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Would you invest the money in a solicitor?

(17 Posts)
ItsDecisionTime Sun 26-May-13 04:27:45

After 3 years of attempted court action by my exP to formalise the contact he's always had with our dd (12), I've been advised by the family court that the next step is to attend the Crown Court in order that we may use their video link services back to exP who lives overseas. This has been set up for 5th June.

He is asking for unreasonable contact arrangements which dd does not want (all summer and xmas holidays overseas) and absolutely refuses to visit her in the UK. He made the choice to leave the UK when dd was 6 (6 years ago) under the advice of a psychiatrist who told him the reason he couldn't hold down serious relationships was that he needed to live in his "home country". Yes, really. Interestingly, he still can't hold down a serious relationship.

DD is adamant she's not going and whilst I think it important that she retains a relationship with her dad, I can no longer force her. She won't speak to him on the phone or Skype anymore as she finds him "boring" and always finds other things to do.

Anyway, the judge at the last hearing suggested I take legal advice on the matter and I explained all I am doing is protecting my daughter's rights and wishes and I shouldn't need a solicitor to do that. However, he's called me up directly and suggest I'm represented at the hearing. I'm not sure how it will be different to the rest and am not really sure whether to spend £500 I can ill afford or whether I should just bite the bullet for the sake of getting the best outcome.

mumblechum1 Sun 26-May-13 07:03:20

What makes you think it would be £500? To be honest, given that the solicitor or barrister will need to spend a lot of time with you and going over the paperwork in order to prepare for the hearing I think you'd be looking at at least £3,000.

I'm surprised the judge called you up to recommend representation, tbh. Your daughter is obviously at an age where her expressed wishes and feelings must be taken into account by the court, and if that's what she's telling Cafcass it would be difficult for the court to ignore her.

ItsDecisionTime Sun 26-May-13 09:33:36

Her Cafcass wishes and feelings report was 2 years ago and although very little has changed in terms of what she asked for at the time and their subsequent recommendations (that her father spends more time with her in the UK), she has changed considerably. She's a very mature 12 year old, high in confidence and opinion - not always good I admit! I've heard her discuss and take advice about it from her friends and she also told me she'd asked her form tutor about it. My solicitor is already aware of the situation as she dealt with it for me at the outset. Her opinion is there's nothing she can really add as I seem to be handling it very well on my own and I have held my own throughout 15 hearings (yes, 15). A video-link hearing in the Crown Court sounds scary to me though and that's why I'm wondering if she'd better be there. I'm thinking £500 as she charges £200 per hour but you're right, it could be more.

ItsDecisionTime Sun 26-May-13 09:44:01

Should have said the Judge called me directly as I wrote to him directly to ask him to expedite a speedy resolution as the cost and stress of the situation was starting to have an effect on me. We live in a small community and everyone knows everyone. I know of him through my DDs friend who is his granddaughter although he doesn't know that.

Xenia Sun 26-May-13 12:39:46

Is this some kind of final hearing which is more important and the others were just interim hearings?

If a lawyer was preparing properly for this and you had a new psychologist report etc etc £3000 or £5000 might be a more normal charge actually so if £500 is beyond the pale I think you should not use the lawyer. Have you had any papers from the father yet about this hearing - statements and things like that? Have you replied in writing to anything in writing they have put forward?

Normally when children are about 12 they can make up their own minds. Her father could start by coming over here for a weekend just to see her for a couple of afternoons in the summer if he really were that keen. Is it miles away like Australia or somewhere closer like France or Turkey?

ItsDecisionTime Sun 26-May-13 12:45:47

He's in America so not really feasible to do short-hop flights although has just moved near to Washington DC so travel is much easier and cheaper than it was before when he lived in the boonies.

This is probably the final hearing, I've done lots of research and understand the legal aspects of the case including the wording I should push for in an order so as not to compromise myself should DD refuse contact.

I've always made sure I've replied in writing to anything from them and also made sure I sent a copy of all correspondence to the court.

He's only keen in getting the best outcome for himself, not for DD. She wants contact but wants it in the UK as well as in the US. I don't think that's an unreasonable request and is also backed up by Cafcass recommendations that this is how contact is taken forward.

I know I can be held liable for non-contact if my parenting is insufficient to encourage DD to spend time with him. Hence making sure the order uses the correct wording.

babybarrister Sun 26-May-13 20:39:37

I think that your estimate of cost is much too low,

consider direct access barristers as well as they may be cheaper

your daughter could also take herself to a legal aid lawyer and say she wants to be represented ....

ItsDecisionTime Mon 27-May-13 19:38:47

Oh, I've never heard of them. I'll take a look. DD is only 12 and I don't want her to think any of this is a big deal. She won't stand up to her dad as she's scared of him (he would never hurt her but is not approachable in any way).

Selba Mon 27-May-13 19:50:45

I'm confused. If your daughter says no, why do you need a solicitor?

Perhaps it is just accepted practice for a judge to recommend you get a solicitor, but in your case I can't see what difference it would make.

( I got divorced without using a solicitor. I realise that's a different situaiton, but people sometimes think they need one when they don't)

ItsDecisionTime Mon 27-May-13 22:08:35

What I meant about my daughter is she wouldn't (and I dont think it appropriate for her to) get her own solicitor and fight him.

I know why they think I should get a solicitor as I've been researching it and it's all about the wording of the order. The right words have to be used to protect yourself should the child decide they don't want contact. Also, I need to build up a story about why he left and paint a picture of him and his motives. They think this would be best addressed by a solicitor.

I've attended 15 hearings without one and done alright so far and they know it. Even my exP's solicitor thinks I should be represented. Unknown to him, she's been very generous in her advice to me off the record.

ItsDecisionTime Wed 29-May-13 21:22:01

Decided to engage the solicitor who dealt with it for me first time round. £500 plus her expenses for the day as she doesn't need that much briefing on the issue. I've done all the administrative leg work myself and she will be there purely to take the lead in the discussions. Thanks everyone for your recommendations.

betterthanever Mon 03-Jun-13 16:11:19

Hope it all goes ok Its you have been very strong on all this and good for you writting to the judge and they rang you !
Are these trips overseas going to mean your DD is an unaccompanied minor on the plane? (which in many caes works well but not so well if the child is distressed about going - not sure the airline would take her), maybe ask an airline about the care she would get during her distressed state in-flight?

ItsDecisionTime Wed 05-Jun-13 14:27:10

Hi all, wanted to update you on this. It's the same update I have on another thread so forgive the duplication if you read both!

Went to court this morning, as has been pre-arranged for 3 weeks. Met with my solicitor an hour before the hearing. Ex's barrister turned up and was a real ball breaker. She provoked me right from the start (before my solicitor turned up), telling me how it WAS going to be and that we shouldn't let the judge make the decision as it would be the wrong one for everyone. I said I had faith that the judge would make a fair decision as to do otherwise would result in an appeal. She said she found my naive innocence amusing.

Move forward to the hearing time. No judge, no video link, no Exp. ExP barrister called him to say they had some logistical problems with the video link and he was still in bed, 10 miles from where he was supposed to be - 15 minutes after he was supposed to be on the link.

One of my arguments against DD Unaccompanied Travel TO the US is he is too unreliable firstly to make the right arrangements and secondly to turn up to collect her and drop her at the assigned times. Which he is and he just proved it. His barrister is fuming.

So, I just spent £600 for 3 hours of my solicitor's time for absolutely nothing. Nobody knows what happened to the judge or why the video link wasn't tested ahead of time.

His barrister suggested, without discussing it with Exp, that one potential solution to overcome the deadlock would be to have a guardian assigned to DD who then liaises with her own legal representative who makes sure her own views are understood and communicated back to the court. I'm in favour of this but don't have any experience of knowledge of it - If anyone does, advice would be welcome.

One final point - why is it that during proceedings like this, the mother's role as primary (or only) parent is downgraded to manipulating and coaching the child? My DD is well-rounded, smart, funny, happy, popular, focused, well-mannered and secure. I have been her only parent for virtually all her life. Where is the evidence to suggest she has been given anything but a good, responsible upbringing? Not saying I'm perfect at all but I've done my best and for some hard faced cow to try and turn that round to something sinister is absolutely disgusting.

Rant over!

betterthanever Wed 05-Jun-13 18:53:56

Sorry to hear all this its the system needs to change or it will create real disenchantment for parents and the children suffer.
I think that to put so much pressure on your daughter Re: her own guardian is terrible but may resolve the problem. I totally agree with your last point. Too add to that, and what would be be called if we just did as they said and god forbid something happened to the DC. We can't win is the simple solution. At some point in the future all that is happening currently will come out. The only ones guarenteed to do well in these cases are those being paid and for as long as they get paid they will try and keep the system the same.

Xenia Thu 06-Jun-13 11:20:24

This is one reason use of lawyers can be expensive because what seems like a simple one hearing thing so often means 3 or 4 different hearings many of which do not go ahead so everyone's time (and your money) is wasted. Could you not get your costs paid by the ex as his failure to get out of bed led to the extra costs?

ItsDecisionTime Thu 06-Jun-13 14:07:52

I'm pleased to say that the court has agreed to pick up the cost of my wasted time as they failed to provide the judge for the case. And here's me thinking UK laws are there only benefit the perpetrator.

betterthanever Thu 06-Jun-13 20:29:24

A little bit of good news then its.

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