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Ask Clare Your Own Question
Clare, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 34126
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practice since 1985 with a wide general experience.
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Clare, and you have been answering our questions regarding

Customer Question

Hello again Clare,
My name is ***** *****e, and you have been answering our questions regarding my 13 1/2 year old grandson who wants to live with his father (my son). We need further questions answered and I have already asked them on this site but somehow I could not go through to PayPal to pay for it. I'm trying again.
1) My daughter-in-law did not attend mediation and my son sent the paperwork to the court, and has been sent a date for the 'Directions hearing' on 18th August. This described as the first hearing are there likely to be more.
2) If my daughter-in-law does not turn up is this cut and dried that my son will get a decision on the day? and if she does turn up will the decision be made on the day given the proximity of thhe new school year?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.

Hi Patricia

Your son has done well so far!

1. Before the hearing your son will get a call from CAFCASS asking what the issues are - they will also call his ex and write a short report for the court identifying the issues and any safeguarding concerns

At the first hearing the court will see if there is any agreement between the parties.

Uf there is then the final order can be made

If not then the court will make directions about what is to happen next and will list the date of the final hearing.

2. It is unlikely that the court will act if she doe snot attend - but not impossible. It may well be a move at half term I am afraid if no agreement can be reached - although the court will try and progress matters swiftly

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you Clare, it is just as I thought, but my son is so anxious that his son's education is not disrupted after September, which now looks likely. I have said that he is bright enough to catch up, and that it is not all about his education, but his home life, which is far from satisfactory.
What would happen if my grandson's mother fails to turn up on August 18th, another court date is made and she doesn't turn up again? would it go on and on?
My son is worried if switching schools half term would damage to his son's mental state and concentration, really relying on the summer period to settle him down before the new school. I understand what he is saying but if, because of this, he decides to pull out of the case, it is my opinion that this would be worse for my grandson's mental state than having to switch schools at half term (My grandson's mental state is quite normal at the moment, he is laid back and happy thinking his dad is going to have him with him).
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.

It would be much more damaging for your son to give up than it is for your grandson to move at half term - so do please try and make your son understand that

The court will only give the mother so much rope - if she ignores the court then the court can if need be go ahead without her

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hello again Clare,
My son has a date (18th August - next week) for the court hearing, and asks for your advice again:-
1) What does he need in order to do the best he can for his son?
2) what structure should his statement take, and how long should it be?
I will let you know how it goes,
Kind regards,
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Another question is that my son has an email from members of his ex-wife's family supporting his quest for custody of his son. As it is an email is this submittable or does it have to be a written letter of support?
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.

has he actually been ordered to provide a statement?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
My son has not been ordered to provide a statement, but they have to be in the court by 9.15 am for prehearing discussions and/or interviews with CAFCASS unless already resolved. Also it is a case where the court has informed CAFCASS on the application and the Family court advisor will already have made enquiries and will attend to assist in resolving the dispute.
It says nothing about a statement but am I right in thinking he should make a list of points relevant to his son's welfare? Or should he just go with the flow at the outset?
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.

before the first hearing your son will get a phone call from CAFCASS asking what his concerns are

It would indeed be wise for him to have a list of bullet points - his main arguments for the change so that he has a prompt during the call.

At the hearing he need sto go in with a clear idea of how the arrangements would work if his son came to live with him - including the Contact arrangements so that he knows what he is aiming for - and what areas he can be flexible on

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Another point is that Nick has an email from his ex-wife's family supporting his application to have his son living with him. Is an email acceptable or does it have to be a written letter?
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.

At this stage it is not relevant - although he can mention it to CAFCASS.

If the matter goes to a final hearing then formal statements will be needed

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks Clare, he spoke to CAFCASS today, I will let you know how it goes.
Kind regards,
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.

I hope all goes well

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hello Clare,
Just had a text from my son, who has been advised to withdraw, because CAFCASS would take up to three months to put a report together with both parents and his son's statements. So the earliest decision would likely be made in December, and they would be unlikely to support the application then as it would mean pulling his son out of school with only eighteen months to go until his GCSE's. He's absolutely distraught, but trying to keep a stiff upper lip for his son. Sad! Would you accept this advise?Regards,
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.

Who has told him to so this?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
What a mess Clare!! My son was told that his ex-wife had denied being a Jehovah's Witness, and that the only time her son says he wants to live with his father is when there's an argument, or his dad has promised him a computer!! all of which is totally erroneous. The CAFCASS woman advised him that by the time the report is prepared it would be three months away, and therefore the earliest hearing would be December.
Once they were in front of the Magistrates, this was re-iterated, and they said that it would not be right to pull his son out of school with only just over a year to his GSCE's. Sadly my son felt bullied into agreeing, burst into tears, I'll bt with frustration at not have the opportunity to refute the statement by his ex-wife, who was ordered to write a letter saying that should her son be hospitalised he was to be allowed blood transfusions or any treatment warranted!! As I said to my son, so if they believed that she is not a Jehovah's Witness, why would a letter to that effect be necessary? Also where are my grandson's birthday and Christmas cards and presents, (and his small brother and sister for that matter!) they apparently have gift per Jehovah's witnesses custom, but not celebrating the birth of Christ, or Easter thanksgiving!!
I'm so sad that they are both devastated, and angry that nobody asked my grandson in the court. I don't know if there is anything he can do now, but if you can think of anything that would be useful I would be grateful.
Kind regards, ***** ***** for your help thus far,
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sorry I forgot the end result of the court was that in light of all facts before them, and the likely date of the next hearing being December, then the CAFCASS rep would not support my son's application.
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.

Just to clarify - your son was basically bullied into withdrawing the application?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Since CAFCASS stated that they would not support his application, and he felt that the decision had been made without any opportunity to refute his ex-wife's statement, he didn't feel that there was anything he could do without appearing a bad father, and upsetting his son by arguing in court. He already felt that continuing would be pointless and would unsettle his son for yet another five months at school since CAFCASS rep said the earliest he could change schools would be Jan/Feb.
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.

Was he represented at all?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No, he just can't afford solicitors fees, which is why I contacted your company, and you have been very helpful. Basically we have no idea how much fees are, but knew we didn't have large amounts at our disposal.
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.

Can your son remember exactly who said what.

I know that the CAFCASS officer obviously put pressure on - but once they were in court what happened?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
As far as I'm aware the decision by CAFCASS was repeated. My son is on the way home now as he had to attend court in Bournemouth, and stayed Wareham for two nights with his son, who is coming with him until school begins new term. I will ask him what exactly happened when he arrives at his house, but drawing it out of him yesterday was difficult as he was so upset. I will reply asap. regards Patricia
Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Posted by JustAnswer at customer's request) Hello. I would like to request the following Expert Service(s) from you: Live Phone Call. Let me know if you need more information, or send me the service offer(s) so we can proceed.
Customer: replied 12 months ago.
The magistrate said 'I understand that you wish to withdraw the application is that correct?' And my son said yes, (because the CAFCASS rep said she would not support the application) and that was that. But thank you for everything Clare, kind regards, Patricia.
Expert:  Clare replied 12 months ago.

This is unacceptable behaviour by CAFCASS and by the Court.

Of course at this stage they do not know the facts - all CAFCASS have done is spoken to the parents so there will be two widely different views.

However that is NOT a reason to bully the applicant into withdrawing the applictaion

They have a duty to the Child and this has been manifestly ignored.

Even if he does nothing else your son should make a formal complaint to the CAFCASS manager in the area - they abdicated their responsibility and have no way of knowing if they have left the child at risk.

If he feels strong enough I would be minded to write to the Court immediately and inform then that he wishes to have his application re-instated and ask for confirmation that they are working towards the new 14 week rule (all cases from application to final hearing should take no more than 14 weeks

I hope this is of assistance

PS I know Wareham - my grandmother is buried there

Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Thank you Clare, I will speak to him in the morning, perhaps all is not lost. Just one more piece of information, how costly would it be to have a solicitor present at another hearing? Or would it be possible for you to send a letter on his behalf given what you know about the case, and if so what would the cost of that be? Regards, Patricia
Customer: replied 12 months ago.
PS. We have a touring caravan in Birchwood tourist park in Wareham, bought so that we and our son could have contact with our grandson. P
Expert:  Clare replied 12 months ago.

He could instruct a "Direct Access" barrister - you would need to phone a few for a quote

One here

His point is that of this IS what the child really wants then he is of an age that his wishes shoudl be respected

Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Hi again,
When you said it should take 14 weeks from the application to final hearing, does that mean from this weeks court date, or the date the application was sent to the court?
Expert:  Clare replied 12 months ago.

From the date of application

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Hello Clare,
My son has indeed written to re-instate the application, and has asked for confirmation of the 14 week rule. This was early last week but no response to date.
A little more of his meeting with the CAFCASS rep has emerged... my grandson was with him in Bournemouth and was
asking to speak, but she ignored this and told my son that she was sad that he had allowed his son to come with him!!!!
Can that be something she should have said?
At any rate I will let you know of the court's response.
Kind regards,
Hope you're enjoying the good weather,
Expert:  Clare replied 11 months ago.

He must make a formal complaint about the behaviour of the CAFCASS officer