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Contact order help

(16 Posts)
lucyfluff Wed 10-Jul-13 18:28:36

I have just read your thread and wanted to give my experience. (Hope it helps!!)

My ex went to court for contact and because the judge stated times/dates and he didn't like being told when he could see them, he walked away. Initially I met with caf who heard my side and concerns. They met with him also who basically blamed me. That was nearly two years ago, and although he's tried to contact me outside of court I have avoided going back.

I researched and made contact with local contact centres who said they can start off there - they are 8 and 11. To maintain consistency and commitment by him due to time away. The referral by the judge is free, if you self refer it costs. But I would start here every time.

DON'T bring up csa - my solicitor told me this looks like you are financially motivated (I know how angry you are, I have had nothing for three yrs!!). But if he suggests meeting somewhere unreasonable say its not possible for you financially to travel.

I hope this kind of helps - you are defiantly NOT to blame. You are protecting the emotional welfare of your children and state that if they ask for your feelings on it. It's scary, but there are genuine people who help and can support you. Good luck xx

Bugslife13 Wed 10-Jul-13 10:48:52

I don't get legal aid, unless I have proof. So I am going to contact my CAF officer and the volunteer. Can I report him to social services now? My solicitor is brilliant, I am gutted. Ex has well and truly stitched me up, I bet he knew I would have to represent myself as I never reported him. Up until the last 3 hours of our relationship together, I believed I was to blame. It wasn't until I did an online dv course that I realised how we had been treated, to the extent that we had.

So I have this letter from the courts. What do I do next?

Thank you so much for all your help, I've got a good few things to go buy and ordered that book babyhammock suggested. x

betterthanever Tue 09-Jul-13 21:58:28

Bugslife I hope you get legal aid as this will be a long drawn out case but it will only happen in stages which is a good thing for you and DC even though it may feel now that the stress will drag on. It will also be very expensive for him in legal fees.
He has been out of very young children's lives for a long time and whilst you say you know the motive, he will have to explain why he has been absent. What reason has he given on his court application? the usual.. I have been trying to see them non stop for all this time and she will not let me?
Have you had a phone interview with cafcass yet? have they sent you a letter? if not they should phone you before the first directions hearing and prepare a schedule 2 report for the first hearing which will report on what you said and your ex as they will speak to him. Make notes for yourself about say 10 main points that you can go through over the phone with them - why your relationship ended and the contact that has taken place since being main ones, keeping it child focussed. How scared you and the DC still are also needs mentioning. If you are saying he is showing interest after a long break and they ask why you think that is.. say you are not sure but.... and I would mention csa. My DS is only 8 and his w&f are being considered fully - totally different circumstances though as my DS has never met his father. babyhammock has more relevant experience but feel free to PM me too. You are doing the right thing coming up with a solution you would be happy with but make sure it is what you feel is best for DC not what you think they want you to say/do. Post on here lots and get as much support and advice as you can. The system is wrong and one day the children who are suffering now will be able to speak out but for now we will do all we can to protect them.

iheartdusty Tue 09-Jul-13 21:46:55

quick! I see on your other thread that you have legal aid for financial issues, but not yet for contact. One of the qualifying criteria is DV within the 24 months before the application is made. So you might well need to report it to the police as part of laying the foundation for a LA application. I suggest you discuss it with your solicitor very urgently.

Bugslife13 Tue 09-Jul-13 19:51:26

Chovhobnob - that's great news thank you. I am struggling right now with money, panicked when I was told that.
Babyhammock - you are flipping fab! Some great things to go with there! I will pm you tomorrow for some more of your advice if you don't mind.

Thank you all so much x

ChocHobNob Tue 09-Jul-13 19:07:30

To clarify on the CSA points: he will not get a reduction for overnights AND travelling costs. The CSA only allow one or the other.

The reduction for travelling costs (if he got it, and no he wouldn't get it for travelling to visit his family, it would only be if he was visiting the children) is a very small amount. Firstly they disregard the first £15-£20 a week of travelling costs and give a very small allowance for petrol/diesel costs.

babyhammock Tue 09-Jul-13 19:04:10

Oh and yes, absolutely try and get all the evidence you can. You need to be able to create a consistent picture of how things were.
Also you need to make sure your solicitor is familiar with the dynamics of domestic abuse and why victims don't report.

19 months is significant enough for there to be considered no relationship at that age.

babyhammock Tue 09-Jul-13 18:58:13

Hi
Read 'The Batterer as a parent' by Lundy Bancroft. It will really help you to deal with the court, make a case and will brilliantly verbalise all the concerns you have.

The fact is he's been out of their life, and the children are scared. If you think he is trying to use this to get out of making csa payments then site that as a motive for contact on his part. Of course its relevant.

Also familiarise yourself with the Sturge and Glaser experts report who are very much of the opinion that men who commit dv in front of children have shown a massive failure in parenting.

Its not over yet, not by a long shot, but be prepared for a fight.
Feel free to pm me if you like x

Bugslife13 Tue 09-Jul-13 17:37:36

That's absolutely ridiculous! He chose to leave, he regularly comes back to see his family anyway. He probably wont bother with the kids, will go to the csa tell them he has access and wants payments reduced to pay his fuel to see his mummy. Makes sense now!
We hardly get anything off him as it is, due to him changing jobs 9 times in 19 months, and deciding to go on holiday and not pay anything for 5 months when he got back.
Why do you think that about the CAF? It mentions DV in it and the developments of the children. (that were slow and significantly improved once they began to get over it) Speaking, confidence, friendships etc
Can I report the previous incidents to the police or social services now? I'm not lying, I was just too scared and he wore me down to believe I couldn't do it alone. He would kick me out with no phone, money, keys or clothes or the kids and I would have to go sit in the bus stop in the rain/snow until I thought it was long enough for him to have calmed down and would let me back in.
I'd love sometime off, being a single mum is damn hard! I've had 2 nights off in two years. The thought of regular evenings to myself sounds.... like it should belong in the mythical section along side unicorns and flying pigs!
The children haven't seen him for 19 months, surely that classes as a long time? 2 of the children are under 5.

Thanks again. x

kittycat68 Tue 09-Jul-13 16:50:52

yeah the csa rules are there so the father can maintain a realtionship with his kids even if he has little money, they are not worried if that means you dont have enough to live on.
COurts dont entertain money and contact and if you bring it up they will probably say you are delibrately trying to stop contact because of csa payments!!! even though this is not true thats the way it is.
TBH i dont think much weight will be given to the CAF reports but file them anway. He is most likely to deny ANY DV . it comes down to your word against his. Courts dont like to use contact centres only if the child is very young (under 5) and hasnt had much contact with the father or theres proven DV to the child.

Bugslife13 Tue 09-Jul-13 16:08:16

I didn't know age had anything to do with contact centre access... two are under 5 though.
Someone independent? I had a volunteer help me, she was "given" to me (by my CAF officer, next thing down from social services) to help us through our issues and give me confidence after the split. Although she didn't see the abuse first hand, she saw how badly it had effected me and the kids and watched us grow in confidence and happiness until my CAF officer believed we didn't need it anymore at the beginning of this year. I have CAF reports stating DV in them too.
Travel costs? He left the area 4 months after the split, I have stayed in this area ever since. Why should the kids lose maintenance money because he choose to leave and move 3 hours away without even a goodbye? That's not on!

You say I "must not" mention csa etc.. why is that? Is there a way of bringing this up?

Thanks again x

kittycat68 Tue 09-Jul-13 15:50:09

court may also put an intrim order in for contact whilst it moves for a further hearing. Unless you can prove DV (and thtas not by a child or family member) but by someone independant he is going to get contact.unless they are under 5 its not going to be at a contact centre.

Also you say in your post you suspect it is to reduce csa payments. Contact or csa payments will not be considered by the court and you must not mention it at court either. he will get his payments reduced for overnight contact BUT ALSO his travel costs TO and FROM the contact!!! please bear this in mind would it be worth you and your childrens sanity to drop the csa if thats what he wants op?

familylawyerlouise Tue 09-Jul-13 14:07:50

The first court appointment is generally only allocated about 10 - 30 minutes of court time. The judge won't make a decision at that hearing. if it looks like the case is going to go on for a long time then the judge may set a date for another longer hearing at which both sides can give evidence and a decision will be made about what contact should take place whilst the case is ongoing. Glad to help!

Bugslife13 Tue 09-Jul-13 12:53:46

Thank you so much, I have googled the c1a and I will draft one before seeing my solicitor, should he be able to assist my case with the legal aid potential issue/non issue I posted about which you previously, helpfully commented on x
I am planning to come up with an agreement the children and I will most be comfortable with to bring with me to the hearing, in hope he will take that and run with it if the kids mean anything to him. I am thinking he wont settle for anything less than his extremely unreasonable demands in the letter I got from the court. I have a feeling this is about him wanting to see them more to reduce csa payments, he is very much about the money.
Will/can the Judge make the choice that he is to start seeing them asap in the meantime, until a decision or order is made?

Thank you again for your time x

familylawyerlouise Tue 09-Jul-13 12:32:50

You are entitled to make whatever proposals you consider to be in the children's best interests. If you consider that their dad still poses a risk to them then your proposals have to take this into account. if they've been affected by the domestic violence and you want to rely on this as a factor in the case then you need to fill in a c1a prior to the hearing and send it off to the court and to their father. there is no set age at which children's wishes and feelings are taken into account but if they are under 10 then it is unlikely (in my experience) that much consideration will be given to their wishes. At the first hearing that judge can only usually make an order if both parties agree on it. If you can't agree then the judge will give instructions (called Directions) for some evidence to be filed to assist him or her in making a decision at a future date. He won't get staying contact at the first hearing unless you agree to it ( which you won't) but eventually if the contact goes well then eventually it might progress to overnight in the longer term. Hope that helps!

Bugslife13 Tue 09-Jul-13 12:23:30

I have received a contact order hearing letter from the courts applied for by ex, about our children, for just over a month away.
Its been over a year and a half since he last saw them, through their choice and mine. The was dv involved towards them and myself. I made the mistake of not reporting it at the time, I have DC as witnesses and one of my parents.
He moved across the UK with mistress who has a child. This child was a sexual abuse victim until a few years back - mistresses husband was the abuser.
DCs Father made a few requests for contact, but they were at times that were not good for us (health reasons) and children were not returning the wish for contact.
Now I understand he most likely will get contact. I am not keen on the idea of contact centres though, which is the most I am hoping he will get to start with. Can I make any "demands" as to where the contact is and who is around? Could I say once every other weekend in a park or a day out etc ,once they have gotten used to the idea, and have someone I trust there with them, and not his family or mistress? (I have my good reasons for no paternal family to be involved). Surely he won't be granted overnight stays after so long apart?
Will the children's views be taken into account at all? I have read its over the age of ten which mine are not. But they know how they feel. Not once in the time apart have they asked for their Father. I have asked them if they wish to see him (I am a Daddies girl and could not imagine life without my Dad) and they say no, they give very justified reasons - i.e. incidents of DV. I had hoped that by the time, if the time came, they would have forgotten these times, but they haven't.
I have tried to explain in as few (comforting) words as possible that they will most likely have to see him, to give them time to adjust to the idea, and they were crying and screaming. Took me ages to calm my eldest one down poor thing, and my other DC is very clingy since and won't go to playgroup and has started following me around - to the loo etc.
I don't know what to do! I haven't even been in a Court room before, I don't know how any of this works!

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