Contact with my children stopped in summer last year so i applied to court for a Child Arrangements Order.
A S7 report and two social services reports have raised no concerns. S7 states access has been ostructed by the children's mother. It also recommends slow reintroducion of contact working towards every other weekend.
I have recieved a proposal from the childrens mother via her solicitor. It sort of follows the CAFCASS s7 report but includes quite a bit of ambiguity and also limited summer holiday and Christmas contact.
I dont agree with the proposal and will respond accordingly leading to a final hearing.
What should i expect in the final hearing? In terms of cross questioning and preparation of paperwork and evidence?
Ignore what her solicitor is proposing, it's clear that they are not in agreement with the S7 recommendations so this is there attempt to lure you into a false sense of security. The S7 recommendations will be a base line that the courts use and there maybe small deviations away from it depending on what you suggest; always remain reasonable in your requests and keep Cafcass on your side, they are very powerful in the court arena.
Your statement will be your evidence, keep it short and child focussed to ensure you to talk about why it is in the childrens best interests to have a relationship with both parents, leave the mud slinging to the ex as the courts do not like it whether or not it is true. In your statement, propose what you would like to see as a contact schedule going forward but always ensure that you align yourself with Cafcass at all times.
Your ex will invite the Cafcass officer into the stands for cross examination and question her report, I've learnt from experience of reading other cases that this is a pointless exercise as Cafcass will not go back and change their recommedations as it will make a complete mockery of there position and role in the family courts.
also one thing to bear in mind is you can not assume that process will automatically go to a final hearing if there is some disagreements. i had my 2nd hearing in April. was expecting it to go to final hearing. cafcass recommended short school holidays, as she told me the mother is against me having kids for more than 3 nights. at DRA, the judge said they will make this DRA into a final hearing, as they do not see major disagreements. then they told me i will get to have kids for 1 full week during longer holidays, from next summer. and yes they do not deviate from the cafcass recommendations. just a little bit by giving a dad a few extra hours in the day or evening.