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Advice needed after mediation broke down
#1
Hi I am new to the site and could really use some advice. My partner and I split last October and have a daughter who has will be 1 year old next month and I have not seen her since March. I have a 5 year old from a previous marriage and all was well in the relationship and my ex took to my daughter very well not having kids of her own at the time. But I always felt she was slightly jealous of her as I have her 4 days a week. We started having problems in the relationship as lots do but always sorted them and got stronger. But after our daughter was born things got worse and we ended up splitting. Due to things that I had done wrong to hurt her and also due to things that she had done wrong to hurt me. I started to see our daughter once or twice a week in the company of my ex but it was not easy, we would either argue or she would launch an outburst at me publicly whilst I was trying to spend time with our daughter. It was then decided that as things were painful still between us I would meet our daughter with a third party which was the exes dad and this seemed to go well. I was not allowed to see her on my own. At the time my ex and I were texting but these always ended up as rows and things getting said to make each other hurt or angry. Her dad then text me saying he would not honor any more dates with me and they had decided it was best I saw our daughter through a contact centre. This shocked me at first as there are no safety issues, I was told by my ex that I would have to pay to see our daughter and it would be supervised. She also wanted a schedule and everything on her terms or I was threatened with court. If I didnt agree to have her surname added to mine she would take me to court, if I didnt consent to letting her take our daughter abroad she would take me to court, so it was just easier agreeing. I suggested mediation which she agreed to. We had a joint mediation session which went horribly and very one sided as I could not get a word in. But she demanded I give her a schedule on her terms which meant my time spent with my eldest would decrease as she didnt want her seeing her sister for what reasons I dont know. I said I would work something out, I booked a room at a contact centre and paid for it excited at the thought of finally seeing our daughter. I then received a text from my ex staing I had 2 days to give her a schedule or she would not take her to the contact centre and would take our daughter out of my life. This time I was not going to bow down to her but received a call the following day from the contact centre telling that my ex had cancelled. I was gutted but made sure it was noted that it was her that cancelled and not me. Anyway my ex wanted another mediation session which I agreed to bit I asked for a shuttle session as I did not want to see her and also so I could actually talk. I explained to the mediator that when I booked the contact centre I was told that the ex had infact said that contact did not need to be supervised, and I was confused as to why she wanted me to pay to see my child when I could see her alot more if was out in public places just me and our daughter. I dont always have alot of disposable income so paying £25 an hour each week for a room would sometimes be a struggle for me so I gave the mediator a list of dates and days I could afford to pay to use the center which was every 2 weeks and adhoc if I had the money. This was refused by my ex and she said it was not good enough as I have my other daughter 4 days a week which I have done for 3 years. The mediation ended with my ex saying she would no longer send any pictures or ask me to be involved with anything and if I wanted to see our daughter I would have to take her to court, she said that she knew that wouldnt happen as I couldnt afford it. As mediation has broken down is court my next step and how do I go about applying for contact with my daughter? Any advice is very welcome as I am kinda lost .
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#2
Right. What you need to do is get the mediator to sign of mediation as it isn’t working. This allows you to start court proceedings which you begin by filling in a C100 form.

Others on here can explain those steps better than I. To keep costs down you can self represent and if you income is low enough you may get a reduction on the £215 court fee. Your ex sounds like she knows how to work the system so hopefully you are prepared for all the stuff she throws at you during this procedure. Remain calm at all times and keep records of everything that happens and hold on to emails and texts.
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#3
Thanks for the advice, I did tell the mediator that as the ex will not compromise and wants me to take her to court that is what I will do. She did send an interim summary which stated that mediation had broken down. The mediator also sent an Email to my ex an copied me into it stating to my ex that after numerous emails from her regarding the interim summary that she can no longer be involved as mediation had broken down and her role as a mediator is to remain impartial and needed to make that clear to her. Can anyone advise how to start court proceedings and where to get the relevant forms or would a session with a solicitor benefit me as I want to do things all correctly to represent myself as I know the ex will use a solicitor for the whole thing.
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#4
"I then received a text from my ex staing I had 2 days to give her a schedule or she would not take her to the contact centre and would take our daughter out of my life."

Keep that text. Screenshot it and print it out. If you can upload it onto a pc with some software that shows the date, time and phone number, it helps.

From now on keep all texts and emails. These are evidence that she is preventing contact without good reason and show her attitude and behaviour and will help your case. Because you would be surprised how they lie and say they didn't do xyz later! And make up all kinds of things.

You can apply on your own - you will get help on here. Plenty of Dads have done it on there own. You could also get a free half hour's legal advice with a Solicitor. I recommend three free half hour's with three solicitors :-) Because not all of them are that good and some are biased. It took three for me to get some helpful advice and someone who I felt was trustworthy and reasonable. Some solicitors are very good, some aren't - some just want to make money out of you. Barristers are usually a better option if it comes to a final hearing and you can get direct access barristers and do the rest yourself. Or you can do the whole thing yourself.

But from now on keep careful records. Keep all texts and emails and try to have communication in writing. It's important that you don't react or get into arguments or she will claim you are violent or something. Emails or texts can be BIFF emails as if you're writing to a business colleague (Brief, informative, formal, friendly). These are also evidence and can show you as the reasonable one. I would avoid getting into dialogue about court. Let her send messages saying "you can take me to court" but don't tell her you are applying to court - she may take advantage of the interim period and accuse you of something and that can make life a whole lot harder.

When filling the C100 form out you need to think about what you actually want and how it would work - re your work, life, and other schedule with your older daughter. I assume you want them to grow up knowing each other (and your ex wants the opposite). Your baby's age will also make a difference. Unless the Mother agrees to overnight stays you wouldn't get them until your daughter is two years old. But there is no need for supervised contact. Indeed you've already proved yourself as a good and competent parent as you have another child four days a week.

There are a few things to think about as well. The Mother of your 5 year old - is it fairly amicable? Just wondering how she would react if the Mother of your 1 year old suddenly has you arrested claiming domestic violence or accuses you of something.

I guess what I'm saying is you also need to protect your relationship with the five year old and protect your five year old from any knock on impact on you. So I would tread carefully. How is the 5 year old taking it also? Because she already knows the baby before you separated.

Would you be happy seeing your 1 year old for a few hours twice a week in your home? I am taking it that your ex is not interested in maintaining contact with your 5 year old. So your five year old may be being affected to some degree as well (I'm sure she'll be fine as she has you and her Mother).

The fact is though, that they are half sisters and have a right to a relationship with each other. Maybe the court process will help your ex to see this.

You could maybe ask for increasing contact - eg every Saturday morning and a few hours midweek initially, increasing to all day saturday and a few hours midweek, increasing to every other week-end and a midweek overnight by the time she is two.

Which four days does your five year old spend with you? Your ex seems to keep asking you for a schedule. Once she gets to see the court application she will have the schedule you are asking for and can say no to a Judge instead.

You must be careful though - it is very common for ex's to find out all kinds of information about how to prevent a child seeing a Father for months on end and she may do some of this once she knows you're applying to court. The common thing is to accuse domestic violence or abuse of some kind - which means they then get legal aid and don't have to pay court costs. It also means it can delay and lengthen a court process.

So I would get your application in quickly. The C100 form is quite straightforward mainly but having done it twice myself there are a couple of areas I felt confused about so just ask on here. The main bit is the Summary box - which is where you say what the problem is, why you are applying and what you want. This is important and the box isn't very big. I put "see attached sheet" in this box and type it up on a sheet of A4. About 3/4 of a sheet of A4 is enough or they may not read it all. You then copy across the statement of truth that is under the summary box - to the bottom of your sheet of A4 and sign and date it. And put your name and type of application at the top (ie Application for Child Arrangements order for shared care).

So you can start working on it on the sheet of A4. Edit it, get it concise and easy to read, and getting across what you want to say. Within it you are expected to give the other person's point of view and why you don't agree with it. An opening line/paragraph with a brief summary is a good start. Eg I wish to apply for a child arrangements order for shared care of my daughter as I have been prevented from seeing her since March. Then another paragraph with some details/background details. My wife/partner Jane and I separated in October 2017 when our daughter was x months old. Initially I spent x hours a week with my daughter but Jane would only agree to this if she was present also. This arrangement broke down due to the frictions since separation. Jane would then only agree to my caring for my daughter if her Father was present. On x date Jane informed me I could only see our daughter in a contact centre. I explained that there was no need for me to have supervised contact with my daughter and pay for it, but agreed in order to be able to see my daughter. Jane cancelled the contact centre appointment and I have not seen my daughter since ex date. I proposed mediation, which has taken place but has been unsuccessful.

Another paragraph - I also have a five year old daughter from a previous relationship, who lives with me four days a week. She has known my baby daughter since birth. Jane's point of view, as stated by her, is that she does not want our baby daughter seeing my five year old daughter. I do not agree with this. They are half sisters and have a right to know each other. The current situation is also affecting my five year old daughter who has had to cope with my separation from Jane and the baby. As Jane is not agreeble to our 1 year old daughter being cared for by me, I assume that overnight stays will not be possible until our daughter is a bit older. However our 1 year old daughter is bottle fed and I have brought up my 5 year old daughter successfully.

I respectfully request the court make an order for shared care of my 1 year old daughter to live with me in my home, with progression as follows:

For the first two months - every Saturday from 9am to 1pm and every Tuesday and Thursday from 4pm to 7pm
Then every Saturday from 9am to 5pm and every Tuesday and Thursday from 4pm to 7pm until our daughter's second birthday
Then 9am Saturday through to 5pm Sunday every other week-end and from 9am Wednesday through to 9am Thursday, until our daughter begins school
Then a 5-5-2-2 schedule every other week-end from school finish time through to Monday morning school start time, two consecutive midweek overnights and half the school holidays with Christmas spent alternately with each of us.

I request an interim order for weekly unsupervised contact as above, to ensure my daughter continues to benefit from the love and care of both parents.

You can download and/or print out the C100 form from the link below or google C100 form and select the gov.uk website to get the download link. One of the pages is for the mediator to sign. You can either take that page to the mediator and ask her to sign it (which may be quicker) or the mediator will post you a copy of that page already signed which you can substitute for the blank page.

On the first page of the application in the box where it asks what you are applying for I suggest "Child Arrangements Order for my daugher to live wit both parents on a shared care basis".

Current terminology:

What used to be called Custody changed to Residence and has now changed to "Lives with"
What used to be called Access changed to Contact and has now changed to "Spends time with"
What used to be called Joint Residence or Shared residence has changed to "Lives with both parents" and/or shared care - it can be 50/50, 60/40 or 70/30 or somewhere in between but usually at least 5 nights a fortnight.

I think it's important to try for Lives with shared care to prevent her becoming a megolomaniac and saying daughter lives with her and just "visits" you and tries to call all the shots. Shared care means both parents are fully involved in day to day care, rather than the Mother being the "parent with care" who can (if inclined) override a lot of things. It shouldn't make much difference really but it can do with some difficult ex's as it stops them being the superior parent - legally anyway.

A lot of Solicitors still bandy the word "contact" about - speak to one who doesn't and is a bit more up to date.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk...00-eng.pdf
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#5
Just to add onto what Charlie has said, download an app on your mobile which records all phone conversations, in case your ex partner rings you, it can be used as evidence. Having that app has helped me a tonne since I started court proceedings
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#6
Many thanks for your reply Charlie, advice greatly appreciated, I have not had any messages from the ex for weeks now, she stopped messaging and instead sent 3 way emails through the mediator bad mouthing me and trying to make me out to be a father who only cares about my eldest daughter and not our baby. The mediator told her that the emails were in constructive and emails sent should only be about booking appointments. Since mediation broke down I received another 3 or 4 emails sent from around 6pm all the way up to midnight these were sent to the mediator to which i am sure she was pleased about on a Saturday night out of office hours. I have kept all emails sent and all messages and have started printing some of them off. I have the first interim summary stating that she wants supervised contact as she does not trust me and also a text stating that she told the contact center that I booked and paid for that I do NOT need to be supervised as she knows that I will be good with her in the time I spend with her. Also an email from the contact center stating that the ex cancelled which they sent to me. In the first instance I was responding to messages as she knows how to push my buttons but that all stopped and she would get very short replies or no reply as I stopped bowing down to her. I have messages of her admitting she called my 5 year old a little b**ch and to get her out of the house and admitting she threatened to throw her out of a window. Now I was not perfect in our relationship but in an argument she would hurt me by saying things about my 5 year old as she knows it would get to me. Who does that? She even said in front of her once do not turn out to be a c**t like your dad. I have been subjected to numerous violent out bursts resulting in a black eye from a sky remote being smashed across my face and more. Obviously I never reported them as we always worked things out. The last incident was just before she gave birth and she said " Your daughter is a lost cause, you should concentrate on me and the baby now" . All very upsetting things as they actually got on really well and my 5 year old doted on my ex but maybe on her part it was all show or just jealousy. I also have printed off a copy of a canvass portrait of my eldest as a baby which the ex stuck her car key through on the day we split, are these things the court would be interested in? My eldests mum knows what has been said and gone on and is in full support as we are friends now and obviously does not want my eldest being affected any more than she has. I would not be asking for over nights anyway as I am in a 1 bed flat at present until I can find something bigger where I can accommodate both my girls, I merely want to see my youngest on a weekly basis unsupervised and have her involved with me and with her half sister too. My work is on a 4 on 4 off shift pattern which my ex knows as we work at the same place so I have 4 days off each week. Obviously I have my eldest on my days off but she is at school midweek so this would allow me to see the youngest in between school drop off and pick up, the thing that would be tricky is weekends and school holidays as my ex does not want our daughter to see my eldest. I know what my ex will throw at me in court but none of the things I have done in our relationship are any safe gaurding issues but I know how manipulative she can be. With regards to the c100 form do I just fill out 1 copy? and once filled out do I send it to the court? this is the bit that confuses me, who lets my ex know I am applying to court? when do I pay the costs and what happens once the c100 is filled out. Sorry for all the questions but I want to be properly prepared for this. Also Kettleman thanks for the advice I will download an app to record but I cannot see me getting any calls now as the ex thinks I have just rolled over and walked away which is probably what she really wanted.
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#7
This sounds very difficult. Your ex clearly resents your five year old daughter and yes is probably jealous - and wanted to have one normal family. It sounds better that your 5 year old daughter is out of that situation and it's good you put your relationship with her before your ex. Women can do subtle things - do you think your 5 year old's Mother in any way caused trouble between you and your ex? Either way - it didn't work and you separated.

The thing I can see difficult is if your ex resents and dislikes your 5 year old so much then she is unlikely to ever accept the two children spending time together. A court may order it but she could cause hassle indefinitely. I think you are in the right place though. Someone I know had a similar situation. Broke up and took his son with him, but got back together with the Mother of his baby and basically lost his older son who went to live with his own Mother full time. And now stuck in that relationship as he doesn't want to lose the baby as well and doesn't trust her on her own with the baby - nightmare.

Anyway - once the C100 is completed fully, you photocopy it (replace the mediator page with the signed one before photocopying) and take 3 copies to the court. You can pay the fee of £215 by debit card when you get there - or you can post the forms with a cheque. But you need to keep a copy and take 3 copies to the court - so four in total.

Within a week or two the court will process the application and send papers out to both you and your ex. The papers will have a hearing date for the first hearing and may ask for something to be brought to first hearing (in my case it asked for a parenting plan).

That is how your ex will know when she receives the court papers. They send hers out a day or two before yours so she will receive them a day or two before you so you won't actually know when she gets them but when you get your copy you will know she has received hers. No doubt she will react when she gets them so you'll know!

In answer to the other things - you need to be careful not to say anything negative about her or slag her off - that would count against you - everything needs to be focused on the best interests of the child. So keep all the emails and texts etc and records but you can't show any evidence until a final hearing. The first hearing will be mainly to try and reach an agreement and if no agreement reached, make an interim order until a final hearing. If she claims welfare issues then you will probably only get contact in a contact centre until a final hearing.

Before the first hearing you both get phone calls from Cafcass (again be careful not to slag off the ex or they will tar you both with the same brush) - it's a game and hoops to jump through - they arent interested in who is right and who is wrong or whether it's true she did xyz - they are more interested in your attitude towards being a parent. You'll then get a letter from Cafcass before te first hearing which will show what they are recommending.

If you can get an agreement sorted at a first hearing it can be put into an order.
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#8
Again Charlie thankyou for your advice it's very helpful. I can print the c100 off next week and will fill them out. Is it likely that as I haven't seen baby in 4 months that the judge would make me use a contact center for a period? Also would she need good reason for both my girls not see each other? As this would hinder my contact with baby as of my other patenting commitments which I cannot just change at the drop of a hat. I don't think the eldests mum had anything to do with it but yes there was always an insecurity on the ex behalf. She is set on how she wants to raise our baby which is a good thing I guess but I want to be involved and parent like I always have and that's what the ex doesn't like
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#9
C100 printed off and will fill it out on my days off. Can anyone advise what else I would need for the initial hearing? Ie any other paperwork or documents
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#10
The important bit is the wording for the summary box - I put "see attached sheet" and type it on A4 as mentioned above. Write it, edit it, work on it till it's concise, reads really well and easily, gets points across and has a tone that is sensible and reasonable and states the facts and what you want the court to do (which is the last bit). Set out carefully what you're asking for and want them to do. So if you want to see the baby every Saturday from 9 to 5pm and every wednesday tea time from 5pm to 7pm or whatever, set it out. Don't be vague and leave it up to them to decide.

I think the only reason Cafcass would say supervised contact in a contact centre is if your ex accuses you of something and if Cafcass think it needs investigating. Otherwise there is no reason for that.

For the initial hearing - not much needed usually. Some of that depends on what happens when the ex gets your application and what her response is. Then look at what might be needed. It will mainly be with Cafcass and to try and reach an agreement. But before then you'll have an indication of how things are going after the Cafcass call and letter before the first hearing.
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