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DAD.info | DAD BLOGS: Marc | Litigant in Person

Litigant in Person

I am shortly due to attend court again in the ongoing saga of my divorce. This time it is an important court date to me, the final child custody hearing

I have had legal advice with reference to all my divorce proceedings, but have decided represented myself in court. The bottom line on the matter is that I have already saved over  £ 5000 from my legal costs by representing myself, money I hadn’t got, nor could afford . My decision not to have legal representation is dictated by need.  The dilemma I faced for the custody hearing was –  spend £2000 extra + VAT for  barrister or continue doing it myself? As much as I would have loved to have a barrister to represent my case, financially it is simply not an option.

The first few court appearances were formalities and some basic research made them easy to handle although it was difficult trying to stay focused and keep my emotions in check. With changes in Legal Aid more parents are taking the ‘do it yourself’ option, and hopefully the court officials are there to help.

Having a solicitor to help with the statements and guide you through the protocol is essential, but if all this is possible to achieve over the phone it becomes much cheaper. You can always fain ignorance in court to get points explained to you if officials begin to get to pompous! From my experience the magistrates don’t like it when a barrister plays ” I am a barrister/solicitor and you are ignorant” game.

I am also acting as Litigant in Person on the Divorce as well, which is mainly a paper work procedure, but I might get help on the financials. The reason for this being that court orders for custody can be revisited the financial settlement is final!

Some may say that my strategy is not a good one, however, if you are strapped for cash it is the only option. I believe the emotion you bring can’t be expressed as well by a third party. However, if there are major issues like violence, drink or anger issues you may be better with a solicitor. Emotion is good, but you need to be able to control it.

It is a role you have to play, you need to rehearse and plan for the what-ifs ….. and it is not easy …so far I have been successful. Most decisions went my way until my ex-wife withdrew from mediation…. Will it go all well next week?  I have no idea. I have however accepted the worse outcome and know anything above that will be a bonus…. 

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