Q1) I am very worried that at the next Directions the Judge will rule that we no longer need to involve the Court. How do I maximise the chances of CAFCASS and the Court staying involved? I can't handle having to rely on the "goodwill" of my spiteful ex and her spiteful solicitor.
Q2) What can I do to maximise my chances of moving out of the contact centre?
First of all, please remember that solicitors do what they are instructed to do by their clients. They can advise their clients but they cannot stop them. They also do not care one way or the other about the case because they still get paid. Therefore the solicitor is not being spiteful it is your ex.
The difference people report in solicitors is just simply some have more questionable methods when pushed by their clents than others.
With regard to maximising your chances the trick will be routine and calmness no matter what.
When your ex tells you she won't be their or you'll never see your child you still turn up and you continue to turn up no matter what untill the court says otherwise. If you don't you've just furnished your ex with an excuse that you're unreliable and therefore not fair on the child.
When the child is settled in a routine and used to seeing you at X, Y and Z times you can then look at increasing the contact and moving it outside of the contact centre.
Do not be afraid to contact your caseworker but make sure your questions are contructive and child centred. Do not use them to bitch about your ex.
Look at the language you use (and I don't mean swearing) and think is there anything negative there.
It will be a hard slog but be prepapred to take it slowly because if you try and rush it you will blow it.
If mediation fails then the judge will order CAFCASS to prepare a report which will usually take about 4 months. In which time they will interview both parents, relatives and friends (if there's a reason), school and nursery as well as doctors (again if applicable), contact centre staff. They will also at some point engineer a meeting between you and your child so they can view how the child interacts with you. They will come and see where you live etc and where you propose for the child to stay when they eventually come over. Show to them that you mean to stick it through for ever and a day.
Sort out on paper for yourself a long term plan of how you see this contact working. What contact you'd like, how you'd like to build it up. Holidays, christmasses, birthdays etc. Picking up, dropping off. Emergency contacts. Then you know what you're aiming for. Judges also like to see what both parties are aiming for and if they know you're being realistic this will help your case in the long run.
When cafcass submits their report to the courts the judge will then make a defined contact order of how he/she best see's contact working. My order is very clear on the where and when's and also alternates and holidays and the reason for this is my ex who feels in the scheme of things she's above the court.
On the bottom of this order will be a warning with regard to breaking the order and it's enforcement. This was brought in December 2008 and if your ex becomes a serial breaker then you will have to use this and get it taken back to court for enforcement.
I've done this once and I have found that it's worked. The judge made it clear to my ex she was not going to have her in court again for this or else. Since then things have calmed down (touch wood) and contact is stuck to even though it's obvious she's not happy about it.
Remember you can kick and scream about the system all you want but at this moment in time you will still have to work with it.