Really stressed about court coming up - please reassure me (long, sorry)(13 Posts)
I did something really stupid today (on here) because I am so wound up about DH going to court next month. I've apologised, but it made me realise that I need to get a grip and maybe ask for some help/support to cope with the next few weeks.
To try to keep it brief, DH has applied for increased holiday contact for his son. He has a contact order already (pretty standard EOW stuff) which was hell to get, took 4 years. Ex has MH issues and is still, after many years, ruminating about every incident in their very short relationship. Her family enable her endlessly so she is used to having everyone do as she says.
DSS really wants to have more holiday time with Dad generally, and is desparate to come on our family holiday in the summer. He has said so to the Cafcass officer and they have recommended pretty much everything DH has asked for. So it should be straightforward.
However, we don't get legal aid and can't afford legal representation (ex does and has had a barrister for hearings) and ex's statement is full of outright lies (and very odd, paranoid ones, too, like DH is taping all their convo's and gave DSS a DS game thing to take photos of her house???). She also says she sat DSS down and told him the recommendations of the Cafcass Officer and asked him if that was what he really wanted and he cried and said it wasn't ().
And now DSS is wildly excited about coming on holiday, because he thinks the recommendations mean he can come, asking loads of questions about it, etc, and DH and I are sick with worry that the court won't grant it. We don't know whether to try and tackle the accusations in court or whether that will look like bickering, or stay dignified and child-centred and risk the other side's barrister taking DH apart on the stand. He gets so nervous before court dates he is physically sick.
And even if they do grant it, she might pull some kind of stunt to stop him coming. I'm starting to wish we had never applied for it.
So anything anyone can say would be great.
In my experience, a barrister won't present a case that has holes in it or is blatantly vindictive even if their client doesnt like it - DPs ex yelled and wagged her finger at her barrister in the court waiting room when the barrister gave her a reality check, so I'm sure the case presented will be fact not fantasy!
I've also heard that if you self-rep, the judges are very supportive and don't allow any bully-boy tactics.
I'm sure it will be fine - but I know you can't do anything but worry!
I am somewhat on the other side of this as I am a RP replying to a request for increased contact (quite happy to PM you a prećis of why to show I'm not just a vindictive cow who would be best ignored but I'd rather not lay it all out here) and am in a similar situation wrt ex getting legal aid and me not, as well as outlandish claims made in my exes statement to cafcass.
I have had the initial directions hearing and can confirm, in my case at least, that NotA is right about the judge and self reppers. The judge stopped several times to clarify things for my benefit, explained things very clearly and made sure I was completely clear on what was happening before she agreed to anything.
I would strongly suggest that you at least take advantage of the free half hour consultation that most solicitors offer though, if only to find out the best way of refuting the claims made in your DP's exes statement. I didn't and really regret it now as i didn't know what I was and wasn't allowed to bring up and let far too much go because I didnt want to be seen to be nit picking. As a result things didn't go as they should have and I now have no choice but to use a solicitor for the next hearing to set things straight and it probably won't be taken well that I'm bringing things up later on in the proceedings.
There are some lovely, helpful folk over in Legal who gave me some good advice on things I couldn't find out myself by Googling and that saved me at least one solicitors appointment, so I'd suggest reposting over there as well.
With any luck, since you already have a court order and are only applying for it to be varied and DSS is presumably at least 7 so old enough to have an opinion and for it to be considered, it should be relatively straight forward for you. Best of luck.
DSS opinion is what will Count and I can confirm judges are good to self reppers.
Sadly her pulling a stunt even after order is granted you cannot control - I believe there is something that can be attached to the order in case of this setting out what the penalty will be - ask in legal.
Let me reassure you, what you are asking is reasonable and it's highly unlikely it will be refused. Back that up with a supportive CAFCASS then you have a solid case. I was a mckenzie friend at court once and your DH will be fine. It's just a process of working out what is reasonable. If the ex gets into outrageous accusations it will reflect poorly on her.
Your Dh just needs to be calm - never reacting to his ex if she goes into rant mode. My H's ex started to argue with the judge, it didn't go down well but they have seen it all before. They just want parents to behave reasonably.
Maybe try rescue remedy and camomile tea to help soothe. The best way to look at it is that court will be an upside, he won't have current contact removed so it's likely to get better
Let us know how he gets on.
My DH's solicitor said he could have something drafted into the order along the lines that the passport was retained by a solicitor, then released to the parent who is going on holiday 2 weeks before the proposed trip. The parent would at the time provide the solicitor with an itinerary of the trip to pass onto the other parent. The passport would then be returned to the solicitor within a week of return.
Expensive and complex way of dealing with something that should be simple but when you're dealing with the unreasonable.....
Thanks so much to everyone, this has really calmed us down a bit! DSS is 10, will be 11 by the time of the holiday. He has been such a star through all this, he is sensitive to his Mum's anxiety, is so gentle with her, but as he has got older his Dad's tenacity has been showing and although she has made it very clear to him how much she doesn't want him to have more holiday with Dad or go abroad, he has stuck to his guns.
I will post in legal and have already suggested to DH that he get the free half-hour's advice. We have already booked our holiday and have asked in our statement that we pick him up the day before so we can travel to the airport and stay in a nearby hotel so it isn't a really early morning. To be honest, the flight isn't that early but collecting him the day before will hopefully avoid any delay tactics.
Court date is next month so will keep you posted.
Court was today, very long hearing, but judge has ordered almost everything we asked for - holiday abroad, week at easter, half of each half-term, etc etc. We are over the moon.
great news. It's always nice to hear about the good outcomes where the child is able to spend time more equally with both parents, particularly where (as in your case) the child wanted this too
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