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Going to court for the first time

  • coping so far
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12 May 09 #115547 by coping so far
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Current arrangements have not been agreed but forced on me, the excuse being that " he is only seven and its too long ".I have asked for longer every weekend when I have my son and also for more holidays.
I have every Wednesday overnight, every other weekend Friday after school to Sunday 1800 ( I feel that overnight to Monday for school would be better for my son as we could wind down and relax and maybe even go further away for a weekend and stay for tea with cousins or granny which we can't at present.
I then have 2 separate weeks out of the six week summer holidays - I think that a fortnight and a week would be reasonable. At the moment on PD days and Bank Holidays my son almost always goes to his mother - I think they should be shared. We have managed to split half term holidays reasonably well.
What would happen if I went to court without my solicitor and she still had hers? Would I not be at risk of having things pushed on me that my solicitor might warn me against? I have already done the application and served the paperwork myself. I would be confident to talk to the judge and CAFCASS officer on my own, just want to be sure I do not cock the whole thing up by not having my solicitor there.

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12 May 09 #115551 by ClimbMountains
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the single most influential thing is what cafcass say. In my last hearing (a few weeks ago) the judge said (senior judge) that there are effectively only 3 reasons why a court can ignore cafcass recommendations: (1) cafcass methodology was flawed, (2) they ignored evidence/facts or (3) there are facts (incl new facts) that they did not have. in my experience (not an expert but having gone through the system myself) solicitors make little difference to what cafcass say or do.

If your ex has solicitors they will (in my experience) try to bully or scare you outside court at the hearings.

You have a reasonable amount of contact. Son is at an age where his views will start to count. I agree with your arguments about extending the weekend but I experienced the counter argument that mum has to get child ready for school on the monday.... Its not unusual for all school holidays to be shared equally. you can have a problem arguing about occassional bank holidays because it just ends up complicating the arrangements (you and I probably don't think so). You are probably better gently raising the issue of sharing bank holidays but compromising on getting your weekends extended on giving up the bank holiday sharing. certainly you should perhap consider whether sunday 19:00 is better than 18:00 because it will enable you to have dinner together... I had 19:00 handovers for my daughter from age 2.

why do you say existing arrangements have been forced on you? At age 7 I doubt that the system will consider that there are any real limits to the time that a child can spend with a parent. My daughter is 4 and at last hearing cafcass said there was no reason for me to not have 2 week holidays with her (50% of all holidays and substantial weekly contact)

From your post it seems like a fairly simple case.

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12 May 09 #115566 by coping so far
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Forced on my as my wife said " he must be back by 6 o clock" and my solicitor suggested it was best to go along with that to reduce conflict. As my son is living with her most of the time what she says goes. I cannot just go and take him or risk making matters considerably worse.
As nothing has come of mediation and common sense over the last year I have had to go down the road of a court application.

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12 May 09 #115595 by ClimbMountains
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are you saying that it was different to 6pm before (and ex changed it) or its always been that way on her insistence? You've now elected to go the court route (having tried mediation etc) and the advantage is that once you get a defined order ex has to comply. You need to be clear what you want and also confident in yourself that what you are asking for is reasonable and in your son's interests.

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12 May 09 #115597 by coping so far
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It has always been 6. She said it should be 4 pm Sunday afternoon and I said that was ridiculous. Argument for 6 is that it gives time for mum to have a chat about the weekend and have a bath and settle down.
But I think that there needs to be opportunity for Dad to have a chat about the weekend and then have a bath and settle down.
There is the implicit suggestion that I am not an equal in parenting terms, which is not a good thing for my son to be thinking. That is one argument I will put forward.
Also, an overnight stay and dropping off at school reduces the chance of conflict as I dont have to meet with his mother.
This is very helpful for me but is taking lots of you time in replying!
Thanks very much

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12 May 09 #115605 by ClimbMountains
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don't worry about my time. If I don't have time I won't reply :)

Many people think there should be more of a presumption of parents being equal but the reality of the system is it isn't there. I agree with you and it is emotionally tough when the system makes you feel like a lesser parent. Try the argument (unless others here tell you not to) but don't assume that the system will really listen to it (you may get someone who does but you might not). The risk is that you sound like someone who wants an ideal when ideals don't exist (if you understand what I mean).

Your argument about midweek overnight contact to avoid meeting ex also has a counter argument. You are saying that there is conflict and the system doesn't like hearing about conflict and parents who cannot work together for the good of their kids. Also if you only ever collect/return your son to/from school what happens about discussing parenting/care issues and sharing clothes, toys, books....

I assume its practical for you to take your son to school in the morning?

Without knowing the details.... You are likely to get much more holiday time. You should get a 2 week summer holiday. You stand good chance of getting 50% of all holidays.

during my applications cafcass have twice said that the internal guidance is 2 nights every week with the non resident parent but it doesn't matter if that is 4 nights one week and nothing the next. I don't know whether that guidance actually exists or was just the particular person ad libbing. However, you have 4 nights/2 weeks. There are no hard and fast rules. There are some people who have 50/50 time. You need to structure and argue what you want in terms of what is best for your son.

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12 May 09 #115608 by coping so far
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Most parenting discussions happen by phone or email and there are never any toys coming in my direction. I let my son take stuff home to show mom but that is not reciprocated.
Clothes and things like cycling stuff/ tennis stuff are left out under a wood shelter in a plastic bag for collection.
I only live just down the road and getting to school is not an issue for me at all.
Cheers

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