Tag Archives: Focus

LiP Commandments (Part 1)

We are all but imperfect human beings. We all do things with the best of motives and upon searching our souls know the best and right thing to do even while we go off and do something entirely different, making achieving our goals and reaching the happiness we crave so much more difficult. Following a few simple commandments will make your life a lot easier.

Here at Family Law Assistance we’ve seen and heard a lot. We’ve seen a wide range of tactics used (and justified) – and we’ve seen the outcome for good and bad. We also see things more clearly very often, our clients paying us to provide a more clinical view of a case than they are able to. Because at the end of the day they’re your kids and not ours – it is hard to be impartial when it comes to your own children.

So it’s fair to say we have a good idea of what works and what doesn’t.

It’s common for people to say `I bet you’ve not anyone as bad as my ex’ or `I bet this is the worst case you have ever seen’. You’d be surprised – we won’t discuss details (a two year custodial sentence for contempt of court often offends) – but it is fair to say we’ve seen some challenging situations.

There is often a pattern however – certain immutable rules that are a sure fire way to help or hinder your case. If we were gamblers we’d have a fair guess when it comes to what will and won’t work in a court case.

So with no further ado…

LiP Commandments

1.) Thou Shalt Not Slag Thine Ex off on Social Media

Church - Ten Commandments?No excuses. Ever. Because there are none that will be accepted by a court in mitigation if you are asked to justify why you describe your ex as a ****', a `****’ or even a `****’. You won’t be thanked your honest or your insight even if you are demonstrably correct. Instead you are likely to be painted as someone who is more interested in sticking it to your ex than you are producing a child-focused solution.

Better still? Don’t mention the ex at all. Or your case. You don’t have to convince us, remember. Just the court…

Pro-tip: Slagging the ex off or what he/she is doing whilst not naming them won’t cut it.

2.) Though Shalt Remain Whiter than White at All times

Many people feel they are lied about during court hearings. Why give the other party the opportunity to say unpleasant and true things about you – even better for them if they can prove it?

Again…the court won’t be persuaded by the argument `Yes – I know I did that but he/she is just as bad or worse!’ Or anything else for that matter.

No matter unfair it may seem or indeed be.

3.) Thou Shalt Keep Thine Eye Upon The Ball

What are you going to court for? Proving the ex wrong? Having your say? Getting things on record? Or for ensuring your kids have a relationship with you?

The court will only take any notice of the last one of these. If your motivation for making an application is anything else…save yourself the cost, time, effort and heartache and don’t bother. Seriously. Go on a nice holiday or something instead.

And don’t waste your time trying to get the court to do stuff it doesn’t have the power to order – like communicating with you.

If you do go to court make sure your original motivation for going there stays the same throughout. Don’t get distracted by false allegations – refute them. Don’t get into arguments over anything other than your kids’ best interests. If the other side can change the subject and get you riled…they will. Be wise to it.

4.) Thou Shalt Not Take the whole Family Law System Head on

Maybe you’re a tough guy who never gives up. Show me the man/woman who will tell you `At least I had the guts to tell that judge and everyone else like it is’ and I will show you someone with no contact and non molestation and barring orders against him/her.

That’s because the court is geared to dealing with angry, aggressive and unreasonable people who will shout the odds and get aggressive when they don’t get their way. Do that and you’ll be chewed up, spat out and forgotten by the time you’re out of the court room door.

5.) Thou Shalt Listen to Those with Some Knowledge

So you’re in a difficult situation. It probably feels quite unique. It ain’t. No matter how hard it is I can guarantee you someone has gone through it years before you…and there will be others who will do some in the future too. Amongst them will be the ones who have done well and others who haven’t. Learn from the mistakes of those who have come before and listen to those who have hung around to help others. If you use a solicitor, the same applies – after all, at £260 an hour it’s quite reasonable to assume they will help in some capacity.

The same goes if you use your friendly local McKenzie Friend – namely, us. We’re pretty good at advising you if your chosen course of action is good or bad. We won’t hesitate to tell you if you’re shooting yourself in the foot. After all a good friend tells you what you need to hear and not what you want to hear.

So that’s it. There will be another 5 of these handy commandments coming up as time progresses. But it ain’t rocket science guys. We’re on your side and if you choose to let us help you we’ve got your back. And like the original commandments it’s fair to say these are set in stone.

You’re not alone. Contact us to find out how we can help.

Here endeth the lesson.

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.

Documents don’t belong in carrier bags

You’re representing yourself. You’re going to see more documents than you’ll ever want to see. By the end of it you’re going to say a few words of prayer for the many trees that have died to make all the paper you’ve used. For the more environmentally responsible amongst you out there you may want to plant a few trees to reduce your carbon footprint.

Burning documentsYou may want to celebrate the end of your case by having a large bonfire at the end of it all and dance around it with the beverage of your choice a la `The Wicker Man’.

But until that day comes you better make sure you have all your paperwork in a logical, easy-to-get-to format that will make your life as easy as possible. Because it’s going to be hard enough as it is.

Here at Family Law Towers we specialise in bringing order to chaos. Present us with a carrier bag of dog-eared, random pieces of paper you have shoved in the post or brought to us and we’ll give you an organised and logically-presented set of documents that you can refer to at any point in your case.

You’re not going to need it for every hearing (OK, OK…you are technically going to need it for every hearing seeing as Practice Direction 27A now says that a bundle is required for every hearing but it’s overkill in a lot of cases). Practice Direction 27A also says that as a litigant in person your ex’s solicitor is going to have to do it (or it’ll be you if you’re the applicant and he/she doesn’t have a solicitor). And to complicate matters it’s often worth you doing your own bundle in any event but we won’t go into that here.

Don't put your legal documents in carrier bagsWe’ve assisted at any number of hearings where we’ve seen litigants fishing through their `carrier bag of life’ looking for a document the judge would rather like to see but it can’t be found.

You know…the documents that swing the entire trajectory of your case. That sort of stuff.

Preparation, preparation, preparation.

Further to what I say above you will need a bundle for a substantive hearing (although it’s common for the court to request just a witness statement from LiPs). That’ll be the time to present the evidence we’ve advised you don’t throw at the court in a directions or review hearing (because no one will want to see them there).

Ring binders

Even if you aren’t going to have a substantive hearing (and if it happens if you agree an order with the ex) it’s well worth organising your files as such:

  1. Get a ring binder. A big one. Get file dividers too.
  2. Single-sides please. Copies, not original documents. Keep them elsewhere.
  3. Group your documents. Applications & Orders. Statements.  Reports. Correspondence.
  4. Put each group of documents in chronological order (oldest at the front, newest at the back).
  5. Put dividers in the folder, with the group of documents. Applications & Orders in B, Statements in C, Reports in D, Correspondence in E. Section A is for other docs you’ll need to produce yourself (we’ll discuss these at some point in the future).

That’s it for the moment. Congratulations! You have a half-prepared trial bundle and your documents to hand at all hearings.

Hearings are complicated and stressful enough as it is. Don’t make it harder for yourself.

How to deal with a narcissistic ex in court

Narcissists. The bane of the life of too many people who are in the turmoil of a Family Court case. A `domestic terrorist’ –  someone who comes across as charming, lovely and nice when with others but takes their human face mask off when the doors are locked. A superior-acting snowflake who will take advantage of anyone who shows them any empathy, who needs their every wish followed precisely and will say black is white if it suits them.

Sound familiar? I mean…if the court knows about the true them you’ll turn the case very quickly won’t you?

Of course, if you tell the court about your ex’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I will put money on the fact the following will happen:

  1. The judge/magistrates will `let you have your say’ for a while before moving onto something else they actually feel is relevant to the case.
  2. You’ll be the one who is labelled – as someone who is trying to paint your ex in a bad light.
  3. They’ll think you are not child focused (if it is that sort of case).
  4. You’ll waste the time you have to focus on your own case.
  5. You’ll give the ex and his/her legal representative ammo to use against you somewhere down the line.

Read it here, people: Don’t go to court to try to prove your ex is a narcissist. No. Really. Don’t.

 

Let’s assume I’m onboard with your diagnosis, Dr Freud. Let’s assume that when you open ` Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders‘ and flipped through to DSM-5 there’s a picture of your ex and a caption that says `Case study in Narcissism’ and that any number of psychologists with big offices full of certificates agree with you.

Let’s assume you are right – this personality disorder is driving this case. That it’s harming your child. That it’s the reason you’ve split up with your ex and why he/she managed to get you arrested leaving you to sit in the cells for a few nights.

There’s some very good reasons it won’t do you any good to mention this.

  1. Because you’re an `interested party’. You’re probably not going to be impartial here…even if you are a world authority on narcissism with a big office full of certificates.
  2. Because you’re not a single joint expert (and unlikely to be appointed as such because of the above point). Practice Direction 25C is your friend here.

In short, if you pursue the `my ex is a narcissist’ line you’re choosing time, effort and quite possibly money to fight a battle you can’t win and isn’t going to help your case whatsoever. If you want to diagnose your ex (and I would say that it’s a bad idea in itself) that’s your prerogative. But it probably isn’t going to help you that much.

Focus.