The hearing was at 10 this morning, unfortunately my McKenzie friend''s train was cancelled and with the hearing being at 10 in the morning it was apparent I was completely on my own (At this point I was pooping my pants putting it politely) Anyways shall start from the beginning. The Mckenzie friend offered to catch a later train but I felt this would be of little point.
Turnt up to the court and was given the CAFCASS report. Which was pretty bang on perfect. It ofcourse eluded to my EX''s concerns which was fair enough. But it stated in the report that no further role was needed from CAFCASS and that there wasn''t any welfare concerns etc. Suggested the norm of a PIP course and that a contact book was made to trade notes between parents. Only negative really init was that they suggested that to possibly ease my EX partners concerns that my Sister supervised the visits for now.
Anyways my EX solicitor came over and introduced herself said CAFCASS was a positive report bla bla bla and that there willing to negotiate a deal for an interim order. At first they offered me fortneightly contact for 2 hours supervised by my EX''s mother. I said point blank no to this and argued my point that I wanted no member of her family present for supervision, this was because we have never got on and imo they''re the reason i''m in court and fighting to see my Daughter. I didn''t say this but just stated that I didn''t feel it was appropriate and that the offer was as ludicrous as the 1 I got a few days before.
She went back to my EX and said what I had said and that I wasn''t willing to accept that offer etc. I said I wanted contact out of the contact center weekly for 2 hours, (I didn''t feel I would get this but I thought i''d start high so I could negotiate down if I had to). My EX''s solicitor came back to me and said this was out of the question as far as they were concerned. My EX solicitor then referred to the report and stated that even CAFCASS thought it would be best to be supervised in the short term. I was expecting this and after reading on here that the court tend to go along with CAFCASS I didn''t argue for unsupervised, I felt this was a discussion for a later date. The problem was that My EX and her solcitior knew at this stage my Sister who lives 60 miles away was unable to facilitate the contact (this was discussed at mediaiton on Thursday) and have no family memebers in the area. So the offer came back weekly for 2 hours but once again EX''s mother would be the supervisor. This would happen for 3 months before a review.
I suddenly felt I was at a loss and that 2 hours a week was a 400% increase on what I currently have a month, would I be mad to turn it down? If I turn it down do I look unreasonable? etc etc. Anyways I asked for a few minutes to think about it and made a desperation phone call to my sister. My sister wasn''t able to do the supervision on the grounds that it''s her only day off and a long way to travel (Which don''t get me wrong I fully understand) My sister works bleedy hard. Anyways I finally managed to persuade her to do the supervision I''d cover travel costs (gulp)etc.
EX''s solicitor came back looking rather confident that they had me right where they wanted me, They were very surprised and gobsmacked none the less when I said my sister would do the supervision in the short term. I wanted to argue about the point of the 3 month review but the only snag was that also in the CAFCASS report it suggested a parenting course to once again ease mothers concerns (this was mothers request also). Which was fine have no problem with that. So in light of this course I felt It probably would only just get completed in time for this review and reluctantly accepted the review date time period I also was thinking that maybe I''m starting to push it a little.
So my final proposal was weekly contact for 2 hours out of the contact center for 3 months before review, and if at any point my sister was unavailable for a contact session for w.e reason that then I would only be willing to allow a member of her family to do the supervision.(I worried when I asked for this as I wondered if they would ask why would I accept it at these moments but not in the short term)but obviously I wanted a plan B if for any reason my Sister couldn''t supervise, anyways that''s what I offered and that we would meet at the local Asda supermarket local to the train station, as I''m currently waiting to take my driving test. If I fail I need to be close to a trains station lol. As the suggested handover wasn''t conveniant.
She went back to my ex partner traded words, well I say my EX partner it almost looked like the whole time that my EX''s parents were the other party it looked to me that my EX was having very little say. Which sadly confirms alot of this is outside influences.
EX''s solicitor comes back and says ''''Nope supervision must be done by EX''s mother''''
My response was ''''Your gonna argue against a CAFCASS report that clearly suggest my sister does the supervision?''''
At this point I quickly realised that my EX''s solicitor was actually for my proposal and it was pretty obvious that she was ofcourse just going by what her clients well clients parents wishes were. I simply said if you don''t accept my offer will just go into the court room and see what they have to say about it.
EX''s solicitor went away and they were in the same room as me and could quite clearly see that she was urging my EX to accept the offer. There was alot of shaking heads and heads in hands and couple raised voices from EX''s Dad, but to my surprise she came back and said that were in agreement as long as I pay the parking fees of the local Asda car park, Made me chuckle but I agreed none the less she then said sheel draft up an interim order.
Anyways court order drafted, rang up my Mckenzie Friend and previous solicitor who is still helpful and helps alot and read the order word by word and they said it was totally fine and my solcitior said that he probably couldn''t of got much better himself at this first hearing and was much more than he was expecting me to get(bought a smile to my face).
Anyways court order drafted into the court we went, spoke to the magistrates arranged a Directions hearing date for the 6th Decemeber.
Was quite happy with the overall result, I would of liked to of argued for midweek contact and possibly a hearing at a sooner date. But tbh I was so emotionally drained and not to sure about stuff that I was just happy that well like I said I had managed to get my current contact a 400% increase it could of been far worse. If i had a Mckenzie friend or a solicitor etc maybe I could of got more but I still felt proud that I had done all this for my daughter and faced a solicitor completely on my own and all this after just turning 21. I know it''s not all over yet and potentionally a lot of bumps in the road ahead but today was just the beginning of being there for my daughter throughout her life and every step of the way.
If people are self representing and I know it''s said alot on her but never accept something you don''t think is fair especially the first offer, they''ll almost certainly come back and offer more. Stick to the truth and you have absoloutely nothing to worry about.
ffc, what else can i say but CONGRATULATIONS AND WELL DONE!!
Thats a huge step forward with what sounds like a minimal fight on your part and a lot of persuading on your ex''s solicitors part. Told you they would see through her! I''m so happy for you. Yes in the long run its still not what you totally wanted but for her to agree to your wishes - which as you stated you didnt expect to achieve - without the court getting directly involved puts you in a good place for further hearings. If you follow CAFCASS''s advice and take a parenting course there should be no reason why you will need to continue supervised contact after your next hearing or why you cant begin to build contact up considerably.
Yh i saw it as a massive positive that the court didn''t have to really get involved today. Really hoped we could come to some agreement especially as my mckenzie friend was unable to attend I felt I would of been going into the unknown and shat my pants lol.
I''m going to ring up tomoz places straight away to attend a parenting course and yup hopefully that''s the way forward .