For those of you that have been following my case and my recent frustrations. Lots of developments today!
After a month of waiting this week, I called the court to find out why my application for contact with my ex''s son wasn''t progressing and was waiting for a call back. Well the documents arrived this morning, with a court order and notice of proceedings that I have to serve her with before the next hearing... on Monday! So I''ve scanned everything and emailed it to my ex''s solicitor this afternoon. I''ll provide my ex with a paper copy when I drop my son off.
Saw Cafcass today. Discussed the application about my ex''s son with the officer. She said that my ex had told her that her son said he didn''t want to see me. As a seven year old I really don''t believe that he has. I said that I would be willing to pick him up from school and have him for a couple of hours a week before tea time.
The way in which we were separated must have been awful for him. I told Cafcass that it was too late to undo that damage but that it was not too late to have a lasting relationship with him. I found Cafcass were generally supportive of contact, though she didn''t suggest how it might work, how a reintroduction might be achieved or anything like that.
I finally got to put across my concerns about my ex''s mental health. This was the first time that I have been able to voice these. I didn''t get the feeling that these were necessarily taken on board, but they were actually listened to at least. The Cafcass officer actually took some of my evidence, which was good.
I didn''t get the feeling that she was considering changing his residence, and I didn''t feel like I got much chance to talk about her proposed move. That was disappointing but unfortunately our meeting needed to be cut short. Because it had been scheduled on a contact day, my son was outside playing with my mom for about 2 hours.
She did ask me about whether I had put my son on waiting lists for nursery and I said that I had enquired at schools, found places but not yet put him down on waiting lists. She did suggest that I was not serious about my application which I didn''t feel was fair.
Fingers crossed though. I''ll update you all again soon.
Now the last 2 hearings I''ve had a solicitor with me. At £200/hr, I''ve been conscious of the fact that waiting 4 hours for the court is a lot of money. This time I was paying £2/hr in car parking charges.
I got there an hour before the hearing time, my ex, her solicitor and her new partner were already there so me and my moral support took a seat in a different waiting room, told the usher we were present, pointed out my ex etc, then sat and waited... and waited... and waited!
40 minutes passed, and then my ex''s solicitor came over to talk. She was friendly, and introduced herself. That was a bit ridiculous, as I have met her 15-20 times in the past when she represented my ex a few years ago. Introductions weren''t really necessary, but anyway...
My ex has cross applied for residence and a specific issue order to move 60 miles away. This hearing was for Directions about that. She suggested that my ex''s partner is selling his house, that the prohibited steps order won''t be feasible. She suggested that she move house to the new city, on the basis that is was not a permanent move. My reaction was to diplomatically say "hell no". I have since spoken to a solicitor on a free scheme, who told me that this was an experienced solicitor trying to pull a fast one on an unrepresented LIP. Once she has moved, there is no way she (or my son) are coming back.
So, that off the table, I asked her what contact they were offering if I were to consent to the move. She went off to take instruction, and came back with no suggestions. Her idea was to timetable a hearing in 3 weeks and us to submit statements at the same time. I told her that I wasn''t prepared to agree to that as she hadn''t suggested any contact arrangements and there was no way I could reasonably contest or consent without a proposal. Eventually she backed down. Ex will submit a statement then I have 10 days to submit my response.
We re-timetabled some dates that had been allowed to slide because of my legal aid issues. Apparently I now have to request my full medical details and submit those to the court (that''ll be fun) within 28 days. As she was drafting the order I pointed out that she had forgotten to write that her client needed to do the same. "Oh right, silly me," she said, playing dumb.
Once everything was read and agreed, she came back and said that she needed to add something that was ''in my favour.'' She said that neither party can formally register our son for nursery care. Now I kicked up a fuss about this. He''s starting school nursery in September, and neither of us can register him for a place anywhere. I protested, but in the end she said that if I didn''t agree to it then my ex would register him in the new city and that would go in her favour. I agreed to it but I don''t think that it was the right thing to do at all. I don''t want my son to be disadvantaged and have to go to a poorer quality school because of some BS legal wrangling.
Finally it was all signed off and adjourned for 3 weeks or so. We were there 4 hours or more. My total costs were £8, hers were closer to £1800.
For the first time I''ve walked out of court not feeling like I had just set fire to £1000 or more. Although I think things could have gone better with a solicitor present, I think I did a reasonable job and it''s extremely satisfying to know that I didn''t burn my money for no reward at all.