services of emotionally abusing her. It was desperate, desperate behaviour.

We attempted a resolution but she was being stubborn and non-communicative. My barrister was an absolute wizard of law and was champing at the bit to cross examine her on the stand as we went into court. It turned out this wasn't required. Social services backed everything I'd requested and stated on the stand that my ex was thinking about her own needs as opposed to our son. The magistrates took five minutes to come back with a verdict: I got everything I asked for. Overnight contact to begin immediately (my son is under age two so this is huge), an overnight during the week and another afternoon, half the holidays, Christmas this year etc. I couldn't really have asked for more. I was overjoyed.

I would later discover my case was so strong that I had an argument to go for residency. I also learned that social services are keeping an active case going in relation to my ex as they're concerned her behaviour might impact my son as he gets older. So her bullshit has blown up in her face and it's now her who needs to be very, very careful. 

Advice

Here's my tips for dads going through this:

Be the nicest person you can be - however you're treated, or whatever you're accused of, be the bigger person. Do not snap back, text back anything that could be construed as inflammatory, do not argue, moan, cry, whinge or come across as anything but a wonderful human being to your ex. Literally anything you deem to be normal, she could construe as abusive and would use as such in order to restrict contact or, in my case, delay and delay and delay. Rant and rave to your family and friends behind closed doors. That's what they're there for.

Be honest and truthful - I was entirely honest and open with social services - I highlighted my failings, what I could and should have done to prevent things getting this far, and how I was going about remedying any ongoing problems. (Eg I confirmed I was seeing a counsellor to help with the stress of the proceedings, as well as to help my mental health). Social services see confirming your faults as actively taking responsibility and looking for ways to better yourself. My ex didn't do this and it was to her discredit.

Get people on your side - again, do this by being honest. When I discovered my ex was accusing me of alcohol abuse, I went to the doctor and explained everything. He backed me, and suggested a medical for general health which included kidney and liver function tests. They obviously came back clean, and saved me £1000 to go privately. Social services were in regular contact with my doc as my ex had accused me of being 'a psychopath'. He confirmed that what she was saying was - in his words - 'utterly preposterous'. All of this found its way into the report, heavily supporting me.

Gather evidence - the example above is just one way of doing it. I backed up everything I said with hard evidence. Relevant photgraphs, correspondence, agreements, even stuff not directly related to the case. My ex accused me being a compulsive liar on certain issues in my personal life - I was able to refute her claims with evidence, and again this all found its way into the S7 in my favour.

Don't be afraid to play the odds - my ex presumed whatever she said or accused me of would just stick. It doesn't work like that. Unless it's a CAFCASS or social worker, opinions don't count. I understood this quickly but my ex didn't. I would get to the point of thinking, 'what are the odds of social services or court believing her latest lies?' And it would become clear that unless it's directly related to your child and with hard evidence, the answer to that is extremely unlikely.

Acknowledge who you're dealing with - in most cases, your ex will be highly emotional, irrational and spiteful. Her family and friends will likely back her with whatever she does. Don't try and go toe to toe with people like this. The only proportionate response is to go down the legal route, be civil and courteous, patient, and, most importantly, put your child first, not yourself.

Take responsibility - be aware of your attitude, behaviours, faults and negatives and address them as such. Don't be afraid of admitting you could and should have done something better, or handled something differently. Doing this improves you as a person and as a father. Acknowledge your faults and seek to better yourself going forward. Don't be afraid to highlight this to the relevant authorities when they ask - don't put yourself down of course. Don't come across as self defeating and negative - but, if is normally the case with any person, do admit to past mistakes, and show how you hope to move forward positively for yourself and your child.

Conduct yourself appropriately - the fact of the matter is this: if you're a bit of a bastard, or have genuinely treat your ex like shit, or have been a poor father, social services, CAFCASS and court will see this, despite how much you attempt to conceal it. You'll just have to, as I've mentioned, take responsibility. If you're whiter than white, the authorities will also see this, and it will show when you win your case! Little things count too: turn up to court dressed well in a shirt, trousers and shoes. Don't rant or rave. Talk calmly, clearly and on point. This is most important when interacting with social services or CAFCASS. Use common sense - look around your home: is it a perfect home for a child? No? Then make it so. Do everything a great dad is expected to. If you're struggling, get help and advice.

Get the right legal counsel (and get it funded if you can) - mine cost a lot but were absolutely superb. My barrister was an utter maestro on the final hearing. My solicitor kept me level-headed, managed my expectations, and reassured me that I'd get there in the end. Everything they said would happen, happened. Be realistic in what you're wanting to achieve. And here's a tip: my family and friends were so support and appalled with my ex, that they started a crowdfunder page for me to help pay for my legal fees. People I didn't even know donated as they could see how upset I was, and how unjustified it all was. I ultimately had money left over!

Make it all about your child - ignore the bullshit, ignore her accusations and falsehoods, do your best to distract yourself from the pain of it all. Keep it about your beautiful son or daughter - how you behave and react ultimately affects your relationship with them. So be the best dad you can be. Put the squabbbling and anguish to the side, and mentally tell it to fuck off interfering with your relationship with your kid. Cherish every second you have with them because, unless you're genuinely not a nice person, you'll get there. You'll have to make compromises but you'll eventually get where you want to be.

Also, use this site. It's a superb resource and full of helpful information with dads in various circumstances. I found it utterly indispensable. I'll be using regularly to offer help, support and guidance based on my experiences.

Finally, big thanks go to everyone who's helped me during the lengthy struggle especially MarkR - who should go into family law! - Frisbos, Drew65, StartingLifeAgain, and invisibleintellectual.

Stay strong. There's always hope.
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#9
Great read... I am mid court process and due back for final hearing in April. I cancelled the barrister a couple of days before and did it all myself and hopefully it was best thing as they saw me for me...a dad who just wants fair time with his kids.
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