Do I need a lawyer?
Well, that’s a question and a half.
The answer really has to be: it depends.
You see, you’re obviously in court over arrangements for your children, or another domestic issue, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this, and that means that there is a disagreement that you and your partner or ex partner or other party cannot resolve by yourselves.
People end up in court because one or the other, or both parties, are being unreasonable, or because one or other has fears about their given situation. The bottom line is that you cannot resolve whatever it is between the two of you and one of you has felt that it is necessity to involve the courts.
One presumes that you will have already tried mediation – and if not, then that is your first port of call. The courts require you to have at least attended a MIAM (mediation information and assessment meeting) to see if mediation is suitable for your case, before you make an application to the court. Indeed, the applications to court for certain maters (children, finance) require the mediator to sign off on your form, either to say mediation has been tried and failed, that mediation is not suitable, or that one of the exemptions apply to your circumstances. In any case, if you’re reading this, you’ll likely already have tried that route and are now seeking further advice and guidance or representation for your case.
So, do you need a lawyer?
Well, if the situation is not complex, then no. If the situation is complex, then yes. And sometimes if the situation doesn’t seem complex, the answer is still yes, and sometimes if the situation is complex, the answer will be no.
It’s impossible to tell whether or not you will need a lawyer until the case starts and the judge or the magistrates have given directions for what should happen next.
On the whole, nothing much happens at a first hearing for a child arrangements order, unless the parties agree, in which case a final or interim order can be made by consent. However, if one or other of the parties has issues or concerns, or CAFCASS have found issues during the safeguarding checks, then it may well be the case that the judge will give further directions as to what will happen next.
Some people manage to navigate the family courts without a lawyer and some would never dream of attempting to do so by themselves. Only you can decide whether or not a lawyer is necessary, however if you are nervous about making that decision yourself because you do not know whether your case is complex or not, or whether it will become more complex as things progress, then you can always approach us for some initial advice and guidance.
Our services allow you to pick and choose what help you need with your case, so we can provide you with as little as an hour’s advice appointment to taking full conduct of your case, including representation. We’re also very forthright and honest and will ensure you know exactly where we think you need a lawyer and where we think you could manage without one.