I have my first hearing in court on Monday, I'm representing myself.
Long and short of it is I'm going to request :
Alternate weekends(which i get already for 2 nights) but i want Fri/Sat/Sun night dropping my daughter off monday morning.
One overnight stay in the week every week (i dont get this)
Half of all school holidays in the future (starting September 2020)
One weeks holiday this year as my daughter hasnt been away.
My ex is opposing everything other than the Alternate weekends(Fri/Sat night). She has absolutely nothing bad to say about me or my parenting, we live 30 mins drive away from each other & my work have agreed to condense my hours to make all of the above possible.
My daughter was 3 in June.
I just wanted to know what the courts are going to want to hear from me on Monday, do i go into why me & my ex seperated at all(it was due to her being a major narcissist), or do i literally just have to focus on my daughter and how difficult my ex has made access to my daughter since we seperated a year ago and then obviously how it will benefit my daughter going forward to have more access with her father?
Any advice on how to conduct myself in there would be greatly appreciated as i'm going in completely blind, in my head my ex doesnt have a leg to stand on opposing this, or am i being naive?
Hi there. If your ex has nothing bad to say about you, no Domestic violence, no mistreatment of her or your children, if you have been as much of a part of your children’s lives as your ex then you are in a much stronger position than most on this forum.
I can’t see any reason from what you’ve said why the court wouldn’t view splitting the children’s time as equally as is feesible to be the best course of action.
In terms of how to conduct yourself, the court is only interested in your children. Not you, your ex, nor the specifics of what has led you both there (as there are no allegations). If she is making access difficult then you have to mention this, but do so in a way that focuses on your children’s needs, not your ex being unreasonable.
Time in the court, especially unrepresented and your being your first time will move very quickly. Focus entirely on your children, don’t moan about her. Any temptation to do so will deviate from giving the impression that you are a child focused parent.
Go in there with a clear and concise idea as to what you want to say (don’t feel silly about practicing in front of the mirror, kinda worked for me).
If she has a barrister, they will try to noise you up. Do not react. If they or your ex try to pull you into a slagging match, do not bite. Move any attempts in this regard back to your children and it will stand you in good stead.
Go in there with a plan for midweek contact. Consider how you will make this work around childcare/school in future. Courts want stability, and if it’s possible to offer this long term then all the better.
Try and preempt any reason she has for opposing your proposal and go in there armed with solutions if you can.
Good luck, and fire anymore questions at this forum. Lots of helpful people on here that have a variety of experience.
i was represented so was easier. i would suggest to stay calm and child-focused. its probably better to not make eye contact with your ex. in 2 hearings, ex's barrister did try to rile me up. smiling/grinning at us, while she tells court a load of crap about ex suffering emotional/financial/coercive control. and she also said father should see the baby in a contact centre and they have a list of contact centres if i want to look at it. i did not react to all that nonsense.
try to ask for as much contact as possible. also mention that when you want to take child on holiday, ex must hand over passports well in advance. I wanted mid-week overnights, but cafcass did not recommend it in their report. ex refused too. so i ended up taking mid-week contact every 2 weeks. picking kids up after school, taking to classes/library etc.along with alternate fri-sun. in future i am looking at going back to court to get mid-week overnights.
Thank you both, some much needed advice in there, appreciate it.
When you say position statement Bill do you mean an overview of why it would benefit my child to see more of me and how i can make it happen?
One of the major reasons that i left my ex was her controlling behaviour & she hated the fact that i had a close knit family.... but am i right in thinking that it will more than likely benefit me to say that i have a lot of help available and also a lot of children close to my daughters age around me with friends and family?
A position statement sets out what you wish to achieve in court. It’s very important in setting out the days you want to see your children. By all means set out your reasons for this & how you can facilitate it but keep it relatively short and to the point. It will likely be presented to the Judge shortly before the hearing (sometimes 30 mins/1 hour and they will have the other sides to read as well).
It sets out your position and you can expand on the points during the hearing when you have the opportunity.
its important you prepare this in a clear and consice manner. And that it is properly formatted (numbered paragraphs etc). This is the first impression the judge will have of you and it will presented alongside one prepared by a fully qualified barrister by the sounds of things.
Take 3 copies, one for you, the judge and the other side.
You can expect a certain amount of leeway for being unrepresented, but remember the judge is human, and can be swayed by small details. You have to show this is the most important thing in your life, so do make sure you do your homework on this. There are examples online and some resources on here.
Had my first hearing and it all seemed like a waste of time to me
Had to sit for hours, then finally got to talk to CAFCASS - they seemed to fell empathy for my situation and tried to ask my ex for more access... then spoke to my ex & her solicitor - when she came back to me she seemed to then think it was reasonable that my ex was offering me 1115 till 6pm each wednesday.
I refused this & said i want to contest, so we go in front of a legal advisor & my ex's solicitor went on a rant about how my daughter is in a set routine & if this was broken with an overnight midweek stay then it would be to much of a change for her, she reitarated this point over & over as well as the 30 minute drive between us being too far....
Then i got to speak, told the advisor my position & that i had the flexible hours in work to easily facilitate a midweek stay and that the travel really wasnt a major issue.
The legal advisor couldnt make any order as she wasnt in a position to do so, so she set a date for january for a contested hearing.
so seems i'm back to square one & just need to go along with my ex's orders till next year.
Think the way forward from here is to get a solicitor as i just felt like a rabbit in headlights out there.
The solicitor really pushed the advisor to have an early date as possible as a deadline for us to present our cases to the judge, i assume this is to give me less time to prepare anything or appoint a solicitor.
She also seemed very keen to hammer home the point that she would still be pursuing to come to an agreement out of court.....i hope thats because she's worried that i have a case and doesnt want to lose.
am sorry to hear it didn't go as you expected. but really a lot does not happen at first hearing. we can expect it to go to round 2. in my case ex refused all overnights lol. i wanted mid-week overnights too. ex refused. and cafcass didnt recommend. so was stuck. and she made same argument about kids being in set routine and dont want any changes to disrupt them. so in end i just took mid-week contact, every other week. few hours after school. i may return to court next year and try get mid-week overnights.
its weird that only legal advisor was present. my case involved new born baby. was able to get interim contact until next hearing.
so sounds like your next hearing will be the final one? if so thats good. mine was longer, 3 rounds. section 7
report by cafcass. its actually a good thing that solicitor wanted next hearing to be ASAP. because you would not want this to drag on for months and months.
i recommend you go on the direct access portal and hire a barrister for your next hearing.
I would say don't take the initial hearing to heart. I was almost crushed by mine - the Judge's attitude in that one towards me was "What's your problem?" - my son's mother had stated she was moving him 200 miles away, and reducing even further the very limited contact she was allowing at the time.
In retrospect, he did me a favour, as son's mother felt she didn't have to make any compromises whatsoever after hearing this, and took that attitude with her to the final hearing where that Judge gave her short shrift and awarded almost everything I was asking for.
You've come to the point where a court order is necessary. Even if the mother is really seeking to get an agreement out of court (and it could be interesting to hear what she's offering to prove this), whatever you agreed in that forum should still be ratified by a court order, to have any legal weight. This was the advice I was given when I was in a similar situation. In my case we went for a contested final hearing, as the mother offered nothing but the status quo.
You're not asking for anything unreasonable, and midweek overnights are a pretty standard arrangement. In fact, the whole arrangement you're asking for is the one I put forward for my son, which the Judge awarded, after hearing and overruling all the mother's objections. Hopefully, you'll have a like-minded, reasonable Judge for your final hearing,