Can You Keep Up With a Family Law Court?


The length of family directions proceedings can vary and not knowing what happens and what to do if you are representing yourself can add to that stress.

Family Law Courts

Representing Yourself

When you represent yourself, commonly known as being a litigant in person, you may not be familiar with the process. There are resources available to get you started, but having the expert advice and guidance of a family law solicitor can really help you to navigate the process.

Any situation in which children are involved needs to be considered thoroughly and carefully. With recent cuts in legal aid, more parents and guardians are seeking to represent themselves in court. In straightforward cases, this is encouraged, however, in difficult cases, or those in which domestic violence has played a role it is certainly not.

It is crucial that matters involving children are handled correctly the first time around.

There are many published books written by barristers and solicitors in the family law field that may help you to better understand the process of contact or residency (now called child arrangement orders). However, these cannot and should not be used as a substitute for having a solicitor there with you on the day.

Are Your Prepared?

From the experience of the family law solicitors in our Leeds office, many of the parents and guardians that come through the doors are not prepared, and have no idea what to expect from the process. It is a demanding and worrying time, and often parents underestimate how quickly a hearing starts and finishes when the correct paper work is put in place by their solicitor.

Some of the books being written by professionals regarding family law proceedings aim to be a simplified 'reference' to those who buy them. Just as some students take textbooks into exams, they have encouraged those reading the books to take them into court and refer to them throughout the process.

This can be problematic and may prolong the process costing you more money in the end. These proceedings move at such a pace, it's recommended that you use someone who is familiar with the process.

You Can Still Get Advice

Emma Pearmaine, partner and family law solicitor in our Leeds office commented on the situation by saying, "Whilst these books are very informative, a family directions appointment will proceed at a pace. There will be no time for a litigant in person to reference their book and respond in the moment! A party is still going to be best represented."

Learning to understand the process with the help of some of these resources is one thing, but using them to try and guide you through an important legal process is another. If you can, we would recommend that you be represented at the hearing. However, for those that cannot, getting legal advice from a solicitor is your best option. Not only can they help you to prepare your papers, they can also discuss likely scenarios that may happen in court and show you how to respond to them.

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