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Changing a directions hearing to a final one. Is it easily done?

(3 Posts)
TooClassToGrass Tue 09-Jul-13 15:25:15

My ex gets legal aid and has been utilising it to the fullest extent he can so far, so there is no incentive for him to agree to something which doesn't exactly meet what he wants, so it looks like there will be at least one more hearing yet, then. Thank you.

If I might trouble you again, how likely is it that a section 7 will be ordered? I am keen to keep the DC away from the official side of things as much as possible, as any involvement they have had so far has distressed them and leads to them resenting their father for dragging them into it, which obviously isn't a good start to forming a relationship. The reason for my saying overnight wouldn't be suitable for at least a year is that so far, they haven't actually been alone with their father for 10 years. Contact has been supervised either by me or Cafcass. By the time we reach the next hearing there will have been some unsupervised contact, a few hours each day of the weekend before the hearing. Since my ex lives hundreds of miles away, contact only happens around 3 times a year, so while saying "no, not for a year" sounds like an unreasonably long time, it is actually only 3 weekends, 6 occasions of unsupervised contact and perhaps a total of 30 hours which is a very small amount of time to spend with a virtual stranger before travelling hundreds of miles from home to spend a week/weekend with them.

Is it possible that the judge will deem the practicalities sufficient reason to delay overnight stays for a year until a reasonable amount of time together has passed, or will they seek a section 7 to confirm that?

Overnight stays weren't mentioned in the initial court application but have been raised as something my ex has requested since then, to Cafcass. Sorry for all the questions. I'm trying to work out if a final order is likely to be made soon for the daytime contact then leaving it open for a variation order to include overnights at a more suitable time, or if the case would be left open for a year until potentially reaching the stage of overnights to get it all wrapped up in one final order. I wasn't expecting my solicitor to suggest that we could possibly move to a final hearing so soon as everything has dragged so much so far so I'm afraid I didn't think of these things while I was meeting with him and he's now on holiday so I can't ask him for clarification.

Thanks again.

familylawyerlouise Mon 08-Jul-13 16:49:11

At a Directions hearing the judge can only make an order if it is agreed between both parties. If there is no agreement then the judge will make directions for the case to progress so you can ask him or her to direct that the case should be listed for a final hearing at which a judge will make a decision which will be binding on both of you (as long as no further evidence is required - it may be that statements from you both about the issue of staying contact would also be helpful to the judge at the final hearing). The Judge may want a wishes and feelings section 7 report as well given the ages of the children.

TooClassToGrass Mon 08-Jul-13 12:27:24

I have an ongoing contact case. By the time we have the next directions hearing it will be about a year in and it has been slow going. My solicitor has suggested sending a list of proposals to the other party that in his experience is what is likely to eventually be ordered. For pure head banging off the wall frustration, these proposals are exactly what I have been offering for 10 years now and have never been accepted but neither has anywhere near that much contact been taken up.

It may be that this time the proposals are accepted in which case as both parties have reached agreement I could see it being made a final hearing to get us out of the system and go towards clearing some of the backlog. My concern is about what happens if they aren't accepted? The proposal doesn't include overnight contact as this isn't suitable for a variety of reasons and wouldn't be for at least a year yet, but I know that overnights are the main aim for my ex, to have the DC delivered to him and to have a week in the summer to show them off and any day time visits are a means to that end for him so I don't think he will readily agree to any order that doesn't include them.

Is it likely that the judge would grant a final order even if my ex doesn't agree, if they deem the proposed contact to be reasonable, or could I be looking at the case staying open for another year until overnights are a possibility?

If it is relevant, the DC are young teens, there hasn't been a section 7 report done, both DC are vehemently opposed to overnight contact and only grudgingly attend daytime contact. The proposed contact is more than three times what has been taken up in the past with scope for additional days at mutually convenient times.

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