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Advice needed
I separated from my wife in October and failed to arrange any contact when she left hence I applied for a contact order. The night before she left we had an argument where she attacked me and I restrained her and when I returned from work the next day she was gone with our daughter too. I called her family and was told to wait for her to get in touch. So since then I waited and then decided to go through court and had heard rumours her family were saying I had assaulted her so I was mentally prepared for that argument but also thought my wife wouldn't stoop to throwing false accusations my way. So I didn't plan to use a solicitor initially as I have been reading on the issues and thought should be a simple case of applying for contact however following the CAFCAS call I was left in shock and as the initial court hearing is on Thursday I'm unsure of what to do. She claimed domestic violence, controlling behaviour, sexual abuse and the worst that I raped her. I asked why have the police not visited me then why did she not get the police involved if that was the case, the CAFCAS lady reply to that was that apparently she went to the police the day she left but didn't want to pursue it further because of the impact it would have on my work however now she is away from the family and feels safe she said she may get in touch with the police to pursue it further. The CAFCAS lady also said later that we are only know to social services for the incident where my wife reported the domestic violence the day she left she didn't mention rape, so does that mean she has now added on the rape accusation once speaking to CAFCAS? She also included that my family are dysfunctional and that I was not a good father as she claimed I used to get angry with my daughter, be controlling with her and have unrealistic expectations of her as a two year old. She said that I used to shout at my daughter when she used to wake up in the middle of the night as an example of me getting angry at her. Now I said that my wife is a good mother and did not want to start mud slinging but I clearly remember how she used to get angry at our daughter and shout at her a lot of the time when she got frustrated with her to the point where I would have to intervene however I would see this as part of life as at times I could expect my wife to get annoyed with our daughter. Now I am really nervous about the upcoming first hearing and further hearings can I represent myself as I am in debt already and can not afford a solicitor without borrowing more cash. I am usually a confident speaker in many situations however in this case I must admit I feel scared and I am beginning to doubt myself. Any advice tips or just general pointers will be much appreciated. I find this whole situation is pissing me off so much as potentially due to my ex wifes allegations I may lose access to my child she also said she opposed the contact order and was only willing to give supervised access. I find it incredibly frustrating that I maybe prevented from seeing my daughter, how can this be allowed to happen! I feel very angry and upset but I also feel like my every action is now going to be scrutinised, so a man who becomes emotional and frustrated by it needs to not show this in case that is misinterpreted as some sort of indicator that he is violent?
Hi this is a post I seen on here and copied it to my notes....sorry I can't remember who posted it but thanks to them it's some great advice.....have a read

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.

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