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Child Arrangement Order Advice
#1
Hi All

I am needing some advice regarding the situation that I am currently posed with. I separated and divorced my ex wife back in 2013, and since then my children (now aged - daughter 11 & son 9) have lived with their mum in Worthing, West Sussex. Approximately 6 months after moving out, I moved back up north to Halifax, West Yorkshire due to emotional strain that my kids mum was putting on me e.g demanding money, not allowing the children to stay as agreed if I didn't provide extra money, or if I raised any concerns that I had with the children.

After moving back to Halifax, it was agreed that I would have the kids during the holidays, and that I am able to call, text or facetious the kids anytime I want. This has been the case for the past five years. During this period there has been lots of incidents that have happened which have raised concerns. Social Services have conducted investigations on separate occasions regarding safeguarding issues. My ex has denied access and deliberately alienated me over these years.

I have had my kids for the school holidays (the whole of August which is the longest I have had them since separating), and during this time the kids have expressed that they want to live here with me. When asked the told me that they feel scared and worried at there mums. They explained they feel this way because since their step father (reason I separated as ex had an affair with) is horrible to them and shouts at them for no reason. Since March until end of July mum has been working as a cleaner mon-fri and started work at 5am and finishes at 8am. Their step father works as a roofer and starts 6:30am until the evening. During this period of 6:30am - approximately 8:15am when mum returns home, the kids have been left alone in the unattended in a locked flat, along with their 3 year old half brother. My daughter has the responsibility of looking after my son and her half brother. She has to get them ready for school, make lunches, as well as getting herself ready. My daughter explained that during this time on 3 separate occasions cannabis was found hidden in lunchboxes. And on one occasion my daughter had to stop the toddler from eating cannabis which was found.

After hearing this and several other concerns I sought advice from various organisations such as CAB, Gingerbread, Child Law Advice and my solicitor. I reported this to social services again as I am extremely concerned. I have then filed emergency court papers for a prohibited steps order to prevent my ex removing the children from my care until the court decides on the child arrangement order that was filed at the same time, I feel that the children are at risk living with their mum and that I can provide as safe and stable environment. I was granted the prohibited steps order but denied the child arrangement order, and now have to attend court on Friday to go over the details for the child arrangement order with my ex present.

Yesterday I received court papers filed on the same day that I attended court from my ex. There was a transfer of proceedings order in there stating that her application at Worthing be transferred to Huddersfield where I filed my application. I'm assuming that is because this is where the children currently are. On my ex wifes papers she is asking for a prohibited steps order and child arrangements order for the following reasons, that approximately 11 years whilst in the Army I returned from deployment and was suffering from depression, and attempted suicide. This was true, but I received help for this and have now been fine for several years. She is claiming that I am depressed and unstable. She is also claiming that I am manipulating the children by not letting them use their phones to speak to her. This not true as the children have free access to call and text or face time their mum, and phone logs prove that this done on a daily basis. She is also stating the I am not financially able to look after them as I am currently bankrupt. I have been declared bankrupt as I lost my job back in January and since then have been unsuccessful in gaining employment. This created financial strain and I had no option but to be declared bankrupt. This has lifted a whole lot of strain and I am now in a good position where I actually have money left over after paying my bills, leaving me to be able to provide financially for my kids.

I am just concerned that what my ex is claiming will affect the judges decision. I am extremely concerned for my children and there welfare it my utmost priority. Please can anyone give me some advice on how to approach this.

Thanks
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