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.

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.

Why you should be abusive to your ex’s solicitor.

Solicitors are evil. They make a fortune out of other peoples’ misery. They benefit massively from the breakdown of families, charge sky high fees to repeat the ex’s lies and they’ll do whatever they can to make sure you never see your kids again. They’ll patronise you in court, do their best to make you look like the abusive, alcoholic child-assaulting moron you obviously are…and suggest you should pay their fees.

Right?

Let me tell you something. You’re not going to believe me here. I may even get a few angry responses from people telling me I don’t know what I am talking about, about how I am making light of the awful situation people find themselves in and how I am just as bad as one of…them.

I’ve clearly gone native here haven’t I?

Let me tell you something shocking, unbelievable and stunning. They’re human beings. There aren’t that many truly evil people in the world and the same goes for your ex’s legal representative. When they push open the coffin lid in the morning  (joke…) their first thought isn’t `How can mess up my clients’ ex’s day? Maybe I’ll wind him/her up in court. Maybe I’ll write a nasty letter. May I’ll just tell the ex to withhold contact’.

Doesn’t work like that guys. I haven’t ask a solicitor what the first thing that pops into their head is but I am guessing it is something like I need a coffee’ or `If I don’t get a move on I’m going to be late for work and the boss is going to give me an earache for it’.

You know…the same as you or me.

So the ex’s solicitor has never met you. The only stuff they have ever heard about you is from the ex who they’re paying £260 an hour at least. They’re going to nod, smile, sympathise. They’ll hear about the arguments you’ve had. Or didn’t have. They’ll hear about that act of domestic abuse you committed. Or didn’t. They’ll listen carefully about your poor childcare practices which means you shouldn’t spend time with your kids.

Does this mean they believe every word?

Sort of. They kind of have to believe they are being told the truth otherwise it’s going to be hard for them to do their job (`Yes Mr Smith…I know you told me your ex threw that TV at you but I can’t take your word for it and I certainly won’t be mentioning it to the judge at the hearing tomorrow‘). See what I mean? Why would anyone use a solicitor if their honestly was called into question at every point? Would you?

Pro-tip: If you have a solicitor (or a McKenzie Friend) don’t lie or forget important details? It makes things that much more difficult to help you. Besides, we’ve heard it all before.

Solicitors represent their clients. Think about that.

If the ex’s solicitor is saying you did something…that’s because your ex mentioned it to them and they feel it’s appropriate to the case. If they say `no contact’ it’s because your ex wants no contact. If they say `we want a non mol’ that’s because the ex has either said he/she wants a non mol or they’ve said you’ve done stuff that warrants one.

Solicitors act on instruction and don’t make things up…but if they do they can be in awful lot of trouble. It does happen. I’ve seen it.

So when the ex’s solicitor, having heard about what a terrible person you are from your ex meets you, or receives a phone call, letter or email from you and you metaphorically give them both barrels do you know what will happen?

At best nothing at all.

At worst it’ll be filed and used against you at the appropriate juncture where quite possibly said solicitor will cross examine you after getting you to read out your honest and considered opinion you have sent to them to `have your say’. It’ll also probably confirm the picture the ex has carefully painted of you. It’s something special to hear a procession of 4-letter words read out dispassionately in a court room.

Is your ex telling lies about you? Prove them wrong by being the calm, rational and good person you are. You can’t control what the ex does or says. You absolutely can control what YOU do and say.

Solicitors will often spend a considerable amount of time arm-twisting their own clients into agreements if it looks like not agreeing anything is going to make things worse for their clients. Especially if you are Mr/Mrs Cool, Calm and Collected and there is nothing that proves you are a nasty piece of work (such as angry correspondence sent to them)…and even if it doesn’t sway them they it’ll be one less thing to be used against you in court. Thing is – a lot of solicitors don’t actually like being in court. It’s a lot nicer sitting at your desk doing paperwork and the coffee is a lot nicer (I imagine…I’ve only been in a few solicitors’ offices – although that is because court coffee is about as bad as it comes). They’d rather get an agreement.

I’ve heard solicitors (and barristers) shouting at their clients…and worked with many of them who have done a lot of work to get an agreement. I’ve chatted to a few and they’ve told me the whole court thing puts them off having kids and a family. I’ve seen some of them genuinely upset at the stuff they see and hear. I’ve also know a few to give the whole thing up because it is so distressing.

I’m not here to tell you how wonderful solicitors are. They’re human which means they are just as likely to be nice or nasty as anyone else you’ll meet but they’re not out to get you. When you speak to them, understand it’s a job for them.

As the old saying goes `You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar’ – on balance it’s more likely to help you if you are polite, friendly and civil.

Because you’ll do anything for your kids won’t you? Including being nice to someone you don’t feel nice towards, right? No?

Contact Denial – What to do and not do

Contact denial is one of the most common matters dealt with in the Family Courts. It’s the most common reason a non resident parent reluctantly fills in the forms (usually a C100), pays their fee and sends it in.

The anatomy of contact denial

Right off the bat, let’s establish something fundamental.

Anyone denying contact between a child and someone who has PR for them without a court order preventing it is acting with no legal basis whatsoever.

Being the primary carer, resident parent, mum, dad, whatever doesn’t confer the right to tell someone who has PR for a child that they can’t see them.

The circumstance of how contact is denied varies however. There is no set pattern. Sometimes they haven’t met their child since birth. Or they had been permitted a sporadic and limited relationship which has ended. Often contact has stopped suddenly and without warning.

Why does contact denial happen?

And the justification for this? I don’t like your attitude. The kids don’t want to see you. You’re a bad parent. I don’t have to let you see them without a court order. I don’t like your new partner. My new partner is daddy/mummy. You’re not paying me enough cash. Or something else.

So…as a parent facing a scenario like this what you do?

Delay is the worst thing you can do if you are facing contact denialThe first step is do not delay. Doing nothing is just about the worst possible thing you can do. It won’t make anything better and it will quite possible make it worse.

In our experience things don’t get better on their own – they don’t `blow over’

Instead what happens is a  a status quo of no contact is set and the contact denier feels emboldened that they are able to continue with this course of action without problems. If you do nothing they’re right of course.

No one cares about contact denial apart from you

And the longer you leave it the more irrelevant any kind of previous relationship you had becomes. Seriously…the court won’t care that you were the resident parent and it’ll care less the longer you do nothing/write a letter/organise mediation/compose your latest symphony.

The moment contact has been denied address it. Organise mediation ASAP. Organise it. Don’t text your ex to see if she/he will attend. Because you won’t get an answer. Or they might be able to make it in 3 months time. Maybe.

If the place is open now (Google is your friend) stop reading this blog right now and phone them. If it’s out of office hours do it first thing tomorrow. If it ends up in court you’ll be required to attend a MIAM (a `Mediation Information Meeting) in any case. And besides it’s always worth trying on the grounds that court should be the last resort.

If (or when because more often than not it either fails or doesn’t happen in the first place, you’ll need to submit your form to start the whole process.

But the take home here? Do not delay.

A McKenzie Friend can help to banish the `black dog'.

Introduction

`Why should I use a McKenzie Friend?’

Because a good McKenzie Friend will empower you.

A McKenzie Friend can help to banish the `black dog'.The outcome of the court case you be a life changer. When your kids will be allowed to see you. Where you’ll live. What legal challenges your company faces. How much cash you’ll have.

So it’s important to make sure that someone who knows all the facts is in control of your case:

You.

Don’t be daunted. Most people are able to do a great job of representing themselves. What they may not be family with is procedure, law or negotiation.

Why should I use a Family Law Assistance McKenzie Friend?

Simple.

Our team members have personal experience of litigation in Family and Civil courts. They also have legal qualifications and extensive experience assisting people in courts around England and Wales.

It’s also our passion.

We know what works and what it it feels to be involved in a stressful court case.

You feel powerless. Outgunned. Overwhelmed. Bullied.

You’re be tired, at the end of your tether and unable – your life put on hold. You cannot face the future.

You feel walking away is the best option – even while your argument is very strong. You are nervous, drained and exhausted. The lack of certainty of the role you’ll play in kids’ life, where you’ll end up sleeping and the future quality of your life leaves you paralysed.

We can help.

A Mckenzie Friend will help you sleep at night.

We will give you the tools to run your own case and tell you how to use them. You’ll know what is likely to happen at court, what your ex may do to do next and how to avoid the usual pitfalls.

Because no matter what situation you face it has happened a thousand times before to someone else – and we have helped them face it.

That is how it works. Your knowledge of the situation and our skills and experience to help you deploy them. Simple as that. It’s often a winning combination.

Our help can range from checking your position statement before a hearing to assisting you every step of the way.

The sooner you act, the sooner you can get on with your life. Don’t hesitate. Contact us now for a free consultation.

 

 

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