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Good Barrister in Berkshire?
The 50/50 arrangement we had before was made at court, mediation didn't work, she wanted alternate nights, one with me, one with her, that was never going to work with a small child, I wanted blocks of consecutive nights. Eventually we arrived at what seems to be termed a "consent" order, we decided outside the courtroom (I represented myself that time).

I couldn't seem to make the CAFCASS officer understand that my son never experienced any conflict, my son never sees us together and he doesn't see our communication (by text at the ex's request). The CAFCASS officer kept saying things like, "he will sense it". The only thing the ex and I are disagreeing over is this shared care arrangement, oh, she also wants it to be a "lives with" her now, CAFCASS also agree with that. My son was never involved in these conversations (which have always been polite but firm, by SMS)...until CAFCASS went to see him at school and talked to him about courts and judges, I was a little flabbergasted.

Tomorrow is the second half of my final hearing, we were supposed to have two days a couple of weeks ago, we ended up doing one day because the CAFCASS officer didn't show up. The judge decided the second day will be tomorrow, hopefully CAFCASS will show up this time. We are in front of a district judge as this is the result of an appeal and I requested a judge as my experience with magistrates has always been atrocious.

You're right, CAFCASS are calling our relationship "high conflict" which is surprising as my ex and I never see each other face to face and our text messages do not show a "high conflict" style of messaging. There has never been any history of intimidation or violence in our relationship, in fact I was once told off for not being jealous enough. As far as I can tell, the ex may have convinced the CAFCASS officer that I used to track her, "with an app on her phone". The app she was referring to was the Find my Friends app on the iPhone, something that our whole friendship group used whilst on holiday together.

Anyway, once all this is over, whatever happens and once I've pulled myself together I'm still determined to be a magistrate...if this doesn't preclude me from doing so. I want to bring the balance that this system is so badly lacking.
Keeping everything crossed for you at this final hearing. Cafcass are out of line in my view. The Mother will have known they were going to talk to the child in school and had the opportunity to coach beforehand. I really hope you get Cafcass there and in the witness stand and your evidence in your statement, and your legal team, can show that the conflict is not from you.

Cafcass said in a letter a year ago after my previous hearing, that there was animosity between parents and if it came to court again they would do a section 7. Totally unfair when the animosity was all on one side. I was tarred with the same brush because I had involved social services and ex said it was harrassment (when it was a genuine welfare concern). My ex has been pushing for it to go to court ever since, so she could coach son for a section 7! At my recent hearing her solicitor argued that Cafcass said there were welfare issues and would do a section 7. My hearing was just for specific issues and Judge said - no Cafcass at this hearing and no welfare issues. So they applied to vary on the day, to get Cafcass involved. Judge saw what they were up to and made a strong judgement that the only conflict in this case was caused solely by the Mother.

I think if you question Cafcass (or your barrister does) and you have a good Judge you will be ok. And providing your statement is 100% truthful so the other side can't catch you out and say you're lying about something. The name of the game with all this is never criticize the Mother (although you can highlight her behaviour in your statement if backed up with evidence, eg emails etc). They of course criticize you till the cows come home, but if the Father does it, you are judged badly by Cafcass.

Your Cafcass officer sounds biased. I would have thought your main argument would be reinstating the 50/50 shared care as you had it before. Focus on the child's interests.

Questions for the Cafcass officer possibly (Mark may have some good tips here!)

1) You say that the child is "more intune with the Mother". How can you say this when you did not see the child with the Father?
2) Did the Mother know when you would be speaking to the child in school?
3) Why are you describing this as a High Conflict case when the only conflict is being caused by the Mother unilaterally changing the pre-existing 50/50 shared care arrangements?
4) Do you think it is harmful to a child to suddenly have their regular and routine time reduced a lot with a parent they love and have lived with since a year old?
5) Why do you think the child should live with the Mother when he has always lived with both parents 50/50 and the Mother unilaterally changed this arrangement without consideration for the effect on the child?
6) Do you think it would be reasonable if the Father suddenly prevented the child going to see the Mother as often as before? No? So why do you think it is acceptable for the Mother to do this.

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