GOING IT ALONE IN THE FAMILY COURT

 

A litigant in person is someone who represents themselves within Court proceedings instead of instructing a solicitor or barrister.

In recent times there has been an increase in litigants in person in Court proceedings, often led to believe that they must represent themselves because legal representation is unaffordable.

A report entitled ‘Standing Alone: going to the family court without a lawyer’ by the Citizens Advice Bureau illustrated that a number of litigants in person found representing themselves very time consuming, complicated and emotionally draining.

So, what are the main difficulties you will face if you choose to go it alone?

Litigants in person often find it difficult to meet with a solicitor and think that if they represent themselves they can work around their existing schedule.  It is important to consider instructing a solicitor who is flexible with appointments. At Pictons we work around our clients, even offering weekend appointments, so we can fit appointments around work and other commitments.

Representing yourself requires many hours of work and this will be on top of employment and family commitments. Many litigants in person report that they experienced strain in their working and personal life and found it difficult to maintain their normal job and routine whilst running and preparing their case. Our expert team at Pictons aim to take this strain away and will work to relieve this pressure, ensuring your case is handled with care and sensitivity.

Litigants in person often believe that they will save considerable money by not paying legal fees during the course of the proceedings.  However, representing yourself can come at a cost.  Litigants in person reported an increase in financial stress as many of them lost working hours preparing their Court case.  Many litigants in person do not realise that they will have to meet the cost of printing, photocopying and postage.  A litigant in person is unlikely to understand the complex issues surrounding financial settlements.  This is where a solicitor adds the most value.  Our expert team of solicitors will advise you on the most favourable financial outcome.

Generally, Judges tend to be helpful towards litigants in person.  They are prepared to explain legal issues to ensure there is a level playing field if only one party is represented but attending Court can still be daunting.  Whilst acting in person is certainly an option for some people, it is not suitable for everyone and there are benefits of being represented by a solicitor. Our expert team are thoroughly trained and rigorously tested in their knowledge and have vast experience of handling complex and sensitive issues.

At Pictons we are happy to discuss funding your case so we work within your budget and we will consider whether other funding options may be available.

Eleanor Johnson, a member of the Family Team at Pictons comments “I have come across many litigants in person during my time at Pictons and understand the issues they currently face. Family proceedings are a difficult and emotional time for the parties involved.  It is important to think carefully before representing yourself and I would always encourage an initial meeting with a solicitor to discuss what the proceedings will involve and all the options”.

If you have any questions relating to a family matter our Family team can help you consider your position and provide a solution. We offer fixed fee appointments for anyone seeking to discuss legal matters and to help you understand all the options available to you. If you would like to book an appointment at either our Luton, Tring or Milton Keynes offices, please call the Family Department on 0800 302 9448.

 

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