Q. I don’t think I can afford a Solicitor. Can I take my ex to Court myself for child access?
A. There is nothing to prevent you from making your own application and representing yourself at Court in any family law matter, but I would proceed with caution. The application is an extremely important document and despite the court simplifying the form for use by litigants in person, you must be very careful what you are asking the Court to do. The application is referred to throughout the proceedings so it is vital that you get it right.
Representing yourself is peppered with potential pitfalls (particularly if your ex has legal representation). Lawyers train and develop their experience in the law, persuasion and cross examination over many years. In addition, lawyers are fully versed with the lengthy Children Act 1989 and hundreds of relevant cases not included in the Act.
It is invaluable to have advice from someone with an objective viewpoint. Family lawyers deal with relationship breakdown and its consequences every day, whereas hopefully you will only deal with such a situation once or twice in your whole life. The lawyer is not emotionally invested and is well placed to give you the best advice. Yes that advice comes at a cost, but it will be money well spent to achieve the outcome you want.
The Court may order you to prepare documents during the proceedings and it is imperative that you get these right or your ex could possibly use your own paperwork against you. Most good family law firms will provide a tailored service for those who cannot afford (or don’t wish) to instruct Solicitors from start to finish. You could pay a Solicitor to prepare or simply check your paperwork for you or to just attend a certain Court hearing.