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Please please help - bullying ex, shared care and going to court

(28 Posts)
Theladyloriana Tue 20-Sep-16 13:13:39

I'm so sorry but I'm posting for traffic.

I cannot afford legal advice and I have been trying to get through to rights of women for weeks.

Current sitauon is that mediation is breaking down as ex insists on total split of dc time, they are 6 and 1. I work 3.days with a lot of flexible working and ex works full time with a great deal of overtime and limited flexibility. Currently they spend eoweekend and Tuesday nights with him.

Apart from verbally abusive and physically violent behaviour towards me, which I have police reports etc, not towards them, I would argue on a practical level its just not feasible. He never returns forms so ds has missed out on clubs etc as I didn't know they had gone home in his book bag; he has never taken them to the docs, dentists, play date, after school activity I do basically everything for them and always have.
My dd 1, nearly 2, cries whenever I leave the room when she is wth me and seems to be suffering from separation anxiety.

I think they will benefit from a continuation of the current arrangement on a practical level, as I would rather not argue it on the fact he has been extremely frightening and abusive towards me. So much so i have cctv installed outside my house as a deterrent.

Ex says I am not that main carer. That he will aggressively fight me in court and tell everyone 'what I'm really like'. He says he will get shared care anyway whether we go to court or I agree before.

I cannot afford representation. I would prefer not to bring up the past as I find it to be a really traumatic memory and I am just coming through all the fear I felt in the family home. Also I am not proud of my reaction to continual verbal abuse. I left with the kids at the beginning of the year.

If anyone can help me or tell me their recent experience as things seemed to have changed so much I would be so very gratrful. I just don't know where to turn.

glenthebattleostrich Tue 20-Sep-16 13:17:35

As you have evidence of DV are you not entitled to legal aid? Also please phone women's aid, they'll be able to help too.

Mybeardeddragonjustdied2016 Tue 20-Sep-16 13:21:16

As hard as it sounds you may need it all to come tumbling out to save your children having to spend 50%of their lives with the bastard. Trust me I wish I had reported and pushed harder for people to see what my ex was like. It won't be as hard as you fear when it's for your kids - you do find an inner strength when the need to protect them arises.

Theladyloriana Tue 20-Sep-16 13:21:43

Apparently only an initial half hour, which i have had. I've called women's aid who have referred me to a local organisation but they have said they can't give me any legal advice,but family support.

Theladyloriana Tue 20-Sep-16 13:23:14

Thanks beard. I know I can't bear the thought of it. I just don't know how to do itor what to expect, or what to do.

Starlight234 Tue 20-Sep-16 13:29:53

No great advice but I agree try womens aid.

Citazens advice anyone who might be able to help.

Also look at whether you are eligable for Legal aid due to DV...

Theladyloriana Tue 20-Sep-16 13:30:13

I am working so looking at this thread intermittently with hope, thank you

Theladyloriana Tue 20-Sep-16 13:31:28

Apparently not eligible for any legal aid for legal advice, just for mediation, in which I am being 're victimised it feels like.

Theladyloriana Tue 20-Sep-16 13:32:29

Does anyone know if it's true, that there is no such thing as a primary carer any more? I can't find any info making this clear.

MagicChanges Tue 20-Sep-16 13:52:23

Can't quite work out where you are in the process OP - have CAFCASS been involved yet? They should investigate and make a recommendation although they are so overwhelmed with work that they cut corners and can create more difficulties. I thought if DV was involved then mediation was not compulsory, so not sure why you are going through this process.

Do you really only get 30 mins legal aid if DV involved - that's rubbish. You will have to represent yourself and there are books that can help you (I'll post again with some details) or you could look for a barrister who works pro bono (for free) as many of them take on a few cases on this basis.

I think thebeardeeddragon has good advice, but you say you are still traumatised by the past and this is unsurprising but I think you need to "bite the bullet" for the sake of the children now, and be honest about ex's behaviour towards you in the past. It sounds like you are still afraid of him and believe that he can control you (again not uncommon after living in a DV situation) and these men "talk big" about what they're going to do in court etc. He can't control you any more - those days are over. Did WA mention the "Freedom programme" - it won't help you in the legal predicament but it might help you to move on and feel more confident to take control of your life.

Did you mean that you think there should be a continuation of the current arrangements - sounds reasonable to me so long as the children are ok - what happens on Wed morning - does he take 6 yr old to school and 2 yr old back to you. It's quite a big thing for a child of almost 2 to be spending one night away from you every week and you say she is suffering separation anxiety - which is hardly surprising. What sort of father is he? The other thing that strikes me is that the children must have witnessed this DV and they will be adversely affected - there is a great deal of research demonstrating the effects on children of DV.

What do you mean "I'm not proud of my reaction to his verbal abuse?"

Sorry I'm throwing a lot of stuff your way - just trying to get a handle on it. I'm a retired sw and was involved with quite a few private law cases involving Child Arrangement Orders.

MagicChanges Tue 20-Sep-16 14:08:41

Me again......if you go on Amazon and put in "Family Court without a Lawyer" you should get quite a few books but the first one that comes up is I think the best. It's written by Lucy Reed who is a barrister with years of experience working in the Family Courts. There are good reviews of this book and some people have written extensive reviews which might help you. You might come across the words LIP - it means "litigant in person" - legal speak for representing yourself.

I think you will be surprised at how uncomplicated it is to be honest. Judges are always polite and courteous and no one is trying to trip you up (except your ex) and judges can see through this in the blink of an eye. They do get tired of parents trying to score points over each other, but you don't sound like you are in that category, but focus on the best interests of the children. Having said that I think you can be factual about the DV rather than too emotive if you see what I mean. Can the ex afford a lawyer?

Happy to help further if necessary

Theladyloriana Tue 20-Sep-16 15:00:55

Thanks so much magic, I wrote a whole reply but it didn't post.

Not made a court application yet, just at cafcass stage. Children didn't witness dv. My reactions included losing my temper.

Sorry to be brief! It's looking like I might be eligible for legal aid, so things are looking up.

BlackeyedSusan Tue 20-Sep-16 15:11:47

did you lose your temper or where you shouting because you were afraid?

Theladyloriana Tue 20-Sep-16 17:09:42

No furious at being called names I'm afraid sad

MagicChanges Tue 20-Sep-16 17:10:18

It's SO frustrating when you lose a long post isn't it. Sometimes it's still there but you have to fiddle about a bit with the keys. What's the problem with losing your's called being human and anger can be cathartic.

I usually advise people to steer clear of the family courts if possible as it can get very protracted and stressful, but your ex doesn't sound as if he's someone who will negotiate in a reasonable manner.

Hope you get a good CAFCASS social worker, although it's not really about the competence of the worker any more as they are so inundated with work and in most areas they are carrying significant numbers of vacancies and they just don't have the time to investigate matters in a proper way.

Feel free to PM me if you like.

Theladyloriana Tue 20-Sep-16 17:10:26

And scared to I think sad

TheWeeBabySeamus1 Tue 20-Sep-16 17:23:19

Hi OP, have you talked to your Health Visitor about this? When it all kicked off with my ex and he was threatening to run off with my son, I spoke to my HV and she contacted a solicitor for me (who did legal aid), confirmed the DV on my behalf and I got free representation in family court. Speak to your HV/Sure Start centre as they always have a local Legal Aid solicitor they can refer people to.

Wriggler79 Tue 20-Sep-16 17:25:14

If representing yourself you can have a 'Mckenzie friend' to support you; someone who cannot speak for you but can provide emotional support and give you prompts when answering questions in court.
It sounds like he's trying to make you anxious before you have to go through court. Ask Women's Aid if there's anyone you can talk to about this and whether you can get any cheap legal advice just to get all your facts straight before going to court. Anxiety is hugely debilitating and he's clearly using this against you as he knows it works.

Theladyloriana Tue 20-Sep-16 17:52:44

Thanks so much all, I really really appreciate your replies. I feel much more empowered and less scared, I've told the mediators what I will accept (continuation of the current arrangement) as well as what is financially fair and he is to reply in 7 days or we start court proceedings. Got a legal aid solicitor booked for next week, it loooks like I'm eligible , yipee. Just made csa claim as well, finally.

I feel really guilty as I know he will be furious but I know it's the right way forward.

Thanks all for all your imput. More welcomed. Magic, I have pmd you, thank you x

Wriggler79 Tue 20-Sep-16 18:07:53

Ah fab that's great you're getting help and feel better smile best of luck with it.

Notmorecake Tue 20-Sep-16 19:33:34

Hi. I won't add to much but would like to say I totally agree with what Magic changes says, including the book recommendation. I used Lucy Reeds books ( from Amazon) and it helped a lot especially with the terminology.

My experiance - attended family court with out a Barrister earlier this year. It's called being a "litigent in person". My EH brought a barrister who actually turned out to be kind polite and helpful to me too. I was initially suspicious but on further reading of the book mentioned it explained why he was obliged to do this.
Within the court environment I was given extra time to digest what was going on and the bench went to great lengths to settle me and explain everything I needed to know. I came away no less worse off than had I had a barrister because I came away with the result I wanted on every point.

I understand what you mean about not wishing to dig up the worst of your marriage details. At a push I could have probably got help with legal aid but I also lost my temper at times with my EH and it left me feeling deeply ashamed. I wanted the hearing to about our children and not the darkest days of the marriage.

I guess what I'm trying to say is once I had a handle on the jargon ( the book helped) and had my statement of evidence down on paper i felt much more confident. I was handled with care and a polite manner by all I came into contact with during the days in Court.

Tiny bit more advice. Keep your statement of evidence focused on your children's needs. It's easy to get carried away with listing what a bad man your partner was but really the family court want to stay as focused on the children as possible. I was commended in the "summing" up of managing to put my children's needs first while my EH was criticised.

Final final word. Get as much sewn up as you can from the start. My EH has found a bit of vauge wording in our order and is attempting to make life hard for me as a result.

Good luck OP. flowers

Notmorecake Tue 20-Sep-16 19:38:11

Hi again OP. Sorry if I'm going on a bit. I kind of feel you are in the place I was in March this year. I delayed going to the courts for help as I knew it would get my EH very angry and I am still to this day quite easily shaken by him and his attitude. My life was quite hellish until after the second hearing but now the order is made life is much better for me.

If I could come and hold your hand I would.

missymayhemsmum Tue 20-Sep-16 22:19:31

OP, what everyone has said is all good advice, but try to detach from what your Ex says or feels or wants or does- it is no longer your problem.
Tell him in mediation what you believe is right for your children(and it sounds as though the current pattern is doing your littlest no good). Don't expect/ask for his agreement. If he kicks off, call the police and stop unsupervised contact.
Take back your power. If he is disputing whether you are the main carer then ask the courts for a residency order to make it clear the children live with you.
At the moment it sounds as though he is still able to bully and intimidate you. keep reminding yourself that his opinion no longer matters to you. If he uses contact/ mediation to abuse you then ask the courts for a no contact order.
I found it helpful to write down everything that had happened during the relationship and since. It meant that I didn't have to keep telling the story and also that I was able to see and understand the pattern of behaviour. yes, it was painful, but it was only painful once, if you see what I mean.

MagicChanges Wed 21-Sep-16 13:16:31

missy I'm sure the OP will find your post helpful - just wanted to point out that Residence Orders no longer exist. The term for this kind of private law case is now Child Arrangement Orders. It means the same, that the children have their permanent home with one of the parents and the other parent almost always gets contact, the frequency and duration is decreed by the court.

RedHelenB Wed 21-Sep-16 13:26:06

You could contact school and ask for copies of all letters , school reports etc.( they are used to this!)

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