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DIY family law - should I represent myself?

View profile for Bethany Corday
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DIY family law - should I do it myself?

Accessing legal advice or representation can be costly. It is important that you have access to legal advice before you consider how to resolve a dispute in relation to a family matter.

Access to legal aid is now available in only limited circumstances and as a result, many of our clients are now required to fund the costs of legal advice and representation from their own pockets.

As a result, many now turn to the internet for guidance on how to manage and to progress their case. Alternatively, some may speak to friends or family members who have been in a similar situation.

Whilst the internet is an invaluable resource, it cannot replicate case specific advice from a specialist. Resources online provide generic, often outdated or inaccurate information. Whilst legitimate sources can provide generic information, it does not provide the benefit of having tailored advice, specific to your set of circumstances.

It is important that if you have a family law related query, that the advice you receive is accurate and specific to your circumstances. The advice that you receive may not mirror the advice we would provide to another client.

If you do choose to represent yourself without the benefit of advice, you may be at risk of missing key pieces or information or evidence.

It is important to access advice from the outset as the court may not allow you to rely on additional evidence late on in the proceedings. It is important to have a list of relevant information that you wish to rely upon to support your case from the outset.

You may not succeed in your application if you have missed legal arguments that could have been made to support your case.

Any orders made, may not be worded in such a way to protect you and your position fully, which may make matters more difficult and acrimonious for you and your family once proceedings have concluded.

If an order has been made, it is important that you understand the terms of the order and the implications if you fail to comply. Breaching family court orders can have serious consequences, including in some circumstances, committal to prison.

If you do not comply with an order, this may result in a hearing not being effective or your application being dismissed. The court may refuse permission for you to rely on a piece of information if it is late.

We take the time to listen to you and the information you provide in relation to your circumstances. Across the department, we have a wealth of knowledge and experience over a vast number of areas of family law. We can advise you on your case with tailored advice.

Many of our family team members are also members of Resolution. The Resolution website can provide up to date information that may assist you in your case.

The gov.uk website is also a reliable source of information, including information in relation to applying for a McKenzie friend to support you. If you wish to have a McKenzie friend support you, it is important that you notify the court and any other parties at the earliest opportunity.

We have a number of videos on our website and YouTube channel to help you in relation to preparing yourself for family court proceedings.

At Stephensons, we offer a variety of packages, including initial fixed fee appointments and ongoing representation throughout your case.

We understand that legal advice is not easily affordable for some clients. But, it is important to have access to advice from the outset to ensure that you are able to achieve the best possible outcome for your case. If you like to speak to a member of the team please call us on 0161 696 6193.

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