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How long can a contact and residency case go on?

  • humdrum
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13 Apr 12 #323598 by humdrum
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Hearing has lasted four days so far, two more booked. Interim hearing was in April last year, days 5 and 6 booked for May. Judge was muttering at end of day 4 that we may need a new CAFCASS report because so much time has gone by, but it is his own fault, he is not managing the court to focus on key issues and stbx is throwing in a constant stream of nonsense new allegations that then have to be responded to.

Solicitor tells me there is nowhere to complain to about this, just have to put up with it, but I can''t afford to pay for representation beyond this, it is all coming out of what I would otherwise be spending on the children - we are all tired of scrimping.

Any advice?

  • JulieP
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18 Apr 12 #324850 by JulieP
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Hi, I just read your post. Sorry I haven''t an answer because I have no experience yet in this, but am myself about to go through this. My stbx had applied for residence of our daughter, and there was supposed to be a hearing in February, he then said he couldn''t go to this, and we were given a new date in March, and now it is all on hold because his barrister then asked that the case be transferred to a different court. I was surprised it was taking a while, but your post seems to be saying that your case is much longer - is it a year?

I don''t have money to pay a solicitor as I am struggling to keep the house going, and pay the bills, and I earn too much to qualify for legal aid.

My stbx keeps making up things that aren''t true about me, and I think he is likely to make up a lot of things when it comes to court. From reading your post it reads like you are having to deal with allegations that your ex keeps raising and this is delaying things - does the court allow this? how did you have to respond to the allegations? did the judge ask you to respond or did you have to submit something to the court for each false allegation? sorry for all these questions! I hope your hearings finished and things went well.

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24 Apr 12 #326120 by humdrum
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Here is what has happened in my case.

First is the Interim Hearing - This is more informal and a lot of time is spent in waiting rooms outside the court room with CAFCASS officer who tries to get you and ex to come to an agreement over the children. If you cannot agree they will recommend something, in my case every other weekend and half the holidays and the judge will put pressure on both parties to agree so that the order can be said to have been made ''by consent''. A date is set for a Directions Hearing. This is where a judge looks very breifly at the key differences between the parties and orders what is needed before the first hearing. In my case this was a CAFCASS report on the wishes and feelings of the children and for me to write a statement to which ex was supposed to reply, ie give his response to my points, not just throw in a whole load of other stuff. The judge gave a very clear direction that the statements should stick to the current issues regarding the children, not delve back into the past and give arguments about how the relationship broke down, although I thought this was hard to do, as there has been a history of abusive behaviour from ex.
Dates are set for the hearing and you are given dates to produce your statement by and when your ex has to respond by (or it may be the other way round depending who initiated the case). On the first day at court the CAFCASS officer was cross-examined by both barristers on the contents of his report. In my case this took more than one day to complete, I think normally the judge would step in and speed this up, but in mine he just slowed it down by asking more questions. The CAFCASS officer was asked to comment not only on his report, but also on things in mine and ex''s statements - for example, he was asked to give his opinion about whether something alleged by my ex showed that I was a bad mother and he then had to answer along the lines of, yes, if this was true then it would show she was a bad mother, even though what was written in ex''s statement was a pack of lies! So,,, a good few thousand pounds in legal fees wasted here.

Then I had to take the stand and be cross-examined which involves having to answere questions about things written in either statement. First by my barrister who naturally asked the kind of questions that gave me an opportunity to present the key parts of my story. Next by ex''s barrister who went almost paragraph by paragraph through my statement along the lines of, you say here that xxxx happened, but let''s be honest, this just didn''t happen like that did it? Isn''t it the truth that you are aggravating and nasty, not your ex? So you deserved all this, didn''t you? etc. etc. This took hours and cost me plenty of ££££s. By the end of it I was so drained that I began to imagine how easy it is for someone accused of a serious crimt to just admit to it to get it over and done with. At the end the judge remarked how that had not got things much further as all I did was to insist each and every time that my statement was true. But all this couldn''t be finnished in day 2, so went on to day 3 and took most of that. On day 4 the tables are turned and ex gets cross-examined, but by lunch time this has only really just go going and judge begins to wonder if it can be finnished within the day. Obviously it can''t, so 2 more days have to be booked. Then these dates are cancelled and we finally end up with 2 days that mean that more than a year will have gone past since the interim hearing. The judge is also wondering whether we will need another CAFCASS report.

Some ludicrous allegations have been made about me by ex both in statements and in court. The judge seems to be weighing each and every one up as if it were key to the case, when some are way off being relevant.

I think most cases get finnished in the first 2 days, but mine didn''t. Solicitor says she has never experienced anything like it. Hopefully yours will be handled better and will just take the 2 days. If you are representing yourself it might help to try to imagine in advance all the things you could possibly be accused of and how you can show these to be nonsense - to even rehearse it.

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