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Access/Communication Advice
#1
Hi all, I wonder if I could ask for some advice please? 4 weeks ago I separated from my wife of 15 years after being told she has changed as a person and I'm no longer part of her future. We have 3 Children 7,13 and 16. The separation started out quite amicably with me being allowed to stay at the house for 2 days one week, then 1 day following week with a weekend, at this point basically my wife would stay at her parents while I was at the family home. In short my wife found out that the eldest 2 children wanted to live with me and me being the full time parent at home. Since this point two weeks ago, I have been denied any access or communication at all with my children, they have been told that if they contact me they will be in trouble with Social Services (who are not involved). I have since sought legal advice and many letters have been exchanged from both parties where I have had to start court proceedings to try and force through getting access and communication with my children. This all takes so much time but in the meantime I have no contact at all with my children, which is killing me!I have been told by my solicitor to adhere to her request for no contact although she has no legal grounding to self impose this as it will prove to the courts that I am trying to do this right. Has anyone any advice or been/going through anything similar? Thanks, Adam.
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#2
Sorry you haven't had a reply yet. Yes things can start out amicable but then you end up on opposite sides and become a threat to each other over who the kids live with etc. As there are no orders, you are both equal at present - neither has legal residency effectively. But as someone on here said - possession is 9/10ths of the law and the usual advice is - don't move out until you've got child arrangements sorted legally.

Words cannot describe though, how I feel about any parent who refuses to let children see the other parent. Right now though you have to be careful.

What commonly happens is if you now try to contact her, or go round or see the kids, she will accuse you of domestic violence or harrassment or something - especially if she has had legal advice. It's common because if they accuse domestic violence they get legal aid and don't have to pay any legal fees.

Has your solicitor written to her? It's all very well saying adhere to her request, but has your Solicitor actually written to your ex saying - you must allow the children to see their Father?

I would suggest having a free half hour's legal advice with 2 or 3 more Solicitors and go with the one who you instinctively feel is on the ball. I've had to do that before. In my case, the third one was on the ball and on the case.

Meanwhile you can start the ball rolling and make an appointment for mediation. Google mediators in the area, ring round them and make an appointment with the one who can give you the earliest appointment. And tell them it is very urgent as you're not seeing your children at all. You might be able to get an appointment within a day or two if you tell them it's urgent (some will do that, some won't, hence ringing round 2 or 3 in the area).

This costs about £100 and is a first appointment that you go to on your own, called a MIAM (mediation, Information and Assessment meeting). You need to have attended one of those before applying to court and ideally courts like to see people have tried mediation before going to court, but often an ex will refuse to attend or not turn up. At the first appointment you can explain the situation to the mediator and they will then invite the ex to attend. If she won't go or doesn't turn up, then you get signed off mediation and apply to court.

You can actually ask to be signed off straight away at the first appointment. They don't like it and will try and persuade you to try mediation. But what I did last time was insist I could be signed off to apply to court, and tell them I was quite happy to continue trying to mediate once my court application was underway, but it was urgent.

Ok so she feels threatened that the children want to live with you in the old home. She would stand to lose too much. Both parents feel threatened by that and a good solution is 50/50 shared care so there is no one main resident parent. You could actually ask your solicitor (whichever one you go with) to write to her and say you want them to go to mediation and propose 50/50 shared care as the way forwards. She won't want that probably, but it may make her feel less threatened to some degree.

So list

1) Get a mediation appointment for next week (you'll probably have to wait till Tues to ring round but can google mediators and get their numbers ready.
2) Put a post on here asking for a solicitor recommendation in your region - it helps to have someone recommended who has had a good experience and been through it.
3) Make appointments for a free half hour with a couple more solicitors in your area meanwhile - you can always cancel the appointments again if you get a recommendation.
4) Download form C100 and print it out (you will need it to take to the mediator to get the relevant page signed and can also start filling it in even if a Solicitor finishes it for you.
5) Keep records of absolutely everything. Don't delete any texts or emails sent or received. Make diary notes if anything happens. Either on a PC or get a notebook and write anything in with the date.
6) Protect yourself. Don't phone her, don't get into any arguments. What your solicitor is probably saying by "doing the right thing" is not making a scene about it and end up being accused of being aggressive or something.

You will probably need to go to court - unlikely to get sorted at mediation. You could start preparing some wording for the summary box on the application form as that is what you are saying to the court and what you are asking for.

Similar to what you've said on here. Eg

My wife and I separated amicably X weeks ago, which was not my choice. Since that time we have both lived in the family home with the children separately, with my wife being away while I was staying there, and me living elsewhere while she was staying there. Our children are 7,13 and 16 and the eldest two said they wanted to live with me and stay in the home with me. Since that time my wife has refused to allow me to see the children or come to the house and I have not seen or spoken to them since x date. I believe my wife's point of view is that she would lose too much if the children wish to stay with me and live in the family home with me. I am therefore respectfully requesting the court to make an order for 50/50 shared care for the the children to live with both parents, as I feel this is the way forwards, to enable the children to have significant and regular time with both parents. I would like this to be on a 2-2-5-5 basis, whereby the children spend two nights a week with each of us and every other week-end with each of us, and half the school holidays with each of us.

That kind of thing. But if you have a solicitor they will help you write it. Although you can submit the application on your own. I did that and then used a solicitor later. When filling in the application form, under where it asks who the children live with put "both parents". Although they are literally living with their Mother at the moment, it effectively gives her residency if you put they are living with the Mother as that suggests it has been agreed they live with the Mother. On the first page where it asks what you're applying for you put "Child Arrangements Order for children to live with both parents on a 50/50 shared care basis".

Really feel for you with no communication but this is a process now. Get the ball rolling and hang in there. It isn't called access/custody or contact/residence any more - it's called spends time with or lives with.

The kids are in the middle here. 50/50 helps them see both parents regularly and makes the parents on an equal footing.
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#3
Thank you so much for taking the time to write this. I have been to mediation and have the signed off form. She was given the opportunity to attend but didn’t. I will have the draft copy of the court application from my solicitor on a Tuesday and then I can press forward. The two solicitor’s have swapped several letters and she is accusing me of parental coercion, which falls under the banner of DV so she has legal aid. I have been offered a 4 hour supervised visit tomorrow, this was at 4pm yesterday, so gave me very little time to change the arrangements as the solicitors were closing within he hour. My solicitor was livid at this tactic and told them so. I am seeing my children tomorrow, supervised by her Aunty, this will be uncomfortable but i’ll Take anything right now just to see my children. It all takes so much time and I have been told, a court hearing can take several weeks after the application. Is this the case? Any idea’s of how long?
Thanks again for your message and advice
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#4
Ok that sounds mostly positive (the not positive bits are fairly typical). Do you know what Solicitor is suggesting you ask for in the application? I would go for 50/50 "lives with both parents". You might not get it - but you might. If you don't ask for it you won't get it. First hearing is usually about 4 to 6 weeks after application processed. Usually about a week to two weeks to process application. Mention to your Solicitor about asking for an interim order at the first hearing (ie ask for it in the application). So from the time your application is submitted to court, within a week or two it will be processed and your ex will be sent a copy a court date. They usually send hers out a day or two before your copy is returned to you with a court date. The next thing is a phone call from Cafcass. Be yourself and don't say anything negative about the ex. They are judging on your attitude to the other parent in some ways, as well as asking you questions generally and about any claims the ex has made. You should then get to see their report before the first hearing, and have an idea of what they are recommending. If the ex has made allegations, then Cafcass may decide to do a Section 7 report to investigate - which delays matters, and why it's important to ask for interim contact at the first hearing, which is when Cafcass will recommend what happens next -either a SEction 7, or mediation while waiting for a final hearing or just progress to a final hearing.

As others have said it's jumping through hoops to get to the end and have an Order.
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