Just looking for some advise from anybody who may have been in a similar position to me. Myself and my ex partner split before our daughter was born and despite this I was there for the birth and have been seeing her regularly. My ex is constantly changing arrangements for me to see my daughter and is reducing the time I get to spend with her along with refusing overnight stays.
She is 6 months old now and despite numerous attempts my ex will not enter into any conversation with me about arrangements. I just wondered if anybody had experience with the court system and whether they will grant overnight stays despite my daughter only being 6 months old. My partner is not breastfeeding so no issues on that or safeguarding etc.
Hi, from my experience I'd forget Court, moment you go to court your ex will be breastfeeding and all other lies. Court drains you, disrupts life and costs a bomb if you get a solicitor.. Something I'd never recommend. And it cements a war between you and your ex.
Go along with contact as your ex dictates and try to do it, see your daughter as much as she allows, you'll build a bond with your daughter over time and she'll see both parents for what they truly are.
If mediation fails, you will then move on to court.
It isn't fun and it's certainly not easy but it may be the only way to give your daughter that relationship she needs with you. They do order overnights with infants and to be honest, the sooner you are in a courtroom the better in terms of your child's age.
Try mediation, give it a good shot. Try to agree a slow progression to overnights. Build to that point over the next six months. This is what you would have to do if you go to court anyway.
I agree with justdad, mediation is the first step and it can work. Take a look at the CAFCASS parenting plan and also our own guide, try and introduce it at mediation to get some solid agreement in place.
As has been said, court should always be the last resort, but sometimes it can't be avoided, if contact is being reduced and the mother is becoming more unreasonable then they are clear signs that you need to act.
If you don't agree anything in mediation, by the time you apply to court and attend the hearing, a few more months will have elapsed and overnights would be more realistic. Once the court has decided there are no safeguarding issues, contact will likely be ordered to start with just a few hours, but will be steadily progressed to overnights over a period of a few months.
Here are some links to the new and improved parenting plan put together by CAFCASS, even if you are unable to agree the plan together, at least it will give you a better idea of what to negotiate when using mediation. You can access the PDF with an template and further information from the green box on the right of the page I have linked below.
You would have Parental Responsibility if you are named on the birth certificate, even if this is not the case, it wouldn't prevent taking the same steps as discussed previously.
Court can be costly if using a solicitor/barrister, but many here have self represented to keep the cost to a minimum. The fee for a court application is £215, but if an applicant is claiming benefits, or is on a low income, they can claim an exemption from the fee.
Another issue I have is that she refuses to name me on the birth certificate despite there being no dispute over me being the father. Therefore I don't have parental responsibility. She discussed it with me before she went to register the birth and promised me she would put my name on the certificate and has promised me 2 or 3 times since then but now won't do it. I know the only way to get this amended without her permission is via a court order so it seems I am left with no other option. I have made every effort to co-operate with her and be reasonable so we can work out what is best for our daughter but she just won't enter into any conversations and every few weeks changes the time I get with my daughter and has gradually reduced it over time rather than increasing as she gets older. Unfortunately despite the strain it is going to put on both of us and ruin any kind of friendly relationship we could have had for our daughter there seems to be no other option.
I'm having a bad week so I'm afraid my replies may be short but.....
Get the ball rolling with mediation. Being named on the birth certificate being one of the things you want to agree - along with increased contact.
I've had plenty of cases where the court has ordered that names are added to birth certificates, if she isn't opposing this now, I'm 80-90 percent sure you would be able to get that written into an Order (depends on magistrates / or Judge). But I've never had too much of a problem in circumstances like yours.
Mediation HAS TO BE the first step no matter how you decide to proceed so make the application to NFM and see what can be agreed. As for next steps, we can guide you through and help with statements / court forms. There are McKenzie Friends about who can come to Court with you too - I think there is a list here somewhere?
One thing to keep in mind - the more you look at this and think about it, the more it looks like a mountain that you can't overcome. It isn't. Take small steps and you will get to where you want to be. In other words - try not to overthink or worry too much.
Like I said before, none of this is nice. None of it is easy. But you can get through it - stay calm, stay honest and stay focused upon your child.
Try not to listen to too many "rumours" - a lot of people fail in family court because they approach things in the wrong way - this isn't a criticism but a fact.
Ultimately, it isn't about winning, it's about what is best for your child. The starting point for that is that each child should have a meaningful relationship with each parent - provided it is safe to do so.
The more you read here, the more the principles and ideals will drop into place for you.
Thanks again for your response. Its good to read positive things as like you said does seem daunting but I know I am doing the right thing for my daughter and will get there eventually. I have instructed a solicitor and arranged a pre-mediation appointment for next week. She will also be invited to a similar appointment and it will be interesting to see whether she will co-operate.
Subsequently she has again changed the arrangement for me seeing my daughter and reduced the time even further. I expected this after I went to a solicitor after getting nowhere with her. Will her constantly changing the arrangements without so much as a discussion with me be taken into account if it does proceed to court? My daughter is 6 months old and this is the 6th different set of arrangements that have been put in place by her none of which have ever been discussed with me. As it stands I have just informed her I am not happy with the further reduction and see no reason to change right now but have no option but to go along with it for now. I am doing all I can to be reasonable so that we can try and get to an amicable agreement
Be extremely careful in your communications with her. I was arrested and charged with harassment for texting asking to see my children (about the same age as yours now). I was very polite and respectful yet still it was used against me.
Ultimately I was found not guilty but that was months down the line after she had already managed to convince the police to impose bail conditions on me that meant I didnt have a hope in hell of seeing the children.
I can't stress strongly enough, you'll think I'm bonkers but all she needs is two contacts - text, in person, phone or internet etc and she has a "course of conduct". Once she see's a solicitor, they will guide her through the process and screw you a million times more than you feel you have been screwed so far.
From this point, keep any contact minimal and the minute she seems to be against communication, stop. Being thrown in a cell by some idiots who think you are a criminal for asking to see your flesh and blood is not only humiliating but also incredibly hard to swallow. Things only ever get worse when this happens!
Just as her solicitor will guide her in directions that are, let's be clear here - dishonest and downright evil, you may find yours doing the same. Keep us updated here with the story and we will try to help.
Something I forgot to mention - from now on don't talk about her or your child at all on social media. You have to become whiter than white. There is nothing that will NOT be used against you if this ends up in court. Even a photo of a harmless pint down the pub could cause you problems and mean you have to be tested for alcohol etc. Again all sounds odd and OTT - I know - but take it from somebody who has been there and has helped many fathers who are either there now or have been there too.
Thanks for your advise. It definately feels like she’s trying to get me to react badly to everything she’s doing. Insisting all contact is done via email and then not responding to any of my emails. I would normally chase her up and ask for a response but just leaving it now. The balls rolling with the solicitor and mediation so hopefully she’ll co-operate with that but otherwise just need to make sure I don’t give her any ammo whatsoever to use against me. As hard as it is at times I just need to think of the end goal