I've posted on here a few times and found it very helpful so thank you.
After a long battle i've not managed to agree anything with my 3 year olds mother.
Long story short - we broke up 12 months ago(i left her) and after a long battle she has finally agreed to allow me to have my 3 year old girl every other weekend, i have asked to have her every tuesday night/wednesday day each week.
She is only in pre school a few times a week and my employers have allowed me to condense my hours to ensure i can have a wednesday off so i can see my daughter.
The issue is that my ex just wont allow this to happen so i go long periods of time without seeing her which i'm not happy with, so i have taken steps to challenge this in court & have my date on the 7th October.
I've requested for every other weekend and every tuesday night to wednesday evening & also to be able to take her away for a week on holiday as my ex said she wouldnt discuss that until my child was 5.
I'm representing myself in court at the moment, i dont know whether this is wise but i certainly cant afford thousands for solicitors.
Just wondered if anyone has experienced anything similar, i have no idea of the process or what the judge/magistrate is going to want to see or hear from me. It was a very bitter break up & i have have literally hundreds of messages saved from my ex where she has been making my life very difficult for no reason other than her control of the situation. Do i print these off & take them in? Or is that not how it works? I have sent emails with suggestions of times when i can see my daughter on top of my alternate weekends and not had a single reply. she refused to discuss anything extra despite pressure from our mediator when i sat through this.
I'm going into this completely blind so would really appreciate the help if anybody who can give me pointers on what to expect so i can prepare myself in the best way possible.
Thank you in advance & appreciate your time in reading this.
I went through something very similar myself a few years ago, though intense nerves after years of being browbeaten, and dipping heavily into savings meant I went down the solicitor route. The level of contact you are wanting with your daughter is reasonable. Her mother is being unreasonable by refusing to consider even having a discussion until your daughter is 5. My son's mother used the 'he's not ready' line for years, and - like her, there is nothing to stop your ex from extending the 'ready' date way beyond 5.
I know in my case I put forward a proposal of gradual (over a period of 3 years) increases in time that would have seen my son finally achieving every other weekend, one midweek overnight and half of all the school holidays by the time he was 7, but she wasn't interested as she 'couldn't guarantee he'd be ready by then', so off to court we went when he turned 4. The Judge thought that I'd given great consideration towards my son making adjustments for increasing time away from his mother, and that a 6 month period was more than enough for that entire process, and that was the ruling he gave. I actually felt sorry for my son's mother as she slouched out of the courtroom. Maybe you could put forward a similar such proposal of increased time over a few months - if nothing else, it will show that you are trying to negotiate and address whatever concerns she might have (genuine or not) and her continued refusal to discuss this issue is unreasonable.
I'm assuming you've compiled a written statement giving a brief history of how you've come to this point of needing the court to resolve matter? I suppose you could choose the most comprehensive ones to attach, but print out others to have as back up if necessary. I do remember hearing from my solicitor that Judges don't want to wade through endless pages of a statement that is effectively repeating the same point. Ultimately your key line is your daughter would benefit immeasurably from sharing her time with both of her parents, and that is what you would like the court to rule on, as you and the mother have been completely unable to agree on this vital requirement for your daughter.
I hope this is of some help, and good luck in October.
All that is going to happen at the first hearing is, you will be asked what you both agree on. If you both agree on you having the kids every other weekend, make sure you come out with a consent order that you have the kids every other weekend.
Make sure the order also includes a case management section with outstanding issues that need to be resolved, and how they will be resolved.
In your case, the outstanding issue is, you believe it is in child's best interests to see you tuesday/wednesday, mother believes it is in childs best interest to stay with mother all week long. They will make a determination on how to resolve that issue. Either they will ask cafcass to write a S7 report, or they will ask you both for statements and go straight to final hearing.
At every hearing, you will need a position statement, however, at this stage, don't include evidence, keep your powder dry, the time to use those messages is not now.
In your position statement, consider including:
- How long you lived, mother and child lived together
- That you already see child every other weekend
- Concrete proposal on how to progress from where you are today to where you want to be. Toks example of a progression over 6 months is a good o ne.
- Why child benefits from staying with you tuesday/wednesday, ie, stronger attachment leads to more confident children, you will use that time to take child to toddler groups, visit paternal grandparents ( assuming no safeguarding concerns there ), etc.
- Finish with, you understand if mother feels a bit anxious, and you'd like to reassure her all you are trying to do is being a good father.
A lot of us ask for less because we are afraid we won't get more. What I'm finding is, once an order is made, it's difficult to have it increased. In other words, if you want to consider a 50/50 arrangement, it is easier to ask for it now, than to try a second round later.
Also, take some heart that your ex didn't stop the child from seeing you when you applied to court. Mine did.
Finally, don't bother with solicitors, but do consider barrister representation. Charities such as "dads unlimited" will give you access to barristers at discounted prices, and it won't be as expensive as you might think.
i would advise is to ask for as much contact as possible. future-proof the court order, e.g ex has to give passport when you want to take your child on holiday going forward.
cafcass report holds lot of sway in court. i asked for mid-week overnights. cafcass did not agree, so did not recommend that. so in the end i didnt get mid week overnight, but few hours with kids after school instead. i am considering going back to court in future to get mid week overnights, as kids already asking for more time but their toxic mother refuses any extra time.
try your best to have order state that: children lives with both parents. i got the children live with mother order. am sure that boosted her ego and made her think shes just entitled to the children only.