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Represent yourself in court

(17 Posts)
scotslaw Tue 22-Jul-08 19:43:01

Has anyone represented thereselves in court. I am about to be take to court for breaching a court order but I have resonible grounds for doing this as my sonsfar has been telling my son to be violent and abusive towards me and my partner. He has also been been very cruel to him in the way he treats him and my son is terrified but his fatherhas a joint court order with his mum as they live together. On the grounds of how his father has treated my son I have also stop the grans contactbut I have offered her supervised until these issues are resolved in court and my son is allowed to speak as I feel his granny will try to make him change his views about her son and my son doesnt want to see his father ever again as he is so scared of him. His granny has now put in that I am in contempt and I was looking to represent myself in court as we can't afford allthe legal costs. I hate the word contempt its like nobod cares about the child and what they want and if they took the time to listen to him before rushing to court as we have social services coming out next week to speak with my son. I just want to know if anyone else has represented thereselves in court or has any other advice? I have tried speaking to them but they just deny everthing and then agreed to not push contact until we had been to meditation and I arranged this but they changed there minds and went straight to solicitors and lied that they even agreed to go to mediaition.

Can anyone help?

justaboutagrownup Tue 22-Jul-08 19:49:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

yerblurt Tue 22-Jul-08 19:53:27

Well you ARE in breach of a court order by trying to prevent contact between child and his father and grandparent.

You have NO right to interfere in this way with their relationship.

The court has made an ORDER (hint: the clue is in the word "order" - you are ordered to) that has been made in the child's best interests (as the child's welfare is paramount as we all 'know' in the family courts).

So you will just have to turn up to court LIP (litigant in person) and justify to court/cafcass why you breached a court order.

Yes, you are in contempt of court - because you are breaking the law, you are showing contempt for the court. The court has a range of powers available to it including fine, committal to prison (or coming in October) committal for community service orders.

I suggest that you offer some real evidence rather than what you feel is happening or not.

ElenorRigby Tue 22-Jul-08 20:21:02

Scotslaw how old is your son?

gillybean2 Tue 22-Jul-08 20:36:34

I know lots of people (father's) who have represented themselves in court due to lack of finances.

I suggest you try and get a MK to go along with you for moral support if nothing else. However you are in breach of the order so the court will not look favourably on you. You can not just take things into your own hands. Your ex may well ask the court to attach a penal notice and the courts are looking at ways of ensuring the parents stick to orders (if not with prison then comunity service etc) so you may well find yourself being made an example of. You have to do these things the right way or you could end up with even more problems.

There are proper routes to take (such as going to the court and asking for the order to be suspended) if you fear for your child's safety, physical or emotional. Not sure if you can do that at this stage, but you may still be able to do so retrospectively as it were.

Go to CAB and get all your questions answered, and get your half an hour's free advice from a sol. Do you have a CAFCASS officer involved in your case? Have you spoken to them about your concerns and the fact social services are being involved too and explained why you have breached the order? Have you got suggestions to alternative forms of contact (letters/email/contact centre) etc. Is your child old enough for the court to take their wishes into account?

At court the judge should explain to you what is going on but is likely to tell you to get representation. Make sure you read the small print of any order before you agree to it as things may get 'accidentally' added or missed if you don't have a sol checking them and the other side may try and take advantage. And write lots of notes on what is said (or get your MK to do it, that is what they are there for, to catch all the things you miss).

Get all your evidence in order, but be prepared for a very hard time. COurt is no fun even with a sol there to help you out. Oh and warn the court you will be bringing a MK with you if you are as some judges get funny about them.

CAB first thing in the morning and see if you can get the current order suspended at court tomorrow too. Will cost you around £80 and the clerk should help you with the paperwork.

pedilia Tue 22-Jul-08 20:38:59

We shelled out ££££'s on a solicitor with my ex only for her to tell us half way through that we didn't really need a solicitor, also told the same by the CAFCASS officer.

scotslaw Tue 22-Jul-08 20:50:38

Thanks for the advice. I would just like to state that it was social service who advised me to stop contact as the childs welfare is more important than any breach and If a child is desperate and constantly in fear when visiting his father due to his temper and the mental abuse he inflicts on my son and the only reason I know what has been happening is because he has told myself and our local gp whohas also done a report on my son and advising that contact is have a negative impact on his physical wellbeing.As for contemp I have offered to go to mediation to sort this butthey rejected this as they are well aware they are in the wrong and I don't just think I know what has being going on as when you have a 9 year old boy crying and shaking all the time wishing his father was dead then you would understand. Not all fathers are good fathers and its very easy to make a baby but some just aren't up to this title and I am not getting in the way of there relationship, they are the ones causing the damage.

scotslaw Tue 22-Jul-08 20:52:50

Hi Gillybean2,

This may sound stupid but what is cab and a MK? I have a solicitor at present but they dn't seem to be directing me or giving me any advice and this is the reason for wanting to represent myself.

gillybean2 Tue 22-Jul-08 20:58:04

So go to court and get the current order suspended. Then you won't be in contempt for breaching the order.

Might well be too late to do that though and you'll just have to go through the process now.

Have you got written proof of what you sayregarding social services and from the doctor. If not then get it and insist the court orders a CAFCASS officer be appointed and a welfare report is done.

I don't see anyone saying your ex is a good or bad father or making judgements on what is going on. We are saying you have to do things the right way to get the right result for your child and trying to give advice and suggestions to you in answer to your questions.

But having reasonable grounds in your mind is not enough. You have to be able to show you have these reasonable grounds and that they are reasonable to ither people too. Get the evidence for it and have it ready to show the judge and the court.

If your ex is refusing mediation to sort this out that will go against him. But you taking matters into your own hands and breaching the order could go against you. Try and do things the correct way and you'll fare better in court and get the right result.

gillybean2 Tue 22-Jul-08 21:01:28

CAB is Citizens Advice Bureau

MK is a Mckenzie's Friend (someone you can bring along to court to take notes and give moral support etc when you represent yourself but they do not speak on your behalf or anything)

Your sol will do the minimum for their money. You have to direct them and quite often you have to give them the case law etc. Don't go along with what they say just because you think they must know best. The more work you do yourself the cheaper your bill and the more likely you are to get the right result for you. Did your sol suggest you get the order suspended or did you not speak with them about what has been going on and your reasons for breaking the order?

scotslaw Tue 22-Jul-08 21:04:25

I have written proof from the doctor and the social work will start their report tomorrow and this can be used but the main thing is thatmy son can now speak up himself and the only reason for stopping contact was at his request as he wants the chance to explain what has been happening to him and if contact was to continue he father and grandmother would try and change his view as they are renowned for making him feel bad and unwanted by telling him they don't like him and he should just go home but he cant as he is not allowed contact with me when he is there. I have also tried to take the right steps by speaking to the and arranging mediation, i have alsorequested my solicitor 4 weeks ago to put in for a vary in the contact arrangements but this seems to be taking sometime.

scotslaw Tue 22-Jul-08 21:05:49

I did request to get contact reduced but as above this is taking along time.

chipkid Tue 22-Jul-08 21:12:07

Scotslaw-you should be fine if you stopped contact on the advice of social services and your gp. Yes you should have applied to suspend the order but no Judge that I know would deal with you for contempt if you have acted on the advice of a social worker.

You must Get the name of the social worker. Get a report from your GP. Your child is 9-well able to speak for himself-his views will be listened to. A cafcass report should be ordered. The report could be undertaken by Social Services as they appear to be involved already. Who called in the Social Services as a mater of interest.?

If you do represent yourself-put all this in writing-including your attempts to mediate. Keep it factual and chronological so that a Judge can follow it easily.

gillybean2 Tue 22-Jul-08 21:13:29

You can get an order suspended right away by going to the court yourself, filling in the paperwork (clerk will help you) and paying the fee. It doesn't take long at all and they usually give a date when you go back to court to discuss there and tehn too! You just serve the papers on your ex once it's done.

If your sol hasn't/won't do it then you should.

Why would you try and get the contact reduced rather than suspended if the emotional abuse you say is happening is going on!?

scotslaw Tue 22-Jul-08 21:17:37

I was going to get contact with his father reduced to nil sorry for not making that clear.

It was reported to social services from the childrens reporters who are also investigating the claims and they have been in contact with my sons school and health visitor.

gillybean2 Tue 22-Jul-08 21:28:12

Well you'll be fine then. Get all the bits of paper together, names, dates, who said what (doc, ss, school etc) and list everything out so you don't get in a muddle when put in the spot. And if you don't use your sol definitely try and get a MK to come along and write notes etc as you are likely to miss things and not remember it all afterwards.

Maybe suggest letter contact in the very short term so you can monitor what is being 'said' to your son and you have the evidence of what is written should it be inappropriate. If he's taking you to court for breach of order with SS etc involved then he is obviously thinking he can contest the issues raised. So keep notes and records of everything and have it all with you in court (including copies you can give to the court and to his sol).

scotslaw Tue 22-Jul-08 21:39:47

Thanks for your help.

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