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ExP is now threatening to take me to court regarding access to the DCs(16 Posts)
Background: In November of last year I made applications to the family court regarding non molestation orders and occupation of the family home. These orders were granted for both the children and myself and my exP was evicted from the family home. He is not allowed to have contact with me, but he is allowed to have contact with the children, but not to harass, pester or threaten them.
So far, so good. Now he has decided he would like to see the children, but due to his behavior the children refuse to see him and they are of course frightened of him.
He announced at the end of last month, that he would want me to engage in (shuttle) mediation about the children and I would be contacted by the mediator. I said that was fine. The mediator has not contacted me. I phoned the mediator today and they confirmed that they have not contacted me. ExP wanted to wait for the outcome of the financial meetings and therefore he instructed the mediator not to contact me.
This morning a letter came through from exP's solicitor that he now want to make an application to the court about contact, because no progress was made and I was not cooperating.
We replied that this is not due to us, as I have not been contacted by the mediator due to exP's instructions.
I have huge ongoing legal costs and I cannot afford to instruct my solicitor about contact matters, as I hope to be able to sort this out myself. I seriously have reached the end of the line and there is no more money in the pot.
How do I go about representing myself? What do I do when I receive their application?
The children are 10 and 14.
Request a section 7 cafcass report to be done to listen to the views of the children.
Sorry that should say "are you able to request a ...."
Thank you. I am looking at the cafcass pages already. Today they are not available anymore, but I shall phone them straight away tomorrow morning.
So far, the children have reported to Social Services and to their respective counsellors that they do not with to see their father, because they are afraid of them. The children have already been interviewed by Social Services.
A s7 report is a welfare report.
Mediation may not be appropriate when there has been DV and you may be eligible for legal aid if you are on a low income and have evidence of DV e.g. a protective injunction, an undertaking or a letter from social services.
When you receive the court papers any allegations that children may have suffered or be at risk of suffering domestic abuse, violence or harm
should be listed in the supplementary information form, C1A.
Before the first hearing CAFCASS carry out a check with police and social services to check if the family is known to them and if there are any safeguarding issues.
When you get to the hearing the first thing will be to see if any agreement can be reached. If no agreement can be reached the judge will decide what further information is required to assist him/her make a decision in the form of reports. That may be a wishes and feelings report to ascertain the views of the children, s7 or s37 (sections of the Children Act 1989) reports carried out by CAFCASS or social services. The judge also sets a timetable for future hearings which can include finding of fact when there are allegations of DV and an interim order may be made.
I dont' recommend it, but if you have to represent yourself you may find it helpful to write a brief position statement setting out the issues and what you want the court to do. A position statement isn't obligatory unless ordered by the judge but for litigants in person it can be helpful to focus on the issues.
It's unlikely any direct contact will be ordered when children are estranged because of real past events which they can reasonably describe if they are frightened because of witnessing or experiencing DV or outburst of temper, unless they have undergone psychological treatment and the perpetrator has changed their behaviour.
Thank you for your advice, STIDW. I have a solicitor, but my other legal costs are still ongoing and we have not yet received our costs for previous orders made, as they are still being negotiated, so I cannot afford to instruct my solicitor.
A lot of the information for my position statement is already in my previous statements and I think I can just copy the relevant information about the children.
We have suggested that their father seeks help to chane his behaviour, but he still does not admit he has done anything wrong and refuses to take up our advice / the advice given by the agencies to attend parenting classes or anger management.
To show goodwill, I have agreed to speak to the mediator, in shuttle mediation, if this is funded by the children's father.
I may stll get my solicitor to check my position statement.
Also, if he makes the application and I represent myself, what are my costs going to be?
Can I make the application for what used to be a residence order at the same time?
Is it worth seeing if you can find a McKenzie Friend who could help? I might be wrong, but I think they could support in your situation and would be cheaper than your solicitor.
Ive represent myself due to the same financial reason, a section 7 was ordered to be done by social services since they were already involved, did they say they were involved with you DC's?
You wont have any costs if you represent yourself. I got myself all worked up over nothing, everyone at court is really nice and puts you at ease. Im glad I didnt fork out for legal representation, my solicitor quoted me 500 quid for a mornings work, Id be gutted if Id have instructed him cause really, I didnt need it. Maybe further down the line, I might but certainly not in the early stages.
Thank you, grumpychops I have a lovely solicitor who said exactly the same. She will take over when I need her, but we have decided in the early stages I can deal with the paperwork and CAFCASS myself. Social Services are on standby and the case is only closed, because I got the occupation order and he had to leave.
Your post is really helpful.
Just try not to worry. I got loads of advice on here. Stay calm, speak when spoken to, don't interrupt the judge. Everything my ex DIDNT do! Made a right fool of himself.
When you speak to cafcass keep it about the kids, not you and him and try not to slag him off.
My ex will have a solicitor.
It is difficult not to slag him off, but I have absolutely remember not to do that, you are completely right.
Today I got contacted by a mediator, because he is obligated to do mediation first, before he hands in the application. So I obliged to come to the assessment. I have to double check that he won't be there; he is not allowed to contact me. I am not sure if the mediator knows that.
It is good news that it won't cost me anything, but I do worry and if I can at all afford it, I will get my solicitor to do the hearing with me.
What about residence? Can I apply for that at the same time when he takes me to court about contact?
That's a great idea, babybarrister and thank you as well for all your previous good advice over the last 18 months.
The mediator is round the corner, so I shall deliver it, to be on the safe side and he will have it on Monday.
This has been copied now and will be delivered tomorrow with a letter. First step.
I don't suppose I should bring any other court paperwork or reports from Social Services or the children's pyschologists to the mediation meeting as yet?
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