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Thomas Judge
Thomas Judge, Solicitor Advocate
Category: UK Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 32826
Experience:  Award winning lawyer with over 15 years experience
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Firstly, may I apologise query being rather lengthy..! I

Customer Question

Firstly, may I apologise for my query being rather lengthy..! I have been involved in a very long running family law case to regain direct access with my daughter (I am father). My ex stopped contact in April 2012, after me having 4yrs of weekly overnight contact.This has dragged on for over four years now, firstly due to legal aid being v difficult to obtain, wasting around 15mnths, (I ended up submitting c100 as lit in person) my ex being v un co-operative with mediation, the courts & cafcass (at 1st!) causing further delays, also errors made by the courts (1st lay justices mistakes & then even district judge doing same). Our daughter is now 8, I last saw her when she was 4. My ex partner (in my opinion!) has trawled the Web in order to find the most effective barriers in order to convince the courts to keep me alienated from direct contact/access with our daughter. These include false allegations of domestic violence, alcohol abuse, drug abuse and even drug dealing! I was finally awarded direct access in Oct 2014 as there was absolutely no evidence found in relation to any of her untrue allegations. The contact never took place due to a new cafcass officer suddenly being appointed and my ex seemingly wrapping her around her finger. After many telephone calls (all polite) with the newly appointed officer to ask when the referral to contact centre as per court order was going to be made, then being lied to by her abt waiting times (as I had already contacted the centre manager myself!) She recommended indirect contact without ever even attending upon me or complying with court order. In Apr 2015, after hearing compelling evidence of the errors made, a district judge, as seems to be usual went along with cafcass recommendations. I appealed and again after lengthy delays and having to pay for legal advice to help me, I was granted a new hearing with a circuit judge as errors of law/procedure had been made. The whole way cafcass seem to be dealing with me seems v biased and 1 sided. I am at the end of my tether and feel like giving up. Before the last hearing a few days ago, I had been up most of prev night as I couldn't sleep, so used it to revise the bundle and go over things. I was telephoned by the newest cafcass officer (never met) at 10.30am on the dot whilst in a taxi & almost at court, asking "where was I, ppl are waiting etc". The court directions said 10.30am, i arrived not long after. In retrospect, after reading cafcass safeguarding report (only given to me on the day after having to request a copy at hearing) cafcass had it listed down as 10.00am for some reason. This got us off to the wrong start straight away, with her even asking me when I last had a drink..! My daughter was appointed a 16.4 guardian who was also there. I cannot afford outright legal rep and would greatly appreciate any advice as I feel the writing seems to be already on the wall. I have a 'chequered past' as they have described, nothing too major, mainly motoring offences & the odd self defence incidents, last being in 2011. No domestic violence at all and 1 issue of a small amount of cannabis 18yrs ago. My ex is now apparently working for the probation service and has no record. I admitted very occasionally using cocaine and enjoying a bottle of wine of an evening with my fiance who is a proffessional. Not sure which way to go at all as my ex was the same (re cocaine occasionally & enjoys a drink. If I mention this & look like being on the attack I know this will do me no favours and the last thing I want is to involve soc services for daughters sake. Also, my ex changed my daughters surname a few yrs ago, during this ongoing case without my consent and I do have PR yet courts seem to think this is no big deal when it's a crown court offence..! Again cafcass accused me of being preoccupied with adult issues when i made a point of this. Please help..!
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: UK Family Law
Expert:  Thomas Judge replied 6 months ago.

Your case is very sad and clearly very difficult. From what you have written however there is no reason why you should not have direct contact with your daughter. The key is for the matter in light of the difficulties to be allocated to a circuit judge (not just for the odd hearing but throughout). I would also be minded to formally ask for a specific issue order for your daughter to be known as her correct surname. There is an excellent book on this topic for litigants in person - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Represent-Yourself-Family-Court-understanding/dp/147211910X

Do you have any specific questions

Expert:  Thomas Judge replied 6 months ago.

I hope that this helps. Would you now be so kind as to please rate positive. I am happy to answer any addition questions

Expert:  Thomas Judge replied 6 months ago.

I hope this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (3, 4 or 5 stars) as that is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. If you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you

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