7 Things You Need To Know About Family Court Before You Get There

Preparation of Self is the Key

Preparing your mental and emotional wellbeing are both imperative to enable you to have the strength and focus you need to get through the process of family court and see it through.

The court date itself is the ‘End Game’ but you need to be ready to play all the rounds before hand. This is a long process and one you will need much patience and tolerance throughout each stage.  

If you are considering applying to family court, then you are likely to be going through one of the most difficult times of your life right now. 

Was it not enough already to have lived through a marriage or relationship with a narc and survived it?

Unfortunately, the separation is the beginning of a new battle. This is like your narc-ex holding a hand grenade and threatening to remove the pin.

They are feeling rejected and betrayed and their control that they once had a firm grip on is now slipping through their fingers. They want to regain that position of control and the children will now be the weapons they will use to attack you mentally and emotionally. 

So, how do we prepare for the biggest battle ever?

How can we do this whilst retaining our everyday responsibilities of life, keeping a sane mind but most of all causing the least impact to our children in the process?

I would like to share with you a real-life story from a client I have worked with and his experience of going through the family court process. The client wishes to remain anonymous. 

This will hopefully give you a good insight into what can happen and how you can prepare yourself for your battle.

JOHN’S STORY

I am a 41 year old father that applied to the family court for a contact order when my ex-narc denied access to my 2 girls. (aged 11 and 6 years old at the time). 

Initially I had limited contact with my daughters after the separation but tried to have a routine to give continuity, but this soon started to crumble. Contact became as and when their mother decided and sometimes stopping plans at the last minute with no genuine reason. This caused upset and disappointment for both the girls and my-self. 

Telephone and facetime calls were getting less and less, and I was constantly told they were busy. I tried to ask for a routine of contact but was ignored. 

It got to the point where arguments would happen regarding lack of contact due to frustration and missing my children immensely.  Then one day I was told not to pick my daughters up from school via an email from my ex-narc. I was told the school had been informed that were not to go with me and I had to apply for contact. This was a big shock to me as I never thought she would go that far as to cease contact from my children. 

As you will know a narcissist is the hardest person to try and communicate with and nothing is ever resolved as nothing is ever their fault. I had to box clever and hold back from reacting straight away and think it through. This takes some will power as you are angry and upset from having this happen to you. You feel hopeless and have lost control of seeing your own children. 

I had gone from being in my children’s life every-day, being part of their lives and activities, school plays, health and wellbeing, nurturing them and watching them grow to nothing at all. How can anyone do that. How can one parent can have that much control and impact to make that decision and follow it through.

I am a good father and have always tried to do my best for the girls and care for them very well. 

I needed to end my toxic relationship with my narc-ex, but never did I ever want to end my relationship with my children. 

The contact being ceased was the hardest hitting emotion I have ever experienced. It was heart wrenching and I would never want to go through anything like that again. 

I had no idea what I had to come and go through to enable me to be reunited with my children. 

 

Below I have listed the most important elements you will need to do or prepare before you get to family court.

 

7 Things You Need To Know

 

  • Finding support. 

 

This is the most challenging and emotional rollercoaster you will ever ride.

To gain the right outcome for your children and yourself you need to be prepared mentally and emotionally. I highly recommend working with a therapist that specialises and understands NPD and helped me to understand it also. 

Just having the understanding from someone who knows is like a breath of fresh air and so reassuring that you are not going mad. This will also save time as this therapist has been where you are. They know and can empathise with how a narc can make you feel.

You will need support to understand NPD abuse and what you have lived through, how it has impacted you and how you can move forward from it. 

This will help you to have a clear mind and focus for the battle you are about to embark on to be reunited with your children.

You will be become the best version of yourself and gain the strength to go through this. 

You will gain understanding of how this narc will operate and how they will play out their act in court.

You will gain a self- awareness that will give you the tools to help when they attack, criticise and ridicule you, you will be ready to deal with it effectively. 

The triggers that once caused high emotional impact on you will heal and will no longer have the affect they once did. 

I can honestly say this is a powerful experience and at times draining but without this support how are you possibly going to give the best performance in court if you are a shell of what you used to be. 

  • Expectation’s and plan of contact.

 

Be prepared with your plan of contact.

Really think this one through as once it is agreed in court you must adhere to it.

So, are your expectations realistic and achievable?

This needs to be what is for the best interests of the children and so they have a continuity of routine.

Think about your working pattern and the children’s daily schedule with school and activities. 

Are you prepared in your home, so the children have their own bedroom to sleep in. 

Do you have all the essential things/items you need for when the children are in your care? 

Outline what you would like to happen with special occasions such like Birthday’s, Christmas and Father’s Day.  I forgot to mention Father’s Day as I presumed that would be a given. However, I have not yet seen my children on Father’s Day and was declined when I asked for this. I find this hard each year.

It is not easy to vary a court order once it is set. You have to go through the whole process again if the other parent does not accept the variation.

 

  • Preparation and collation of evidence.

 

Evidence of text messages, emails, voicemails and social media should be recorded and printed. This will support and remind you of previous contact and situations. Write down evidence of any arguments or disputes with the other parent as they will re-write the history of your relationship. This will include them telling the children lots of stories, so they believe what they want them to believe. All in their favour of course. Just remember you cannot control everything and acceptance of this is vital as it will eat away at you.

If you have as much evidence as you can then you can use this to support your application if required. Hopefully it will not be required but just in case it is you will have it to hand.

 

  • Applying to the Family Court. 

 

I booked in for the initial free advice appointment with a solicitor. I was advised that the Family Court will always ask for mediation to have been offered or considered before attending court. 

I chose to represent myself as I felt after speaking with a couple of solicitors that I felt they did not really have an understanding of narcissistic abuse or parental alienation. 

I have since found out that there are some solicitors that have undergone training in NPD and Parental Alienation, so it is always worth seeking one that has obtained this.

I instructed the solicitor to send the letter to the other parent regarding the court application and mediation prior to.

Mediation was not accepted which I was happy with as I knew that no contact plan would be adhered to anyway.

The application was made, and the waiting game began.

 

  • Coping mechanisms for the waiting game.

 

Be prepared for a long wait. 

Work with your therapist about how you are feeling as the wait can be very frustrating and cause more upset.

The need for patience is key as you will need a lot of that.

Each stage takes time and the longer you don’t see your children the harder it gets so gaining the emotional support is really important.

Try and keep busy and active and a daily routine as much as possible.

See friends and family to help spend some time with.

 

  • Dealing with Cafcass

 

My initial contact with Cafcass was a telephone appointment.

I was asked questions on some background information of my marriage and children, the separation reasons and reasons for applying to court.

A further face to face meeting was scheduled and further questions were asked. These questions will be orchestrated from what the other parent has said in their telephone call.

Make sure you are prepared for these meetings as what you say will be recorded and used to write a report. Also, there will be things the other parent has said you may not be expecting or lies, and you need to be ready for this.

Cafcass are acting in the best interests of the children and from gathering their evidence will document their recommendations to the court.

They have a tick box procedure to work to and as long as there are no facts or evidence of the children being subject to drug/alcohol abuse, physical or sexual abuse or neglect the report will be finalised and written.

After explaining some of the situations that led to why I was there I could sense that NPD is not recognised or a red flag indicator on the child’s mental health. 

The ex-narc will aim to charm and manipulate professionals throughout this battle by displaying that they are a good parent and they do everything for their children. They will make sure they tick all the right boxes and as long as they do not remove their mask they will slip through the system.

 

  • Keeping a good support network

 

It is really important to keep a good support network around you.

You will be subject to gas lighting and flying monkeys and that will be very testing, so it is best to protect yourself from this by eliminating those things from your life. 

Spend time with people you trust and that know you well like close friends and family.

They will play an important part in reassuring and reminding you of the person you truly are and that you are a great parent. 

It is important for your well -being to stay social and not isolate yourself into a dark hole by sitting alone and letting it all consume you.

Think of the positive things that lie ahead and that the outcome of when you will be reunited with your children.

I lived through it and thank fully was reunited with my children.

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