Thoughts on representing yourself in Court
17 September 2019 at 10:57 pm #30430
I am going through something of a messy separation and divorce from my ex who (as I see it) is behaving erratically and unreasonably.
He left me after 10 years together when I was 8 1/2 months pregnant with our only child which came as a total shock. This was a year ago and he has since been living with his parents. He has displayed a total lack of empathy or remorse. He has become incredibly angry with me on a number of occasions and takes out any criticism he receives for his actions by finding any way possible to blame me.
He has always demanded contact with our son on his terms. Initially, this was on an irregular basis at short notice around his other commitments which I complied with to avoid arguments. He was made redundant when our son was 5 months and appears to have decided that he would rather not go back to work full time and that it would better for him to look after our son. Whilst he was employed for a few months following notification of the redundancy, he has now been out of work for some time and does not seem to have been actively seeking employment.
A few months after our son was born, I realised I could not afford to continue living in Oxford and I decided to relocate to Manchester, closer to family. I moved to Oxford 4 years ago for my ex’s job and living costs are extremely high and unaffordable for me as a single parent, given that I am looking to return to work part time. In addition to the family support, the move to Manchester would ease a lot of financial issues as my employer has kindly agreed a transfer to our Manchester office on the same salary.
Initially, my ex agreed to the relocation and we attended a mediation where we agreed full arrangements for before and after the move. He even came up to Manchester with me, looked round nurseries and agreed to book our son in. He then made an application to Court out of the blue to prevent me going, we have had a first hearing and the final hearing is in 6 weeks. He argues in legal discussions that he agrees to the relocation but it can only happen if a number of conditions are met and those conditions change every time I negotiate towards what he says he wants – at the moment he wants to have our one year old son for a 5 day block in every 14 which I consider inappropriate and unpractical, given the move. He has admitted separately that he is just opposed to the move and is doing everything he can to block it.
I am confident that I will succeed at the final hearing and that the Court will allow me to move and will not support his request for 5 days in 14. However, my problem is legal costs. My ex has refused to allow me access to money which I received from my deceased father to fund the final hearing and my and my son’s living costs. He has told me outright that he is doing this so that I cannot contest his application to stop the move to Manchester. In the meantime, I am receiving no income as I have had to take unpaid leave from work until the hearing as I was supposed to return to work from maternity leave in Manchester a couple of weeks ago and I cannot move whilst the litigation on relocation is ongoing. Rather than make an application to Court for access to these funds and incur yet more legal costs, I have decided to borrow money from friends and family and to sell my car.
However, this leaves an issue of how to fund the finance battle. My ex is living rent free at his parents and appears to be funded by then. I understand that they will pay whatever it takes in legal fees for him.
My ex has made it very clear that he will refuse to pay maintenance and he seems to think he is entitled to most of the assets too. He says he will pay the child maintenance but he does not expect to work for some time and so he is not liable whilst he is out of work. Even with the huge reduction in living costs in Manchester, I am still left with barely anything to live on after housing and childcare costs etc. My ex has a large earning capacity – more than double mine – and I am confident that a Court would expect him to maximise his earning capacity and to pay maintenance, child and/or spousal fs the child maintenance does not cover my needs. My problem is that, I expect he will sit back and say that he will not pay anything and that I will have to take him to Court to get him to do so, in the knowledge that I do not have the funds to take him to Court.
It is so frustrating that, on every point of dispute, I feel a Court would side with me but getting to that point is the issue.
Does anyone have any experience of representing themselves in Court financial proceedings, particularly when the other party has a barrister? If so, how did you find it? How did the judge treat you? Did you have to cross-examine your ex-partner and how was that? Any tips?
Many thanks18 September 2019 at 8:29 am #30432
I did not represent myself because I had no clue how ruthless and rotten legal teams are! The people who I met represented themselves came out worse then ever.
I suggest you find yourself a solicitor but I’m not sure about legal aid as our divorce cost £50k and will be settled after I pay my ex a lump sum because he hid his money and I declared everything.
A lot of the judges are pro men these days so don’t be fooled that you will find a sympathetic judge because I have a child which is not my husbands but I still had to fork out shed loads. My ex legal team tried their best to chuck us out even though my daughter is disabled but the judge said no one in this land would do this to anyone. They even found a flat in a high rise block that they thought would be suited to a mother and a new born.18 September 2019 at 12:30 pm #30438
A lot of the judges are pro men these days
That is not the case. In fact, the opposite is true. Visit sites like Fathers 4 Justice to see just how egregiously biased the courts are against men.
You might argue that Fathers 4 Justice is a campaigning group for men. But I’ll provide further support for my argument. Some of the biggest family case arguments revolve around jurisdiction – about whether UK courts have jurisdiction in that particular case. Women who have the choice of filing for divorce in the UK or anywhere else in the world invariably choose the UK. There’s a reason for that!
I’m sorry that your case didn’t go entirely as you would have preferred, but your claim about bias of the courts isn’t supported by the facts.18 September 2019 at 1:22 pm #30439
I did not file for divorce from my ex and yes the judge supported what rubbish came out of ex legal team mouth. When we went to mediation he said he did not own another property but lied. This went to court and the judge did not tell him off for failing to mention a property that had no mortgage and worth over a million pounds! At the end of the day it is best to be realistic rather than think that the court will take your side. I am not interested in these websites so will not be wasting my time visiting them!18 September 2019 at 2:09 pm #30445
Feel free to not investigate the issue of bias, your choice. Because your own case didn’t go your way you believe the entire UK family court system is biased against women. That’s your prerogative. I just provide some perspective and signposts for those who do want to get the facts.
To the OP: Your case hinges on the lower cost of living in Manchester. I fear this may be your Achilles heel. On the face of it, living in or near Oxford is not significantly more expensive than living in Manchester if, indeed, it is more expensive at all. You derive financial advantage from a residence in the Manchester geographic area largely because of your family connections there, connections that could potentially save you some childcare or other costs. The judge will have to weigh that against a father being physically so far away from his son as to make regular contact somewhat impractical and, in any case, attendant with its own travel costs (negating any potential savings you exploit elsewhere).
On financial hearings the accepted wisdom is that the litigant without legal representation in court is at no minor disadvantage. Get counsel.18 September 2019 at 3:11 pm #30459
I tbink you need to get your facts right, it did not go in my favour because i did not instruct an expensive legal team to represent me nor did I lie to protect my finances. I did not say that the UK courts are biased against women. You sound a very very angry person. People should be careful when they go to court because there are no winners at the end of the day.18 September 2019 at 3:44 pm #30460
Whatever the current rationalisation you forward for your failure in court, you did make a claim that a lot of judges are “pro men”. I am open to objectively exploring any evidence you care to offer to support that assertion.
And then perhaps we could return to the OP’s original question as I attempted to do in my last post.18 September 2019 at 4:04 pm #30466
Very angry!!!18 September 2019 at 4:58 pm #30468
I am Justine, one of the moderators here. I would like to remind posters that it is important to remain on focus regarding the original thread. Sometimes when things become heated the original focus of the thread can get lost.
Justine18 September 2019 at 6:35 pm #30470
Thank you Justine.
I apologise if I made you angry; it was not my intention to anger you.
Pummelchen, have you researched direct access barristers? That is a cheaper way to go and you could hire a barrister just for the actual court appearance.