Our tips for surviving the family court process as a litigant in person
First things first, we are sure that you will agree that Court proceedings should be seen as an absolute last resort when all else fails. You do not want to run the risk of ending up in contested proceedings and being landed with an Order that has been imposed upon you because you were unable to agree out of court.
We understand however that your ex-partner may be the one who has frustrated matters which has resulted in the breakdown of mediation leaving you with no option but to issue an application to the Family Court. We appreciate that once you are in the Court arena, you are often at the end of your tether and desperate for a resolution to the difficulties. Sometimes however, it can be your conduct that results in protracted proceedings. If you are not in a position to fund legal representation or simply would prefer not to be represented , we have put together, what we consider to be some helpful tips to help you make the best impression in Court and hopefully result in you leaving with an Order that is right for you and of course right for any child/ren that you are fighting for.
Facebook, Twitter, texts and emails are all documents that can be produced either in support of your case or used against you therefore be polite and respectful in all correspondence to your ex-partner. Never act in a threatening or abusive manner towards the other person. Block Facebook and don’t follow him or her on Twitter.
Show the Court that you are a reasonable person. Judges are human beings at the end of the day and are more likely to agree with you if you can demonstrate that you are reasonable and honest.
In your application to the Court, stick to the facts and be clear about your concerns. Keep your written documents succinct and easy to absorb quickly. Court time is limited and so you need to make the biggest impact in the quickest of time. Use bullet points that outline your concerns or your case generally.
When preparing a statement, again keep it short and to the point! Use headings such as:
- Brief background
- My concerns
- My proposals and why I consider this to meet our needs or to be in the best interest of our child/ren
In court, never shout out, always wait for your turn to speak. Do not speak over the Judge or the other party. Remain calm and speak in a controlled, confident and clear manner when addressing the Judge.
Be prepared for hearings
Go to court with written points ( again in brief) of issues or concerns that you wish to raise with the Court and with the other side in discussions prior to the hearing.
Be prepared to answer questions, but stay calm and remain respectful. If you need time to think, ask for it. If allegations are made against you, ask for the opportunity to respond. If you don’t feel able to respond on the spot, ask for permission to file a short statement in response.
Take a note
Of everything that is said so that you can review it later if necessary. Clear notes are helpful if you decide to instruct a solicitor or barrister to represent you at any future hearings. Your solicitor or Barrister will have a better understanding of your case if you have clear attendance notes.
Don’t be bullied by the other party or their legal team
Never sign documents that you do not understand. Don’t agree things you are unclear about. Don’t let them fool you into believing that without a legal representation you have no chance in succeeding.
Just politely say that you would like to discuss matters with the Judge present. If you do not understand what is being said in court, tell the Judge that you don’t follow what is being said and if you need to, ask for the hearing to be adjourned so that you can obtain legal advice.
At Family Law Friend we are here to help you through the process and can help you in preparing Court documents such as your initial application and position statement. Whilst we cannot advise you as to the merits of your case, we can assist you through the process in times when legal advice is not what you need but instead you require experienced professional support through what can be a daunting experience involving matters close to your heart.
We can attend at Court with you as your McKenzie Friend and take a detailed note of what is said so that you have a clear record for you to review or provide to your solicitor/barrister, should you later decide to instruct one.
Contact us today for a free consultation on 0161 924 2390 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Best Wishes and Good Luck!
Your Family Law Friend