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Thread: Family Court Uk, help please

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  1. #1
    dancingqueen17's Avatar

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    Default Family Court Uk, help please

    Hi, Advice for my sister really, story so far... My Sister had a breakdown last summer, debts, house in a state, ex left her and didnt help with daughter Social Services involved last December, removed my neice on grounds of neglet and she lives with her dad and new gf She last saw her in April since then nothing, no contact, not for want of trying on my sisters part. Fast forward to today.... Case closed no more social serives involement since June, they are pleased with my sisters turnaround, she has a job, house decorated, shes on medication, shes sorted her debts. My sister saw a solicitor and got advice, she went to mediation got signed off from there, ex didnt want to go, now he has a solicitor and all communitcation is through them now, my sisters solicitor suggested trying to re-establishing contact last month but ex didnt reply, claiming daughter (aged 8) doesnt want to see or hear from her mum, sister cant afford much more solicitors fees but she will need help in court, her ex gave up work in april his gf works and looks like his dad will foot his legal bill. sorry if this doesnt make much sense, my sister is desperate to see her daughter, he knows this and hopes she will just fade away into the background or have to give up her job to get help with court. thanks for reading

  2. #2
    retired solicitor's Avatar

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    Default Re: Family Court Uk, help please

    Quote Originally Posted by dancingqueen17 View Post
    Hi, Advice for my sister really, story so far... My Sister had a breakdown last summer, debts, house in a state, ex left her and didnt help with daughter Social Services involved last December, removed my neice on grounds of neglet and she lives with her dad and new gf She last saw her in April since then nothing, no contact, not for want of trying on my sisters part. Fast forward to today.... Case closed no more social serives involement since June, they are pleased with my sisters turnaround, she has a job, house decorated, shes on medication, shes sorted her debts. My sister saw a solicitor and got advice, she went to mediation got signed off from there, ex didnt want to go, now he has a solicitor and all communitcation is through them now, my sisters solicitor suggested trying to re-establishing contact last month but ex didnt reply, claiming daughter (aged 8) doesnt want to see or hear from her mum, sister cant afford much more solicitors fees but she will need help in court, her ex gave up work in april his gf works and looks like his dad will foot his legal bill. sorry if this doesnt make much sense, my sister is desperate to see her daughter, he knows this and hopes she will just fade away into the background or have to give up her job to get help with court. thanks for reading
    Hi Dancing Queen

    I am sorry to hear that your sister has been having such a hard time. It is good that she has been able to achieve a turnaround over the last few months but disappointing that her ex won't give her credit for this and agree to a resumption of contact.

    She does seem to have exhausted the pre court options if her ex won't agree to mediation and won't agree to her solicitors' request for a resumption of contact

    I appreciate that it is very daunting for anyone to contemplate going to court without legal representation when their ex is legally represented. However, the family courts are very accustomed to people appearing in court without legal representation. Judges understand the difficulties which people have when they can't obtain legal aid and can't afford to pay lawyers' fees. Their paramount concern in dealing with cases involving children is to ensure that the child's interests come first. There is a very strong presumption in favour of a child spending time and maintaining a relationship with both parents following a relationship breakdown. The fact that your niece is (allegedly) claiming that she does not wish to see her mother will not cut much ice with the people who will be involved in the decisions to be made once a court case is in progress.

    There is a very useful book written by a family law barrister which explains the process of representing oneself in the family courts, it includes links to helpful videos etc. It can be found here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Family-Cour.../dp/0956777406 Charities such as Match may be able to offer help and support http://www.matchmothers.org. Your sister could think of looking for a McKenzie friend to support her but she needs to bear in mind that while some Mckenzie friends are competent, others are not. Your sister could always ask for someone such as you to be her informal Mckenzie friend and be allowed to accompany her into court hearings for support. You wouldn't be able to speak on her behalf but it may be reassuring for her to have you there and for you to be able to pass her notes etc to help her if she gets stuck on what she wants to say

    On the last occasion when I spoke to someone navigating the family courts without a lawyer while her ex was legally represented, she told me that she felt that she was actually at an advantage by not having legal representation because the judge was trying so hard to make sure that she got her points across! This positivity may not be common but I hope it may be of some reassurance to your sister

    Other possibilities would be for your solicitor to consider not using a solicitor but if and when a full court hearings crops up, arrange representation by a junior barrister via the Barristers' Direct Access scheme. In some parts of the country, there are law centres which can offer advice for free and may have links with pro bono schemes but these are rare.

    What is most important is that your sister should press ahead with an application to the court. The vast majority of court applications result in an agreement being reached before any final hearing takes place. I am sure that your sister's ex will not have a limitless budget for legal fees even if he's being funded by family and that there is a very strong likelihood that he will be persuaded into some form of agreement for contact.

  3. #3
    dancingqueen17's Avatar

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    Default Re: Family Court Uk, help please

    Thankyou so much for your reply, lots to read and think about. I have emailed my sister your post. I thhink she will be respresenting herself at court, but will look into mcKezie friends and that link from amazon regarding that book.

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