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contact order advice, representing myself
Hi fellas, sorry to bother you all.

Just a bit of background, it's all rather embarassing for me to be honest, I look a complete fool for being in this relationship, but it was my first ever girlfriend and I loved her despite what everyone told me  Sad We have a 10 month old son together and i'm being denied contact.

- Ex partner was a stripper before I met her, did alot of coke and everything else which comes along with that world.
- she has borderline personality disorder (not diagnosed but im 100% sure), the best liar and manipulator ive ever known. She convinced me for years and most of her family still don't know about her past either, they believe everything she says.
- Falsely accused me of domestic violence (released without charge)
- I've been punched, kicked, threatened with knives, spat at, you name it. I have managed to capture a video of her threatening to kill me and assaulting me.
- She has threatened to tell everybody that I have abused my son. Towards the end of our relationship, I would resort to filming her as the only way to protect myself and stop false allegations. When she knew i was filming she claimed I'd hit my son, so I have that on film. (maybe could be used to prove lengths she's willing to go to with her lies?)
- Everytime we have split up, she stops me from seeing my son. She also launches smear campaigns against me, to all my family and friends. Days later she begs for me back and I'm the greatest person ever again. This has happened many times as I've tried to get back with her for my sons sake.

Moving on:
My ex is denying me contact, so I have completed the mediation process, my ex declined to attend. I have been given the necessary forms by the mediator and I'm now applying to the court. I'm after advice on how to represent myself really, as I know I'm going to have all kinds of accusations and lies thrown at me:

- When the accusations and lies begin, what's the best way to defend myself? Do I touch on my partners past lies and her mental problems, and our relationship? I just think when people get the full picture, the truth is obvious. Do I offer the videos of me being assaulted and her lying saying i've hit my son? Again, I'm thinking once this is seen, it's easily established that this woman is lying.

Or do I stay focused on my son and what I offer as a father?

- my ex used to have the passwords to my phone and laptop and she has been on them and sent messages to herself, from my accounts, saying I don't want my son, and then screenshotted them. I know she will try to use things like these. Are these admissable? The only way I can disprove these is that she has sent messages from my account before to other people, and I still have these conversations.

- Finally, how much contact can I reasonably ask for with my son being so young? I would like 50/50 shared custody ideally.

Sorry for such a mess of a thread guys, I'm embarassed by it all.
Im really sorry I cant help but laugh, just reminds me of my younger days. But I am sorry for you mate, youve chosen a belter there.
So with all this flying around dont expect it to be a quick process, expect CAFCASS C7 reports, safeguarding and welfare issues, expect a fact finding hearing, basically youre in this for the long haul.
Secondly, youll never get 50/50 at this age, given such a high conflict environment you should start by expecting contact centre and work from there.
It sounds like you need a solicitor, at the very least youll need a barrister on the days of court.
If you can prove she has lied, false allegations at least once or twice it will make her case weak but you REALLY need a barrister on the day of court to argue this.
Your best bet is to stay whiter than white. Absolutely no lies and complete truth. And yes definitely concentrate on what value you add to your childs life, let her sling the mud and just prove it wrong.

Stripper? lol you sound like a country and western song. Keep your sense of humour, you'll need it.
Everyone is here on this site for help so ask away

PS, is the child safe in her care? its a long long shot but if theres drugs, violence, nudiness in her life and you can provide a safe stable environment then you might consider going for full custody. Youre a young man, make sure youre up to what youre asking for though.
If she has done coke (and you haven't), make the allegations at a FHDRA and request a 6 month hair strand test, for both of you to undertake. That will pick up any drugs taken in the last 6 months.
Good advice there from Naive and Marwood.

So what to expect: Have you submitted application yet? If not think carefully about what to put on it in the summary box, and what to ask for. I wouldn't mention anything that sounds like you are slagging her off (even if it's true) or it may go against you. As Naive says - let her look like the outrageous mud slinging one, and you being the calm rational one who just wants the best for your child.

Once the application is submitted you should get a court hearing date within a couple of weeks, at which time your ex will also receive the court papers. Expect a reaction. She may well then complete a C1A or somehting and make allegations about you. Her response will then be sent to you by the court so you'll know what she's said. Expect a shock and count to 10!

The next thing will be an email or letter from Cafcass asking you to register your details. eg address, email etc and you'll then get sent an appointment day/time for a phone interview. Do not miss this phone call.

Cafcass will be sussing you out during this phone call, so be yourself but also avoid saying anything bad about the ex - you are having to play the game here. What they want to know is if you sound like a good Dad who cares about his kid, or if you sound like an argumentative type who has no respect for the child's other parent. Answer any questions honestly.

Before the date of the first hearing you should have the Cafcass letter back after they have spoken to you. Sometimes it seems it is not quite what you've said - I think they put a spin on things you've said sometimes as in putting their own interpretation of your attitude from what you've said. But unless something is glaringly wrong and negative that you've said, best to accept it. If there is something completely inaccurate that you didn't say and object to, then you can email them and ask them to correct this, but be very polite and businesslike rather than rant at them or you'll get labelled as violent. You should know some of what they are recommending when you get this letter and whether or not they are going to do a section 7 report. If your ex has made allegations then Cafcass are very likely to do a section 7 report to investigate her claims, which can last a few months. But the next thing will be the interim/first hearing and you can ask for interim contact at that stage. If it's going to a section 7 you'll probably have to ask to have it at a contact centre.

First hearing is mainly with Cafcass and they will recommend to the Judge what happens next - eg section 7 report and you ask for interim hearing. After that it's waiting and visits to a contact centre to see your son. If there's no section 7 Cafcass might try and get you both to reach an agreement (which is unlikely to be reached by the sound of it). And you can ask for interim contact at home maybe until a final hearing.

If you've done nothing wrong, no police reports about domestic violence convictions etc, no history of drugs, Cafcass won't find anything and will then recommend how much contact at a final hearing, but at a final hearing you also have the opportunity to present a statement (your side and what you want) and evidence (eg things that prove contact being prevented or disprove any allegations maybe. Evidence can include printed out text messages and emails).

I can see why you're concerned if she used your phone to send text to herself like that. That is pre-meditated and if you can prove that it would be very useful. Not sure how at the moment but I'll think about that. As to your video evidence. I don't think you can use video evidence at court and I'm not sure how it would help.

The thing to remember is - the child has a right to spend time with both parents and the only reason for this not to happen is if it's not safe - eg welfare issues. And for some ridiculous reason Mothers are always assumed to be safe - unless social services says otherwise - and Fathers, if accused are suspect. Cafcass are just doing their job making sure a child isn't at risk - but they also can be a bit stuck in certain ways.

So you're not trying to prove what your ex has done to you - you're just showing the courts you're a perfectly safe and capable Dad. So once any allegations are cleared up it will move forwards to deciding how much contact. I believe Mark says that if a child is under 2 they are not going to give overnight contact so it may be an afternoon or daytime thing until child is older but an order could say progressing to overnight at 2 andthen every other week-end after that etc.

However, if Cafcass interview you in person as part of a Section 7 report you maybe could show them a video or two of her attacking you. That needs thinking about because the other thing that can go wrong is if they think the Mother is really hostile to contact they put the child's interests first and suggest less contact or something. So you need to think about that later.

Another thing you could do is once you know what all the allegations are against you, if you have anythign that could disprove those, you could email it to Cafcass before the first hearing, which might help.

So the thing to remember is - you're not trying to prove she's bad, you're trying to prove you're good. Anything that is not paper evidence will just be "he said she said" and so overlooked mostly. Any mudslinging (saying stuff about the other parent) does not go down well and more likely to go against you (or her) than be believed.

So right now, focus on keeping everything you can as evidence - any text messages or emails. If you think you might need a letter to disprove something (eg aGP letter if she says you're mentally ill and you're not) then get this things ready. You can get tests done to show you don't have drug/alcohol issues if she claims you have.

Regardless of how bad she is the courts are about dealing with child contact etc really and unless Cafcass has a report from social services saying the Mother is not safe they are unlikely to do anything about her. In fact if social services need to be involved,they should do something anyway. Unfortunately they can often not find much or do much anda lot goes under the radar. But if you have any real concerns that your child isn't safe then contact social services.

Even then, if they go round and find drugs and male strippers at her house or whatever, they're not likely to take the child and give him to you, they would just put some kind of thing in place to keep an eye on things probably and advise her or give her support. But if they do get involved after you've contacted them, ask them for a report after they've looked into things.

Good evidence is - professional reports - eg social services, police. Emails and texts are evidence, but influential evidence is professional reports. So if she has a criminal record it should come up on Cafcass checks.

Thinking about the messages and emails she has sent from your account. If you have others she sent to other people, with her name at the end, print a few of those out. In your statement you can say that when you were together, she regularly used your email account and phone to contact other people (see exhibit a). Exhibit (a) will be the print-outs showing your account with a message to someone from her with her name on. That proves you are telling the truth on this matter. Then in your statement you say that your ex is not supportive of you having contact and has stopped it each time you broke up and sent messages to herself from your account,claiming that you don't want to see your son, and this is not true. That you have been a hands-on Dad with your son while you were together and have tried to have regular contact with him but not been successful in this which is why you are making this application.

Your statement is your evidence and you have to be 100% truthful in it - if there are any discrepancies and the other side ask you about it and find something is not true, then the rest of it is all seen to be possibly not true. That can work both ways. If she lies in her statement and you can show it isn't true or she has contradictory things in it which show she has lied about something,then her evidence isn't credible any more.

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