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How do Lawyers like to be 'spoken' to?

(17 Posts)
IfIKnewThen Sun 29-May-16 19:43:44

Asking for some guidance as self representing now after more than four years fuckwittery from Ex, and money for professional help ran out quite a while ago.

I have to reply to a letter from Ex's Lawyer and not sure the best way to do this without tying myself up in knots. Would the easiest way be line by line politely refuting the (Ex's utter bollocks fantasies of being a caring father) contents of the letter? And should I offer short points of evidence to back up my assertions?

The most difficult part for me is where the claim is made that I must be comfortable with Ex having more contact (ploy to decrease maintenance for DC) as between such and such a date last year Ex had to care for DC over and above the agreed Contact Order schedule. I was recuperating after an accident! (And he did nothing but email me endlessly to complain - so much for me trying to get better quickly!) There are many other points in the letter that are posed as (rhetorical) questions - can I reply in the same vein?

It's not his Lawyer's fault he's a dickhead though and any help with replying respectfully, but firmly, would be gratefully received.

HirplesWithHaggis Sun 29-May-16 19:53:50

Do you actually have to reply? The lawyer is just writing what dickhead wants, and won't care whether you can refute his claims. If there's an actual question that needs a reply (eg, he wants increased contact, are you willing to co-operate?) answer that, but don't bother with a point by point response. AfaIk, such letters can't be used as evidence in court (it'll say "without prejudice" somewhere) so there's not much use in you wasting the energy.

(NB I'm not a lawyer)

IfIKnewThen Sun 29-May-16 20:09:16

Yes Haggis I do have to reply as the letter states that if I do not agree to the terms in the letter it will be referred back to Court.

SewSlapdash Sun 29-May-16 20:12:26

Simple, factual, polite, firm. Do not get emotional. Don't bother responding to any points that don't actually need to be responded to or refuted.

IfIKnewThen Sun 29-May-16 21:18:00

Thank you Sew I will try my best to follow your advice.

TestingTestingWonTooFree Sun 29-May-16 22:21:46

I'd respond factually. Don't try to sound like a lawyer.

IfIKnewThen Mon 30-May-16 07:02:44

Testing That's my aim, but struggling to find a balance.

I think my main issue is that, say something is asserted in the letter and sounds like the reasonable request of a loving father. However, there have been endless episodes of poor judgement and poor parenting by Ex leading up to this request that have been ignored (by him, his Lawyer, my Lawyer, Court - I'm speaking about serious concerns re: DC's safety and well-being: no car seats, administering adult medication to them, then lying about this, promoting contact with an adult who sexually abused my Ex when he was a child...none of which the Court system seemed interested in. Do I make (short) reference to these? (again).

I have not at any point stopped contact between Ex and DC (they adore him of course). I recognise the importance of DC having a (even in whatever skewed ability he has) relationship with him but despite this, this letter, as all the other letters have, portray me as being unreasonable.

I just want to sound like the concerned, responsible, caring parent that I am. Of course, the worried, terrified, scared parent rears her head instead.

hippydippybaloney Mon 30-May-16 07:16:51

I would report the serious concerns to social services. The court will ask why you didn't do so, and his lawyers will maintain that the fact you didn't do so means you weren't as concerned as you say, if you see what I mean?

Suzietwo Mon 30-May-16 07:25:50

I'm a lawyer who deals with this kind of work. Unfortunately the fact you allowed additional contact will go against your assertions he cannot be trusted, unless something significantly changed since that time. If he's got unsupervised contact which you agree to the only way you will convince the court to prevent additional contact will be to demonstrate why it isn't in the child's best interest - eg muck up their routine, too much time in car etc
Claims the he's doing it to reduce maintenance go down like a ton of crap so avoid them
Include a cover all sentence along the lines of 'the accusations contained in this letter are strongly objected to but in the interests of making progress I intend to deal with the most pressing issues. Obviously if a court application is made statements will address the relevant issues.'

Fidelia Mon 30-May-16 07:33:58

You need to write WITHOUT PREJUDICE right at the top of any correspondence, otherwise they can use it in court.

fastdaytears Mon 30-May-16 07:48:06

This doesn't sound like a letter that would need to be WP though as OP is introducing info that she will want to be available in court, not making an offer.

Suzietwo has a good point that OP needs to show what changed since the additional contact. Your accident isn't really relevant because if he was ok to have the children more under those circumstances then he'd be ok to have them more at other times.

Suzietwo Mon 30-May-16 07:49:36

You can't have WP in children proceedings

Collaborate Mon 30-May-16 08:25:22

Agree with the last two posters. Do not mark Children issue letters without prejudice.

IfIKnewThen Mon 30-May-16 08:30:09

hippy I did report concerns at the time to all parties - it just got Ex a Contact Order (despite me never having blocked contact between him and DC) that gave him fixed contact that he can't always fulfill, as opposed to me being flexible and acting in the bests interests of DC. I realised that the Law balances opposing arguments and settles somewhere in the middle, despite some compelling evidence that would suggest one parent is not quite up to the job.

Suzie The issues I have concern about have been raised from the very beginning, and there have been many more incidents of the same nature in the meantime. I had no alternative but for Ex to have DC for the additional time due to a serious medical emergency. Does this not mitigate my choice, even against my better judgement of course? And this too, to fast - Ex can alter contact at whim due to 'Training' or other excuses, yet due to a serious health issue I am the one who is penalised?

Thank you for all responses, I am grateful even if the information given paints a gloomy picture.

fastdaytears Mon 30-May-16 09:17:34

And this too, to fast - Ex can alter contact at whim due to 'Training' or other excuses, yet due to a serious health issue I am the one who is penalised?

You are not being penalised if your DC have more contact with your ex. If you're writing this letter it's important that it doesn't sound like that's what you're saying

IfIKnewThen Mon 30-May-16 09:41:08

I see that fast - was just trying demonstrate that I stick to the terms of the CO (medical emergencies notwithstanding) but Ex seems to have free reign over the interpretation of HIS CO! In more than four years I haven't asked for any flexibility, at cost to me. After the very first occasion where I required the same consideration, I am required to defend a request that means Ex should have sole care for a period of almost 5 weeks - with no contact between DC and I in that time? This is what has been requested.

Oh God, I'm drip feeding - the shame.

Thank you, your reply, it is very valuable in my standing up for DC and I. Forewarned is forearmed.

IfIKnewThen Mon 30-May-16 09:42:31

free rein ...autocorrect adding to my sense of shame.

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