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Family court questions(6 Posts)
Have a look at thiswww.mfjc.co.uk/home/mfjccou1/public_ftp/page0/page32/ on the merseyside family justice council website. It's a guide for litigants in person, and a great resource. Do make use of it.
Ok - firstly, don't take your friend. A McKenzie Friend (more info here: www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed1568) should not be anyone who has an interest in the case - i.e. friends and relatives.
I have seen courts allowing relatives and friends in but you risk them being turned away and you sitting on your own. If you DO use a McKenzie Friend make sure they take a CV and a MK letter with the case law (I use a standard letter when I assist people) and send to the court and the other party's solicitor at least a week before the hearing if possible.
The court will likely briefly discuss the McKenzie Friend being there and ask the other party if they object to his/her presence. In my experience they tend not to - but if they do it is worth saying you have a right to reasonable assistance and on the grounds of equity of arms. If that doesn't happen, be prepared to walk out of the hearing.
You have a conciliation hearing. That means you will see a CAFCASS Officer who will effectively run a mediation session to see if you can come to an agreement. Regardless of outcome you will go into court afterwards and it will be discussed.
With regard to what you should take - put together a position statement. It needs to be 3 pages at the absolute most and if there is something very relevant, attach it. Make copies for the judge, the ex's solicitor and one for yourself. Don't send it in advance - hand a copy to the solicitor when you get there, give a copy to the usher and ask them to give to the judge.
As a litigant in person the other side's solicitor has an obligation to give you advice on the procedure of court cases (the court won't expect you to know) although they cannot give you legal advice of course. I would say that it isn't uncommon for solicitors to bully and attempt to intimidate litigants in person into agreement they aren't happy to do so (it's common for them to suggest you'll have a costs order made against you for example).
If you need a McKenzie Friend look here: www.fnf.org.uk/law-and-information/mckenzie-friends-listings.
Some McKenzies work for free, expenses or fee charge. Ask for references, background. Shop around! Would also advise that you join Families Need Fathers. Forget the name - there are increasing numbers of women who benefit from the support the charity advises and you'll find some excellent McKenzie Friends too (I'm biased...my other half is one of them...)
My DH is self rep'ing, as is his ex who is the applicant.
You will be able to have someone with you in the waiting room, but only a legal advisor can accompany you into the court. The exception to that is you can have a person known as a Mckenzie friend with you, who are volunteers accepted by the court to act as support to "litigants in person". You might want to consider that - if you ask your local CAB or the court they might be able to put you in touch with one local to you?
At the conciliation hearing that my DH had, both he and his ex spoke to the CAFCASS Officer separately before going into court, and then the CAFCASS Officer addressed the magistrates before DHs ex, and then DH, were asked if they wanted to say anything about the application. DHs ex hadn't prepared anything, so was a bit flustered (and made unsubstantiated allegations which CAFCASS looked into) - it may be worth writing something out to read if you can. Just the reason why you've applied, what you think is best for the DCs, why you and your DCs dad have been unable to agree?
The court then issued directions to CAFCASS and DH/ex, based on the Schedule 2 letter that CAFCASS had written and scheduled another directions hearing.
I have a conciliation hearing/first directions hearing in a few weeks time and my solicitor tells me that very little will happen at the hearing it will simply be making plans for the progression of the case. Apparently I have to meet with the cafcass lady before the actual court appointment and 'narrow down the issues' and I hear that his solicitor might try to get me to agree to some sort of contact that can then be signed off by the judge if he's in agreement but as the cafcass report says they are not supportive of any contact, direct or otherwise, at this stage and they have referred concerns back to children's services there is no way I'll be agreeing anything especially because I don't think it is currently in the children's best interests to see their dad.
I still live in hope that one day he'll get some help for his behaviour towards the kids and become something like a decent dad but I won't be handing the kids over voluntarily right now.
evidence might be needed for the non molestation order but I don't think you need it for the contact case at this stage.
Good luck with it
Just looking for some advice really, please as I have a hearing in 3 weeks time.
Having to self rep, no choice there unfortunately. (Documents I have don't cover for legal aid)
Can I have a friend come into court with me, if they agree to not speak etc just for moral support, and to have someone with me - other side has lawyer.
Evidence - I have some in the form of emails, texts, Facebook messages, and a witness. Can I just show these on the day, or should the other side see them first? - Its first hearing and they have listed it as a conciliation hearing will they be needed there, non-mol is included will this be concluded in one hearing? I am applicant.
Also, what is a conciliation hearing? I have read about directions hearings, is this the same thing?
CAFCASS have said they will not issue the report until the day of hearing, as they are worried things in the report will put me at risk, does this sound like they could possibly so no contact at all? (Not necessarily what I want, but if its their opinion, I respect that). My son is nearly 7 and is refusing contact too, CAFCASS mentioned to me that they would like him to be listened to, in our initial interview.
Anything else I need to know please? First time in court and I am very nervous, even with extensive search sessions.
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