Occupation Orders

LiP Commandments (Part 2)

Welcome back to our new sermon, erm, blog post. To err is human, but to forgive is divine – and few people will blame you for making mistakes as you make your way through the vale of tears, the path of many faced with the family court. As promised we’d like to give you another 5 commandments – things to do and things not to do that’ll make a big difference to your case.

No one is perfect and chances are that we have all done a few things we wished we hadn’t or not done things we wish we had.

Here commenceth the lesson.

More LiP Commandments

6.) Thou Shall Care for Thine Documents

It always puzzles us why people how people treat the pieces of paper that can make a difference between an outcome in court they will live with and one they would positively hate. We’ve seen original documents written over (swear words and insults are always a `favourite’ of ours which means you are going to have to spend a lot of time with a copy and a bottle of Tippex removing comments that the court and the other side will find very interesting and useful.

Or else the documents are `filed’ in a bag that has the name of a supermarket in it and was formerly used to store a back of King Edward potatoes.

Don’t do it. Don’t write over documents. Put them in a ring binder in an orderly manner. It’ll mean they are nice and clean. You’ll also know where each one is when you need to refer to it.

7.) Thou Shalt Hope for the Best and Plan for the Worst

Be positive. You’ll do better in your case and feel better. It’s a tough and challenging situation you are in. It’s hard to stay positive true. But look after yourself and work on the principle that one day, none of this will matter.

Speak to many of the `old hands’ who have been through what you have several years (or decades) before and you’ll see that one day all this will be old new and you likely won’t care. Because life will be OK.

But don’t assume this means you should wait for things to get better on their own.

Work on the principle that documents will get lost. That no one else cares. That you are the only one who will meet that deadline.

In practical terms that means doing things like taking spare copies of statements to court if you have previously filed them as ordered. Or finding out the name, address, opening hours and requirements of that contact centre you may be stuck in for a while – so the court is in a better position to make an order there and then.

8.) Thou Shalt Not be Seen to Get Angry or Upset

You may well have good cause to be angry or upset. No one will actually blame you for this…but as sure as eggs is eggs it will be used against you if you put it on display. Doing so will mean contact is delayed. You’ll end up in a contact centre. You’ll end up on an anger management course. You’ll end up facing a Finding of Fact hearing or a Non Molestation Order.

If you need support, get it. Contact a support organisation of charity of your choice – where you can let off steam and learn to deal with the injustice you feel.

Don’t do it in court or anywhere else you will prejudice your case.

9.) Though Shalt Be Nice to Everyone Thy Meet

Everyone. The CAFCASS Officer. The court office staff. The security guards. The ushers (the ones in the black robes you’ll see in court). The judge, magistrates or legal advisors. Even the ex’s solicitor.

Monk - Ten CommandmentsYes. It may be hard. But you get more flies with honey than vinegar. And despite what you may think they are human beings – meaning they are more likely to be well disposed to you if you are pleasant. They are also less likely to believe you are the awful person your ex may be trying to paint you as if you are Mr or Ms Cool, Calm and Collected. As opposed to shouting swear words in the waiting room because you are angry the ex has said you shout swear words at people when you are angry.

In addition to all this, you are less likely to become unfocused.

10.) Thou Shalt Not Give Up; Thou Shalt Play the Long Game

There are very few situations where you have no legal options when it comes to your kids (yes…there are some – we know).

Don’t expect it to be plain sailing. You will come out of hearings wondering what the hell happened and that giving up may be the best thing for your sanity, your children and your finances. It is inevitable you will things are moving too slowly (or not at all). But you are there to secure an outcome in the long term – not within the next couple of weeks.

You may say you have no chance whatsoever. The best way to ensure you that happens is to walk away. No one can make you do that other than you however.

TL:DR – Commandments in Short

Expect it to be hard. Expect it to feel unfair. Be nice. Be prepared. Stay Calm. These commandments are really just common sense. It can be hard to follow them all when you feel attacked at every angle and it involves your kids. But it is possible to get an outcome you can live with.

That’s it.

Win a Non-Molestation Order!

Believe me, a Non-Molestation Order made against you is the cherry on the cake.

Things are hard enough as it is: Your children not allowed to see you. Your work is being affected by the upset you’ve suffered – and the unexpected emails, phone calls and other stuff that means your life is on hold. Your finances are trashed – maybe you’ve been paying a solicitor (and being shocked by the £600 you’ve had to pay on account even before the action starts); you’re not cooking so you’re eating out (if you stomach food – because the `Divorce Diet’ that involves nausea, vomiting and chronic lack of sleep means the pounds are just going to fall off). Maybe you’re driving long distances to sort things out.

Things couldn’t get any worse could they? Don’t count on it.

A Non-Molestation Order will make a hard situation a damn sight harder.

In a lot of respects an application for one of these against you is a side show. For a start, they’re not covered under the same statute as the one that covers contact disputes – that’s the Children Act 1989. But it will impact a child contact dispute.

No entry sign - non-molestation orderA Non-Molestation Order falls under the Family Law Act 1996.

That doesn’t mean they don’t often come visiting together however because:

  1. Divorce/child disputes are often times of high conflict and stress.
  2. It is one of the criteria for gaining legal aid….and a (potential) subsequent advantage in Children Act proceedings.
  3. It helps demonstrate that one party is aggressive and should influence contact…a subsequent advantage in Children Act proceedings.
  4. It is often lumped with an Occupation Order – giving one party (usually) the former family home…and a subsequent advantage in Children Act proceedings.

Did you see what I did there?

You’ve gone in an instant from being a parent who is being denied time with his/her legal time to a violent and abusive nutter who would have to see the children in an environment they aren’t familiar with with an ex who has legal representation.

Game showOh yes, you could end up with a PIN. Or a caution for criminal damage, a breach of the peace or something else – so many amazing offers. But a Non-Molestation is the top prize. So to speak.

So, if you would like to see your name up in lights…sorry…on a court order ordering you not to molest your ex and advising you risk imprisonment if you ignore it try some (or all if you really fancy your chances).

What will get me a non-molestation order?

  1. Turn up at your ex’s property/place of work/where ever else they hang out without warning.
  2. Bang on their door. Bang on the window. Shout through the letter box.
  3. Send frequent emails/texts/letters. Or make many calls. Can be about anything including how your kids are when they will see you next.
  4. Encourage anyone else do the above.
  5. Let yourself into a former home without warning because you still have the keys and the locks haven’t been changed. Yet.

The first you’ll probably know that you’ve `won’ will be when you are served with an ex parte emergency interim order. That’s a sudden hearing made without you being there. You’ll be invited back in a week or so to find out what your take on things are and whether the length of this order should be extended or dropped.

Rhetoric aside – don’t do this, OK? Seriously. There are genuine reasons why Non-Molestation Orders are made. There are genuine victims who need them. You are stressed and chances are your ex is – and if there are kids are involved it’s not going to help them either. A silly and small mistake can escalate very quickly into a serious and big one.

See taking this advice as good for a few reasons:

  1. You are behaving like the good person you are.
  2. You will be seen as the good person you are.
  3. You are de-escalating a probably already tense situation.
  4. You’ll not disadvantage your case.

Your case is likely hard enough as it is. This is an `easy win’ for you not to make it even harder. Keep your nose clean, stay out of trouble and do everything you can to make things easier for all concerned and not harder.