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Shaken up after "dispute resolution"
After first hearing yesterday am very shaken up due to 5 hours of intensive stuff with Cafcass.  In hindsight realise I should have said no to something but said yes under duress at the last minute when it was basically being told to agree to something before going into Judge.  In hindsight should have said no and let the Judge decide but it felt as if, if I said no Cafcass would be very negative to Judge.  Cafcass lady said - Judge will do what I say.

It is going to a final hearing with mediation having to take place before that.  I had asked for an interim order for contact to continue as it should be.  Instead Cafcass tried to get a temporary agreement until mediation or next hearing.  Which was basically being bullied into giving into ex's demands for unrestricted phone contact with son.  In my parenting plan I had said this was a matter currently under dispute and I wanted it to be introduced gradually and formally.

I have cited psychological and emotional abuse in my C1A for self and child.  Due to false allegations which have been dismissed.  Practice 12 thingy says dispute resolution and mediation isn't appropriate in cases of abuse.  I feel on the edge of a breakdown after 5 hours of bullying and pressure.  Don't want to sound pathetic but I am in a situation where I am 99% sure ex will tell son to text her and accuse me of something.  Is there any way I can get things changed now and say I agreed under extreme duress?

Relax, I would put in your position statement to the court (or write the court a letter to be placed on file) about what happened, though, unless you have a witness its really your word against CAFCASS, but I feel in this instance they have acted improperly and your suffering the consequences.

I will admit that I too felt that CAFCASS didnt do anything to help my case at all, siding with the mother in all of it, I am surprised that you havent been forced to go for an SPIP, I felt that helped in my case, though it took place days before the final hearing and I wasnt able to use any of the techniques during mediation.

I know this is a stressful experience ($deity knows I felt that way myself), but you have to persevere, you will get there in the end, I never thought I would have the access I have until the very final moment in court.

The opinions here are not that of Separated Dads, but merely a loving father who has been through the process and has come out the other side.
I am representing myself in court against my ex who was abusive towards me for over 2 years, my first CAFCASS officer wasn't great and said incidents occurred in December 2019!!!

If you are representing yourself Judges and the Courts accept this and understand you aren't a qualified person in legal matters and usually give litigants in person some leeway (at least that is what I have found)

you may want to consider writing a position statement setting out how you feel, the concerns you have and how you would like things to progress (being child focused) just be honest, leave it to your ex to lie and then have to lie to explain the lie... give them enough rope and all.

when I went to the first mediation meeting (MAIM) where they talk with you 121 I explained what happened to me and the mediator stopped the meeting and filled out section 14 of the C100 stating under the circumstances Mediation was not appropriate. once they sign that then it would be very hard for the court to force you to go, although they may suggest "Shuttle Mediation" where you and the ex are in separate rooms and you talk via the mediator as a go between.

its really hard dealing with abuse and the fallout from it and I know how it feels when people tell you to "stay calm" etc. they are right though because if you do that, be honest and child focussed, raise your concerns politely and calmly and jump through all the hoops the court asks you to then you'll be spotless.

leave it to the ex to try and put up road blocks because the more they do the more the court will look dimly on their position.

this is just my opinion and from my experiences.

I was worried too at the first hearing. I wouldnt worry ,As suggested stick with whats outlined in the interim order and do a position statement for the next hearing stay child focused an try not to worry. I just attended a contested hearing on Monday. Me being the resident Parent and respondent.I will put my experience in the forum later. It has been a mess from start to now.. The final order having inaccuracies ..CAFCASS inaccuracies, You name it MAN = uphill struggle even if u have your child living with you.
my position as resident parent now showing shared???? given mother is in a temporary hostel?? yes figure that out. given I have been my kids resident parent since birth and suffered domestic violence.physical etc police logs etc Dr's// tape recordings.. Did it help..NO, You can attend court with a knife sticking out of your head inflicted by your ex and they wont bat an eye lid.

What I have learned Im lucky that I have my son and not a father fighting to see their children. But the system is bias , your up against a big hill and you end up trying to prove your a great dad.? even when you done nothing wrong but protect your children. If the show was on the other foot. let say wearing a wig and a skirt to court my help you get what you want.
The system is a Joke. I have seen it from the other foot as I work in Social work ,Safeguarding.
I had a Mckenzie Friend for 2 hearings. If I get it back to court again I will probably get a barrister on board. As the Magistrates wil try fob you off. Hopefully back to court for a further hearing if my letter opposing the order gets seen. But I will stick with the old order until I get a hearing.
"You can attend court with a knife sticking out of your head inflicted by your ex and they wont bat an eye lid."

Thanks to all - great support. Yes I am not the only one. That quote made me laugh - cheers. Invisible. Can I ask for a letter on file now or can it wait until the court hearing?

The tips on shuttle mediation are good. My concern is anything she gets to know in mediation will be twisted and used against me as an accusation for something - that's the usual scenario. So maybe I will get signed off.

The thing I gave in over under duress was them pushing me to allow son to use a smartphone she has given him. Son has never had phone contact with either of us before. I put in my parenting plan that is was a matter that was not agreed at the moment and I had concerns due to the current alienation and accusations of abuse, and felt it was something needed introducing gradually at a set day or something in the holidays.

Somehow Cafcass lady bulldozed into me accepting unrestricted phone access to his Mother - it was basically that or the contact wasn't agreed between now and the hearing.

Son is told to do things by his Mum and he has to do them - he is terrified of her. So if she said "text me to say your Dad is hitting you" he would do. He told me he has to pretend he doesn't like seeing me because his Mum wants him to say that.

I can see what will happen - another report to social services accusing me of something, no contact, delays to get to a hearing and by then son totally alienated. Any suggestions? Maybe I could say I need to monitor texts and only at 6pm every day or something?

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