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final hearing
i last went to court in march where the judge told me I wouldn't need to be on trial for the allegations my ex wife stated about in court and her statements, we all had to file statements to the courts, but even though they told me im not on trial they want us all to stand up against each other and cross examine each other, im confused  as I thought the final hearing was just to settle to the times we have the children, its now been a year I started the process to see my children.  
any help would be greatful many thanks scott
If I understand correctly, you are about to attend a final hearing regarding child arrangements. Having read your previous posts you confirm that Cafcass said they no longer need to be involved - this is in your favour as it this essentially means they do not see any welfare concerns. Did they make a recommendation as how to contact should progress? If so, this will hold a lot of weight in the final hearing discussions.

The final hearing is to determine what arrangements should be put in place.

You and your ex will have the opportunity to negotiate and agree an order by consent on the day of the hearing, the courts always favour this approach and want the parents to ultimately reach a decision as it is their children. However, if no agreement can be reached then the hearing becomes contested i.e. the ex does not agree with the proposals you and/or Cafcass have put forward.

Have a clear plan of the type of schedule that you are looking for. Also, have you been asked to produce a statement of evidence, if so, this will be a very important document for you during the final hearing. Focus on getting this document prepared between now and the final hearing, keep it child focussed and keep in mind the welfare checklist when you write it.

I've been through a successful contested hearing myself a few months back, shout if you need support with preparation.
It is confusing when allegations have been dismissed, but a final hearing (also called a "contested" hearing) is the way it works. Your statement is your evidence. In which you argue why you should have what you've applied for, and attach any actual evidence - emails, texts etc, that highlight points you want to make. Generally it's advised not to say anything negative about the ex and focus on why what you're applying for is in your child's best interests. However, if you have evidence (police reports, social services reports, emails etc) showing she has done something really bad then you can refer to that and attach the evidence as showing she is hostile to you seeing your child etc.

So yes the final hearing is to settle the times you have the children - but it is also the first opportunity you have to present evidence to argue your case. It is quite a formal thing. The Judge or Magistrates need to make a decision, so they hear both arguments - (ie read both your statements) and then make a decision. The point of cross examining is to try and prove the other person is lying (because your ex's statement may be full of lies but don't worry about that as it will be ignored as "mud slinging" unless it is backed up with hard paper evidence). Basically it's all to "win" a point. And to sway the Judge in your favour. No doubt your ex will argue against you having time with your daughter and come out with all kinds of ridiculous reasons. However, once welfare issues have been dismissed, then the law says children have a right to spend regular and significant time with both parents. So you will get an order.

The arguing etc may come down to - whether you get what you've asked for, how well the order is worded, or whether you get less than you asked for.

I cannot stress how important it is to be prepared for this hearing, and how important your final statement is. It is your "evidence" - your opportunity to give a much fuller account of why your child should spend this time with you, your history of parenting, etc. And on it, at the end, you ask for what you want to be ordered. I'd suggest that this is written out in exactly the wording you want in the order. Otherwise you can get half baked wording in an order and end up having to go back to court to vary because the ex is misinterpreting it and finding loopholes. You could even attach a draft order and ask that the court makes an order as per the attached draft order.

You can get most of the wording by googling sample orders! Or ask on here. I drafted my order but a Solicitor helped me tweak it. So have some experience from my order of the wording.

Does your ex have a solicitor or barrister? Although welfare issues have been dismissed, you don't want to be wrong-footed. Sometimes an ex's Barrister can throw in some new allegation or try to adjourn or something - dirty tricks. Which is harder if you're acting for yourself. But this is even more reason to be prepared. If your statement is good - and it has to be submitted in advance of the hearing so the Judge will have read it before the hearing - then any dirty tricks they might try won't have much chance.

If you don't have a solicior or barrister, then don't agree anything by consent pre-hearing. Just say no you want to go ahead wiht the hearing and let the court decide.

There's a link here about writing a final statement. Terminology is out of date as it refers to "Contact" and "Residence" which is now "Spends time with" or "Lives with".

My advice (and I did this) is to be careful with wording things. And don't use the term "Contact" anywhere. It kind of makes the Dad sound like the lesser person psychologically and ex's solicitors still like to use it for that reason. So I wrote mine as if all was normal and in a more positive way. So I'd say "When son was due to be with me on x date, Mrs Ex refused to allow him to come. (Exhibit a)".

Rather than "My contact was stopped on x date by Mrs Ex". Exhibit (a) would then be the evidence showing that it was stopped on that day - if there is any - eg an email from your ex saying "You'r a xxxing loser and no you can't see him this week-end".

So that shows you wording things politely, reasonably and shows her attitude. So that is in your favour.

You want to start working on your statement at least 3 weeks before the final hearing if possible and get together any documents you can use as evidence. Print out any emails, screen shot and print out any texts. Any other documents that can prove anything you say. And use those to help structure the argument and wording of the statement. It can take a few drafts to get it right. Mine was 8 pages (but that is double spacing) and they say it shouldn't be longer than that really.

You're not on trial. In a way you both are. It is a "hearing" where you are heard out and a decision is made as to whether to order what you have asked for. Hopefully all will be straightforward. But I would attach a draft order. So it includes more than just the schedule, but also things like passports, defined holiday dates etc.

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