Lawyers know the law but they can’t change your mindset

The endThe end

My client fell to her knees, wailing uncontrollably, “My baby! My baby!” she shrieked. I wanted to ruin and hide from the whole lot of it.

I won’t lie. As a family law specialist, it was one of the hardest moments I had to deal with.

We were in court and the judge had just read out the judgement. I was brought in as the `SOS call’. Yep – I was the last ditch help and very last minute aid. I was helping a mother who had lost her child to father in a custody case. (FYI: the term “custody” went out with Bon Jovi’s” Living on a Prayer“- sorry fans! But it’s still what the average person on the street calls it).

Battleground

Both Mum and Dad had been embroiled in a protracted court battle over whom their daughter was to live with.

Mum had battled with alcohol abuse because of her own issues in the past. She had come from a violent and alcoholic childhood herself. She had sought counselling but hadn’t really dealt with her issues. When she met her ex-partner she thought that he was her knight in shining armour. But it wasn’t long before those old demons came to haunt her and she felt like she couldn’t cope. In order to cope with her anxiety and depression she drank.  During the life of the court proceedings she had sought help with her issues surrounding alcohol but the courts did not find in her favour. Instead they ordered the status quo that the child lived with the Father and Mother had supervised contact leading to contact in the community.

This was not the way that she had ever thought parenthood would be. At that moment when the judge gave judgement in favour of Father she felt like her world fell apart. I knelt down to her and helped her up whilst quietly telling her that it would be OK.  She didn’t hear me through her loud sobs. I helped her to her feet and led her out of the court room and into a consultation room.

What happened next felt more like a wake.

Waiting for the order to be completedWritten in stone?

Father’s legal team were talking in hushed tones about the details of the order they were typing up.  I was integral in the drafting of that order. Mother was  in no fit state to take part in the intricate wording of the various paragraphs that made up a Section 8 Child Arrangements Order.  I fetched her a coffee and reassured her. She felt like she had lost her child.

A fresh start

Now you would think that’s how the story ends. But it isn’t. A few weeks later I was pleasantly surprised when she got in touch.  It was true that she was devastated with what the result from court. But having me there provided her with hope. I never once offered commiserations. I never once told her that it was the end. Even though she felt like the court had sealed her fate she had found something in that court room. Her voice.

You have more power than you think 

She didn’t have to rely on an expensive third party to relay what she wanted. With my help and focus she was able to speak confidently about her past; what she was doing about it and how she proposed her child’s best interests would be served. In that moment the process for her changed from a reactive to a proactive approach. She was now in the driving seat. She was the one taking the action.  Rather than wait from court hearing to court hearing she was able to contact support groups to help her come to terms with her childhood. She was breaking the cycle. She decorated her apartment and was ready to continue fighting to have a meaningful relationship with her child.

Reframe and refocusReframe. Reframe. Reframe.

The facts of the case hadn’t changed. But her mindset had. A small change…but the one that was needed. A change that changed everything in an instant.

She had chosen to put herself in the driving seat. She now felt empowered. She felt like she had choices and a plan. She needed someone by her side who knew the law and was on her side. She no longer wanted her solicitors. Together we started to put the groundwork in to get her to be a meaningful part of her daughter’s life.

No glory in court

It may sound boring but it’s true. That mother, like many others, want reassurance and a plan. They want to know how to deal with professionals and how to handle their court case. They want to feel like they have a voice and power in a seemingly powerless situation.

Oh! And our heroine?  It is 4 years on now and she has shared care of her child.

Caught without a lawyer or court without a lawyer?

All aboard the Hogwarts Express

I am sitting in the foyer at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

My client hasn’t arrived yet. It’s a busy day at court today already – there’s a hearing for a case that has made the national press and the paparazzi and TV people are flocking around the entrance. At one point on the way in I have a camera and microphone shoved in my face and I’m asked what role I am playing in the hearing today. Ha. Maybe they think I’m part of the large legal team or a witness for the case presided over by His/Her Honour Whoever who is sitting behind the big desk looking down at everyone.

Ally McBeal (or for the younger generation Rachel Zane) I’m not.

The building, I have to admit, is impressive. It is English gothic architecture at its best – clearly an inspiration for Hogwarts if you’re a Harry Potter fan. This is the place where the most senior of judges determine complex and international cases (like the one I’m not part of today). Legal history has been made here numerous times.

The judges that sit here wrote some of the legal books that I studied to become a paralegal. No pressure, Michaela.

Back in time

It is mad to think I’ve been supporting litigants in person in courts up and down the country for 12 years so far at this point. Where had that time gone? I let my mind wander over my career to date. I had been a debt collector, a fraud investigator and a benefits review officer.

Oh yes – it was me that made that call or sent that letter to ruin your day.

I had also worked in civil litigation for nearly 20 years. I had worked in a solicitor’s office repossessing cars and houses and preparing bundles. I was also a Master Practioner of NLP and hypnosis. Combined with my skills in the family law court it’s made me determined, sharp and caring. And kick ass when it came to negotiation. I knew how people ticked and how to reach agreement…or to persuade them when that was needed. I also had a whole toolkit on how to reduce someone’s anxiety, remove a phobia or reframe a situation for them.

I gazed up and admired the splendour of the portraits of long dead judges. They are the size of French windows. I wondered how long dead they were; what decisions had they made in their career?

My concentration was broken with a rushed and hasty “Hello! So sorry I’m late!”.

I look up and there he is. My client. He is a reasonably successful journalist. He is erudite, intelligent and articulate normally. Not today though. I have become used to the incoherent babbling that accompanies him whenever he is in court. He is dressed overly smart, if that’s a thing. He is also slightly mismatched. It’s clear that he doesn’t “do” suits very often. The tie is suspiciously 80s in its shine and the shirt still has the creases in it and tag in it from Marks & Sparks. He continues to waffle at some pace about his journey. Apparently getting a cab in the traffic from Liverpool Street to the Strand was a “nightmare”.

I smile warmly at him. I know he is nervous. I reassure him. This is our 3rd time here in Hogwarts. (That’s the nickname they have for this place over the road in Neros).  We seem to float past the fancy cloisters and beautifully tiled floor; past the intimidatingly large portraits of senior judges out into an uncovered courtyard.

What a lot of people don’t know is that most of the decisions aren’t made in the mahogany filled and antiquated courtrooms. They are made in the slightly lesser famous 70s building at the back. Not quite so glamorous now is it?

Into the breach

His case involved the mother of his 6-year old daughter stopping contact and wishing to move to Hong Kong on a permanent basis. They had shared care; she was the light of his life and was upset at the thought that his daughter wouldn’t be able to spend the usual, regular time with her Daddy and the paternal family that she was used to. He was unhappy with the thought of her being a 12-hour plane flight away.

If only I had met you sooner…

…is a refrain that I hear from many and what my client says to me.  I smile a knowing smile. If I had a pound for every time I heard that I would either be bloody rich or out of a job. And…spoiler alert I am neither.  By the time he met me had already spent over £20k in solicitors. It was his 3rd case for his daughter so far. His complaints about using solicitors were exhaustive. His complaints about them included:

  1. They didn’t do any “joined up thinking” or any real case management to achieve his goals.
  2. They didn’t reassure him and their customer service left much to be desired.
  3. They charged a lot for what they delivered.

He was worn out, worn down and on the brink of giving it all up and walking away. He had done things `the proper way’ because…well….you use a solicitor when you have a court case don’t you? A legal professional who is regulated, honourable and knew what they were doing.

Brush tarring

But for all the above – I have some exceptionally good friends who are both solicitors and barristers. We have passed each other work for years. They’ve passed me work. I’d happily recommend a dozen of them and would trust them with my own case if I weren’t permitted to represent myself. Some we’ve met through social events – some at court and they’ve turned my head because they’re proactive, helpful, constructive and/or do an amazing job at stuff like cross examination.

But I could not ignore my client’s protestations over using a solicitor.

If people can afford a solicitor they always get one (or do they?)

Over 2/3 of our clients don’t want one. I used to ask Steven `Why are they using us because they can clearly afford a solicitor?’ And then people would tell me and the answer would be simple – they didn’t want one.

My client had contacted me after Mother had suddenly stopped contact and his current tactic of sending a letters to Mother urging her to reconsider was ignored. The precedent had turned into the status quo and that was proving difficult to overturn.

Long story, short

I will skip to the end of the story. The hearing was a turning point.

Contact was re-established and my client was overjoyed. I had helped him negotiate with the barrister outside the Court room. We had successfully narrowed down the issues. The judge had agreed with my client’s argument on the things there wasn’t agreement on.

Of course, I was right beside him prompting and reminding him as to what to say. I was also the person kicking him under the table urging him to keep schtum when there was something being said he didn’t agree with. At one point the judge noticed that and had supressed a smirk.

And the prospect of his daughter being flown to the far end of Asia was averted.

What’s it all about?

Being a Family Law Assistant (or a McKenzie Friend as some call themselves) is a vastly different role from that of a solicitor and barrister. A good Family Law Assistant by your side is the perfect and empowering combination of legal knowledge, empathy, determination, and passion.

Family Law Assistance are the ONLY alternative to having a solicitor or barrister. Our job achieves the same function as those professions – but in many ways we’re chalk and cheese. We do different stuff – and as a result the people we help feel drastically different about the outcome whatever that is.

Ask yourself this: If you’ve been in court for a long period for an long and extended court case which means you believe you need a solicitor or barrister…what have you achieved with that belief? And how much has it cost you so far?

Want a chat? We’re on 0117 290 0274. Our initial phone/Zoom consultations are £50 (or `less than 12 minutes with your solicitor’ as it’s know on the billing sheet you’re paying each month).

Contact and Coronavirus

What do you do about contact and Coronavirus?

The outbreak of Coronavirus across the UK is going to cause problems for contact. I’ve got no doubt about it. All the signs are there. People are changing their plans, panic buying and feeling they don’t have enough information to make an informed decision about day to day stuff.

If you’re a separated parent – and chances are you are if you’re reading this – you’ve got stuff like court orders for your children to deal with, limited communication with your ex partner and a potentially volatile situation that could get worse.

Contact and Coronavirus – how do you balance these?

This is the wrong question. The correct one is `What is in the best interests of the children’. And understanding that this in the eye of the beholder – or in the eye of the court if you’re involved in family law proceedings – means that a disagreement with your ex about how you and your children coming down with can lead to….trouble.

But back to the best interests of the child. At the moment current government advice is basically to wash your hands and do what you can to avoid getting infected. Your child travelling back and forth between you and your ex partner means that if the infection continues to spread you’ll pass it to each other. This in itself should be a good reason to ensure communication between your ex partner is clear, open and honest.

Working together in the best interests of your child and stopping the epidemic is a good thing, right kids?

If you or our child becomes infected

The moment you or your child becomes infected your child should stay where they are – regardless of the contact pattern, the order or anything else. Self-isolation is a thing – and if one person in your household has it, there is an increased risk that others in your home will do too. Follow government advice and call 111 or speak to your doctor (phone…don’t visit).

And let your ex partner know.

Court orders are to be followed. But the court is clear – sometime things…happen. This is one of them. Contact your ex. Explain the situation. Suggest that your child stay where they are until it is clear whether Coronvirus infection has been confirmed or not.

Suggest your child stay where they are regardless of the court order. Regardless of who is the primary carer. Regardless of plans. Regardless of anything else.

Contact and CoronavirusA difficult ex – how do you deal with contact and Coronvirus?

But what to do if the ex insists the order is followed? That’s the tricky one. From a medical, ethical and legal perspective? With my legal head on? Document what is happening – when people have got sick, etc. What advice you’re given. And worry about the consequences afterwards.

If I seem vague, or if the advice seems a bit `how long is a piece of string’ that’s because this is often the nature of the court…and the fact we’re in an unprecedented situation means things are up for debate (which hopefully won’t be in court).

tl:DR

Follow government advice. Act in the best interests of the child. Don’t use this as an excuse to extend or prevent contact. Communicate with your ex.

It’s as simple as this. And no…there are no guarantees here.

How does the family court know its making the right decisions?

Data in the family court - unmined gold?Decisions in the family court?

The CAFCASS officer looked at me and  said `If I don’t see someone again I assume everything is fine’.

I’d just asked her how she knew her recommendations were in the best interests of the child.

When I responded `People give up too don’t they? How can you tell the difference?’ she didn’t answer.

Best interests of the child

What’s the definition of the above?

It’s a good and fair question to ask if you’re in the family court. What’s in the best interests of the child?

Uh uh uh….no clues.

My cynical and jaded definition of this is `Whatever you can convince the court that is’. Which means that if you ask that judge he or she may differ from the next one. It’s why you can be left feeling you’ve got a strong case one hearing and an awful one the next. It’s why you can go to one hearing and get a legal drubbing when you’ve got a strong case or feel it’s going your way when it’s perhaps more touch and go.

Despite the many jokes about legal professionals (`How can you tell when a lawyer is lying? His lips are moving’) they are only human. They have their own personal beliefs, biases, stories and their mood will be coloured by the car that cut them up on the way to work, the cat crapping on the carpet again and that nasty cold they’ve got. Despite the systems in place…they’re as fallible as you or me.

Gold - the data the family court could use would be invaluableBig decisions, little analysis

So how do legal professionals know they’re making a decision that is for the best?

In another life I worked as a performance analyst, business analyst and requirements engineer for big corporations that wanted to guarantee – as much as possible they’d make money, save money, not get sued, etc.

 

When I moved into family law I took a keen interest in stuff like the forms the courts used (badly designed, redundant questions), processes (antiquated – lots of time lost and work wasted because of poor design) and this – a  lack of analysis of results.

How can the court work out if they’re doing any good if they don’t collect the data much less analyse what happens as a result of their decisions?

How does it know if the order it makes works a year, 5 years, 10 years down the line? Are they safe? Aren’t dragged in front of CAFCASS officers, social workers, psychologists or anyone else repeatedly? If your order keeps getting broken? In short – they don’t.

Much.

I’ve a feeling the Ministry of Justice keep any of this sort of thing to themselves and if personal experience is anything to go by…I don’t blame them. I know they do some…but I’ve a feeling it isn’t enough.

But just imagine. The court knowing that if it orders X’ there is a 59% change of success, if it doesn’t order `Y’ 74% of kid will do `Z’. Now I get it…there are a lot of factors. And every course is different. But believe me…there are ways – if enough data is collected that patterns can be pieced together.

Imagine…an evidence based process to improve things.

How does this help you?

Well…it doesn’t. Much. But it teaches you a big fact here. If you go away, the court marks it as a success. Because if you weren’t happy with the outcome you’d be back in court wouldn’t you?

So if you’re tempted to walk away for any reason other than the best interests of your children…no one will notice, care and you may well be added to the `proof’ that the system works fine.

Co parentingwithahostileexcanseemimpossible.

Can I have a quick chat?

Your call!

Your call!

If you’re reading this page it’s probably because you’ve got in touch with us. Please read this article before responding.

You’ve probably got in touch with us and said one of the below or something similar…:

  • Can I have a quick chat?
  • Can I get some advice?
  • What are my chances of…
  • What does <Something> mean?
  • Is someone available for a chat?
  • Can you give me advice on my case?
  • Would you take a look at my paperwork and let me know…
  • Can you assist me in my court case?
  • I don’t want a meeting – just a 5 minute chat.
  • Can I pick your brains?
Michaela's testimonial

Michaela’s testimonial

Definitely – we can help! Quite possibly even today. It’s totally doable.

But we’re pretty busy. To the extent we have a system and people who work with us to let us focus on making sure our clients get the help they need. Without the people who do some of daily tasks for us we’d be sunk.

We average about 10 messages a day from people who `want a 5 minute chat’. Do the sums and it works out like this.

  • Ten 5 minute chats a day – that’s 50 minutes per day.
  • Or 250 minutes per week.
  • Or about 1000 minutes a month – 17 hours (around 2 1/2 working days).

Mounts up doesn’t it? Would you be happy to work 2 1/2 days a month for free? Or give up a weekend a month to work for someone you’ve never met and don’t know?

As I said above…we’re pretty busy – we don’t have the time to get a lot of stuff we want to do. As well as our daily work we’re working on stuff in the background – improving what we do, generating free content – blogs, Facebook posts, videos, guides as well as committing to a worklife balance that doesn’t include answering the phone on Christmas Day, whilst on holiday or straight after surgery (we’ve done all three in the past…)

Where do we draw the line?

We could easily fill the day giving advice over the phone, reading large trial bundles or helping people with the personal stuff that they’re facing. But sadly we have rent, utility bills and other costs that need paying if we’re going to keep a roof over our heads.

And the reason people want our assistance isn’t because of sparkling personalities, witty repartee and amazing personal charisma but because we’ve got decades of experience working in the family law system. Decades of study, driving around the country to just about every family court in England and Wales, research and reading trial bundles big enough to beat someone to death with.

So…if you’re serious about having a chat about your situation – give us a call on 0117 290 0274. Speak to our PA and book an initial consultation.

Do this and the following happens you’ll:

  • Be guaranteed a quick response from us.
  • Have our undivided attention (and not people who want a `quick five minute chat…’
  • Find us working around your schedule.
  • Benefit from the systems we have in place to track your progress and situation.

If you don’t want to invest in your situation so you can benefit from the above – no problem!

We won’t be offended. Our time is valuable however – as we’re sure yours is too.

Over the last decade we’ve built up a reputation of getting to the heart of a problem fast by focusing on what needs doing and what works – rather than lamenting the situation in or how you see the legal system in England and Wales. People are keen to speak to us and we’re massively flattered.

Steven and Michaela's testimonial

Steven and Michaela’s testimonial

What next?

So with all of the above in mind you have the following options:

  1. Phone us on 0117 290 0274 and book in for a meeting.
  2. Use the free resources we generate on various social media platforms.
  3. Speak to a McKenzie Friend who works for free.
  4. Do nothing.

What we do

If you do decide to invest in your situation however we’ll help you with the following:

  1. Complete any kind of paperwork you need help with.
  2. Go through any documents/bundles that need reading and understanding.
  3. Help you deal with any correspondence you have – both what it means and how to respond.
  4. Discuss what your options are throughout your case and tell you what is liable to work and what isn’t.
  5. Come to court with you.
    1. Make sure you know what is going on.
    2. Be with you to assist you during negotiations.
    3. Sit beside you in the hearing itself – to take notes, explain what is going on and tell you your options.
    4. Keep you focused.
    5. Make sure the order made matches what is said in court.

Imagine the above – along with us on hand to help you as little or as much as you need. Available during emergencies (as in `stuff that is happening right now) .

Maybe you need us every step of the way. Maybe you just need the odd meeting to see if what is happening in your situation is ok or not. It’s all good.

So that’s it. Maybe you need our help…maybe you don’t. If you do, our number is 0117 290 0274.

When you need a `bulldog’ by your side

Bulldog of a lawyer?Fight fight fight!

`My solicitor is really scary! He’s nice to me but he scares the hell out of the other side in court! He costs me £275 hour but he’s worth it!’

That’s what he said to me. He loved his solicitor, the man I was speaking to. His solicitor was sharp, aggressive and terrified his ex. And her solicitor too. Pretty impressive stuff. Barely concealed legal threats about no contact, hostile cross examination by a barrister, crippling legal costs and much, much more.

Barks and bites 1

I wasn’t surprised. I’ve met solicitors and barristers like that. They’re actually quite rare though. Most of them are nice enough people (seriously – I’m not `going native’ here) – although I get it can be hard to see it that way when they’re relaying your ex’s words and you seriously don’t like what they’re saying. Most of the best legal professionals are the people you’ll have a chat with and try to make the best of the situation in front of them (you wouldn’t be in court in the first place if it were all sunshine and roses in any case would you?)

But yeah…I’ve met the other sort too. The fixed scowl, the use of language that can seem intimidating and misleading, etc.

You get more flies with honey than vinegarHoney and vinegar

I always joke that the really dangerous’ legal professionals are the ones who charm and leave people walking away thinking `Did I really just agree to that?’ and the inkling that maybe they shouldn’t have done. The old saying `You catch more flies with honey than vinegar’ comes to mind: You’re more likely to achieve your goals with soft words and niceness than kicking in the door of the consultation room and telling the opposite party they’re legally doomed.

`What did the court order in your hearing?’

I asked the father whose solicitor sounded like Conan the Barbarian’s more aggressive big brother. I was picturing him a furry hat, loincloth and carrying a large unwieldy sword. Not a particularly pleasant image from my perspective. Not so soon after breakfast.

The dad in question looked at me like I was an idiot. It was clearly a silly question. His solicitor’s aggression was clearly a good thing. And then he answered.

`Oh. The court wouldn’t allow contact. It’s been 6 months now but my solicitor says it will definitely happen at some point!

Checking Facebook and other things more important than your child contact case

Child contact or Facebook?Finding that lost dog in Arizona or contact with your children?

Contact with your children is the most important thing in the world to you. Not seeing them has caused you to fall into depression. Put you into debt. Ruined friends and relationships. Generally turned your world upside down.

And yet when it comes to doing something about it you do stuff that isn’t going to help. This includes (but isn’t limited to):

  • Going on holiday during a crucial part of your case.
  • Deciding to print your documents the morning of the hearing.
  • Not asking the boss for some time off to do stuff that needs doing because he may say no.
  • Turning up late.
  • Not looking after crucial documents .

Rabbit in the headlights?

Every action has a reason behind it. When people do this sort of thing it’s usually because they don’t want to go to the damn hearing or deal with the horrible paperwork. We don’t blame them for that. It’s a normal (and sane!) reaction when faced with something unpleasant. (It’s different for us. It’s our job and we stay neutral when you’re feeling under pressure).

But how would it be if dealing with these horrible jobs made you gain the feeling that you’ve seized control of the situation? That you’ve ticked something else off the list of things that need to happen to achieve your goals.

And this is something you can do that will help your situation with zero legal knowledge, help from people like us or anything like that. It’s free.

Things to do instead of working on your case?Catch-22

The above is easy to say but can be more challenging to do. But it is possible. Because it’s a mindset thing. And you’re in charge of your mind. Whether it is deciding to give the ex’s solicitor both barrels, telling the judge like it is or choosing to be happy when others wouldn’t be – it’s down to you.

The longer we’ve assisted people the more we’ve realised the more responsibility you take for yourself, the more power you have.

This post comes off the back of a conversation with a colleague who said how frustrated when people seemingly do things to damage their own situations. If the above applies to you…what can you do to make sure you’re making it that little bit easier?

Giving up is easy to do

Giving up - just the path of least resistanceLike water, people take the line of least resistance. In difficult situations they make choices. Granted,  these often seem to be of the `Hobson’s Choice‘ variety.

As water runs down hill, people do whatever it is to make there life as simple as possible.

But nevertheless…you make a choice. One way or another. Keep trying to stay in your child’s life. Or walk away. Do what is in the best interests of your child even though it causes you personal hardship. Or choose something else. Push for another hearing because it is likely a step closer to your goal. Or decide you’ve had enough and give up.

A different perspective

But how would it be if you could look at things in a different way? How would it be if the situation didn’t evoke the emotional response in you it did? How would it be if what you were facing were just another task to work on that you could go through calmly, clearly and knowing whatever happened you’d done `enough?

I can hear the howls from here. `It’s OK for you – you don’t know how it feels!!!’. `You say I have a choice – but I don’t!’. `It doesn’t matter what I do – no one will listen to me!’

How would it be if it didn’t matter what happened?

Read that sentence again…

I’m not saying it doesn’t matter. I’m asking you to imagine for a moment what it would feel like if it didn’t matter. Stop reading this, close your eyes and do that for a moment.

Able to do that? Yes?

You managed to feel OK for a moment? That’s because you can control your emotions. You can make yourself not worry about it. How about if you choose to feel like that all the time?

Yeah…I know. It’s all a bit hippy isn’t it? Next I’ll be opening up an online shop so you can buy joss sticks, Himalayan salt candles and download tracks of whale song. This is the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius…

Or maybe not.

It takes practice

If you could do that – how different would your life be? Would you sleep better at night? Would you care what your ex thought or said? Would you look after yourself more? Would you be in a better frame of mind when you worked on your case?

I think so.

In the 30-plus years between us that we’ve worked in civil litigation we’re shocked by how much attitude plays in the path of a situation compared to actual stuff like actual knowledge and use of the law in a court case. Because it isn’t just a court case…it’s your life.

All this can be done…if you are motivated enough. All this is just a tool you have and just need to use.

Our different view…

Which is why our top McKenzie Friend Michaela Wade is now a coach and hypnotherapist as well as using her amazing legal background and talent at helping people in court.

Because you’re key in this. You can make or break your own case – we can only offer advice. We want you to be clear, focused and on top of your game. And we can help.

It can be done. It’s up to you. We can help. But in the final analysis…it’s about what you want and how much work you’re willing to put into it.

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Want a free cheatsheet with some of these concepts? Click here!

Do you need a `Yes Man’ to help you in your case?

Yes!

Do you need to be validated?

It’s amazing how many people want to convince us that they’re right. We’re…no one. What we thinks doesn’t matter. We can’t make orders in the family court and give you what you want.

Our job could be really easy. We’ll invoice you, agree with you and if/when it goes wrong we’ll have a cup of coffee with you afterwards – telling you that you’ve been stitched up, that the courts are corrupt and that it’s a travesty of justice.

Shooting the messenger

We’re gluttons for punishment though. We’ll tell you that email wasn’t a good idea. We’ll tell you that what you want looks more like a way to stick it to the ex than be child-focused. We’ll tell you that if you keep this up you really need to think about firing us, saving your cash and doing what you were going to do in this first place.

Perhaps…perhaps you’ll listen to us. Perhaps you won’t – and instead you’ll conclude we’re just as bad as the court, your previous solicitor/McKenzie Friend, the social worker, CAFCASS, the psychologist, the school and everyone else…because we’re saying exactly the same thing as them.

Perhaps you’ll decide it’s our fault, fire us and instead to use that nice lady who will speak softly, make you a nice cup of tea and tell you how difficult it is. After all…you’re not paying someone to say stuff that you don’t like are you?

Crystal ballInconvenient truths or comforting lies?

Your solicitor or McKenzie Friend should do a little more than say stuff that gives you the warm fuzzies. That doesn’t mean they should be bullet-headed masochists who want to kick you when you’re down…but they should be able to tell you when you’re in the process of spectacularly screwing your own case up.

Sometimes you’re going to be right. Sometimes…not so much. You really need someone to tell you that. And you need to listen to that. Ever heard of the legend of Cassandra? The prophetess who was cursed to forever know exactly what was going to happen including awful disasters…but doomed to be ignored.

It’s scarily similar to how we feel at times.

A good advert

We want you to do well – let’s be honest…it doesn’t look good on us if too many of our clients got awful outcomes, would it? So we’re going to advise you what is most likely to achieve your goals.

Court is hard enough as it is – we don’t want to fight you too. We want all the energy we have to work together, to get the result that is right and to make it as easy as possible.

As always…it’s down to you.

Court cases and why it’s ALL your fault!

Not for those of a nervous disposition

We’re not going to apologise for saying stuff that you don’t want to hear. #sorrynotsorry

We’re going to be told we don’t understand how hard it is. How we’re kicking people when they’re down. Comments about how we’re meant to be helping people and not giving them a hard time. If we’re really lucky we may get a few nasty messages (it happens).

But what do you really want?

Tea and biscuits?

Tea and biscuits?

Someone who agrees with you, tells how awfully you’ve been treated and how biased the court system is…and then goes on to make an amazing cup of tea while offering you selection of nice biscuits?

That’s not to say there isn’t a place for somewhere to share experiences – consoled by the fact that others know how it feels and to swap war stories.

But there is more to it than that. Much more.

 

Are we just kicking you while you’re down?

You know that saying about a true friend being the one who tells you what you need to hear rather than what you want to hear…? Someone who is ready to have that hard conversation with you because they value you enough as a person to want you to do well?

There are thousands of people who will tell you what you want to hear and a multitude of Facebook groups jam packed with people who write long post over long periods about how their situation never changes.

If we’re honest it’s why you won’t find us posting in any of the many Facebook groups that exist to support parents and others in the family courts. It’s easy to be drowned out by people posting convenient platitudes rather than the inconvenient truths you’ll hear from us.

We want to help people…who are clear and serious about achieving goals that can be achieved with the court system. We’ve got a vested interest in doing our utmost to those we help get the best result possible.

All your fault

And here we are at the final bit of this post. The Jerry Springer – style soundbite past the clickbaity headline is this:

The outcome in a court case is influenced greatly by you. For good or bad. Your behaviour and actions have more impact than you’d think if you’re a big fan of those Facebook groups dominated by that man or woman who tells you how awful it is, how they were skinned alive in their court hearing but forget to mention how they told the judge or a barrister he/she was a c**t in the final hearing – it happens – we’ve seen this.

The man or woman who was focused, considered and did what was needed…they’re not posting in that group. They’ve moved on and working on building a better life and not telling everyone about how you may as well give up.

And your reaction to this post will be telling too. Are you now thinking `Maybe I could do some things better?‘ or are you already formulating the response about why it is someone else’s fault?

Which is it to be?