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I do not have good relationships with legal professionals

(71 Posts)
GreenRedBlueYellowPurple Fri 31-Jan-14 17:31:44

Oh dear. Due to me being a creative type and going through a very emotionally difficult time, I seem to have TERRIBLE relationships with all my family law solicitors. The first few I left as they weren't giving me a very good service but the last one was unhappy with the fact that we 'weren't understanding each other very well.' It's true! She never answered questions directly, told lies, omitted informing me about very important things (well that last part was the barrister.)

Please, please help me choose a new one. How do I go about choosing? Time constraints mean that I may have to take the first one that agrees to take on the case.

Or does my personality mean that I'll have to represent myself?

Please any insights or advice generally welcome! It's an extremely difficult time for me.

GreenRedBlueYellowPurple Sun 02-Feb-14 23:00:52

Thanks Bb and to everyone who has contributed thus far.

At the moment I have no solicitor as mentioned and I need to make up my mind in the next few days as to what I am going to do as my old solicitor will be coming off record later this week confused

When my old solicitor comes off record on Thursday, the judge will ask me who is coming on record, no? He will I think expect me to have someone organised but because she only dismissed me on Friday (as mentioned, we were 'not understanding each other' as she put it. I would put it another way.)

Seeing as she only dismissed me on Friday, I wonder if I should ask for an adjournment?

My options for this Thurs are:

-Ask for adjournment because no solicitor at present (also because I am in no way ready for the ridiculous hearing they want to have and it is ridiculous to expect the children to be ready either)

-Tell the judge I'm representing myself but that still means barely no time to prepare.

-Find someone v quickly before Thurs to represent me. I fear this option will not be poss because it won't be poss to bring someone up to speed so quickly before next hearing, which will be crucial.

MaryPoppinsCarpetBag Mon 03-Feb-14 08:22:10

Barristers can get up to speed very quickly.

I would be more concerned that you aren't ready, that you don't know what you want.

Sadly most of the things you listed in the post above are just not things that the court can order. It's devastating to send a child off to someone who doesn't provide the quality of care that you do. The only way to get use to it is to realise that it's a bigger picture situation. Even when a parent isn't offering what you can, they do offer many other things that you may not have noticed yet.

What is this hearing for and what do you want the result to be? I don't think self-representing would be a good idea until you can answer this.

It's so hard to realise the system cannot work in the way you need it to but that's is how it is so now the focus needs to be on what it can do for your children.

GreenRedBlueYellowPurple Mon 03-Feb-14 11:15:55

This hearing is for joint residency and2-3 overnights per week. I would like to prevent this and keep it as it is.1 overnight per week.

GreenRedBlueYellowPurple Mon 03-Feb-14 11:17:08

It is very sudden. The overnights have just begun.

GreenRedBlueYellowPurple Mon 03-Feb-14 12:22:05

Could I mention at the hearing that I am worried that my ex will use the courts to take the children away from me in due course???

GreenRedBlueYellowPurple Mon 03-Feb-14 12:22:59

... That I am worried that he will continue to twist things and lie to achieve this?

babybarrister Mon 03-Feb-14 12:23:35

the issue of shared residence is a red herring as it is just a name and does not indicate 50:50 time - in any event the names are all about to be rehauled into "parenting arrangements"

you need to get your head around the fact that there will be an increase in overnight stays - that is what will happen. A better approach is suggesting that the increase should be slower and perhaps with a further interim hearing/report to see how it is going

mumblechum1 Mon 03-Feb-14 13:04:13

I agree with Babybarrister. The important thing is to stage the increase in contact gently so that the children get used to seeing their father more often.

The courts are usually keen to encourage the father/child relationship as outcomes for children who do have a positive relationship with both parents are better than otherwise.

When I was in practice there were many clients, particularly mothers, who were reluctant to allow contact as the fathers parented very differently to the mums. This doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing so long as the children are safe. It is very difficult though, to hand over your child to their dad if you know that they are not going to get what you consider the same standard of care as you offer, however they may get something out of the contact which they wouldn't if they didn't have that relationship with their father.

GreenRedBlueYellowPurple Mon 03-Feb-14 13:06:58

Yes. The father has been abusive and neglectful. I know this for a fact but have no proof. This is my main concern. The other concern is that he will use the courts to take the children away from me.

GreenRedBlueYellowPurple Mon 03-Feb-14 13:09:53

He has so far lied about the abuse and neglect and lives in a fantasy world where his parenting styles (abuse/neglect/manipulation etc) have now been given validation as ok. I know that nothing I can do will stop the tide of overnights but I feel there should be something I can do to stop him continuing to crush me by taking the children from me.

mumblechum1 Mon 03-Feb-14 13:27:43

What sort of abuse and neglect do you mean, Green?

GreenRedBlueYellowPurple Mon 03-Feb-14 15:07:16

It would compromise my anonymity if I give details here unfortunately!

Let's just say very worrying abuse and neglect which, quite simply, the courts do not believe and which unfortunately paints me as the liar in their eyes.

mumblechum1 Mon 03-Feb-14 15:29:42

Ok, to be honest, you will probably be best self repping. Most solicitors try to avoid taking over long running cases just before a hearing as they may have to drop other clients, and it's easy to miss little details when you are given a ton of evidence to wade through.

As you know all the details, and as the courts tend to be sympathetic to people representing themselves, you should perhaps give it a go. There is a lot of guidance online about the dos and don'ts, and you'll also get some help on here, I'm sure.

SabrinaMulhollandJjones Mon 03-Feb-14 16:06:56

Green, what reasons could he give the courts to take the children away? Courts will not give him residence, if they currently reside with you, without a very good reason.

Did you do most of the parenting? Sahm? Working mum? Does he work FT?

GreenRedBlueYellowPurple Mon 03-Feb-14 16:34:46

Sahm. Working on new career path now after long break looking after kids as babies. He works full time but his mother is fully behind him and probably encouraging him. They want blood. They want to see me suffer. So far, he has twisted all the facts and makes himself to be a family man and makes me out (with a great deal of success) to be implacably hostile. They do not believe what he is really like and at the hearings, were very much on his side.

GreenRedBlueYellowPurple Mon 03-Feb-14 16:41:31

Yes I certainly have done most of the parenting. They have no reason at all to take the children from me but it is true that things are starting to get on top of me and the injustice so far as well as the extended period of emotional abuse has left me emotionally in tatters. He has all of a sudden got the school now on his side despite previously having NO contact whatsoever with the school. He's so clever and now has so much power. I really don't see him being happy with 2/3 days a week. That would be almost convenient for me if I'm honest but it would have a dreadful impact on the kids. I can't even do the handovers as I can't even bear to see him. Friends have been doing it for me but that can't last! I think that he wants to take the children emotionally and physically away from me. I think he wants all the power and will then leave the country. He has threatened to abduct them before. He is not from the U.K.

JohnnyUtah Mon 03-Feb-14 16:45:55

I was a family solicitor for many years. I think you should seriously consider representing yourself. Make notes so you can get across what you need to. Suggest that you hold the kids' passports if you are worried about him leaving the country. Try for an understanding of how the system works. You will need to explain why it would be detrimental for the children to stay with him two or three nights a week - if it is just that your ex does things differently from you then that might not be enough. How is his care not good for them? That's what you will need to get across.

GreenRedBlueYellowPurple Mon 03-Feb-14 19:51:47

My old solicitor and barrister both suggested I represent myself. I had a gut feeling that doing this for my appeal hearing would be best but I didn't go with that gut instinct. The thing is I don't have a clue about the law!

mumblechum1 Mon 03-Feb-14 20:30:26

The thing is that there isn't really a lot of technical legal stuff to know about contact disputes, it's totally about the child's needs.

GreenRedBlueYellowPurple Mon 03-Feb-14 20:41:57

On the site Johnny provided Advice Now, it doesn't say what legal stuff I might need to know if I'm representing myself. Just that I'll need to be prepared to acquaint myself with the law. Anybody know what I should be reading just to get my head around how much work it might be for me? Or how doable? My solicitor & barrister both suggested I do it myself. My womens aid project worker said she thinks I should find a new solicitor. It's my decision I know & I just need to find out what it entails so that I can decide by Thursday.

Does anyone know if I can ask the judge on Thurs for more time? To prepare for the hearing, write document that needs to be written?

prh47bridge Tue 04-Feb-14 00:18:25

As mumblechum1 says, there isn't much to know for contact cases. The court will be trying to determine what is in the child's best interests. There are no obscure legal points that will help or hinder you.

GreenRedBlueYellowPurple Tue 04-Feb-14 11:34:59

That's interesting! If anyone has any tips for representing myself, please do share!

GreenRedBlueYellowPurple Tue 04-Feb-14 11:35:37

I'll have to liaise with the other side won't I? Might be hard if they're tough cookies?

mumblechum1 Tue 04-Feb-14 12:32:47

My tips are to be as factual as possible. If you have evidence that your children are at risk you should be asking for a Re: L hearing, also known as a fact finding hearing.

This usually happens before the court makes an order where there are serious allegations of harm.

You should only ask for a Re: L hearing if you have hard evidence. Otherwise if the court doesn't find in your favour, your credibility is shot.

If you have no evidence of abuse or neglect, you should be working on the basis that your ex is going to get regular contact but that it should be built up gradually to give the children a chance to get used to it.

So far as liaising with the solicitors on the other side, just be polite, factual, and remember that they are doing their job which is to get him the contact he wants. Try to avoid getting too emotional with them, but talk in terms of what is in the children's best interests.

JohnnyUtah Tue 04-Feb-14 14:40:27

I think a lot of us might be in a different jurisdiciption from the OP though. For the avoidance of any doubt, I only know about England and Wales. I think other posters are probably the same as me.

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