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I'm scared of going to court

(7 Posts)
rotool Sun 04-Nov-12 22:53:17

My exp is taking me to court for shared residency, he does nothing for dc's and when he has them at his parents his mum does everything for them.
We are still living in the same house we jointly own as he won't move out and I have to stay to qualify for legal aid.
We have a directions hearing at the end of the month and the thought of it is scaring me as I don't know what it will be like.
Exp is emotionaly abusive and a bully.
Dc's are 8 and 6. What are the chances of him having joint residency? I have said if they live with me he can have as much contact as possible, every other weekend,seeing them in the week, half holidays etc. He is desperate to show me as a bad mother but my boys love me (and him) and I have done nothing wrong other than not wanting to be with him anymore.
I am so frightend, this 'thing' is taking over our lives and no-one is happy.

olgaga Mon 05-Nov-12 07:46:25

Shared residency does not mean you split the children 50-50 between you. Please be reassured - if you are the main carer, there's no reason why that arrangement should not continue. You might find this helpful:

Relationship Breakdown and Divorce – Advice and Links

It is useful if you can get to grips with the language of family law and procedure, and get an understanding of your rights, BEFORE you see a solicitor. If you are well prepared you will save time and money.

Children

If there are children involved, their welfare, needs and interests are paramount. Parents have responsibilities, not rights, in this regard. Shared residence means both parties having an equal interest in the upbringing of the children. It does not mean equal (50/50) parenting time - children are not possessions to be “fairly” divided between separating parents.

A divorce will not be granted where children are involved unless there are agreed arrangements for finance, and care of the children (“Statement of Arrangements for Children”). It is obviously quicker and cheaper if this can be agreed but if there is no agreement, the Court will make an Order - “Residence and Contact” regarding children, “Financial Order” or “Ancillary Relief” in the case of Finance. Information and links to these can be found in the Directgov link below. Residence and Contact Orders are likely to be renamed Child Arrangements Orders in future.

Always see a specialist family lawyer!

Get word of mouth recommendations for family lawyers in your area if possible. If you have children at school, ask mums you are friendly with if they know of anyone who can make a recommendation in your area. These days there are few people who don’t know of anyone who has been through a divorce or separation – there’s a lot of knowledge and support out there!

Many family lawyers will offer the first half hour consultation free. Make use of this. Don’t just stick with the first lawyer you find – shop around and find someone you feel comfortable with. You may be in for a long haul, so it helps if you can find a solicitor you’re happy with.

If you can’t find any local recommendations, always see a solicitor who specialises in Family Law.

If you take legal action to protect yourself or your family from domestic violence, you may qualify for legal aid without having to meet the normal financial conditions. The income of an abusive partner will not be taken into account when deciding whether you qualify for legal aid.

You can also find out about Legal Aid and get advice on the Community Legal Advice Helpline on 08345 345 4 345
www.direct.gov.uk/en/Dl1/Directories/UsefulContactsByCategory/Governmentcitizensandrightscontacts/DG_195356

Or search in your area for Community Legal Advisors:
legaladviserfinder.justice.gov.uk/AdviserSearch.do

Co-operative Legal Services offer DIY/Self-Help Divorce packages, as well as a Managed Divorce service. Their fee structure is more transparent and they have a telephone advice line as well as offering really good advice on their website:
www.co-operative.coop/legalservices/family-and-relationships/

You can read advice and search by area for a family lawyer here:
www.resolution.org.uk/

You will also read good advice and find a family lawyer here:
www.divorceaid.co.uk/

Some family law solicitors publish online feedback from clients – Google solicitors to see if you can find any recommendations or feedback.

Mediation

You will be encouraged to attend mediation. This can help by encouraging discussion about arrangements for children and finance in a structured way in a neutral setting. However, it only works if both parties are willing to reach agreement.

If there has been violence or emotional abuse, discuss this with your solicitor first. Always get legal advice, or at the very least make sure you are aware of your legal rights, before you begin mediation. This is important because while a Mediator should have knowledge of family law, and will often explain family law, they are not there to give tailored legal advice to either party - so it’s important to have that first.

Married or Living Together?

This is a key question, because if you are married, generally speaking you have greater protection when a relationship breaks down.

Legal Issues around marriage/cohabitation and relationship breakdown are explained here:
www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/relationships_e/relationships_living_together_marriage_and_civil_partnership_e/living_together_and_marriage_legal_differences.htm#Ending_a_relationship

www.advicenow.org.uk/living-together/

DirectGov advice on divorce, separation and relationship breakdown:
www.direct.gov.uk/en/Governmentcitizensandrights/Divorceseparationandrelationshipbreakdown/index.htm

Legal Rights and issues around contact are further explained here:
www.rightsofwomen.org.uk/legal.php#children_relationship_breakdown
www.maypole.org.uk/

I found these guides from law firms quite informative and easy to read – there are others of course:

www.family-lawfirm.co.uk/uploaded/documents/Surviving-Family-Conflict-and-Divorce---2nd-edition.pdf

www.terry.co.uk/hindex.html

Finance

Before you see a family law solicitor, get hold of every single piece of financial information you have access to, and take copies or make notes. Wage slips, P60s, tax returns, employment contracts, pensions and other statements – savings, current account and mortgages, deeds, rental leases, utility bills, council tax bills, credit statements. Are there joint assets such as a home, pensions, savings, shares?

If you have no access to financial information, or you are aware that assets are being hidden from you, then obviously you will not be able to reach agreement on finances. If there are children, as you cannot divorce without adequate arrangements being agreed on finance and children, you will have to apply for a financial order anyway. If there are no children, and you are unable to agree on finances, you will also have to apply for a financial order (follow the Direct.gov links below). This seeks financial information from both parties going back 12 months. So it is in your interests to act quickly once you have made the decision to divorce.

If you are married, the main considerations of the Family Courts where parties are unable to agree a settlement are (in no particular order of priority):

1.The welfare of any minor children from the marriage.
2.The value of jointly and individually owned property and other assets and the financial needs, obligation and responsibilities of each party.
3.Any debts or liabilities of the parties.
4.Pension arrangements for each of the parties, including future pension values and any value to each of the parties of any benefit they may lose as a result of the divorce.
5.The earnings and earning potential of each of the parties.
6.Standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.
7.The age of the parties and duration of the marriage.
8.Any physical or mental disability of either of the parties.
9.Contributions that each party may have made to the marriage, either financially or by looking after the house and/or caring for the family.

CSA maintenance calculator:
www.csacalculator.dsdni.gov.uk/calc.asp

Handy tax credits calculator:
www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits/payments-entitlement/entitlement/question-how-much.htm#7

Handy 5 Minute benefit check, tax and housing benefit calculators:
www.moneysavingexpert.com/family/

CAB Benefits Check:
www.citizensadvice.co.uk/getadvice/benefit-calculator/A2B-Benefit-Calculator/#730

Parenting issues:
www.familylives.org.uk
www.theparentconnection.org.uk

Other Support for Women – Children, Housing, Domestic Violence
www.womensaid.org.uk/ and refuge.org.uk/ - Helpline 0808 2000 247
www.ncdv.org.uk/ - Helpline 0844 8044 999
www.gingerbread.org.uk/ - Helpline 0808 802 0925
Housing www.england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/families_and_relationships/relationship_breakdown
(Note that there is usually an appropriate link on these websites for England, Wales and Scotland where the law, advice and contact information may differ.

rotool Mon 05-Nov-12 22:04:18

Wow, a huge amount of info, thank you for taking the time

cestlavielife Mon 05-Nov-12 22:59:02

Don't panic. Se it as a way for someone else to make the decisions you cannot make between you.

Directions hearing is hopefully fairly informal ina formal way. A room with a judge behind a table or bench. You can both present what you want via your solicitors and cafcass officer may be involved to talk to you and try and get some agreement which can then be signed off or an interim with a view to reviewing nthree or six months.

What I experienced was seeing judge then being asked to go away and try and get an agreed agreement or order and sitting around and going back later to get it signed be ready for lots of sitting around.

Do you have evidence of his behaviour police or ss reports?

Any evidence he is neglectful of his dc? If he prepared to have them alt weekends half holidays etc why should he not have equal rights to you ? And you say you happy for him to have them so there don't seem to be any welfare concerns in relation to t the dc?

What he will do with dc in his time eg leave them with grandma is not sufficient reason to say no to joint residence I don't think.

Joint residency does not need to mean they don't spend more time with you or vice versa. It is more about legal rights .

Where do you. InTend to live and where will he live ?

How does he bully ? Have you spoken to anyone about his behaviour ? Ie if is your word versus his and he presents charming and nice in court then there will not be good reasons to not have joint residency though you might argue over how many days with each ?

olgaga Tue 06-Nov-12 09:34:28

Hi, just wanted to mention the DirectGov website has been replaced, so that will affect some of the links in my post.

I'm working on an update right now and will post it later.

olgaga Tue 06-Nov-12 12:06:44

Here is the updated version of my post with the new links:

Relationship Breakdown and Divorce – Advice and Links

It is useful if you can get to grips with the language of family law and procedure, and get an understanding of your rights, BEFORE you see a solicitor. If you are well prepared you will save time and money.

Children

The welfare, needs and interests of children are paramount. Parents have responsibilities, not rights, in this regard. Shared residence means both parties having an equal interest in the upbringing of the children. It does not mean equal (50/50) parenting time - children are not possessions to be “fairly” divided between separating parents.

A divorce will not be granted where children are involved unless there are agreed arrangements for finance, and care of the children (“Statement of Arrangements for Children”). It is obviously quicker and cheaper if this can be agreed but if there is no agreement, the Court will make an Order - “Residence and Contact” regarding children, “Financial Order” or “Ancillary Relief” in the case of Finance. Information and links to these can be found in the Directgov link below. Residence and Contact Orders are likely to be renamed Child Arrangements Orders in future.

Always see a specialist family lawyer!

Get word of mouth recommendations for family lawyers in your area if possible. If you have children at school, ask mums you are friendly with if they know of anyone who can make a recommendation in your area. These days there are few people who don’t know of anyone who has been through a divorce or separation – there’s a lot of knowledge and support out there!

Many family lawyers will offer the first half hour consultation free. Make use of this. Don’t just stick with the first lawyer you find – shop around and find someone you feel comfortable with. You may be in for a long haul, so it helps if you can find a solicitor you’re happy with.

If you can’t find any local recommendations, always see a solicitor who specialises in Family Law.

If you take legal action to protect yourself or your family from domestic violence, you may qualify for legal aid without having to meet the normal financial conditions. The income of an abusive partner will not be taken into account when deciding whether you qualify for legal aid.

You can also find out about Legal Aid and get advice on the Community Legal Advice Helpline on 08345 345 4 345
https://www.gov.uk/community-legal-advice
Or search in your area for Community Legal Advisors:
legaladviserfinder.justice.gov.uk/AdviserSearch.do

If you don't qualify for legal aid but need legal advice, Rights of Women have a helpline on 020 7251 6577 and helpful advice on their website.
www.rightsofwomen.org.uk/adviceline.php

Co-operative Legal Services offer DIY/Self-Help Divorce packages, as well as a Managed Divorce service. Their fee structure is more transparent and they have a telephone advice line as well as offering really good advice on their website:
www.co-operative.coop/legalservices/family-and-relationships/

You can read advice and search by area for a family lawyer here:
www.resolution.org.uk/

You can also read good advice and search for a family lawyer here:
www.divorceaid.co.uk/

Some family law solicitors publish online feedback from clients – Google solicitors to see if you can find any recommendations or feedback.

Mediation

You will be encouraged to attend mediation. This can help by encouraging discussion about arrangements for children and finance in a structured way in a neutral setting. However, it only works if both parties are willing to reach agreement.

If there has been violence or emotional abuse, discuss this with your solicitor first. Always get legal advice, or at the very least make sure you are aware of your legal rights, before you begin mediation. This is important because while a Mediator should have knowledge of family law, and will often explain family law, they are not there to give tailored legal advice to either party - so it’s important to have that first.

You can find a Mediator here:
www.familymediationhelpline.co.uk/find-service.php

Married or Living Together?

This is a key question, because if you are married, generally speaking you have greater protection when a relationship breaks down.

Legal Issues around marriage/cohabitation and relationship breakdown are explained here:
www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/relationships_e/relationships_living_together_marriage_and_civil_partnership_e/living_together_and_marriage_legal_differences.htm#Ending_a_relationship

www.advicenow.org.uk/living-together/

Gov.uk advice on divorce, separation and relationship breakdown:
https://www.gov.uk/browse/births-deaths-marriages/marriage-divorce

Issues around contact are further explored here:
https://www.gov.uk/parental-rights-responsibilities
www.rightsofwomen.org.uk/legal.php#children_relationship_breakdown
www.maypole.org.uk/
www.cafcass.gov.uk/media/2909/TimeforChildren.pdf

I found these guides from law firms quite informative and easy to read – there are others of course:
www.family-lawfirm.co.uk/uploaded/documents/Surviving-Family-Conflict-and-Divorce---2nd-edition.pdf

www.terry.co.uk/hindex.html

Finance

Before you see a family law solicitor, get hold of every single piece of financial information you have access to, and take copies or make notes. Wage slips, P60s, tax returns, employment contracts, pensions and other statements – savings, current account and mortgages, deeds, rental leases, utility bills, council tax bills, credit statements. Are there joint assets such as a home, pensions, savings, shares?

If you have no access to financial information, or you are aware that assets are being hidden from you, then obviously you will not be able to reach agreement on finances. If there are children, as you cannot divorce without adequate arrangements being agreed on finance and children, you will have to apply for a financial order anyway. If there are no children, and you are unable to agree on finances, you will also have to apply for a financial order (follow the Direct.gov links below). This seeks financial information from both parties going back 12 months. So it is in your interests to act quickly once you have made the decision to divorce.

If you are married, the main considerations of the Family Courts where parties are unable to agree a settlement are (in no particular order of priority):

1.The welfare of any minor children from the marriage.
2.The value of jointly and individually owned property and other assets and the financial needs, obligation and responsibilities of each party.
3.Any debts or liabilities of the parties.
4.Pension arrangements for each of the parties, including future pension values and any value to each of the parties of any benefit they may lose as a result of the divorce.
5.The earnings and earning potential of each of the parties.
6.Standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.
7.The age of the parties and duration of the marriage.
8.Any physical or mental disability of either of the parties.
9.Contributions that each party may have made to the marriage, either financially or by looking after the house and/or caring for the family.

CSA maintenance calculator:
www.csacalculator.dsdni.gov.uk/calc.asp

Handy tax credits calculator:
www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits/payments-entitlement/entitlement/question-how-much.htm#7

Handy 5 Minute benefit check, tax and housing benefit calculators:
www.moneysavingexpert.com/family/

CAB Benefits Check:
www.citizensadvice.co.uk/getadvice/benefit-calculator/A2B-Benefit-Calculator/#730

Parenting issues:
www.familylives.org.uk
www.theparentconnection.org.uk

Other Support – Children, Housing, Domestic Violence
www.womensaid.org.uk/ and refuge.org.uk/ - Helpline 0808 2000 247
www.ncdv.org.uk/ - Helpline 0844 8044 999
www.gingerbread.org.uk/ - Helpline 0808 802 0925
Housing www.england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/families_and_relationships/relationship_breakdown
(Note that there is usually an appropriate link on these websites for England, Wales and Scotland where the law, advice and contact information may differ).
Sometimes links change – if there is a problem or any of the above needs updating, please let me know.

ZillionChocolate Tue 06-Nov-12 12:33:47

In some circumstances, it is possible to get an order to make him leave the home you share (an occupation order). Does he have anywhere else to go?

You really don't need to be scared of going to court. You will have an opportunity to get your side heard by the Court, make sure you have given your solicitor all the information that they need so that they can speak on your behalf.

Good luck!

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