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My experience thus far
#1
Evening all.

I had a directions hearing last week. My case has been on going for over a year now but the final hearing is in two months. I won’t give too much away in case of prying eyes and the final hearing is finally over.

Been a while since I posted so thought I’d give you my experience of being a litigant in person for my first ever experience in the child courts (and no doubt not my last).

My ex is being extremely belligerent. Absolute silence from her end in attempts to frustrate and make me crack to make mistakes. Done her best to try and insinuate all sorts of allegations but utterly failed.

I managed by a whisker having to avoid doing an anger management course. The last two hearings have actually gone rather well considering I’ve been up against an angry lying ex and a useless and belligerent cafcass. It has helped however that their own belligerence has shone through.

My tips so far

1) Try and keep your emotions to a minimum and be polite in all emails and the hearings. Note down what is said as you will get a chance to respond. Try and act positive.Do not give her, cafcass or her respondent an edge.

2)Be very careful what you say verbally to an ex’s lawyer regarding any proposal prior to a hearing. Keep conversation to a minimum as they will attempt to twist anything you say as a negative. If needed write down a proposal and hand it to them. There’s certain things they feel they can get away with with a litigant in person.

3)My gut feeling is the process works on the basis that if abuse is alleged then don’t expect miracles on the outset from your first hearing. Ultimately that doubt hangs over your head especially with CAFCASS. Even if that’s entails a prolonged absence from your children. They are testing you to get a reaction.

4) Do what your ordered to do.

5) Play dirty where you can but don’t let it be shown in court. You can get a lot of leeway with magistrates being a litigant in person which clearly winds up solicitors. Especially in terms of what is submitted. Let’s just say I wrong footed the ex’s solicitor big time on the last two hearings.

5)Read the terrain. If CAFCASS and the respondent aren’t giving you an inch in access then don’t ask for a lot either. The less you ask for and they still refuse then the more unreasonable it makes them look.

6) Take out all emotion from your statements in your court statement and try and make it factual with reference points.

7) if the ex is being belligerent you’ve got to try and get factual examples.

8) if your ex is making obvious breach’s of your basic parental rights highlight it and request in the statement that you request them to order an immediate resolution.They just did it with myself as the ex solicitor offered no explanation.

9) if cafcass are being belligerent you need to nail down where this is in their own reports. My officer has made a couple. In addition don’t be afraid to highlight in your statement items that you think should have been investigated by cafcass in their report. You can ask for an addendum to their report. Again, mainly around factual items that will prove your ex’s hostility.

I can only give opinions on my own experience but my ex has given me little reason to want to pay for extra legal help.
If she gives nothing, offers nothing and CAFCASS recommend hardly anything on top of the nothing you already have then ultimately I’m not risking thousands of pounds in legal fees to achieve nothing.

I’ve been on the ropes a few times on my case but if the opponent makes mistakes you can turn it back around by focusing on their errors and prove they are being hostile. That’s including cafcass.

Once my case is over I’ll expand on items I did wrong and right later.
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#2
Good post! I would certainly make sure you stand your grand with cafcass, I found them horrendously bad to the point where I got the impression my case worker just wanted to get a tick in the book and backed up mother from the start, she was actually getting really obnoxious and rude with me but I stood my ground whilst negotiating and wasn't afraid to say "no" and I actually managed to shut her up a few times when I explained reasoning behind what I was saying, it was quite amusing then suddenly she was my best friend. I don't care what anyone says they are 100% mother focused and expect fathers to just take the abuse and false allegations and take whatever ex is offering. I cannot stress enough to challenge them and their report if it's wrong (all of mine were a joke tbh). Ironically I got an email today to say they have discharged my case, best news I've had from them they are absolutely useless. I would also agree that in hindsight I wish I had gone alone however my solicitor did some good work for me and things may have gone the other way if she wasn't involved but I did find the main negotiation was by myself at the end and solicitor even commented on how well I did.

Good luck and keep us updated!
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#3
Ultimately hiring a solicitor of course comes with their own advantages but disadvantages too I feel.

Partly my problem with hiring a solicitor is they are too afraid to push boundary’s (I’ve been through a financial proceeding too) for the sake of their own career and reputation. When they all work in the same industry they have their own ambitions and what to all keep CAFCASS, magistrates and each other on good terms for the long term. In addition they also of course want to get paid.

CAFCASS hate dealing with litigants in person and quite often push you to get legal advice to make their lives easier. They therefore set out to make your life more difficult to force your hand. Keep them on their toes, insist on them receipting your emails so they can’t pretend your email vanished down some mysterious black hole. They tried that with me.

I really had to push the envelope in a prior hearing and it forced the ex to reveal a crucial bit of information she otherwise would not have. Throw back the same logic they throw at you. It’s certainly now helped weaken my ex’s case, without doubt.. Had I had a solicitor insisting on me being reasonable there’s simply no way that information would have been revealed.

As I said earlier I’ve now forced the magistrate into ordering the ex to reveal information she didn’t want to. That alone is a blow to their case as it can be brought up again in a final hearing.

Don’t rely on CAFCASS seeing the obvious and reporting on it, they’re experts on omitting crucial information.
You’ve got to spell it out in a statement to the magistrates clearly in way that will anger the magistrate, such that it’s wasting courts time that crucial information that should have been made made available to them is not.

My CAFCASS officer blatantly attempted to stitch me up back in December by accusing me of not doing something I was never ordered to do.Ultimately when you lie you make mistakes which means the court make mistakes when they’re feeding them bullshit. The cafcass officer totally denied it of course but it ultimately meant a previous order was drafted incorrectly. They are slippery bastards so don’t give them an inch.

Catch them out factually and it wakes them more wary of repeating the same behaviour and it can buy you leverage.
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#4
Agree 100% - cafcass are usually half the problem in the court arena and if you're not on the ball they'll stitch you up.
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#5
Yes agree as to how Cafcass and solicitors all in cohoots with each other. Solicitor in the name of being reasonable will not push the boundaries. Although I had the solicitor I quickly realised how they are all part of the same professional circle, and started standing my ground and in some cases I vehemently overruled the solicitor. My interview with Cafcass was like full of traps. The worker tried to push the buttons deliberately to see how I reacted, Also number of trap questions thankfully this site had prepared me well to deal with before.

Lots of good points there beehive. Thanks
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#6
The problem is as a man your solicitor wont push the envelope for you unless they have hard and factual evidence against a female. It’s the nature of the beast.
Your female ex can throw around all sorts of shit without blow back because she’s risking nothing.
I have thrown elements back at the ex but tried to do it in a relevant manner on factual events regarding the case to show her continued hostility.....not delved back on historical allegations as the magistrates don’t care about that past the fact finding which my ex agreed not to do.

1) Ultimately solicitors insist on sticking to the be reasonable act as the best solution but it’s not the be all and end all.
2)It’s also their own reputation on the line with fellow people in the industry.
3) Thirdly I find them all arrogant. In fairness they didn’t study law to get lectured to by me about the law however child law is a fluid beast based on probabilities, guess work and the way the wind is blowing.
It’s not entirely factually based irrespective on what they claim.

CAFCASS are simply a joke. They’re experts on talking the talk about they’re spectacular rules and what they follow but they fly by the seat of their pants. They should be a factually based organisation to report on the facts only.

In reality they act as tinpot detectives. As far my own history goes despite the total lack of any evidence, any non molestation order, any police investigation they still see me as a potentially abusive man hiding under a rock. Where the police failed twice to believe my ex to go as far as not even bothering to make contact with me, CAFCASS see a smoking gun and will shoehorn me in where possible within the rules.
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#7
Any educational establishment your children attend. At the very least you have a right to know which one.
It doesn’t mean you have a right to visit and go pick up the child but the magistrate himself suggested I have that right at least to know which one unless your ex can offer some sort of factual reason why not which mine couldn’t.
If you are asked why (I wasn’t) then suggest you need to see your child’s progress reports as a legitimate reason.

Again keep in mind that although my ex is attempting to completely freeze me out she’s at the same time claiming to be open to contact.

The two positions are blatantly polar opposite which is rather obvious.
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