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Pre-trial hearing for contact - do I need a barrister?

(16 Posts)
ddrmum Mon 22-Nov-10 11:36:56

Hello! I would like a little reassurance I suppose. My exH is dragging a contact order thru the courts cos contact is not on HIS terms & he wants overnights etc (children aged 6,3 & 2yrs). He cannot cope with them alone and lives with is parents in a 'busy' house. I have a barrister for the full day final hearing,but trying to save money (mortgage, kids,xmas ec!) have been told by solicitor that I probably won't need one for the pre-trial hearing. Just worried about falling foul of the system. I've done OK til now mostly by myself but this is too important to make a mistake! I have not objection to contact per se, just to the fact that he & his family think domestic abuse/violence is acceptable!! He already has contact one day per week and one eve. He will also drag financials thru courts as he's a money grabbing wotnot! Question is, barrister for the pre-trial or use that money for the financial stuff as I have the assets in the relationship?? Thanks in advance for any advice.

Rollercoasteryears Mon 22-Nov-10 13:48:48

You refer to having a solicitor, but the impression I get is that you'd be representing yourself if you don't have a barrister - is that right? Is your solicitor not on the court record? If they are, you can't represent yourself, but need either your solicitor or a barrister there on your behalf. But perhaps your solicitor is advising behind the scenes and isn't on the record, in which case you can appear in person.

My view (as a family solicitor) is that you don't need a barrister - provided you make sure your solicitor takes you through everything in advance so you're well prepared. In my experience, the Courts are usually pretty supportive to people appearing on their own behalf. The key thing you need to get across at any Court hearing about children is that you want what's in the best interests of the children i.e. that it's not about you and what you want, but about your concerns about their welfare.

You will need to make sure that your solicitor takes you through any directions the Court might make at the hearing so that you have a view and suggestions - you don't want your ex to suggest a direction that you hadn't thought about in advance and have the Court agree with it by default.

MadameCastafiore Mon 22-Nov-10 13:55:56

ddrmum - I went through this with XH - he wouldn't let DD live with me and said I could only have her at weekends - anyway after long drawn out battle I won and she lives with me now and sees him every other weekend.

But one thing I would say that went in my favour is neither myself or my friends/relatives speaking on my behalf attacked XH as a person, only ever brought up his lack of ability when it came to DDs welfare (drink, drugs, violence, being a total twonk with regards to not putting her name down for a school etc, I could go on and on and on).

I had a barrister for both the pretrial thing and the actual 2 days we were in court the solicitor arrangwed all that though - unmtil the day we got to court I did not realise that the solicitor would not be the one standing up and speaking on my behalf.

Good luck though - it was the longest most terrifying 2 days of my life (plus the almost 2 years of fighting to finally get there and get DD back).

ddrmum Mon 22-Nov-10 14:49:53

Thank you so much!! I have made a point of not bad mouthing the ex & acting only in the interests of the children which the judge has noted, especially that I have been proactive re: contact and made viable suggestions (unlike the ex!!). I will have a barrister at the final hearing which is an all day event, but I don't want to make any mistakes by not having one at the pre-trial hearing as it will only last a short time. I found the experience strangely empowering, but I am aware of the pitfalls and think the judge is reasonable so don't want to upset him by not having representation should I need it at pre-trial. What happens there anyway???

ddrmum Mon 22-Nov-10 14:53:21

Sorry Rollercoasteryears, I am down on court record as self representing although there is a solicitor dealing with my divorce stuff, but has never helped me with the contact stuff. Their answer to everything appears to be 'barrister'!! I'm trying to keep costs to a minimum as I have 3small people and a house to keep. Ex now pays maintenance thru CSA agreement

mumblechum Mon 22-Nov-10 18:47:38

When you say pre-trial, do you mean a directions hearing? Is this the first hearing after he's filed his application? If so, then more than likely the cafcass officer will be in the court building and available to try to help the two of you reach agreement.

If agreement isn't possible at that stage, then usually the court will make an order along the following lines:
1. Both parents to file statements on the issue of contact within 2 or 3 weeks

2. Cafcass to prepare a report, usually within 13 weeks (though they always take longer)

3. Interim contact in whatever terms can be agreed (the court doesn't have time in a directions appointment to hear evidence from either of you so it'll probably be along the lines of present contact)

4. Bearing in mind Xmas is on the way, be prepared for your ex asking for some extra Christmas contact, and think about what you will agree to.

5. The matter will be set down for another directions hearing once cafcass report is in (then it'll be set down for a final hearing).

Please note that different courts often have slightly different practices from that above (Reading and Slough).

I agree with Rollercoaster that if you can make progress on the directions, it would be very helpful.

I certainly wouldn't instruct counsel for a directions hearing in your circs.

Good luck.

ddrmum Mon 22-Nov-10 20:46:45

Thanks mumblechum. It's a bit of a story, we have had a couple of contact hearings only because OH has dragged it out (much to judge's annoyance!!). No-one from CAFCASS turned up at the last hearing so this pre-trial is for the final contact hearing in January. The CAFCASS officer will be at the pre-trial hearing and hopes to have her report ready for that - an extension to early January has been given by the court. So, from what you have said above, most of it appears to be done, it's really this single session prior to the final hearing.I am waiting with interest for OH trial pack and will respond to that. The pre-trial hearing is due prior to my paperwork deadline - not sure if that will make a difference. The CAFCASS lady rang today to make an appt with me and depending on what the school say, she will or not speak to our 6yo. I have given her the details of the police officer and independant DV advocate I have been assigned to so hopefully she'll get a pretty good picture of the situation before meeting me. The ex is always asking for more - why have an inch when 3+miles will do?! The crux of this is not because I won't allow contact, it's just because it isn't on his terms.Given that he has tried to discredit me as a parent to every agency under the sun, he's lucky that I am so amenable - ok so I switch off and think about the kids At th last hearing the judge advised that I have representation for the final hearing, so I'll do it. I understand that I'll have to give some ground, but I just don't want to be forced into a 50/50 situation as he hands the kids over to his mum like sacrificial lambs - makes me sooo cross angry. Sorry to rant on!!

mumblechum Tue 23-Nov-10 07:22:26

Right, so you're quite a lot further down the line than I'd thought.

The only bit of advice I'd give is that you don't leave it till the last minute before getting representation.

If the final hearing is in January, bearing in mind everyone will be on holiday for 2 wks over Christmas, you should be getting your solicitor and barrister on board now to give time for the solicitor to brief counsel and to have a conference with counsel at least two weeks before the hearing.

As a lawyer, I refuse now to take on people less than 6 weeks before final hearing as there's a massive amount of work to do and it's not always possible to drop other work to rush into a case with an imminent final hearing.

Hope all goes well for you.

ddrmum Tue 23-Nov-10 12:41:07

Thanks mumblechum!! all my solicitor has done to date is fax the barrister with info - not helpful!! My trial pack is not due to be at court until 4wks before trial date again a bit of a pain given the 2wk xmas break. I have been offered the services of a barrister I ws sent previously and also that of a lady I went to school with!!! Just wondering if choosing her would cause more difficulties or if it would compromise her in any way? Be grateful for any advice! I aim to secure representation by end of this week.

mumblechum Tue 23-Nov-10 12:45:49

I wouldn't use someone you know socially if you still see them.

I never act for friends, learned the hard way that they expect you to do it for next to nothing and constantly call outside work hours. Not suggesting you would, and so if you hven't seen the woman since you were at school together, there shouldn't be a problem.

ddrmum Tue 23-Nov-10 13:16:07

Hi Mumblechum, I don't see her socially and only saw her at school reunion in the summer & would see it in a professional context given that she is being booked thru chambers and it costs ££££. We get on and she knows what I'm like even though I know you all need to take a purely objective view of the case presented to you!! Given that my ex is a bare-faced liar I just want to ensure that I get my best shot! I can honestly say that I have stuck to the facts throughout and not embellished anything. Not sure how much ground to give - if expected to give anything at all. Really not sure about long term over nights as he is currently at parents but this is unlikely to be a long term solution as he is already looking to hook up with ex partners & I don't want the children staying with strangers(6,3 & 2yo). Def don't want them taken abroad or away as ex doesn't take responsibility for his own actions and will palm them off to family or 'friends'. Naturally he'll deny this in court - it's frustrating!!Basics of the case are that it was a DV situation (he has police caution for assaulting me), he has reported me to SS,GP,HV police alleging concerns about my healthconfused and that I'm depressed/can't cope etc all supported by his parents(!), then falsely accused me of assaulting him to prevent me changing jobs - no action taken against me and I was allocated an independant DV advocate due to his behaviour. The above agencies largely ignore him, he's been spoken to by police for manipulation of our eldest & he has agreed to an 6mth undertaking for non-molestation and there is a prohibitive steps order in place until final contact is agreed. The current arrangement was my suggestion to the court and deemed acceptable. Much will rest on CAFCASS report I suspect. His parents are registered childmindersbiscuit so that will carry some weight, but if he doesn't get CRB he'll be out on his ear I suspect. Should I bring this to the attention of the court or does it look like spite? This is a minefield!!! Really appreciate you opinion - thanks!

mumblechum Tue 23-Nov-10 15:00:30

Cafcass are supposed to do police checks on both parties.

I'm not sure whether they actually do this in practice, though.

From what you say about the counsel issue, I don't see any problem in booking the woman you knew at school, but tbh I think you should be guided by your solicitor who hopefully will know several counsel and know who would be good for your particular case.

From what you've said in your last post, I don't think you have anything to worry about. Of course the court wants to ensure that the children have as close a relationship with their dad as possible, but if he's an arse, the court will see that. Much will depend on the cafcass report and the statements of you and your ex.

ddrmum Tue 23-Nov-10 18:33:15

Thanks so much for your help!! Really appreciated

mumblechum Tue 23-Nov-10 19:28:02

No problem. Hope you get the result you want.

Amelia43514351 Tue 21-Feb-17 20:39:12

So can I ask for the initial directions hearing for access you think the Cafcass support and advice from solicitor will be enough?
I have non mol hearings, financial remedy and access and raising two kids on my own completely in every way so need to be able to appropriately manage finances.
Thanks for any advice

Berthatydfil Tue 21-Feb-17 21:45:54

Amelia this thread is 6 years old it's probably best you make your own thread .

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