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Does anyone have any positive stories about Court & Child Arrangements & Cafcass?(30 Posts)
Partner is taking his Ex to court over Child Arrangements following two years of games and manipulation over his contact time and an inability to plan ahead for anything ongoing. Child is nearly 14 and currently has to ‘negotiate’ and communicate between her parents.
We have been hearing some pretty depressing stories about how crap the court system is and how it takes years to sort even the simplest things out. One person even said that given her age they might deliberately keep adjourning so that eventually she’s too old for them to deal with the case.
I’m supporting him emotionally through this and I’d rather know the reality.
Over the age of 13 the courts largely follow what the child wants unless this is not safe. Child will be interviewed by CAFCAS away from parents to find out their true opinions.
And how do they do that if the child has been coached beforehand?
The child is nearly 14 and fed up with the situation of being the go between. It is highly likely that without parents they will express this and even if they are concerned about upsetting a parent CAFCAS can usually discern this.
Everything you say should be child centric and wanting what makes the child happy.
Child is 14? You can't coach a child of 14 if they don't want to do something they won't
I told my son to tell the social worker the truth that he wanted to see his dad he told the social worker that he wasn't bothered about seeing his dad because he didn't act like a dad and he was sick of him trying to buy him one minute and ignoring him the next there recommendation was to go with the flow and let them see him if its safe/if they want to it didnt end up in court because the social worker said to him you will lose
He should also refuse to use the child as a go between. Thank the child for the message, but say I will email your Mum.
By email raise a concern about the child being made to feel uncomfortable by being the go between and that discussions should between him and Mum in writing. But often contact with teenagers is much more fluid they want to be able to see friends etc and not be tied to set weekends. Bear in mind it maybe the teen who wants less contact, this was true in my case ( the reasons were complex), for 18 months my Ex couldn't see that what made the teen happy was to meet him for lunch or coffee - not to stay at his. So he didn't see them at all as he wouldn't compromise.
Make it clear to child that he is happy to meet them on there terms. If they want to meet for a coffee in town just text etc.
I disagree about a 14 year old being coached. She’s spent 85/90% of her time with her Mum for the last two years. I have two teenagers myself - at that age they can still be coached.
He’s tried everything possible to get a parenting agreement before resorting to court and constantly says to their daughter tgat he will email her Mum to sort things out - which she ignores or sends a load of unhelpful bile back about past issues, rather than engaging with him over plans for child contact time.
It’s truly and awful situation, deteriorating by the day and court couldn’t come soon enough.
What contact has the child had to date, or it negotiated each time?
I'm afraid at 14 a contact order isn't really enforceable so this is likely to be an expensive waste of time. I would expect at 14 that a parent and child could make their own arrangements directly to see each other, as long as the resident parent was kept in the loop.
First of all, it is highly irregular and unacceptable for the child to be the go between between the two parents.
Cafcass use various questioning techniques and can tell if a child has been coached. A 14 year olds opinion will and should be given weight by both cafcass and the courts. My ex claimed that the children had been influenced by me , that was not the case , their opinion was influenced by the fact that he is a useless father.
Contact time for the last two years has been patchy and basically whenever her Mum felt like it. Often changed at short notice and long periods (three weeks or more) of no contact at all and relatives / friends drafted in for childcare when her Dad was wanting to see her. It’s impossible to plan anything. It means ongoing arguments by email and the child having to act as a referee. Hence the need for a parenting arrangement by court to at least agree every other weekends and one night for dinner.
It’s not expensive in the sense that he’s self-representing now (ran out of money for a solicitor) so the £200 odd quid was all it cost. He’s getting advice from a charity & McKenzie Friend.
If he doesn’t at least try to get something agreed through court it will continue to be a nightmare anyway.
@crunchiebabe that’s encouraging - I really hope the can ask the right questions to reveal the coaching & manipulation going on.
@CodenameVillanelle See above - it’s endless fuckery with the other parent - he tried to agree things and she constantly messes with plans and moves the goal posts. Often arranging for friends to come over when her Dad has previously agreed to have her for dinner or the weekend.
@Pinkyxx it’s beeen all over the place for two years. Recently (last six months) he’s tried to get a regular arrangement in place - which his daughter also prefers - and get a parenting agreement sorted voluntarily. His Ex will not agree to anything in writing.
@Hettyispink That's a shame. Agree with others that at 14 the court will want to know what the child wants and go with it.
A contact order isn't a golden bullet, I have one and ex used / uses our child as go between for changes - its a weekly thing almost even though the order was made years ago. Agreed with earlier poster that at 14 a contact order isn't really enforceable and may not be worth the pain of getting it. Also agree a 14 year should be able to make own arrangements so long as resident parent is informed, reasonable notice etc.
If his daughter prefers a hard set routine (which I can understand with the fuss to date) there is an easy way to stop the go between thing. The way I've handled the go between issue is to say to DD that if her Dad brings up contact / changes just say (and repeat as many times as needed) - you need to speak to Mummy. It allowed her to remove herself from the dynamic.
On the pattern, I'd suggest he asks his daughter to outline what she wants and repeatedly putting that to the other parent. If she won't agree to it, then you put that pattern forward as proposed contact to the court during the proceedings on the basis it is the child's wishes.
Thank you @Pinkyxx - all sound advice
I think that he feels that - as the situation has been so awful and stressful for his daughter - he needs to at least try for child arrangements via the court. Even if it’s unsuccessful or only partly successful, at least he tried his best for her. His Ex will always be a PITA about contact arrangements and say he ruined her life etc
My husbands best friend took his ex to court - very similar situation to yours. The judge saw right through his ex in the hearings and pretty much gave him whatever he had specified in the application. The children were also interviewed as also being slightly older and their views were taken into account too. She still plays silly buggers to try and maintain some control but he says things are definitely better now and the stress is significantly less than what it was before now that things are in black and white.
he needs to at least try for child arrangements via the court
Does his daughter know that's what he is doing and is she supportive of it?
Ultimate, coached or not (and the child not wanting to go doesn't automatically mean she is coached, there are many other reasons why a 14yo is not much interested in going to see her dad), the court will hear her.
So with she says that she does want to go regularly (in which case she's not coached), or that she doesn't and u less she says that she is saying that u see pressure from her mum, a judge is likely to agree to an order she is not happy with.
@dontdisturbmenow She clearly loves her Dad, texts him several times a day, treasures their time together (when they get it) and has said she also prefers a regular arrangement to see him.
Her Mum has, however, kicked off about court and presented it to her as bad and unnecessary. She has been given the impression that court is scary and that SHE would be in trouble if she fails to turn up on the days agreed (it clearly says in the draft of the parenting agreement that there’s flexibility for the child but that the parents should stick with agreed contact times). Her Mum has given the impression that he’s taking THEM BOTH to court because he’s just being an arsehole. Rather than a loving father, who simply wants his contact time made clear and not meddled with.
To be clear - his daughter WANTS to see her father regularly - this isn’t the issue. Her Mum only allows contact time when it suits her, often changes it at the last minute and has in the past got friends or relatives to do childcare - when her Dad was free and wanting to see her.
An example from last week:
He had been seeing her most Wednesday evenings and then her Mum says (that day) she wasn’t free and now has extra tuition on Wednesdays. His daughter communicated this to him. He followed up with an email - which was ignored.
Then what actually happened was hus daughter did a lesson online (which could just as easily have happened in his home) and her Mum went out to dinner - leaving her on her own all evening. Her Dad lives a few streets away and was also in on his own - wanting to see her (having been told she was busy). No reason for it. Other than spite.
Hmm that example there
Can 13 year old daughter not just open the door and walk to dad's?
Text mum say I'm off to dad's ? I don't understand the lack of relative freedom for a 13 year old...
Well you’d think so.... but she’s very controlling
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