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Help, defended divorce(80 Posts)
I don't know where to begin, I realise this may out me but I don't care I'm at my witts end.
My ex was violent, a domestic violence abuser. We went to court, he was charged.
I began the process of divorcing him, but I haven't much money. So I did it myself. filled the paperwork and so forth. Wrote in my petition all factual events. that I had paperwork to prove this is what happened. It wasn't written in a way to upset or anger just 5 events of unreasonable documented behaviour.
Anyways fast forward, the ex has filed a answer!! and the judge has agreed to take it to a hearing!!
I've requested a copy of his answer this has been denied. I'm flying solo and blind.
I don't know what to do, what to expect. I suppose I'm just asking for guidance on what happens next?
I'm distraught I can't face him in a court I can't even look at him. .
It is very rare to defend but he has a legal right to. Just make sure you have all the facts.
Remember there is only one ground for divorce - that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and you can prove that by unreasonable behaviuor (something just about anyone in any marriage could show - eg he is cold towards me, he is critical and on XYZ day he did ABC) so you are very very likely to win this.
well I have all the facts an basically 5 bits of paperwork that back my petition, I made sure of this. I didn't want him to be able to say "you have lied." I can and will prove everything.
I think I'm just dreading the though of sitting in a court room with him, I'm dreading he will follow me from court or attempt to initiate something. I'm terrified of the man and I'm terrified of the entire situation if I'm honest .
I think he is doing this just to be cruel to you because he knows you will be terrified and wants to intimidate you etc. Have you a friend that can go with you?
Do you have to attend in person (I don't know anything about this)?
Fairly sure you get legal aid if there was DV. You say he was charged, was he convicted?
charged, convicted but then appealed and overturned due to a cps error but that is another thread....
he's also been charged and convicted of harrasment.
he breached data protection with a previous employer to gain information on me. Provable as the company sent me a letter of admission of guilt and wrong doing.
And there is more but that's a snippet.
I am still under the care of the local police DV team .
I have no one I can take, my current partner (DS's father) is out of the country and it can't be changed, and any family support I could have will be caring for DS
I'm in a bit of a muddle and truly and deeply scared of attending court
I did also include in my petition it was overturned, I didn't leave it as charged and convicted as I wanted it to be the truth .
Good then it will be fine. you need to think of a way to get into the court but keep away from him and at the end. May be the court staff can help with that - find you a back entrance etc.
I'll ring them tomorrow and ask about it. Thank you
I really do feel like I'm at breaking point, I can't cope with this "man" and his games for much longer!
There used to be something called a Mckenzie friend?
not sure if they're still allowed?
Moral support & a calm voice to back you up.
Do you have any documentation from witnesses eg police reports of emergency calls, visits, GP's visits with injuries etc basically a paper trail to show he is guilty?
Such a bloody nightmare for you but the judge will see through him, they are used to seeing women in court like you (sadly) and soon squash anything that is derailing the facts. I have a friend who is a family solicitor and she says the court takes a very dim view of malicious complainants, especially when they try and intimidate their exes.
I have police reports, I have GP letters and all court paperwork. I have evidence to back my claims of unreasonable behaviour.
I just feel a bit shocked that this has gotten so far. I was expecting to issue papers, then find a balif serve him and be done with it. I never thought he would even attempt to defend the divorce, and I never expected it to actually go to a hearing
I'm anxious and unsure, without seeing his answer that they will not release to me I feel Luke I'm walking in blindfolded.
I wrote a cross-petition to defend a divorce. I did it because ex had written horrible and untrue things about me in the petition not because I didn't want a divorce.
Could a way to avoid having to go to court be to withdraw your petition and start again? Put the absolute minimum you need to in the petition for divorce so there is nothing for him to argue about. Perhaps Citizens Advice could assist with it. In the worst case scenario where he again contests the divorce, at least you won't have to go through and prove DV etc as if it were a criminal trial.
Not that I'm for a second suggesting your petition was unfair or untrue - I hope it doesn't come across like that. Just that you need very little to show grounds for divorce and if you put in the minimum there is less to contest.
What if you put grounds for divorce as irreconcilible differences, evidence being he was convicted of harassing you - just one sentence with the date and name of the court. Leave the evidence at that and put no further details in that he could conceivably try to argue about.
How long have you been separated? How much longer would you have to wait to divorce him on grounds of separation - is it 2 years or 3. Or of course wait the 5 years and he can't contest anyway.
What happens if you don't turn up? Would they just rule in your absence? They may still find in your favour anyway and if they don't just re submit.
Shocked that you haven't seen the Answer. You're entitled to it. Who refused you? Ring the court and say you haven't got one and they should send one out to you.
If you qualify financially it sounds as if you have enough evidence of DV to get legal aid. Get a meeting with a solicitor near you who has a LA franchise.
to answer some questions, we've been seperate officially 2 years as of April 2015.
I don't know what will happen if I don't attend.
I'm not sure how to go about withdrawing my petition. and I don't thinkin should. it may look like I think I've been caught out lying, so I think it's best to just stick to my guns and persevere.
I have contacted CAB and I'm not entitled to LA, the only LA you are entitled to is a reduced rate or a rebate of the court fee of Â£400 for issuing the pettition by the sounds of things.
Today my plan is to attempt again to get a copy of the answer, should this fail I'm going to have to write to the court and explain how can I defend myself if I don't know the respondents defence.
I presume if you don't turn up he will rule in your absence, which is worst being turned down or facing him in court?
I would be tempted to write to the court explaining you haven't seen his answer and that you are able to cope with facing your abuser in person in the court - no idea whether that is permissible or not. Again I would ask the court what happens if you don't turn up - have you actually got a "summons" to attend?
Do not withdraw your petition, do not put down minimum necessary. It us important for you and and children this is done right.
do not just take cabs word for it on legal aif. They can get it wrong. Contact a solicitor directly and explain your circumstances
Just because he's objected doesn't mean that the judge won't let it go ahead and rule in your favour. Again the fact you've backed up supporting evidence and you've been 2 years separated already will go in your favour even in your absence.
Lots of solicitors give half an hour free advice, you want a divorce specialist who deals with ending abusive marriages - please get expert legal advice.
Floundering - `There used to be something called a Mckenzie friend?'
There still are. It's something we do - including divorces.
Defended divorces are rare and by and large pointless - you're still going to get divorced regardless, albeit with extra contention and cost. It's effectively going to be a finding of fact.
I am interested to see what his grounds are for this? He could object, and I have seen this first hand, upon religious grounds. There is a legal remedy to this however- a judicial separation. The grounds of which are the same. Indeed the procedure is very similar to that of a divorce (except that there is no 2 stage Nisi and Absolute that you would have in a divorce). It is more of a one-stage process. Finances and child matters, if any, are treated in the same way as a divorce.
Hope that helps. Get in touch if you want a few pointers - it's not as complicated as it sounds and we may be able to put your mind and rest a little.
You absolutely must have the answer. Justice is about seeing what is being put to you, not being presented with it on the day. Even if the hearing date has to be postponed you need to see his answer.
In fact in practice it is fairly normal to send the other side a draft of the unreasonable behaviour petition first - we did that in our divorce and he had some suggestions for changes which I was happy to change and then the agreed petition went through. As you can get the divorce with fairly bland examples it tends to be better to stick to those as it keeps tempers less frayed. Hence some lawyers sending the draft petition to the other party's lawyer to check before the petition is issued.
With regard to attending court, when he was convicted of both the assault and the harassment did the police not apply for a restraining order? They usually do this automatically in a DV case so you may have some protection there. If there is one in place the court can provide things like a separate waiting room for you that he cannot enter, you could also enter and leave the court room separately so that he cannot intimidate you on the way in and out.
When you come out you would be able to go back to the waiting room until he has left the court buildings.
If there is no restraining order you can still request the separate waiting room etc as he has a conviction for harassing you, you need to phone the court in advance of the hearing and explain that he has a conviction and you need to have a safe area to wait in and return to.
My ex-husband tried to defend our divorce in very similar circumstances (you can search my posting history if you wish but I won't link to it as it is quite graphic), he dropped his cross petition when he was told clearly it was a pointless exercise.
You can get very good support through your local domestic violence charity, they can provide free legal advice with a specialist volunteer solicitor and will also give you some much needed support. You need to google womens refuges / womens aid in your local area to find your nearest one. I found this much much better than CAB and the legal advice got me a very good settlement and very good protection.
Best of luck to you.
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