[Solved] Existing CAO - My child has disappeared?!
I got a CAO, asked for a specific issue order that my ex not relocate as she threatened to move if I insisted on having a relationship with our child. She told the magistrate she didn't know where I was getting this from and she was purchasing a home (her dad then purchased her a house locally, so the magistrate agreed this matter was settled and SIO was not issued). My son went from fine usually to a total state of distress on the first visit after the final agreement was reached. I had known this was likely to happen as my ex had already done this with another child. Her response was 'I tried to discuss you seeing him and he has not consented to visit, I am making him available but he does not give consent.' (he was 5). She started taking him to her parents house a county over on my weekends and not asking me or telling me, I wasn't allowed to speak to him on the phone either.
I was still paying my first solicitor bill so tried to informally arrange things, she spoke to me like a child and said sleeping overnight has left my son 'traumatised' as he doesn't sleep through the night at her house and she is not there to give him his 'magical mummy hugs' when he is crying out for her (he would not cry out for her and slept through the night fine at my house, he loved his bedroom and helped me and my fiancé decorate it his favourite colours during our interim contact order). The next thing was that 'he thinks you are mean as you didn't help him with his paints enough' because I'd set up a big mat on the floor and potato prints for us all to do. There was no real reason other than absolute childish drivel as to why I couldn't see my son. Eventually she said even supervised visits wouldn't be forced upon my son if he was distressed 'enough' on arrival (she did this with her older son) and I knew it was time to go back to the legal route. I started saving immediately for another court fee and solicitor bill & I upped my contact in other ways like his school and would check in with his doctors. My ex found out and took our CAO to the school and his GP and tried to ban them from speaking to me and they told her NO and continued letting me have access.
8 months after her house purchase the house had just been listed for sale and I found out via a marketing e-mail. I drove by the house and it was empty and sold almost immediately, I contacted his school and they said he was withdrawn with immediate effect a few days prior to my call with no forwarding info (she threatened to remove him from school when she found out I was speaking with them). I went to contact my ex and my texts don't deliver/ she appeared to have blocked me. My maintenance payments became an issue as her bank account details stopped working (we didn't go through CMS). I have reason to believe this was a long term orchestration to cut me and her other 2 children off from their fathers and she has taken my son from England to Scotland. I have no access to him and have no real idea of where my son is other than 'Scotland' which I've gleaned from a siblings' social media account where it mentioned they were at a new place in Scotland (they all live together) which was swiftly deleted afterwards. Where do I go from here? I spent my life savings on court, I have no money left for this and don't know where to begin on my own. How do I locate my son?
I'm really sorry to hear that you are facing this. No contact with a child is painful, I can't imagine what it must be like not knowing where son is.
Whilst I have a solicitor, one of the 1st things I did was spend a day or 2 (or a week) researching and reading up on the relevant processes and legislation in order to be familiar and then decide whether to pay for legal advice or self represent and save costs. (I do a hybrid to keep costs low).
I know that the legislation is Scotland is different but it will be relatively similar too. Unsure whether in the 1st instance you apply to an English court who can do a UK wide search (schools, Dr's, local authorities etc) or if you need to apply to a Scottish Court. I don't have knowledge or experience re Scotland to share, potentially others on the forum will do.
In the meantime keep strong and look after yourself so that you are in the best shape for the challenges ahead.
All the best.
Is the interim contact order still in place? There is a form C79 you can complete. You can to do this yourself without needing a solicitor. The fee is £215 I believe and if you are on a low income you may be able to get help with the fees. Use the .gov.uk website as others may have hidden charges. It may not be quick but you will feel that you are doing your best in this painful situation
here is useful info on Scottish family court process and how to self-represent:
No, the final order was decided and I received what I'd view as regular access (every other weekend, school holiday time, shared special occasions like xmas and his birthday, fathers day, my birthday etc). All interim contact was fine (except ex refused point blank to let me see my son leading up to the first hearing and wouldn't allow me to see him on Father's Day meaning I went months without seeing him before court dates were set), my ex rolled over on everything she'd previously point-blank refused when we got to court which made me very suspect. Now appreciate this was because she was just playing nice before she started up her plans of moving.
@bill337 Thank you, I'll start going through this - I'm less concerned about representing myself (I can handle that just fine having been through the CAO system before), I'm more concerned with how on earth I locate him to get the ball rolling when he's in another country technically. I've asked for free legal advice through a workplace scheme but they didn't know how I'd go about finding him first (so were no help). Someone else advised me to contact the police and label it kidnapping but all that will do is cause further distress to my son if I send the police looking for his mum, I haven't seen him in over 12 months and his family all refused to support that I was his Dad (her dad would tell him that he was my son's father which I found disturbing on many levels) and he was just getting used to calling me Dad when contact was abruptly stopped for no reason.
Thanks for your kind words, I have tried where I can to accept that these are the circumstances I am in right now and to continue living my life where I can, for a long time this meant I was up all night, couldn't eat and was so stressed/unreasonable it nearly ended my relationship with my now wife, thank god she stuck around. I'm doing all I can to ensure I'm keeping my life straight and keep records of everything I've done/tried so that I stand the best chance when the time comes that I find out where she's taken him.
I too did a mix of representing myself and solicitors. My ex represented herself and brought her father in to the court room and he was extremely antagonistic and yelled at me/laughed at me outside when I entered, she shouted at me several times in front of CAFCASS and they were really on-side with me from the positive results I received at the end of both hearings. Naturally the ex didn't pay a penny for the process and she disturbingly found it all very amusing, she would be sickly sweet to the magistrates but a highlight had to be her standing there with a scrap of paper when we came to decide on my visitation schedule. She outlined how she expected my visits to increase by 10 minute intervals every financial quarter to 'build trust' between her and myself and that she won't allow my son to stay with me ever (I haven't ever done anything to her or our son to warrant mistrust) and my solicitor and the magistrate both laughed out loud at her and bulldozed over her. We have to take the laughs where we can when dealing with this kind of manipulation and alienation.
there is this form you can use to ask court to help locate children:
Form C4: Ask the court to order someone to give information about where a child is
here is some more info about it: