Has anyone represented themselves in court?
15 January 2021 at 11:25 pm #48204
Hello. I hope anyone who’s reading this are well.
I have an extremely difficult immature narc ex, which no doubt in the coming months we will end up in court about child contact. We’re not even half way through the divorce process yet. I haven’t got the money to pay expensive solicitors fees. The months ahead seem so daunting. He’s trying to destroy me. Both mentally and financially.
My question is, has anyone represented themselves in court? Would you recommend it? Any advice would be much appreciated.
Thank you for reading this post.16 January 2021 at 12:03 am #48206
yes I self-represented for child contact. you need to write up a position statement, 2 pages ideally, telling court why you are there, what issues are, and how you want court to resolve it.the first hearing the judge came across as impatient and rude. would cut me off without me finishing sentences lol. you need to have patience and remain calm throughout. also if he’s going to have a lawyer present, then they will try their best to wind you up. stick to your script (position statement) and remain calm. my 2nd hearing was much better. different judge. very polite and gave me plenty of chances to speak. feel free to message me if you need any tips.16 January 2021 at 12:05 am #48207
Would never ever reccomend representing yourslf in court under any circumstances.
You could try for legal aid – see if your situation applies.16 January 2021 at 1:38 pm #48229
Thank you very much for your replies. Welshdad, why would you never recommend? I am not currently eligible for legal aid. I dont see how it’s going to be possible to pay for a solicitor.16 January 2021 at 7:54 pm #48236
I represented myself for a child arrangement order, filled it in online and went to court, it was pretty straight forward but i had a solicitor to help me sort out the financial agreement as my ex sounds the same as yours. My solicitor gave me a fixed price and i was allowed to pay monthly for my fees so i wasn’t faced with a massive bill i only had to pay court fees upfront, i also didn’t qualify for legal aid. My ex dragged it all out for 4 years in total.17 January 2021 at 2:49 am #48252
Carry : As long as you are promoting contact and putting children first there is absolutely no reason why u would need representation. Family courts like mums who promote contact and put children first unless there is genuine reasons why u cant and there is serious safeguarding issues. U can get lots of advice on this forum and many others . Contact would also depend on ages of children . Every other weekend and half of holidays are very common in child arrangement orders when they are made with sometimes 1-2 days during week( generally 1)17 January 2021 at 1:34 pm #48264
You’re right it was quite a generalized statement. I’d rather not go into detail but as far as the “justice” system is concerned I went into court once believing in justice and truth shall set you free etc and got completely pulled apart. The butterfly effect have been with me now 20 years later and changed the course of my life thereafter. Therefore for any matters where it’s navigating the legal system I would always reccomend legal council. While I have reservations about using solicitors where not necessary and in early stages of my separation I used one only to dismiss them due to wasted time and money and I could see they were trying to make a buck, in a courtroom they most certainly are required and having a good one can make all the difference. In court it’s nothing to do with right and wrong, it’s to do with knowledge of technicalities of law, and presentation of sides of an argument. If you have an advocate they will do this for you their mind will be on the job, and while you are wrapped up in the emotion of the event that brought you there, they will be able to focus on getting the most favourable outcome for you.
What picklepie is talking about is what I eventually did in my divorce which is to do the work yourself and use your solicitor to make agreements legally binding by getting them to write it up properly. What you hint to in your question is a court appearance with the other party hell bent on destroying you. These are two very different circumstanes, and if someone with intent to do this also has someone trained specifically in navigating the legal system you don’t stand a chance. At least with a solicitor at your side they will be able to interject and use their knowledge to at least even things out. It will be effectively the solicitors battling it out as opposed to your ex with specific legal council vs yourself. Remember it’s a legal system NOT a justice system.
Is there a reason why you think this will go to court? In divorce cases they are reluctant to do this unless necessary to avoid un-necessary court apperances, (especially during a pandemic now). So mediation is now a pre-requisite for divorce. If you cannot resolve things in mediation then it will likely go to court but at least in mediation you will have a neutral “refferee” so to speak who will be able to at least speak out if there is anything said that is unjust or way out of line. Your ex would have to have very good grounds to not agree to go to mediation, and remember any unreasonable behaviour there would be witnessed by the mediator and you could use this as evidence if need be. If the behaviour you are describing (your post is open to iuterpretation) is resembling abuse then you could try for legal aid on that basis:
Domestic abuse or violence
You might be able to get legal aid if you have evidence that you or your children have been victims of domestic abuse or violence and you cannot afford to pay legal costs.
What counts as domestic abuse for legal aid
You or your children must have been victims of either:
domestic abuse or violence
financial control, for example being stopped from accessing a joint bank account
Do any of these apply to you?
If there are specific things you want done or need advice on, and if its’ not a court appearance but legal advice you want… if you are clever about it you can write down (in short bullet point form) the questions you need to ask (make them specific and to the point) then go to a solicitor and have an hour’s free consultation. You can then go to another solicitior nexttime and do the same with new questions you have.
Hope this helps.28 January 2021 at 5:21 pm #48802
Ultimately you don’t necessarily get a choice, if he takes you to court and you can’t afford a solicitor. Legal Aid can be available for mediation but not for court itself (have to prove severe domestic violence usually.)
I agree with what a previous commenter has said – court is about procedure and presentation, it’s got nothing to do with justice or fairness. The difficulty with representing yourself is that you don’t know the rules of the game, and the opposition will definitely use that against you. In my case, I hadn’t submitted some documents properly so my ex’s solicitor was trying to exclude all of my evidence from the court bundle, meaning the judge would not take my side into account. Thankfully I’d submitted it properly to the judge! It’s also hard to get the evidence that you need, eg records from a school or hospital unless they get a solicitor’s letter demanding it – it’s very easy for them to snub you otherwise (however you might be able to draft up letters yourself and basically pay a solicitor to sign/send them.)
From what you’re saying, you might be entitled to some help and advice from your local domestic abuse organisation (narc behaviour is controlling and coercive.) This often includes a legal advisor who can give you a few pointers, or in some cases access to an advocate/Mackenzie Friend who can accompany you to court – they’re not allowed to speak for you but can write notes telling you what to say/do.
If you can stay out of court, do so. It’s a nightmare, it’s expensive, stressful and a narc will drag it out as long as he can to punish you. In my experience, no attention was paid to the evidence I had about my ex, they took everything he said at face value and he literally lied about everything, then broke every single court agreement we made – all without any consequence. 3 years of hell, for nothing. Try mediation services (you have to use them anyway before going to court, although there are ways that a narc will get around this, my ex chose a mediator who lived miles away, didn’t offer legal aid and was about to retire, so I asked for somebody else; he went ahead with it anyway while I was waiting to hear about a different mediator, so he could get the certificate he needed to go ahead with court proceedings.)
Narcs are so insidious, you’re right, he’s trying to destroy you every which way he can – unfortunately court tends to just be another weapon he can use against you. He won’t be telling the truth and will be doing everything he can to make you look like the bad guy, which can include malicious phone calls to police or social services. There are several websites and books about dealing with narcs, including going to court, definitely read up about it. I’ve basically ended up with PTSD from being dragged through court twice by my lying, abusive, ex. Sometimes you don’t get a choice, like when he decides to threaten you with going to court to try to coerce you into doing what he wants. Sometimes it might work out cheaper to go to court, if you’re already paying a solicitor to handle the divorce and he’s making it drag on forever. But generally, do your best to avoid it! If you have to go down that route, you MUST thoroughly research what you need to do, how to submit evidence etc, as you’re not given any advice by the court itself.28 January 2021 at 5:27 pm #48803
to add, you can still be eligible for legal aid in family/criminal court if your on benefits. it is also possible to get entire medical history records for your child without using solicitors. I just sent hospital a scan of my passport/birth cert and childs birth certificate and they sent all records after couple of weeks.28 January 2021 at 7:43 pm #48811
I am currently representing myself…. we have had the initial hearing which was straight forwards, no position statement required for this hearing. But we are having to go through the section 7 proceedings which is stressful. My ex is a total narcissist and blames EVERYTHING on me. I mean everything. He makes unreasonable demands and is emotionally abusive. I plan to continue representing myself, throughout the CAFCASS investigations. I do worry about the process but I also know what is right for the kids and that is what I am fighting for. Have you looked on http://www.rightsofwomen.org.uk? Loads of info there. And guidance on writing a position statement. I will follow this thread, and always happy to chat things through. Stay strong and trust your gut. I think it does depend on the judge….. the judge we have is not very nice, but because I know why I am doing this and have my kids best interests at heart, I don’t really need to stress. It’s like doing an exam or a lecture on a subject you know pretty much everything about, you just don’t quite know what questions might come up, or what the exam/lecture room looks like!