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Instructed my solicitor finally – What to expect next?
from past experience section 7 reports or any official reports always sound worse and infuriate you the day you get them or even the day after. after a few days they end up not looking as bad as you originally thought. the main thing is securing contact with your children, I wouldn't even argue/dispute anything in report.
I am sure magistrates/judges would know you given your address , you probably wont be asked about it. if they do say sorry I am not sure I understand my ex partners legal representative sends me letters to my home address
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I would put aside anything that is opinion based from the Cafcass officer and focus on what has been recommended in terms of time with your children. The officer has a duty to write what the ex has said, just because it has been included in the report does not necessarily mean it has been accepted. Are you happy with what has been recommended?
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They have recomended that time with my son is progressed. At the moment my ex let's me see him each Sunday under supervision for 4 hours. It is recommended that this is increased to unsupervised for 8 hours with no overnight stays atm. Regarding my daughter, because so much time has passed, they recommend 5 sessions at a contact centre for 2 hours to help reestablish connect.

I am glad that I can spend more time with my son and that contact will begin again with my daughter, but I'm also disappointed with no overnight stays. This means no half of school holidays, no Christmas's, no holidays away, no weekends together, no family dinners.

I'm torn on how I feel because on one hand there is some progression which is positive, but on the other I am still not going to be able to do so many things with the children.
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Hi. I have also had something recently where they seem to pass off ex’s opinion as their analysis. And their analysis of your mental health condition “may” return, is to me, crass in the extreme and verging on discrimination!

So it seems to me they are making cautious progression recommendations . And then what? Leading to anything else or are they just going to see how ex thinks it is going?

You will have an opportunity to argue against some of these things at final hearing. My experience of writing back to ask for factual corrections is that it is ignored.

So I would not write back to them objecting to them saying your mental health condition may return due to imaginary possible future end of the world crises or whatever ! But I would send a very brief formal one line email requesting factual correction over the report stating you have social isolation, as that is not the case. Just that, nothing else. Put copy to court at the bottom and email a copy to the court saying “please find attached email requesting factual correction to Cafcass report. I would be grateful if this could be kept on the court file .

I found it difficult to work out how to send a copy to the court as Cafcass uses egress and when you reply via egress I couldn’t work out how to download a copy of my reply. What I did was screenshot it and save it as a photo, then wrote an email to the court saying - please find attached/below, copy of request for factual correction to Cafcass report etc as above . Under that - paste the wording of the email - so the content is easily seen. And attach the photo. As an attachment.

But keep it really simple and formal like that. If you object to anything they will say - ah see he is getting angry so he must be unstable. Pfff.

Save any objections for final hearing.

So the good news is they are reintroducing contact with your daughter! And unsupervised with your son.

What you need to focus on now is preparing a really good statement for final hearing. Is that the next hearing? Or is there another directions hearing before thst?

If there is another directions hearing then the court will probably order what Cafcass recommend in the interim .

If you have a final hearing coming up you have the oppprtunity to set out at the end of your statement what you want in an order and argue for it with evidence in your statement. And there will be the opportunity to cross examine Cafcass at the hearing to deal with any issues/bias. You could possibly even call your GP as a witness as to why there is no reason why your children shouldn’t stay overnight with you.

I would want an order for progression to be something like Cafcass recommendation for 3 months after which your daughter comes for a day unsupervised and your son stays one night at week-ends for another 2 months, after which both children come every other week-end, a midweek night and half the school holidays defined as follows …

You will get the opportunity to sell yourself at final hearing and knock on the head that you are in some way unsafe - with evidence and arguments, testimonials as to your previous care etc. Plus ask for changeovers you and from school to avoid conflict at changeover time.
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Hello thread!

It's been a while since I last posted here but I thought enough has happened now since my last post to update the thread.

The case hasn't been without it's problems but a section 7 found that my home is suitable for my son to stay overnight and that there is no issue with regards to my mental health. In response to my CAO application the ex filed a domestic abuse application but this was dismissed also. The next hearing is in October but in the interim my son will be staying from 10am Saturdays until 6pm Sundays (fortnightly) with a tea time contact once a week. In March I had an enforcement order hearing in which my ex responded by making an application for costs saying that my application was misconstrued - thankfully her application for costs was also dismissed and she had to pay the £2000 herself. After that I got a letter from her solicitors informing me they would no longer be representing her.

After discussions with the contact centre the ex and I have both agreed to remote mediation and until that takes place I have told the court and my ex that I'm only willing to meet for handovers in a public place as I do not feel safe alone with her. This has caused new problems despite the ex herself originally applying for a non molestation order that eventually failed. Whereas previously she wanted to prevent me from coming near her, she is now complaining to the court that I won't meet her face to face unless there is a third party or in a safe public place - I refuse to do handovers at the front door given the false allegations she has made in the past. As far as I'm concerned I have the right to make that decision for myself and I won't be agreeing to any contact with the ex unless in public. Yes, unfortunately it's not ideal for the children but I won't risk ending up back in court for a non mol/abuse case based on lies again.

Safety first.
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Sounds like you are slowly getting to the end . I wouldnt meet your ex in public until court case is concluded and you have secured lots of contact and basically won your case finally.
Courts have cleverly already set you up nicely for more contact in future. Once overnights have started you know you are on the right path for sure Smile. well done
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That is absolutely brilliant news - you have been to hell and back - I am full of admiration at how you have coped - especially after being thrown out of your home and being made homeless. Some people wouldn’t have made it this far. Really pleased you have an excellent interim order. What did you actually apply for? Just wondering if you will get more at final hearing. With schools going back in September you wouldn’t need to have any contact with ex - all pick ups and drop offs could be to and from school - so I would push for that at final hearing - eg Friday from school to Monday return to school - and the midweek to be an overnight to and from school. You can argue that interim contact has gone well and you feel it’s better for both you and the kids to have seamless transitions to and from school to avoid conflict. Then there are only the holiday changovers and the order can say these must be done in a public place. We’re holidays mentioned? Assume you will get half the holidays- in which case try and ask for schedules with those that are to and from school as well- mostly. Eg a full half term each to and from school. The third half term would need a changeover midweek. As would Easter and Christmas - but if it’s worded that all other holidays are split into equal halves then there is only one changeover in the middle and the beginning and end to and from school.

Is this for both your kids or is she still preventing it for daughter?
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Hi Charlie,

Yes it does feel as though I'm slowly getting there but as I say, it hasn't been plain sailing.

My daughter wouldn't interact properly with me in any of the contact centre sessions. She will chat with me on WhatsApp even sending hearts/kisses and she plays online games with me and my son, but she is too shy to face me it seems - the contact centre staff were really great which was a relief. I call my daughter's mobile on Wednesdays and Fridays just so she knows I'm trying (agreed with the contact centre and the court) but she won't answer. There was a nice moment at the end of a contact centre session where the staff asked my daughter if she'd like a hug from me and she said yes. Remember, neither of my children have ever said when meeting with cafcass that I have ever done anything for them to not want to see me. My daughter says she doesn't know why she doesn't want to see me, just that she's embarrassed. The contact centre staff reported that I acted in a child focused and appropriate manner, was reassuring without putting too much pressure on her and that my son (who came in to one of the sessions) was very happy to see me and affectionate.

In court I asked for Friday from school until Monday drop off but the ex is arguing that the journey to school is too long - It would take around 25 minutes so I will be fighting that decision should it be made.

I also asked for half of holidays but my ex is arguing against that too. Too much too soon she says - too bigger a change for the children to adjust to. All that stuff. I'll be asking the court to guarantee that I can take the children abroad at least once a year. I'll also be asking for alternate Xmas and Birthdays although my ex has already told the court that's dependant on her knowing in advance where I will be taking them!

In a nutshell I have to argue each and every point with common sense because it is totally lacking in the system - my ex will fight anything I ask for regardless. If my ex says the school is too far, the court will just accept that as fact, so I have to make sure I have the entire journey broken down. For my next hearing I'm thinking of actually writing a statement out and reading it out loud to the court rather than just submitting it. I think it will have more of an impact because it's very easy to not get heard or be interrupted on the day. At my last hearing I submitted a 9 page witness statement as well as the 2 page statement.

I remember I was bricking it for my first hearing ever. But seriously, to any dad's just starting out, court is not a big deal unless you let it be. Make sure you are heard, question anything you are not happy with and don't be afraid to tell them if you do not agree with something. Don't let them make assumptions - because they will. Set them straight or they will run with the ball.
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As rightly said by Charlie - absolutely brilliant update and a tribute to your absolute determintion to the total hostility faced. No Dad should ever have had to face what you have been through but your update just shows what is possible with courage and belief.
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Well done very pleased its moving so positively! I too recall you went through a lot both in the courts but also personally and with your health, so to be where you are now is absolutely awesome. Your boy will be thankful one day when he understands, that you fought against so many challenges so that he would have his father in his childhood, in a full and normal way, building memories and having a strong relationship which makes him stronger for his own life ahead..well done!
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