I am new to the group and to posting.. but have been reading and taking advice from the forum here throughout my own hearings.
I am now approaching my final 2 day hearing in march.. and am trying to be as prepared as possible, but am finding myself increasingly anxious as to the outcome.
I am attempting to gain residency of my 5 year old son from my ex. We have been through the first hearing, the DRA, a section 7 cafcass report has been submitted, and now its coming to the final hearing. The section 7 cafcass report came out in my favour, recommending that my son live with me. It would mean a change of school and hometown for my boy, so they reccomend a transition period to make it as smooth as possible. My ex is of course challenging all of this. Up to this point, I have had alternate weekends, and shared holidays.. both myself and cafcass are suggesting a reversal of this to residency with myself, alternate weekends with his mother. I am also seeking a sharing of travel between our respective hometowns, as we are 2 hours away from eachother, and up to this point i have been doing all the travel with my ex refusing to share the responsibility of this.
My fears are that the judge will disregard or find fault with the cafcass report, that I won't be able to support myself under cross examination, and that as i have been self representing and the ex has a solicitor, that ill be railroaded in the courtroom. I do plan on having a barrister at the final though.
Any thoughts, advice, or similar experiences would be appreciated.
I think the s7 report should be a confidence boost for you. i never applied for residency, but when my S7 report came out positive, ex disagreed to every single recommendation lol. judges tend to go with the cafcass recommendations. i think all your ex will do is try negotiate with you on the day to make you back down on things. but don't agree if you don't want it that way.
I found that the Judge was almost purring to the social worker who wrote the S7, even when she couldn't justify her findings and kept on saying I refer back to my S7 after every question she was asked!
Fighting with CAFCAS will only make your ex appear worse in the eyes of the court.
Family judges are bone idle and literally take CAFCAS social workers as their authority (from my experience). This country could save a lot of money by sacking judges and putting social workers who cost a lot less in their place!
The results are in! After nearly two years of court hearings and stress, after my final hearing being postponed in March for 6 months due to covid, we finally made it to the final hearing in September, and despite my rather brutal performance under cross examination, the ruling has come in that my son is to come and live with me! I got nearly all I wanted, he is to reside full time with me, with travel being shared somewhat when he goes to visit her alternate weekends, and a 50/50 split of all holidays.
It was a tough battle, but well worth it. Never give up fighting for your kids, even if it seems near impossible. Im still reeling from the shock of success.
The reasons I was seeking residency were that my sons physical and emotional needs were not being met by his mother. To the extent that he is well behind where he should be for his age. And that despite repeated attempts for my input to be heard and considered by her, it went completely ignored. With input from his school and my own concerns lining up, it was the best thing for my son.
Cross examination was required as it went to a final 2 day hearing where both myself and my ex were required to give statements of evidence, as well as the cafcass officer that had done the s7. Her barrister then questioned me at length on all of my statement, attempting to discredit the strength of my approach. As my barrister did the same to her.
I have had thoughts of applying for residency for years because of the same reasons but didn’t think it was enough (emotional and physical well being) to pursue.
My son is obese and two years behind on his schooling.
At his primary school his mother was told of a number of times for him being asleep in school and not doing his work.(his mother is numerically illiterate)
Can I ask for further details from cascade as to how you went about it.
The driving is also interesting as I live an hour away and have always had to collect and drop.
Any help would be greatly appreciated
Given the situation you're in with your son it does sound similar to mine in that mother wasn't taking onboard any concerns raised. This in itself would be enough to request a change in residency if you feel you can better meet his needs but if you already hold concerns that also works in your favour if you can provide evidence of them. Cafcass didn't get involved until after the Despite Resolution Hearing. There role is to interview both parents and the child where applicable along with anyone else deemed important to the case. They then make their recommendations to the court.
Regarding travel you can push for it to be shared and then mother would have to provide evidence as to why they can't as this can be made part of an order as it has been in my case.
you can keep an eye on childs punctuality and attendance records with its school. if it's dreadful and child is falling behind in education, then sounds like you could have a case on your hands for change of residency.