Q: My estranged wife and I agreed access times between ourselves for me to see our two children every weekend when we split up. For a while it worked, but now she has a new boyfriend and is being difficult to the point where I haven’t seen the children for almost two months.
Without court intervention I can’t see this situation changing but I understand legal aid is no longer available to go to take a case to court unless the children are at risk. Even though I am in work I don’t earn enough after paying maintenance to my ex to afford a solicitor. What can I do?
A: As their father the children have every right to have contact with you and despite your financial concerns there are various options available to you moving forwards.
Firstly, mediation can provide an alternative to court proceedings, which can allow you to sit down with your wife and reach an agreement amicably rather than potentially causing greater animosity through taking the matter to court. It is also important to note that Legal Aid is still available for Mediation, and therefore it is worth contacting your local Mediation Service to find out if you qualify.
In the event you do not qualify, there are private Mediation Services available, which can be a significantly cheaper alternative to court proceedings.
Finally if mediation does not work, or you feel that in your current situation an agreement will not be reached, an application can be made to the court for a Child Arrangements Order in which you can act as a litigant in person, without the need for a solicitor to represent you. Please note if you were to make such an application it would be prudent to still get initial advice from a solicitor.