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FHDRA/First Directions hearing - Did yours go as badly and unjust as I think mine did?

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Hi all

My first post here. I've just began the court process for child arrangements, I say 'just' but it's actually been 2 months already since sending the C100, but I think I'm going to be in for years of torture. What's worse is the impact on my/our very young child. I'll make a separate post to get advice on the full story, but the basic details are, our son is almost 2 years old. Both I and his mum have cared for him since birth, but I have without question been his primary care giver and had a very close bond. His mum has anger management issues and has generally been extremely abusive and aggressive to me. Our son has been impacted by this as well, it's such a long story that there's just no way a court could understand without at least a half day to a full day to listen and explore. I've never been abusive to his mum, but she had me arrested twice for false allegations towards her, no further action by the police, even they know it's nonsense but guess what it looks good for her because it's good corroborating evidence apparently... she's also told Children's Services the same etc etc and it's a long story

So I completely expected the false allegations and the court not giving an interim contact order, blindly following PD12J with no regard for the child's welfare.

I managed to get an urgent hearing. The hearing was remote, mum didn't attend 1st hearing and lied when the court called her, she said she didn't receive the papers. Then almost 3 weeks later another remote hearing, again it went approximately as expected which is soul destroying enough but to rub salt in the wound, the judge refused interim contact for me (although it actually should be a change of residence if they knew the full story), but issued an interim lives with order to mum. The court was not asked for an interim order to live with mum, he already lives with her (after she unilaterally took him..Long story), and is already preventing contact.

I've done enough research to satisfy myself that the court has acted completely inappropriately, in many ways, not least the no order principle as set out in Children Act 1989 and PD12J stating "The court must not generally make an interim child arrangements order, or orders for contact, in the absence of safeguarding information, unless it is to protect the safety of the child"

My question is, has this happened to anyone else? For those that are familiar with proceedings, is this actually quite common?

This was meant to be a 1 hour directions hearing, it started half hour late and the judge was rushing through it, then said it's lunch time.. So it turned into 30 minutes. I challenged the issuing of the order but the judge said 'I've already decided that', adding 'it does nothing but reflect the status quo' - well actually it does a lot more.. 1)the status quo has been forcibly established and achieved by lies and manipulation on the part of the mother, the order is actually establishing the status quo. 2)the interim order allows mum to remove child from the jurisdiction - the judge is aware there is a high risk of international child abduction - that's why I'm also asking for a prohibited steps order.

Just thought I'd ask how common this is, if anyone knows? It seems a colossal failure of the court to me.

Thanks for reading and really appreciate thoughts on this and any other general suggestions.

This topic was modified 4 months ago by 2ndClassCitizen2
Topic starter Posted : 27/05/2023 7:55 pm
Illustrious Member


Sorry to hear your going through difficult time. Unfortunately this has become the norm, at 1st hearing dads not being given any contact because ex has made serious allegations. Court has duty to investigate and protect children. At times there are genuine safeguarding issues, whereas other times a parent may be gaming the system by exploiting the domestic abuse laws to frustrate child contact.

Posted : 29/05/2023 10:50 am

how contact centres work

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@bill337 Thanks for your reply. I completely agree, there will be times when this situation would be right, where the court has to be cautious and not put the child at risk. The issue is, the court has no nothing to say about child welfare when there are cross allegations. They simply say "oh well, we'll deal with it at the next hearing". They talk about the "Status Quo" - which they themselves are reinforcing. So in a situation such as mine, which probably isn't that common, where I was the primary carer doing everything for the child, mum then comes along and unilaterally uproots the child.. get to first court hearing after only a few weeks - so what actually is the status quo at that point?, who's definition are we using? is it the situation on the day of the court? or the situation the week before? (rhetorical questions). The court endorses this, you then have to wait until the final hearing which could easily be years away and then there's talk of the status quo again.. and upsetting routine etc.. My point is, they talk about equality, fairness, child's best interests and justice but basically they make a terrible decision at the start, look at no evidence, don't give the applicant chance to speak and then use this as a reason for no change at the end. It's crazy


After reading my initial post/rant, I can see I've not made my main question very clear. I know giving no contact to dad is common, sadly, but does anyone know how common it is to issue a CAO for the child to live with mum in the interim, where no such order has been asked for or is required? Most people probably wouldn't see why it matters, but this is prejudice. There is no need for such an order, the only purpose of such an order is to empower mum, removing father's rights before any allegations have been investigated. Ordinarily mum can get away with preventing contact anyway, she doesn't need a court order to do that.

Whilst the court can refuse to order contact to dad, they ordinarily wouldn't order dad to have no contact, even in extreme cases (unless there is a non mol etc). This is kind of a similar principle.

Topic starter Posted : 29/05/2023 6:06 pm

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