I was served with a citation from my ex solicitors yesterday as he now wants more contact arrangements with our son. He previously got him either every Friday or saturday depending on what suited his social or working life and every wednesday night for a couple of hours to go swimming/play football.
I have had to go to the CSA recently to get money from him and when he was contacted he texted me to say "if you dont get the CSA off my back I will have no option but to go to court for more overnight contact so you wont get as much money"
So hes done it and I am now a nervous wreck, my solicitor is on holiday and I feel as though I cant relax with this hanging over me.
What are the next steps, will my solicitor want to meet with me to get more info re my ex, what happens at the hearing, do I need to speak and can I take someone with me.
Thanks in advance for any help
The aim of the first hearing is to try to resolve disputed matters affecting children at an early stage. A child welfare hearing is fairly informal and usually held in private. Only the "relevant parties" - the parents/guardians and their legal representatives may attend. The child’s welfare will be the court’s paramount consideration.
The sheriff will ascertain from parties, or their solicitors if they are to be represented, what matters are in dispute in relation to the child. Parties provide the Sheriff with information relating to the issues in dispute. Then the sheriff decides what steps to take to resolve the dispute.
If matters cannot be resolved at this stage, the Sheriff may make an interim order and details what information is required to assist him/her in making a decision and set a timetable.
Has mediation been offered in an effort to resolve this? Mediation is the preferred first step in attempting to resolve family issues.
There has been no mediation offered, however this has been ongoing for a few years now with him proposing "as and when required contact" and every suggestion I have made for more structured times and days has been met with opposition.
I would at least make the offer of mediation - Relationships Scotland offer family mediation services. If no mediation is offered, then the Sheriff may instruct you both to attend mediation sessions and adjourn the case until this has been attempted.
A more structured approach to contact is better for the children, so that they have a routine and stability. Ad hoc does work for some, and mainly with teenagers/older children, but for younger children I feel that isn''t always beneficial.
The first thing is what contact is your ex asking for and do you want to contest it? If so you, or your solicitor on your behalf, will need to lodge a Notice of the Intention to Defend within 21 days. Witnesses aren''t heard at a Child Welfare Hearing so the only way to introduce witness evidence is by affidavit if it is useful to support of your case.
Child Welfare Hearings are held in a closed court, meaning it is only for the Sheriff, the parties and their solicitors. No spectators, friends or family are allowed into court. Someone without a solicitor may take a lay assistant who sits at the back for moral support but they have no right to address the court.
My ex has now asked for contact on a Monday and Thursday night collecting him at 6.30pm and dropping him back off at 8am, so I am stille expected to organise the childcare before and after school as I work as well. He also states he wants him on an adhoc basis either every Friday or Saturday night but will still not commit to a set day.
I have lodged my intent to defend with my solicitor and I am meeting with her on Wednesday to discuss.
My ex works every 3rd Saturday so he states this is the reason he will not commit to a structured time, I do not have an issue with my son spending time with his dad but feel his school work and home life would seriously be disrupted with these proposals, we have a good routine in the evening and morning and it works for us and he is excelling at school.
I am going to propose he still continues to go with his dad for a couple of hours every wed night and stays every 3rd weekend, Fri to Sunday - do you think the sherriff would see this as reasonable?