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SASH_Law, Family Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 4910
Experience:  LLB (Hons)
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I contacted you previously regarding my situation with my

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Hello again,I contacted you previously regarding my situation with my 13yo daughter and her fathers request for an Independent Social Worker, where the court ordered child-inclusive mediation instead. My ex husband and I have 3 children together (13, 11 and 8). Our 2016 court order was for my ex to have the children every 3rd week, unless we reached another arrangement. In September last year I agreed to trial a 50/50 care arrangement - the children became unhappy by October and when we reviewed the trial at the beginning of November, my ex claimed our children were totally happy with the arrangement, whilst I have text evidence from the children that they were unhappy (and of course witnessed it in person). When I told this to my ex and suggested going back to the prior arrangement, he threatened me with court, so I left things as they were 50/50 until I found my 11 yo daughter writing a list of ways to kill herself in her diary at the beginning of January this year. I have the doctors notes from the appointment I took her to on the 5th of January confirming that there were no red flags as such, but my daughter had written this note because she didn't want to go to her fathers house. I have a diary entry of the reasons she gave me and one of the main ones was that she hated doing/ couldn't do home education at her fathers (the children are all home-educated). My ex changed the childrens GP in order to try and claim benefits for all of the children. After speaking to my daughter she agreed to going to her fathers Thursday to Monday of every second week, because it would minimise the amount of home education she'd have to do at her fathers house. My 8 year old was screaming, crying, hiding and running away from his father at that point on handovers, and phoning me distressed whilst at his fathers as he didn't want to go either, and a couple of weeks later my 13yo said that she didn't want to go either, so I told their father that I thought it was best if they all went for 4 days every 2 weeks. Their father did not agree to this in writing, but he did go along with the arrangements of 4 nights every 2 weeks.On the most recent court order (in the information part, not the order part) it states that their father has them every second weekend and that he would like a 50/50 arrangement. But now he is saying to me that he never agreed to the current arrangement and he is going to email the court to correct them. He is demanding to have the 2 children who will go to him at the moment on a week on/week off basis, starting next week. He says he has spoken to them about this and they are happy with this. Our next court hearing is on 8 October. Do I just allow this 50/50 arrangement until the court puts an order in place, for the sake of the children?I am concerned about my 11 yo, she is speaking about killing herself again and saying things like "what is the point of living, I wish I could just die'. I hate that he told her about court and has spoken about 2016 proceedings with her, as I feel this has affected her mental health. I am concerned that she will get stressed about doing home education at his and that her next move may not just be a 'cry for help' as the GP called it.We have both attended a court ordered SPIP recently and I have suggested and invited him to use AppClose or a communication book for the children to avoid him continuously abusing me by accusing me of things, putting me down and asking me questions unrelated to the children. He has refused, and continues to bombard me with emails which just feel downright abusive. Is there anything I can do about this?He is continuously creating lies, most of which I can prove are lies, but I am just feeling more and more out of my depth and am concerned that the court will just see some things as his word against mine. Basically, I am unable to sleep well and am feeling confused and worried, and don't know how best to protect my children. I have a trauma response to his emails and to facing him in court, and I feel unable to do this on my own.My feeling is that I need a lawyer/solicitor to represent me at this point, though I only have £500 to put towards one. Do you know if/who could help me with this on a budget?
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
He is continuously creating lies, most of which I can prove are lies, but I am just feeling more and more out of my depth and am concerned that the court will just see some things as his word against mine. Basically, I am unable to sleep well and am feeling confused and worried, and don't know how best to protect my children. I have a trauma response to his emails and to facing him in court, and I feel unable to do this on my own.
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Sorry, i reposted that bit as I couldn't see it at first)

Hi, I’m Lea and I will be assisting you with your query today.

I am just going to read through your initial post to see what your legal query is. I may have to ask you some additional questions before I am able to provide a response. I may also be on and off line, so may not respond immediately. Is that all right for you?

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Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Hi, that's fine, thank you. I thought I requested Sash_Law again but it doesn't really matter. Many thanks
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Oh, mistake! You are sash law !

Sorry for the delay, Monday mornings are busy in my office.

Have your children said they want to do 50/50 since the father's announcement?

You refer to what the order says in the recitals, but what does the actual court order state regarding where the children live and who they spend time with?

What exactly does your 11 year old not like about being at her father's?

Is the next hearing a dispute resolutions appointment (DRA), or a final hearing?

Did the court order a s7 welfare report?

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
No problem, it's a busy day here too.The children are excited for the first week with their father, because their father has planned to take them away for my son's birthday. They have not mentioned more than that and I have not asked them as I'm worried that they'll feel caught in the middle, as they know their father really wants to have them 50/50. They have been emotionally unstable though.The latest court order doesn't say anything about where the kids should live, the recital only says the following: "There being an order made in 2016 for shared care starting with every third week with Father but the parents
departing from that order and Ayla and Leander living with the Father on alternate weekends and Erin not
currently having contact. Father wishing to have increased contact with Ayla and Leander and for contact to
be re-instated with Erin. The Father asking for an independent social worker to undertake work and prepare
a report to re-establish his relationship with Erin. The Mother being concerned that Erin should be put under
pressure but agreeing to try child inclusive mediation as recommended by cafcass."
In the 2016 court order it said we had shared parental responsibility but that the children should live with me at all other times.The 11 year old struggles with space issues (her father lives in a studio), not having anywhere to go to escape arguments, not having her belongings in her bedroom, not being able to do home education at her fathers and not being able to talk honestly with her father for fear of hurting his feelings.The next hearing is a DRANo we haven't had an S7 ordered this time, though we did in 2016. We had a cafcass safeguarding letter.

Did the father live in a studio when the shared order was made?

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
No he lived in a 3 bed static caravan

When did he move into the studio?

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Around april last year

I don't think it is likely that the court will order 50/50 lives with order on the basis that the father is living in a studio. Two girls of 13 and 11 should have a bedroom to themselves at least, for privacy purposes, nevermind for home education. So I think the father's application is wholly unrealistic. With just a studio, I would think the court would think perhaps one or two nights a fortnight would be manageable, but not more than that as it's not an ideal living environment and certainly insufficient for four people.

It may be, at the DRA, that the judge decides a further s7 welfare report is needed. I would certainly state that in my view this is necessary. The previous order is 5 years old and the children are significantly older, one a teenager already, and therefore what was suitable for all three then, clearly is no longer suitable now - notwithstanding that the accommodation has shrunk massively. The s7 welfare report will permit the children to be able to speak directly to the CAFCASS officer, which means their wishes and feelings will be ascertained. The 13 year old's wishes will be very persuasive to the court, and the other two's views will be of interest, but not determinative. The court will certainly want to hear more about the 11 year old's difficulties as those are extremely concerning and her voice must be heard on that.

Hold strong and don't agree to any changes currently - tell the father you will await the court's determination as the issues are too concerning to just ignore them. Don't be intimidated by having to return to court, the judge will have plenty of experience of dealing with litigants in person. Unfortunately £500 probably isn't enough to get representation for a hearing, and in many cases will pay for around 2 hours of advice, so I'd suggest saving the money for now and just prepare to represent yourself. You can write a position statement for the hearing, which details why the contact changed, what your children want, and details that the father's accommodation is now vastly different from before - and set out what timetable the children have told you they'd like.

The judge will, in my view, want a s7 report because what the father wants is so out of sync with what you say the children want.

Can I clarify anything I have written, or does that answer your query?

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Sorry, it's been a busy afternoon, I will digest your message properly tomorrow and get back to you if I have any questions. Many thanks

All the best.

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Hi Lea, thanks so much for your response. I would welcome a S7 to be honest. I am just concerned that the younger 2 are so eager to make their dad happy that they may not speak their truth. I will certainly bring up the issues with my 11 yo and have already in the last hearing. I now have the GP notes from January, so that is good back up, as my ex is implying that I somehow influenced her to write and say what she did. Their father has now told me that he is moving house, I have no idea what the new house will be like but since space isn't the only issue I don't think it will make a big difference.On the hearing notice it says they will look at evidence if there is time. It is a remote hearing - how do I present the evidence? Should I send it in with the statement? Do I need to send it to my ex too?Are there any other documents I'm allowed to send the court to support the case? On the Rights of Women website it says you can send the following documents without the courts permission. Is this correct? and would you advise it?
• case summary
• position statement
• chronology
• skeleton argument
• list of essential reading
• time estimateThanks for your advice re representation. I need to find the strength to face this man on my own for the sake of the kids, I just kind of go blank when he accuses me of things which are just not true and feel like I didn't respond as well as I could have in the previous hearing.
Thanks also for your advice re sharing the kids until the court makes a decision. What if he refuses though?Many thanks again
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
After an initial quote of £750, I have now had an offer of a barrister for the remote hearing plus 45 mins to 1 hour telephone advice prior to the hearing with this Barrister for £500. Do you think this is advisable, or too good to be true?

The documents you refer to are preliminary documents for the bundle. See Practice Direction 27A for details of how to do a bundle and prepare the documents.

If you instruct a barrister, then a bundle will be needed by them. If the other side is represented, their solicitor should prepare the bundle.

Your own 'evidence' should be in the form of a witness statement if you have been directed to file one, and if you have not been directed to file a witness statement all you can produce is a position statement - no more than 3 A4 pages in size 12 font, 1.5 line spacing.

I really cannot comment on your final query.

SASH_Law and other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 12 days ago.
Ok, thanks so much for your help.