Anatomy of a Divorce – Part 6: Directions Appointment

The waiting area at the court was a hive of activity. Besuited lawyers milled around, chatting with each other and their bewildered-looking clients. From time to time the usher would call out the name of a case and a small group would file through into the district judges' chambers. Despite this, there was still not a spare interview room available, so David Charles had to make do with consulting his client in hushed tones in a corner of the waiting area.

Brian Jones was not in the best state of mind when he had arrived at court late, having been held up by traffic, and his mood had not improved when he discovered that the well-dressed woman his solicitor had been sharing a joke with was Liz's solicitor. Now he was being told that Liz's solicitor was not prepared to enter into any discussions about him seeing the children, in advance of him and Liz speaking to the Cafcass officer.

"The Cafcass officer will just have an informal discussion with the two of you, without lawyers present." David reminded Brian. "She will want to know exactly what the problems are, and whether there is any possibility of resolving things without having to ask the court to make a decision. At the end of the meeting, she will call the lawyers in, explain what has been discussed, and then prepare a note for the district judge. The judge will read the note, and then call us in."

"But will I get to see my kids after today?" Asked Brian.

"That depends upon how the discussions go. If some agreement can be reached, then yes."

"What if no agreement can be reached? Will the judge make a contact order?"

"No, not today." Relied David. "But he will give directions for your contact application to proceed as quickly as possible." He added, hopefully.

"But you said that could take months!"

"Well, yes. But if we can't agree any contact at all today then we can come back in the next week or so and ask for an interim contact order, as I explained to you before. Look, let's just see what happens when you talk to the Cafcass officer?"

The two men fell silent.

Eventually, a slightly dishevelled-looking middle aged woman appeared and introduced herself as the Cafcass officer. Brian followed her into a side room.

Twenty minutes later the woman reappeared and summoned David and Liz's solicitor into the room. Inside, David found Liz dabbing tears from her eyes with a tissue, and Brian staring at him with a face like thunder. David's heart sank...

* * * * *

"Do you admit that you hit your wife?" The district judge directed the question straight at Brian.

"Well, yes, but..." Brian began to reply, but the district judge interrupted him.

"There are no 'buts' about it, Mr Jones. There was no excuse for hitting her, was there?"

"No... Sir." Admitted Brian.

"No indeed. Well, in these circumstances I think that contact at a contact centre is the best way to proceed, pending a full Cafcass report. Do you agree, Mr Charles?"

David knew there was no point in arguing, despite what his client thought. He nodded his assent.

"Good." Smiled the district judge, mentally ticking another case off his long morning list. "Then I shall give the following directions..." He said, removing the top from his fountain pen.

As David scribbled a note of the directions, he glanced sideways towards his expressionless client and wondered whether he would still be instructed by the time the matter next came before the court.


  1. 'slightly dishevelled-looking' cafcass officer, like that description, is familiar to what I have seen of them. I think the question is are they made that way or does the job do it to them. Is a rhetorical question. I think we see your second book taking good shape John.

    I think I have in mind the final chapter, and I am not sure it is a happy one though. Something along the lines of, 5 years time Brian lay in bed with his partner on the scheduled contact of every other Saturday morning and thought, do I really want to run the gauntlet anymore? He sighs a deep sigh and a tear comes to his eyes before he cuddles his new partner and tries to get back to sleep. An hour later 2 kids waiting hopefully pretending not to be interested wonder where their father is and what on earth happened between their mother and father and why they can't be together.

    Or there's the other chapter for a more happy ending perhaps. Ten years later Brian opens his door to see his 15 year old daughter standing outside saying, she no longer believed what Mum said about him anymore and wanted to see for herself. Bit more unbelievable that one though.

    Like the feel of it though. I have a friend who submitted a book for publication. The publisher said chapter 1 was good and to re-write the rest like that. I am not an expert though. Best Regards, David.

  2. Let's call it a tradgedy.


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