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Gone back to court to Vary the order
#1
hello Dads - I have gone back to the court a year after I had my final children arrangement order, this time to vary the order to have more time with the children. 

The arrangement as per the earlier court order is going alright, except I and children (two 4 year olds) want to spend more time together, ALSO this time I'm asking for shared care. I and the mother done the mediation and expectedly she doesn't agree with shared care and doesn't agree with more nights. 

Now here is the question - The court looked at my C100 and have asked Cafcasss to do safeguarding, which I thought at the first as bit surprising as it would only mean wasting of time ! Now is that a normal thing?? as I have not raised any safety concerns, and I'm pretty sure mother won't be raising anything herself, although our previous engagement at the court was pretty acrimonious ( is an understatement). TBH I was expecting to be called straight to directions hearing. 

Thanks
Sean
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#2
It's just the normal phone call and report you do before first hearing :-) But a very important part of the process in my view. The usual thing - don't say anything negative about the ex. If you get the opportunity, talk about the children and what they like doing etc what their favourite meal is (shows you can cook!). If anything say something positive about the ex. All of this shows you as a good parent who isn't just slagging off his ex. Slightest negative comment and they take it to town and say "conflict between parents". One thing to be prepared for, that used to throw me, is they usually seem to speak to the Mother first - so then put you on the spot with - Mrs Ex says xyz what do you say? In my case it was Mrs Ex said xyz allegations! So be prepared, take a second or two to pause and make an appropriate response. I tended to steer away from it and say - well I think she maybe doesn't like the idea that I am asking to increase the time - the children are really happy here but would benefit from more time in each home and not have too long a gap between seeing each parent. That kind of thing. I had a really direct statement once. MRs Ex says you're controlling and don't feed son properly. Same kind of respone. I said - well Mrs Ex has quite a strong personality and likes to be in control of things and doesn't like my partner but son is really happy here with us.

I didn't quite get that right! It was reported that Ex said I was controlling and I said she was strong and controlling! So it's a case of being straight but also wording things carefully and preparing a few things to say that show what things are like for your and kids (good things). I found it helped to write a few things down first and keep it in front of me.

As you say, I doubt there will be any welfare issues, but if they sense any antagonism of you towards her they may be less likely to recommend more time (ie they expect to hear negative stuff from the Mother, but if both parents do it its classed as conflict between parents and then they think the kids are better of with minimal time with the Dad to avoid the conflict - possibly).

So rule number one.Don't say anything negative about the ex. They just want to know you're a good parent and positive about co parenting.

Hopefully you will get a good Cafcass letter and they will recommend what you want. But at this stage, before firsthearing they might not recommend anything, try and get agreement at first hearing, and may recommend mediation is ordered if no agreement, before final hearing.
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#3
Wonderful, as always thanks for the very sound and timely advice Charlie. Sometime in my mind I sidetrack but your post has brought my senses back. CAFCASS have created a case and I'm expecting to hear from them about phone call anytime soon. Great advice to write something up and have a few examples of good behaviour from both the parents ! Will keep posted here for more updates, thanks again.
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#4
Hi Sean,

I've recently gone through C100 application -> CAFCASS call -> Safeguarding letter -> FHDRA.

Like all the advice given here - during your call, don't say anything negative about your ex. If you need to make a comment, consider "Jane's parenting plan is not child-focussed carrying with it a great risk of disrupting our child's schooling".

If they ask you why your ex has accused you of being abusive (for example), respond calmly and say that you are saddened at this false allegation. etc.

A word of warning, despite the fact that I was child-focussed on my call, calmly refuting personal allegations, the CAFCASS officer wrote a horrible safeguarding letter, recommending court to focus on ex's allegations rather than the variation I was requesting in my original C100 application.

Thankfully, I submitted an honest child-focussed FHDRA position statement which the judge took note of, saw through the ex's strategy and made directions for the final hearing for all parties to focus only on the variation in the C100, in our witness statements.

Good luck.
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#5
thanks for sharing your experience proud_dad, that is very helpful. I'm prepping for the call next week, and I will stick to the script :-)
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#6
Just to update, I had a call with the office which lasted some 20 mins. I have very much stuck to the script. report will be filed early next week.
I thought all the questions were pretty standard in nature, no trap questions, but I have learned to expect surprises over the years, especially given the last time around they had decided not to issue the report to me.
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#7
That sounds good. Hope it goes well. Is your ex the type to accuse all kinds of things? Maybe not or Cafcass may have told you what she said.
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#8
she is the kind who brings up petty things and makes herself look stupid. Obviously she is not in favour of shared residence which I'm asking for and not in favour of 50-50. She did agree to half the summer holidays and half easter/Xmas holidays.

I was little surprised that CAFCASS weren't aware that we had mediation and agreed to something and not agreed to other things. That told me that Ex has only focussed on petty things, while I focussed on the fact that I and mother still had working partnerships and we both have been flexible at times. Cafcass was surprised to hear that I took care of the children when mother fell sick as she wasn't informed about that.

Here are the examples of how petty the mother can get..she complains about children clothes size, she complains about missing hair bow, moans about children bringing toys from daddy's home, but unsurprisingly she wouldn't write anything about why children cry at the handover wanting to go back to daddy's home !
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#9
I think those things - however tedious - are small stuff :-). I have a psychopath to deal with unfortunately.
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#10
Got the report today. She has been petty like I imagined talking to CAFCASS about children carrying pencils coins and wearing undersized clothes ! It appears I have had a good measure of her by now :-) CAFCASS mentioned that I have concerns that children are reluctant to go to their mother at handover which is true.

CAFCASS said there is no risk or harm, suggested both parties to do SPIP and suggested the main issue being quantum of time children spent with the parents, and suggested to try mediation failing which parties to head to the contested hearing !

So far so good ? - I have asked 50-50 everything from current 4 nights a fortnight and no defined holidays.

Thanks
Sean
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