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Final hearing , legal aid vs self rep(22 Posts)
Hi I have had some useful advice on here before and hoping someone could answer a few questions . I will try to be brief and not drip feed !
We (myself and DH) are the respondents to a contact application made for contact request to our son from his paternal grandmother . This is someone with we or our child have no relationship . We saw each other a handful of times when our son was born after offering the olive branch . It became apparent quite quickly things had not changed and all contact was stopped .
We have had two directions hearings 1st leave granted for grandmother and the 2nd ,after filing statements and cafcass report , has been forwarded for a final hearing .
The questions I have are ,
Cafcass have only recommended indirect contact . We and the grandmother do not want this , we NO contact , her weekly direct unsupervised contact . She is legal aid funded . So are we right in thinking that she cannot pursue direct contact at the final hearing (against cafcass recommendations ) as she is unlikely to win and therefore based on merit would not be able to use her solicitor to do this ??? ( sorry if I've not worded correctly we are self representing and find some of the detail confusing )
We are unable to afford a solicitor but feel as we are united in our desision and clear for our reasons why (DH had abusive childhood to name a one) we can get this information across in court and have provided a good detailed statement . The only concerns we may have are cross examining her , what type of thing do we need to ask if all the information is already in our statements ? Her statement is a personal attack on both of us and even stating that my DH was a handfull as a child and probably an instigator of some of the abuse !!!!!!!! Also that we are controlling as parents as we would only allow her to visit on our terms.
Do we just try to highlight these things from her statement ??
To be honest we can't believe it has got this far there is NO relationship to protect and feel like we have nobody to turn to !! As we are still together womans aid and families need fathers type support are set up for seperating parents . I feel like writing to my mp but don't know if that would be appropriate ?!
Anyway if anyone can offer advice I would be very grateful and sorry it's a long post !!
Do you have details of her Legal Aid Certificate? You should be able to make representations to the Legal Aid Board about her continuing to receive funding. Do it quickly though, as the closer you are to the hearing, the less successful it would be. Her Certificate will be limited to a favourable report and as the report isn't favourable, she shouldn't receive funding. Send a copy of the report to them, quoting her certificate number.
Have you considered approaching a Barrister to represent you. You can instruct them directly now. You should be able to negotiate a fixed fee. Presumably the evidence is statements from all parties and the Cafcass report? I assume it has a half or full day time estimate? A junior Barrister could get up to speed with this very quickly.
You need to concentrate on her negative points.
Good luck! The Cafcass report is highly persuasive and there would have to be some compelling evidence from PGM to persuade the Judge to make any order other than that recommended by Cafcass.
Thank you for your detailed reply .
I think I understand most of what you have put ;) A few questions though, when you say I should forward a copy of the report to the legal aid department , would that be the cafcass report or the judges report for the case to go to a final hearing ? Also as we didn't agree to indirect contact are we forcing it to a final hearing and she is having to go because of us and therefore in for a penny in for a pound going for direct contact ?
The barrister rep isn't an option for us I am a sahm and my DH is self employed and at this time of year our income is drastically reduced We feel ok discussing the points in the statements and we will answer questions honestly . We are so surprised that it's got this far and just want to get our lives back to normal !
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply .
Sorry another question , who is or are PGM ? Where would I start regarding contacting the legal aid department? I have looked at there website should I just contact to office closest to us ?
Thanks again !
Yes, it is going to a final hearing because you won't agree to what she wants. That's not your fault though because she's the one with unrealistic expectations.
You would send the Cafcass report to Legal Aid. Their management structure is a bit odd, so the one nearest you might not be the one that issued the certificate.
PGM was my shorthand for Paternal Grandmother. Sorry if this confused you. Which town does her Solicitor work from?
Hi again ,
Please don't apologise for confusing me lol! I really appreciate that you have taken the time to reply .
I'm a bit concerned about putting my area on here just incase it outs me . I do wonder though that if I contacted the legal aid dept her solicitor could say that they are only going to try for indirect contact at a final hearing and then when we get there her actually try for direct contact , and we could go nothing about that !
This whole thing seems unfair . Cafcass are at least not recommending direct contact and feel that indirect is best until he is of an age to decide if he wants to contact her himself . We feel that some of the battle is won having cafcass on our side so to speak .
Absolutely! Do pop back and let me know how it goes! Best of luck!!
You asked about the cross exam, I would try to get her to say what abuse she had to perpetrate due to your DH's "instigation." In my experience, it is not a good idea for her to testify, as she sounds like she doesn't think she's done anything wrong and so she won't worry how to answer questions. If you do end up asking questions, give her plenty of rope!
Also, a practical tip, don't rush. take you time, listen to her questions, take your time to write them down, be sure to ask the judge for more time if you get confused or flustered. And breathe.
I am sorry to crash this thread as I have no advice to offer but have been following this. I just wanted to wish you all the best FiFi. Merrychristmoose you advice is really good to know.
Hi, sorry to high jack thread. are you saying someone cannot get legal aid for final hearing if going against the cafcass report???
Why is this even going to court? I thought only estranged GPs of non resident parents could do that .
In answer to the other question, going against CAFCASS won't affect whether she can get legal aid
It can do. You need to get permission to carry your funding through to final hearing. The LSC can refuse to fund further if you can't explain why the case should be funded despite a negative Cafcass report.
You can write to the legal aid board making representations. However, you need to be careful that you can disclose the CAFCASS report to them as it is confidential material. i am not sure on this one and someone with more experience may be able to advise you.
I have managed to get a legal aid certificate revoked because of misrepresentation over finances. He had conveniently forgotten to tell his solicitor that he had just bought a house (used another firm for the conveyancing). I found out when he emailed the solicitor I was using complaining that he could not act for us because he had used the large firm for his conveyancing.
Although the solicitor concerned absolutely could not divulge any info about the house purchase, he could send me a copy of his email about the family case which conveniently gave me the details I needed for the Legal Aid Board.
It doesn't look like we will be successful with our request to query her legal aid certificate . They have a huge backlog and we have had our date set for final hearing very soon (matter of days) I have forwarded that information to the representations dept but don't hold out much hope .
So it's just me and DH counting down the days until we have to face the final hearing . The applicant solicitor was supposed to forward bundles to us but hasn't so we are hoping there arent any nasty surprises on the day and will just take a written list of our most pertinent points with us to refer to .
I would like to thank all the people who have taken there time to reply and the useful information provided it really had helped us . We are still shocked to find ourselves in this position but will hopefully be able to update very soon with a positive outcome !
Just a thought, but if she has put the abuse of your DH down to his behaviour, do you mean she has admitted it?
If she has, could your Dh go to the police?
Good luck Fifi, I have been following this with interest and really rooting for you. Glad you have still forwarded the information they can still look at it retrospectively and make her pay money back.
It is a very shocking situation, private law needs a massive overhaul but that is a battle for another day. I have a good feeling about this she will get no more than indirect I am sure.
Thanks everyone ,
Really starting to panic now . The bundles have arrived (late) and they are perusing DIRECT contact how can this be allowed ? I have sent information to the representation dept and they are think its unlikely as it seems that they have told them they will be perusing INDIRECT contact and therefore awarded funding for final hearing but the bundles clearly state that they are perusing and order for direct contact !!
I don't know where to turn , financially we are going through our most difficult time of the year with DH being self employed jan never brings an income so I can't even have a last minute (very last minute) appointment with a solicitor . They have held this information back to literally day before the hearing and now we feel totally out of our depth !!
Reading another thread on here about a cafcass officer having here mind changed in court in worried that this may now happen to us (even though our case is very different .
Is it worth getting in touch with the court to question the solicitors actions?
Gosh what a lot of typos
They are persuing direct contact despite telling the reps dept they are persuing indirect along with cafcass recommendations I didn't have a copy of the bundle proving otherwise to forward to the reps dept and I have no chance if them looking at it with the amount of time left between now and the hearing !!
Hope that's a little clearer , typing frantically the 1st post a we are so panicked by it all .
At worst I would bring that issue up with the court. There will be better legal minds on here than me soon and this should bump it up but it doesn't seem right they can lie!! but so many seem to be prepared to and seem to get away with it.
You will be concerned they will go against cafcass and I am sure sometimes they will but I really don't think they will in your case. I have everything crossed for you.
I just don't know where to start this morning ! Courts ,legal aid dept or citizens advice ?! I also have to sit down and prepare our side of this for the court ,list of questions and points to highlight etc .
Hopefully someone will be able to offer words of advice thanks for taking the time to reply .
You can make the Judge aware that the bundles weren't served on time and also that you had insufficient time to prepare given that you had no idea about the direct contact.
That might just get the hearing adjourned though - not sure if that is something you would want?
You might well be able to get a free half hour with a solicitor unless the hearing is today - if so it's probably too late. I don't practise family law, but I have gone through the basics of court hearings and arguments with people before.
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