rp OH here to save confusion:
To cut a long story short, I was denied contact for all my three children back in August last year. I had actually not seen 2 of 3 since April for any longer than 10 minutes when I collected eldest (collection point was MIL)..I was told middle did not want contact and youngest always was 'sick' or 'not there'
Eldest had staying contact once a fortnight for 2 nights and one night after school in the week. This went on without issue from Jan-Aug 09 all the while I continually attempted to see the other 2 to no avail, and admit I did bury my head in the sand and hoped that my stbx would see sense..our relationship was acrimonious and I did not want to rock the boat. To say she is manipulative is about the biggest understatement I can think of.
Back in August some financial issues were raised by me and surprise surprise...contact with ALL children was abruptly stopped due to them being 'unsafe' whilst they were in my care.
Knowing this was a direct retaliation to financial issues I decided against seeking legal advice and decided to self rep and applied for Contact. I did some research and thought as allegations were bogus I had nothing to hide..
I asked for contact to be re-established as before for eldest and re-introducing contact over a period of a for 2 younger children to eventually overnights say over a 2 month period.
we attended the first hearing in early December, she had a solicitor present..
We had the standard meeting with Cafcass beforehand; nothing specific regarding welfare was actually discussed during the meeting..it was more vague generalisations of my care and concern for the children and that I tended to act more like a mate than a father..I feel it was more a clash of parenting style than geniune well being.
We somehow 'agreed' that I would see all 3 alternate Saturdays but that my mother was to be present the contact. It wasn't ideal..she got the CAFCASS officer onside instantly and I really did feel railroaded into agreeing, however the most important thing was seeing my children so I took what I thought I essentially thought was better than nothing. No welfare report was ordered or advised by cafcass at that point. We agreed to come back in 4 months time to review overnights, beginning of april.
I will admit that I was very pleased on the day as I knew I would see all of my children and very soon..however hindsight vision kicked in a few days later. I started to go over the events of that day and wondered how it would have turned out if I had been more confident, or taken a McKenzie or a solicitor, not that I could afford one!
After a few visits with the children I realise that two weeks is FAR too long..I miss them like mad and they are so so so excited to see me..they are constantly asking to stay over and wanting to know when they will..I just don't know what to tell them and it hurts me so much to see them disapointed.
I saw a solicitor last week and she was genuinely appalled at the outcome of the first hearing, that she would have pushed for overnights straight off for all 3, with conditions written into the Consent Order
regarding the 'concerns' ie bedtimes and TV watching etc and that she couldn't even understand the point of it being supervised by my mother as her and my stbx don't even speak therefore who was to confirm and monitor the progress? She also added that she knew the solicitor my stbx uses and that she would have exploited the fact I self repped to her upmost advantage.
So I am now in a few minds about how to approach the review hearing.
Before the Directions I hadn't spoken to my stbx in 3 months. She point blank refused to speak to me for no real reason other than anger. All of a sudden she's communicative and nearly friendly at the directions hearing..she has been responsive to texts about the children (I check up the kids had fun and p/u times for weekends direct with her)
Honestly I do not know which way my stbx is going to go..she might say she is not happy for anything to change and contact has to remain as it is for another 4 months..or she might be in agreement straight off to overnights weekly.
I am not even sure if CAFCASS is going to be present at the review or if it will just be the judge present..could I contact them to get this information? In all honestly I do not want them to have to complete a S 7, the backlog in Yorkshire is horrendus, taking up to 48 weeks at presnt.
I am contemplating texting my stbx to try and get a response about it beforehand, but not sure how she would react to that either.
I have also been thinking about instructing a solicitor for the review hearing based on the meeting I had last week..I wonder if the outcome at the first hearing would have been miles away from what it is now if I had done from the start..finances at the time wouldn't allow but I could probably scrape or borrow this time.
Honestly I know deep down solicitors don't have a place in child court cases but I know what I am up against. She is a master of manipulation and is very very vindictive..I am more concerned that she IS being communicative with me than I was when she wasn't. Nothing she could do or has done has really surprised me so far.
Really just looking for some guidance and thoughts on this...all welcome.