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First court date dilemma - help needed :-(
#1
Hi,

Having sought advice from the forum recently I have managed to apply to court for a child arrangements order and had a date set for in the next couple of weeks. The mediation company I used bypassed that process at my request as this is the second time I am having to go to court with my ex.

In short, I was seeing my young children for 3 hours a fortnight on Sunday and was reluctantly granted, by my ex, an extra hour and a half every other Monday. All contact has been at her house and I have never been able to take my children out on my own. Following a couple of times of me turning up and there being no one at home for my contact visit I decided to press on with court again, she didn't reply to any texts or emails so I felt I had no choice. She informed me that I were to go ahead with court proceedings then I can only visit the children for one hour per week.

As our first hearing is next week I am nervous enough about it all. But last week I received a late phone call from a withheld number, it was my ex informing me that one of children has become ill and is having to go for chemotherapy. Needless to say I am absolutely devastated and I was allowed to see the child the following day for one hour. I thought this may be time that any animosity between us may be put to one side but it doesn't appear to have. I get vague answers to questions and I am not allowed to attend any further hospital appointments. I have found it most difficult to speak to her properly due to there being 4 children in the room and her obvious stand off approach towards me.

So following on from this awful news I am completely at a loss for what I am supposed to do next. During the phone call when she informed me of our child's illness she also stated that she would not be attending court because of this. Part of me doesn't blame her really but at the same time I am left completely empty and I feel as though I should continue so I can get to see my children. It's so confusing inside that I really don't know what to do. Would I be putting our child at risk if the mother is away for the few hours at court? Do I contact the court to tell them what she said? What can the court do in the event of this news?

I really don't know what to do with myself following this devastating news and barely being able to be around to care for our child as well and be involved in everything going forwards. I suppose I am wondering if it appears selfish of me to continue with court in spite of this difficult time?

(Thank you in advance for any responses and good luck with your own battles and dilemmas, I am sorry if my writing appears robotic but I am trying to be succinct as possible)
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#2
I am so sorry and can imagine you feel devastated. I would say first thing to do is contact your child's GP, ask for a diagnosis and information on a treatment plan. Assuming you have parental responsibility you are entitled to be involved in medical matters relating to your children. If you aren't already in contact with them and known, then suggest writing them a formal letter introducing yourself as the childrens' Father with parental responsibility and requesting your name and address details be added to their file. Then say you have been informed by your former wife that child x is going into hospital for chemotherapy and you request details of child x's medical diagnosis, investigations and treatment plan. That you are happy to come in to meet them to discuss thus but request communication be separate and confidential from that with your former wife as communication between you is very difficult.

Enclose evidence of your ID and PR - eg a copy ofyour driving licence and something showing you have PR - if you don't have a copy of the birth certificate then just say you have PR by virtue of having been married to the childrens' mother and if they require further ID, you are happy to provide it.

I did this and received a written reply from the Doctor (when I eventually found the surgery as ex had moved surgeries without telling me). In my case I found I had been lied to and child did not have the diagnosis I had been informed about. This is why I think you should contact the GP first. If your ex is lying to punish you and disrupt the court application you will then have evidence of this in writing (ie your letter to the GP saying your ex told you child is having chemotherapy) and the GP's response - and that will not look good for her at all.

If it is genuine then you should get details of the treatment and there is no reason you can't see your child in hospital - and check if she is telling the truth about the dates. But maybe get a half hour's free legal advice re the legality of visiting the hospital without agreement.
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#3
Apologies, I left out the fact that I do not have parental responsibility for the children. We are not married and I am not named on the birth certificates.

I'm sorry to hear your ex put you through all that with that horrific lie. I'm praying my ex is lying but I can't for the life of me see her lying about it.

I have my phone call with Cafcass this week, maybe ill find out then if shes made any contact with the courts or themselves?
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#4
Well you need to apply to get the Parental Responsibility then - you can apply for it as well as a Child Arrangements order. Others will know more about how to get it than me.

If your ex postpones the court hearing date then yes ask Cafcass to let you know more about the medical situation and tell them you very much want to see your daughter if she is having chemotherapy.

I would write a polite and formal email to your ex briefly requesting to see your daughter in hospital when she is having the chemotherapy and requesting her send you a photocopy of the hospital appointment letter.

She probably won't but her reply refusing may be very good evidence for your upcoming hearing and not look good for her at all.
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#5
(08-30-2018, 01:35 PM)Charlie7000 Wrote: Well you need to apply to get the Parental Responsibility then - you can apply for it as well as a Child Arrangements order.  Others will know more about how to get it than me.

If your ex postpones the court hearing date then yes ask Cafcass to let you know more about the medical situation and tell them you very much want to see your daughter if she is having chemotherapy.

I would write a polite and formal email to your ex briefly requesting to see your daughter in hospital when she is having the chemotherapy and requesting her send you a photocopy of the hospital appointment letter.

She probably won't but her reply refusing may be very good evidence for your upcoming hearing and not look good for her at all.

Hi Charlie7000, I have applied already for a Child Arrangements order and added in the application I wish to also be granted PR as well. Unfortunately with the timing of my child's illness it looks like the probability is it won't go ahead. I have my telephone interview with Cafcass in the morning so I suppose I'll get to find out if there's been a postponement from my child's mother or she is just planning on not turning up.

I have had one e-mail response from child's mother stating the chemo has begun and basically I'm to wait until she has time to up date me with all that is going on via e-mail. Also, as long as I do not pick up any colds or illnesses I can still have my one hour a week contact. Which is understandable for obvious reasons. It's an absolute living nightmare having to wait around for updates via e-mail and I feel completely helpless not being able to be there for my child in this terrible time for them :-(
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#6
Of course I'm an outsider, but here that is a benefit.

I hate to press the point Charlie makes above but 'chemotherapy' is not nearly as specific a term as you may think. It meams drug therapy and can mean intravenous or oral therapy or both. What happened at the hospital? Were you just sat in a waiting area? Was it outside a specialist clinic? All that aside, you are kind of missing the most important point. You're needed_more_now as a father, not less! You should press ahead with the court date as this matter needs to be heard. Personally, I think you need a Specific Steps Order in order that you can attend consultant meetings and be fully up to speed with the diagnosis, treatment and prognosis as well as seeing your children.
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#7
That is a good idea! Specific Issues order - it is classed as an urgent application and can be heard within 48 hours. You apply on the same C100 form but put specific issues order in the box instead of child arrangements order. You are also allowed to submit evidence with it (I think) as it's an urgent application (which you can't with a child arrangements order). Specific issues are for medical or schooling matters, or for a holiday - or any other "specific issue". The only issue I can see is whether you have to prove you're the Father in some way. Does the ex agree you are the Father? Are you paying child support? It might be an idea to have a free half hour's legal advice with a Solicitor - you can do this with 2 or 3 solicitors if you want and put all the information together from that (some are quite good, others aren't). I did that and went with a proactive positive one. Some seemed very pro Mums and treated me with suspicion!

I would think in your application you would need to stress the severity of the child's illness using the Mother's emails as evidence and state that you are the Father and the Mother agrees you are the Father and you have been having contact with, and spending time with your child regularly for x months or years. That you do also have an application for a child arrangements order in due to the Mother preventing contact, but that this is currently an urgent matter due to the severity of the child's illness.

I am sure the court will also see the coincidence between the Mother preventing contact and the child now needing chemotherapy and that being a reason you can't see them. To be honest I smell a rat unless you've heard a diagnosis from a Doctor. Apologies if that isn't the case as it is a distressing time if your child is actually seriously ill and in need of treatment.
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#8
Sorry to hear about your son
I agree with Charlie
Its shocking to know a parent cannot be with their child or prevented from doing so given what is said.

It will all work out. Seem clarification regarding from a Doctor.

Regards
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#9
(08-30-2018, 10:27 PM)Chi21965 Wrote: Of course I'm an outsider, but here that is a benefit.

I hate to press the point Charlie makes above but 'chemotherapy' is not nearly as specific a term as you may think. It meams drug therapy and can mean intravenous or oral therapy or both. What happened at the hospital? Were you just sat in a waiting area? Was it outside a specialist clinic? All that aside, you are kind of missing the most important point. You're needed_more_now as a father, not less! You should press ahead with the court date as this matter needs to be heard. Personally, I think you need a Specific Steps Order in order that you can attend consultant meetings and be fully up to speed with the diagnosis, treatment and prognosis as well as seeing your children.

Thanks for your reply Chi21965, I basically have had one reply stating the treatment was started on Wednesday. No information on which hospital or anything about specialist clinic.

Having spoken to Cafcass yesterday, other than conducting the normal interview they do, they suggested it may be worth me contacting the court and telling them what is happening. I'm going to try and get some legal advice, even if it's a free half hour consultation. The Specific Steps Order appears to be the best way to go - even if it's just to be allowed access to information to what's happened already and what's going to happen. My child's mother has stressed how busy she is to relay any updates regularly, so I'm left waiting not having a clue how my child is at any given moment.

(08-31-2018, 08:26 AM)Charlie7000 Wrote: That is a good idea!  Specific Issues order - it is classed as an urgent application and can be heard within 48 hours.  You apply on the same C100 form but put specific issues order in the box instead of child arrangements order.  You are also allowed to submit evidence with it (I think) as it's an urgent application (which you can't with a child arrangements order).  Specific issues are for medical or schooling matters, or for a holiday - or any other "specific issue".  The only issue I can see is whether you have to prove you're the Father in some way.  Does the ex agree you are the Father?  Are you paying child support?  It might be an idea to have a free half hour's legal advice with a Solicitor - you can do this with 2 or 3 solicitors if you want and put all the information together from that (some are quite good, others aren't).  I did that and went with a proactive positive one.  Some seemed very pro Mums and treated me with suspicion!

I would think in your application you would need to stress the severity of the child's illness using the Mother's emails as evidence and state that you are the Father and the Mother agrees you are the Father and you have been having contact with, and spending time with your child regularly for x months or years.  That you do also have an application for a child arrangements order in due to the Mother preventing contact, but that this is currently an urgent matter due to the severity of the child's illness.

I am sure the court will also see the coincidence between the Mother preventing contact and the child now needing chemotherapy and that being a reason you can't see them.  To be honest I smell a rat unless you've heard a diagnosis from a Doctor.  Apologies if that isn't the case as it is a distressing time if your child is actually seriously ill and in need of treatment.

Thanks Charlie, I think it's best if I get some legal advice asap. There's no dispute to me being the father and I have records via bank statements of me paying child maintenance every week. 

In the possibility of it all being untrue, it has crossed my mind but I now have it in writing via an e-mail with her talking about treatment and several other things linked to the illness. I think she's too clever to lie and present evidence that could be used against her. Unless she's biding time and planning on moving away, suppose I am going to find out 100% when I have my hourly visit on Monday - providing this actually goes ahead.
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#10
If she's clever she may also know that family courts don't punish people for lying - although she would be running a risk there. But some of these Mothers are over confident about thinking they will always keep residency. Good luck with the legal advice - I would apply for the specific issues order. Leave it up to the ex to tell the court if she wants to postpone and the court will then tell you.

But - make sure you are still prepared for the child arrangements hearing. Because your ex could also be bluffing to try and wrong foot you. ie she may not cancel the date for the hearing at all and then you wouldn't be prepared. She could say - appointment for chemotherapy has been changed or something. It's all messing with your head and not keeping you informed.

The specific issues application will show her up completely if she isn't telling the truth and will look bad for her. If she is telling the truth you should get a reasonable outcome.
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