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TOPIC: Mckenzie freinds

Mckenzie freinds 11 months 4 days ago #91815

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Hello I'd like to begin with bits of my experiences about employing a McKenzie friend.

My ex announced but she was going to relocate and she's already handed her notice in in October 2017,told me November said she's moving December she said she didn't know where and to get back to her in December. My 4 year old son basically told me that it was going to be up north 180 miles away from where I was. I really wanted to get some child arrangements sorted with her I wanted to be able to pick him up from school and have him overnight -still she wasn't agreeing to any of that -she suggested that I go up and stay in a hotel and see him during the day. I decided that there was not enough information and I could make emergency prohibited steps order to the court. I decided to get some legal advice. The McKenzie friend I found was the first one on Google ads he seemed like a bit of a geezer but seemed knowledgeable. However it was expensive £150 for initial consultation of two hours and then £50 there after per hour still it was cheaper than 500 an hour for a barrister.

At court in December The prohibited steps was allowed on the basis not on the basis of the McKenzie friends advice but on the basis that my ex has brought out false safeguarding concerns that the judge said needed investigation. At this point I was looking at another court date in January and possibly another one after that for full child arrangements. I decided not to dispute the prohibited Steps as my son would have a better life the mother needed to move from expensive place and needed to clear her head. My McKenzie friend announced that things were going up from 50 to 75 per hour which annoyed me a bit but I only thought I needed 3 or 4 more hours with him -it's never like that! My ex delayed and lawyered up. They sent me a child arrangements order just before Court and told me not to reply by email but to speak to the barrister in court representing her -someone different!

My McKenzie friend was always in the car or in between court cases in court when ever I phoned him and didn't seem to have my notes whenever it was always on the hop and I had to explain things to him he never had my papers in front of him. I was trying to do this on the cheap because I thought I had reasonableness on my side. Stupidly I just talked to her barrister at 2nd court date but she did not put down my concerns about school pick-ups and not needing the mothers consent for him to stay elsewhere other than the paternal grandparents. I also wanted some sort of prohibited steps to keep her in the jurisdiction to avoid me Chasing her around the bloody country for next 5 years. 3 days after, I don't understand why I did it but her lawyers gave me a short deadline to sign a short section of the child arrangements saying she would come down halfway and drop my son off for the weekend every other weekend. I signed it. Stupid of me because it referred back to the child arrangements for the previous Court date. The next day she's in school with a copy of the court order joined up by her solicitors saying I can't pick my son up from school ever. I go up to pick him up and she's taking him out of School early just spite me. I mean I've been picking him up every Tuesday or Wednesday for two years to go swimming.

I didn't use my McKenzie friend because he was too expensive and I thought I've got the prize of him coming to stay with me still. So I was stuck with having to try and go back to court or try and stop the court order. McKenzie friend said that I could try and stop it saying that I've been hoodwinked and I kinda had been but he said I'll need definitely need him for the court. I paid in £512 for a court day for this McKenzie friends just to turn up. However It got cancelled at the last minute because the court order came through the door a week before the date in march 2018. The judge's obviously seen that I've signed the front page of something and made a consent order using all of the stuff from January written up by her lawyers. In February 2018 My McKenzie friend told me not to talk to her lawyers which I probably should have done looking back. I should have tried to negotiate a new consent order whilst it hung in the balance. He also charged me a massive cancellation fee £300 and also took another hour and a half of time off that for trying to sort out stuff with her lawyers in march.

So to sum it up I still have to go back to court my McKenzie friend has still not paid me back my money from the £512 refund (200). I mean it was my fault that I signed a court order without going through it with a really fine tooth comb and thinking about what possibilities that are for the future for the child arrangements. I shouldn't have been rushed by her solicitors I should have printed everything off and gone through everything and also obtain proper legal advice even from my McKenzie friend. I could have got everything sorted there and then instead I have to go back through mediation and also travel up to where she is now living to go back to court to change the court order to try and see my son if I'm ever up there during the week after school. Plus the child arrangements is inadequate because I don't get to see him for a month now because her half-term falls on my weekend. So my advice is really make sure you do your research negotiate a price you are comfortable with with your McKenzie friend don't be agreeable with them try and do as much research as you can yourself can go to your child arrangements order with a fine tooth comb. Make sure your McKenzie friend is LOCAL - mine was from Wrexham and he had to get to East London which was ridiculous! Plus your McKenzie friend is not legally trained they don't know everything sometimes they know better then lawyers but every case is different and you just have to try and get the best for your child.

The stress is unbelievable. But Have to be patient or die trying!

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Mckenzie freinds 11 months 3 days ago #91821

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Im really sorry that you've had this experience, unfortunately McKenzie Friends are an unregulated body and there are some bad ones out there. The fact that he often wasn't available to you, couldnt recall details of your case and the amount he charged you all ring alarm bells with me.

We always say on here that its important to get recommendations from others, choosing an MF at random is too risky.

Thank you for highlighting what happened to you, others thinking of using the sevices of an MF need to take note of stories such as yours. That said, there are some really good MFs out there and i wouldnt want your experience to put people off, or you for that matter.

If you would like to send me, or any of the others a PM we may be able to help you find someone else, but if you've decided to go ahead without one, we will do all we can to advise and support you.

Am I right in saying that you have a final order by consent, which you wish to change and are in the process of making a further application? If you could post briefly what your current status is that would be helpful.

All the best
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DadTalk Moderator...

I'm not a lawyer or barrister and my responses are based on my own opinions or experiences of the family court.

I may not be legally trained... but I have plenty of experience and common sense!

Mckenzie freinds 11 months 2 days ago #91837

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Hi, I'm really sorry you've had a bad experience with an MF - there are some bad ones, just like there are some bad solicitors, but being unregulated means you don't have any regulatory body to report them to. You can certainly go through the fast track small claims court for any money owing, which is a simple and cheap process (with any luck, just receiving the paperwork will prompt him to pay you, so it will all be done online).

As mojo says, we can probably find you a good one if you do wish to use one still.
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Mckenzie freinds 11 months 21 hours ago #91861

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I'm really sorry to hear you have had a bad experience with a McKenzie Friend & I'm shocked by the charges and upfront payments you have incurred.

Unfortunately, there are some dodgy MF's out there who will take full advantage of someone who to be honest, probably isn't thinking straight and panicking at one of the most difficult times of their life.

I think it's important to remember several things when people look for an MF. Primarily, always get a recommendation, never pay a whole fee up front, a small deposit / cancellation fee is acceptable but agree the terms first, and finally, understand what the role of an MF is. McKenzie Friends are not qualified to give advice, nor are they in charge of your case. The role of an MF in family court is to help with paperwork, explain the court processes to you, assist with negotiations at court prior to the hearing and sit with you during the hearing to take notes and quietly discuss the proceedings where necessary.

Financially you should not be charged more than £25 per hour and expect to pay between 175-350 for a standard hearing including travel & support prior to, during, and after the hearing.

I really hope things work out going forward & it might be worth you seeing a solicitor to find out your legal position before proceeding with your case alone.
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I have several years experience supporting parents in family proceedings as a McKenzie Friend. I am, however, not a lawyer or barrister and my responses are based on my own opinions or experiences of the family court.

Mckenzie freinds 10 months 4 weeks ago #91880

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Hi finally got just £200 from the £512 i paid for a day at court from him. actd- I wouldn't have been able to go to small claims as i didnt have his address and couldn't find his business as a professional mckenzie friend anywhere -such as companies house. More alarm bells! Should've done due dilly in december but with the rush of emergency prohibited steps it was not undertaken.

We have a consent order.

Shes not letting me pick him up from school. It took two months for the school to even respond to any (3) emails about me coming up and having a look. The schools nearly always side with the main carer on who can pick up the child and when. Im so far away it wouldn't be often. I may have to move up there because i don't want to be a weekend dad. I'm not coping with, well, all of it.

Her half-term falls on my weekend, so i dont see him for a month. I've asked and asked but....its always "I'm sticking to the court order".

I've skyped a mediator (25mins -£99) who says we can wait a week and then i can give her £49 for a sheet to put to the court included with the variation c100. Its May now, i hope to get it changed in time for September. However the Mother seems to be willing for mediation despite saying no to everything i've asked her- which is curious. I expect it to be a delaying tactic that incurs more expense on my part: We will have to make it legal as i cant trust her to be reasonable and not use her son as a lever to hurt me.

Incidentally she does say i can pick him up from school- On the friday he is supposed to come down to his grandparents. Its an 8hr round trip. It would mean she would not have to do any travelling herself.



Thanks for the cost advice for MK friends yoda. Informative it is. i will want to find a MKF in the midlands area, so will PM one of you, thanks mojo

It good to know you guys are here. I do know loads of guys going and gone through this but each case is different and it not like we all get together in some (pre-)fightclub kinda way. So therefore we cope on our own. My tactic has been to share only with people who have experienced this or have expertise to help. So all my friends aren't constantly asking. But that practical/logical support was before i needed more emotional support so..might not be the best overall strategy.

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