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Help with going to court alone(21 Posts)
Hi all. I have a 11yr old going 50/50 to my ex. There is/was domestic abuse. DD frightened of him. We went to court in the past and the judge ordered 50/50 as it was the status quo at the time (on ex 's insistence as he wanted to ensure he got 50/50 split on the family home) Now SS are involved and other professionals. All feel DD should not be going there 50/50. Want me to take it back to court to get the order reviewed. I would dearly like the order reviewed. But I can't afford solicitors/barrister's fees/ Ex however has a lot of money so will have representation. Is there anywhere I can get help? I looked at legal aid but they take the equity in your home into account so I wouldn't qualify. Ex is a force to be reckoned with. extremely charming/manipulative/aggressive. I am so worried. I on the one hand want to help DD get out of this nightmare, but am so uncertain that I could possibly represent myself. He makes me a nervous wreck. Are there any organisations that provide help?
Legal aid takes account of equity over £100K (mortgage over £100K disregarded).
Are you sure you won't qualify?
Mrsbertbibby I did the financial quiz on the website to see if I'd qualify and it said I wouldn't. Presumably because there's more than £100,000 equity in the house. I will double check but it doesn't look promising. My DV caseworker didn't seem to think I'd get legal aid either. Is there anywhere else to turn? Will be v nerve wracking doing it alone. Will be v nerve wracking doing it even if I did have cash for a barrister! My experience of the family courts last time was awful. Sending DD 50/50 to abusive ex. I know I have to go back to court but not sure how I'd deal with the process without legal advice. Bit panicky.
Lots of people represent themselves at court. The judge is required to ensure you aren't at a disadvantage for not being represented. As you say social services want you to get it reviewed can they provide any help?
I can highly recommend a McKenzie Friend. They aren't legally trained but can represent you and run through everything with you, for the fraction of the cost (mine was £250)
Can social services provide a letter or report ? If they agree with you that would carry a lot of weight with the judge
Thanks all. Sorry I didn't check back and got side tracked with life. Sonyaya i don't think they can help with court but will obvs talk to Cafcass and write reports which will be helpful. It's the knowing what forms to fill in/ standing in court and cross questioning my ex and witnesses that I don't know I'd cope with. Debbs77 do McKenzies know what forms to fill in and the procedures etc? Just be in real yes I expect they'll give me a report so fingers crossed that helps sway things. My worry is that my ex will have a barrister who'll destroy all my arguments. Last time court didn't go well. And my ex had a QC! Bit scary. Very scary to be frank. But comforting to know social services supportive of my viewpoint.
OP - If there was Domestic Violence then you are entitled to Legal Aid via the 'Domestic Violence Gateway'
I know this as that is how I receive it.
Good luck! X
Thanks rentconfusion As far as I can tell the DV thing does mean I MAY be entitled to it, but only if I also qualify financially. And the equity in our house disqualifies me! I will double check but that;s what the govt online calculator is telling me. Buggeration
Sorry I don't know of any organisations who can help, hopefully you can get legal aid.
If not just wanted to say I've been in a similar situation with the family court and represented myself. This is going back 10 years and whilst I'm more confident now, then I was literally shaking the first time I did it. Didn't even know the right way to address the court, no idea of the correct terminology etc. I was so scared but knew I had to do it for the sake of my DC. I won't say it wasn't stressful but I was given plenty of time to speak and everyone was patient and encouraging and despite my ex having legal representation they listened to me and after about 6 court appearances contact was moved to a contact centre at my request.
If you do end up representing yourself take notes of what you want to say and take someone with you for support, they won't be allowed in the court room but will help to distract you before you go in and support you after.
Oh thank u so much mosesgirl that's encouraging. Encouraging that you were shaking, didn't know the right terminology etc but still got a good outcome! I'm getting myself in a right state. Did you have to cross question your ex? And witnesses? I know my mind will just go blank.
I know I have to do it for my dad's sake but really worried I could actually make things worse for her. The last child contact the hearing 3 years ago actually made things worse /increased the contact with my ex, as the judge didn't belive he was abusive so decided I was simply hostile to contact taking place (despite couples counsellor, Family therapist and gp writing to say he was) so scary how badly wrong it can go.
I don't know much about family court but just be very careful with Mackenzie Friends.
There is no regulation at all and whilst some appear to be good, some are awful. Anyone can set themselves up as one and there are no qualifications, so you really have little idea on whether they know what they are taking about.
Personally for those reasons I wouldn't use one. It if you do, please only use one that you have had personal recommendation for.
Good luck to you.
I'm so sorry for your situation- you must be so worried.
I went to court with representation and what I learnt from watching my v experienced solicitor is actually not to say too much at all.
In the first hearing you just want to get the court to order a "wishes and feelings report" so that the child's views can be taken into account. Keep acknowledging the right of the child to enjoy good relationships with both parents and keep saying you just want the court to hear the child's wishes and feelings.
Don't make accusations etc just get that report ordered.
CAFCASS will then talk to all of you, my dd was 11 and her views were given considerable weight. Don't slag off your husband, keep reiterating how pleased you are that he cares about his dd and how important it is that they have a good relationship but that you're concerned about the DV. Explain that dd is growing up in a situation that is causing her stress and may lead to lifelong issues which could be avoided. I know it's hard but be moderate and calm. Avoid getting drawn into circular arguments you can't win. They will try to paint you as neurotic and vindictive. Don't give them any ammunition.
If your dd wants a different contact arrangement she needs to tell CAFCASS. My 11 year old dd was listened to seriously.
If it goes back for a further hearing: stay calm, present the CAFCASS report and just keep reiterating that 11 yo dd has a right to be heard and to have her views taken into consideration. The court is only interested in her rights not your's or dad's.
Good luck. My solicitor said very little. It was a good tactic.
My solicitor said we didn't want to call character witnesses. She thought it was pointless as we could all find people to throw around opinions. She kept everything focused on the children having a voice. You might want social services heard though - we didn't have as involvement. Can that be done through the CAFCASS report?
Could you increase the mortgage to cover the legal fees? How much are you talking £2/3k?
Try it without legal representation. What would happen if your DD just refused to see him/comply? This is about your DD and if he's violent, she's scared could you sell your house and buy a flat - to raise the money for her safety and happiness.
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