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Final Order
I had a CAO in place for my 2 sons since Nov 2015. Half of all holidays except Christmas which was weighted in her favour. I always get Christmas day though and alternate Christmas Eves. Alternate weekends Fri from school to Mon teatime and every Mon & Wed from school until 6.30. So it wasn't too bad. I still missed the boys.

My eldest became unhappy with the arrangement and in Feb 2018 he ran away after school to my mums. In April 2018 he refused to return when his mum came to collect him.
So i took the matter back to court. We have been in court for a year but it ended Mid June.

Judge never liked me from the off. Cafcass did their S7 report in Sept and recommended no fundamental change to living arrangements but both boys did need more time with me.

I believe my ex became too confident and when my eldest wanted to facetime me from his phone on the morning of my birthday, his mum refused to let him. He ended up at my house at the end of the school day. He said he realised he was being used to try to hurt me. He went back but ran away several times over the next few days. Ex tried to get me for breach but I was returning him on the days I was meant to. He would often go to my mums and I was away but ex would refuse to collect him. My partner would bring him home.
When I ended up in the hospital for the week she simply refused to come get him even though my partner told her he had no parental responsibility.

Ex then wanted a care order report. Social Workers conclusion was that he should live with me, that he wasn't out of control, he just didn't want to be with his mother. SW said ex needed help dealing with her anger at me and she needed help as she took no responsibility for the breakdown in the relationship with our son. Also not willing to allow the boys any extra time with me was a bad thing in the SW eyes.

Judge finally gave the boys their own guardian and solicitor. I was represented from April to Nov but couldn't afford any more solicitor fees. I self represented from Dec to June 2019 with 5 hearings. My eldest was granted full time residency with me in Feb 2019 but it could still change at the final hearing as he had been living with me since Mid October. Judge had agreed he stay with me until an outcome was decided. He was placing himself in danger and I just wanted him safe. I don't condone what he did but he felt desperate. His solicitor told him he had chosen with his feet. If he wasn't so clever and mature for his 10 years it could have been a different ending.
Boys having their own solicitor was the best ever. My son was now 11 and turns 12 this month, his brother is still only 7. Solicitor and guardian (the original Cafcass officer) spoke instead of me and so my eldest had a voice with his solicitor. So instead of opposition directing everything at me, they had to challenge his solicitor.

At the final contested hearing the ex wouldn't budge on her proposals. I stated eldest should remain with me and the solicitor and guardian agreed with no specific times/days he must see his mum. Needs to build up over time. I wanted youngest 50/50 and youngest wanted this too. Guardian recommended mid week overnight which was only 1 night a week less than what I was asking. I agreed. Ex wanted no change.

Judge gave indication of decision prior to hearing evidence. It matched guardians. Ex had to concede. It took her barrister all day to convince her though.

So I have my just about to turn 12 son full time and I have to encourage him to see his mum once a month. I have my youngest an extra night which is now about 44% of the time. Sons age helped but ex kept spouting alienation. She has self alienated by her actions and her badmouthing of me. I got the impression the judge believes her but as i didn't get the chance to cross examine and provide evidence I was unable to demonstrate how her actions have created this situation.

I truly hope my eldest rebuilds his relationship with his mum but even as of today she is being difficult with him and even though I convince and persuade him to see her, and he agrees to, she refuses to collect him and wants him to make the 2 1/2 mile journey from mine himself.

So, persevere gentlemen, never bad mouth the ex in front of the kids and in the end the kids will see who the better person is once they start to grow up. It probably cost my ex's wealthy parents in excess of £30k defending this. Cafcass said there was influence by me but the boys have always known I want them equally. If that is influence then I am guilty. Just tell your kids you love them and never give up. Even though this judge didn't like me, it ended up in my favour anyway.
Great outcome, just goes to show that fathers do get some justice! Enjoy the extra time with your two Smile
Thanks for giving us hope that these things happen. My son is 11 and ex is trying to say he wants to vote with his feet. He doesn't actually - he is quite happy with the set up, but she is pressurising him to spout her "wishes and feelings". As you say, keep hanging in there and being the normal reasonable one.
Great result, it's great to see some more of these decisions coming out of the courts.

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