Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Arise the Litigant in Person

The reduction in Legal Aid is predicted to see an increase in the number of litigants in person. Is this a problem?

There is no research to suggest that cases take longer with a litigant in person. However the Judge and the solicitor on the other side are expected to assist as far as possible. If your opponent is a litigant in person then you will be expected to approach with caution, it can increase your own client's costs as the litigant in person is given more time, you are expected to assist them, for example producing the Court bundle (5 copies of the evidence) even if your client is the Respondent. You are not expected to give them legal advice but neither can you take advantage of their lack of legal and court procedure knowledge.

I have met with a number of clients who have attempted to represent themselves. In every case they have not known what their legal best interests were and have acted accordingly.

Heather Mills did herself no favours by representing herself. Being a litigant in person for financial reasons is one thing... choosing to be a litigant in person when you can afford representation is a potential act of self sabotage.

There is not just the financial aspect. The emotional shield that a solicitor provides is very important. I know from personal experience. I endured an acrimonious divorce with my ex husband telling me he chose the most aggressive local firm. His financial non disclosure was deliberate and continued. In the end I had to employ solicitors at great financial cost to represent me. They carried out my instructions. I do not think they got a better result than I would have alone but they did remove the huge anxiety of self representation.

One good thing, going through an acrimonious divorce has helped me understand what my clients are going through far better, it's a bit like having a midwife who has had children of her own!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Lawyers warn against cheap Divorce Services

An article in The Observer outlines the pitfalls of using an online divorce service.

The article states that it is suitable for people with no assets, or children and who have had a short marriage.

I have seen a number of people who have used an online service and then have had to instruct a solicitor to deal with the financial and children matters so the perceived cost saving is lost.

Trying to sort out your finances without legal advice can result in regret and unfairness... When I first trained I ws told you would not attempt to do your own conveyancing to buy a house so why your own divorce finances?

The message is from the President of the Law Society... it is her job to support solicitors but she does have a point!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Do women keep falling for the same type?

Seems like it according to the Daily Mail report on Jordan!!!!.

Katie Price has split from Alex claiming he has turned into the double of Peter Andre!

What worries me about that is I really like Peter Andre! I think he is a great dad.

Oh dear, it is sad to see hopes dashed but Miss Price no doubt has the resources to recover!!!

Apparently she had no Pre Nuptial Agreement which is concerning...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Separating parents to pay Government to work out child support?

In this age of Government cut backs and the Tory aim to promote marriage, the Government is considering charging separating couples if the Child Support Agency, or it's replacement, is involved according to the Daily Telegraph

It is too expensive to run the Child Support Agency. Why not refer the matter back to Court along with the rest of the Divorce? Oh yes, the Government are trying to encourage separating couples to mediate rather than use the Courts.

The Child Support Agency has been replaced by the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission which is also going to be replaced. Meanwhile The Child Support Agency carries on dealing with Child maintenance issues.

They state that their backlog has decreased dramatically. In my dealings with them, I only ever elicit a response when I threaten to complain. Some of their rules are just plain nonsense. They can only ask for certain information at each stage and it is beholden on the party to ask why, what, when, how? They make a decision without revealing the reason so again a major investigation is needed to work out what is going on. Under data protection they will not reveal income details to the parent with care. The whole system is unsatisfactory and the variation and appeal process is time consuming and again it is up to the parent to request this.

If the Courts dealt with child support they would have full financial disclosure as would both parents. The procedure would be explained. Appropriate Court fees could be charged.

The threat of a Child Support Agency charge is not going to make people decide to stay married. Or maybe it will... how sad is that? Imagine the kitchen plaque " We only stay together because of the Child Support Agency"

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Pre Nuptial Agreements to be made legally binding?

Government legal advisers are drawing up plans to make Pre Nuptial Agreements legally binding according to the Daily Mail

Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Depends whether you want to rely on one or not.

It is a good thing if it provides certainty and reduces litigation.

It is a bad thing if it causes financial hardship.


Legal Advice remains the same:

It is better to have a Pre Nuptial Agreement than not to have one provided it is completed properly -

1. No undue pressure.

2. Enough time to consider whether to sign.

3. The opportunity to take legal advice

4. Full financial disclosure.

5. No fraud or mistake.

6. Takes account of a change in circumstances since it was signed.

A Pre Nuptial Agreement is one of the factors that a judge can take into account and if it is fair and completed properly is likely to be given legal weight.

Why get married without one?