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(11 Posts)
Richard71 Wed 04-Nov-09 08:04:37


Sorry to bother you all. I'm in a bit of a pickle with CAFCASS & a strange judge.

My wife (soon to be ex) and I just attended our first CAFCASS hearing, although 2 months ago we aquired a court order to the effect that my son needs to reside in the family home and that we both need to be responsible for getting him to school. It's a horrible situation because it effectively means we have to live together (my sons school is 15 miles away, and my daughter's from a previous marriage who lives with me is 20 miles away). We were planning to move house to be near the schools (my daughter started her new school in Sept) but the order is preventing it.

Anyway, we'd been looking forward to the first hearing, to get the order replaced with a more suitable one) because my wife and I are in accord on all matters. We proposed a 50/50 joint residency. The judge effectively chucked us out and told us to attend mediation. No new court date, no nothing, old order still stands (the driving is killing us, and my daughter, who the judge didn't want to hear about, is now having to stay with her mum, closer to her school, because I simply can't get her there). Divorce proceedings have not yet been started.

The Mediation people have no idea what's going on. The judge told us to go and see them but as we're in complete accord we've got nothing to talk about. Our meeting with them was almost embarrassing, as there was nothign for them to do. They've never seen anything like it. My legal advisor is stumped.

Anyone been in a similar situation? I'm particularly interested to know if anyone has any idea why the judge told me not to talk to her about my daughter, even though her court order has effectively prevented me from parenting her. Can she DO that??? My daughter's lived with me for nine years and this is devastating.


LaurieScaryCake Wed 04-Nov-09 08:19:15

I don't understand. You said 'we' asked for a court order to have your son in the family home - do you mean you asked for it, circumstances have changed and you and your ex are now in agreement so now you want it overturned?

Richard71 Wed 04-Nov-09 09:49:19

Many thanks for posting. We "acquired" (!) the first court order under unusual circumstances. We both simultaneously applied for temporary residence orders (ex parte), without the knowledge of the other. It ws a bizarre situation, when we were both in court for ex-parte hearings, and saw each other in the lobby! The judge couldn't hear "ex parte" of course, because we weren't "ex", and so she saw us togehter and made a quick ruling that neither of us wanted. But it's what we apparantly have to live with.

Since then we have reached agreement over how to share residency (actually, it was always our plan for the long term, and the residency orders we both originally applied for were only intended to deal with a short-term situation).

Surfermum Wed 04-Nov-09 09:59:40

Am I missing something here? You are both in agreement over what the arrangements are? If that's the case there's no need for a Court order, and you can make whatever arrangements you want, even if it isn't what the original order says.

Dh has a Court order for contact with dsd - but these days he and his ex ignore it as they're in a space where they can just agree things between them.

Richard71 Wed 04-Nov-09 10:46:34

No, I don't think you're missing anything. However, I'm worried that if we just go ahead and do what we want to do (i.e. I move out, and we parent 50/50 with no maintenance being paid wither way) at a later date my wife (or ex wife as she'll probably be then) might go back into court, waving the original court order and say "hey, look, Nicholas (my son) lives with me in the marital home. He's deserted us, and now he needs to cough up a bunch of money, and by the way I don't like the 50/50 any more. Residency's with me because the court order says so"

Just because we've reached an agreement doesnt mean we trust each other to keep to it in the future. Hence my desire to have the original court order nix'd, and a new one put in place (if possible) making it clear we have joint residency.

Surfermum Wed 04-Nov-09 11:07:40

Oh ok, I see what you're saying (and I've re-read your OP ). It sounds like you haven't had a Final Hearing yet if CAFCASS are involved and you've been sent to mediation.
What happened with dh is that interim orders were made while the whole case is heard. That ensured that he at least had some contact with dsd while the finer details were sorted. The final order was very different to the first order, and at any point in the process the court was keen that dh and his ex came to an agreement between them rather than have something imposed.

I wonder if that's what has happened here? Have you got another hearing booked? It might be that your solicitors can go back in and say what you have agreed and the court will rubber stamp it. I can't see how they would order something completely different if both parties were in agreement.

Richard71 Wed 04-Nov-09 11:18:39

Thanks for the thought you're giving to this.

No, no further date booked. We have a session with the mediation service to try to get something down on paper (one of the things the judge was upset about was that the agreement my wife & I had on paper didn't look right (she didn't read it, she just waved her hand at it and said "that's not a court order. What do you expect me to do with THAT?"). That will happen at the end of the month, and then who knows how long it will take the judge to OK it, or not. The problem is, while all this is going on, we're having to live miles and miles away from the kids' school, and I can't pretend the atmosphere around the place is condusive to good parenting.

I think it's amazing that the judge has effectively told us to continue with an arrangement that's no good for anyone, that neither of us want, that she has refused to listen to anything regarding the welfare of my daughter, and that she has given us no idea how long this is going to take to sort out (by setting a new court date or whatever)

Surfermum Wed 04-Nov-09 11:27:25

There are some family lawyers on here, hopefully one of them will see this. But I would have thought that your solicitors could draw up an agreement, and if necessary get another court hearing to have it rubber stamped.

What does your solicitor say about it? And what did the CAFCASS officer say? Usually CAFCASS do a report for the Court so it's odd that they have seen you but there is no further Court date for them to report back at.

Richard71 Wed 04-Nov-09 11:33:17

My legal advisor (not solicitor) says the judge is "a stupid cow" and doesn't seem to know how to proceed. The mediation service says they've never seen anything like it before and aren't really sure how to proceed, save for trying to help us get something on paper that will be acceptable to her (although they don't seem to know what the problem was. The mediator who was present says the judge's decision was "bizarre"). It is all very odd.

I'm going to speak to CAFCASS today. Thanks for your thoughts about the CAFCASS oddity (ie no further date), and I'll raise that with them.

Surfermum Wed 04-Nov-09 11:36:12

I'm not sure that dh ever saw the same judge twice - which we didn't think was that helpful. It sounds like it would work in your favour though!

NicknameTaken Mon 09-Nov-09 16:40:51

You should be able to get a court order by consent. Get a solicitor to write up your new preferred agreement and ask for a court date so the judge can sign off. Sounds like you might be better off with a proper solicitor rather than your current "legal advisor".

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