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Dispute Resolution hearing: Solicitor or Barrister?
#1
Ok, so far I have I attended 2 court hearings for a child arrangements order, the first being a first directions hearing which lasted about 10 minutes and the second was an interim contact hearing which I had a Barrister for which was scheduled for 2 hours but only lasted for 20 minutes! That was an expensive 20 minutes I had paid! Both times my ex failed to attend for a different reason which was plausible but being so important she could have made alternative arrangements, nevertheless, the Judge wasn't very impressed by her failure to attend again!

Anyway, I now have a dispute resolution hearing for the end of October, whether my ex will turn up for that I do now know, we shall see, bearing in mind though that so far she has no legal representation and corresponds through my solicitor all of which is costing me additional money which I can ill afford. 

So, I have been told by my solicitor that for the next hearing I can either appoint a Barrister again to represent me which would cost over £1000 or I could use my solicitor which will be cheaper but I do not who to use. Does anybody have any suggestions who would be ideal to use for the dispute resolution hearing? I would obviously prefer to keep costs down and use my solicitor but would my solicitor be adequate or is a Barrister better for me to get the results I want?

Any suggestions and advice be greatly welcomed. Thanks
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#2
That really depends on the complexity of the case. If you have a solicitor or barrister for the day then you have to pay whether the ex turns up or not. The judge [should you ask] likely award your costs to your ex but thats a shit load of money to bet on.

As far as arguing the case and getting the best outcome you most definitely need a barrister, NOT a solicitor.

However scary it might seem I wholeheartedly recommend just attending yourself. I had a barrister and solicitor, despite how good they were I realise I could have done it all myself. I also never got to say a single word in court and I think it hurt my case not being able to show my personality and love for child.

If she's likely not to turn up then represent yourself and get a barrister for the final hearing.

Ask your solicitor to work on an advice only status, and inform them to just forward your ex's communication to you. Otherwise your ex will harrass your solicitor at your expense.
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#3
Thanks for your comments and advice which I will take on-board. I don't think I would want to represent myself in court as I don't think I would be brave enough to do that, also being such an important situation I would want to make sure it is done properly and I wouldn't want to mess it up or my brain goes to jelly!

I was under the impression that my next hearing which is the dispute resolution hearing was the final hearing but perhaps that is not the case then? If that is so then maybe I will use a solicitor for this one then a barrister for the final hearing, what do you think?
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#4
I would self represent at next hearing. It isnt a final hearing and your ex may choose to not show up again. For final hearing you could then get a solicitor or barrister
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#5
Why are you asking your ex to communicate via your solicitor if she has no representation? I would suggest saving unnecessary costs where possible and liaise with your ex directly via email, if at some point she chooses to engage legal representation then you already have a solicitor on standby who would know your case well.

Nothing much will happen at a Directions Hearing unless you and the ex come to an agreement. If no agreement is reached by consent then it's onto a final hearing where I would engage the services of a barrister if you feel you need one.
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#6
I think it depends what you want out of it and what you’ve applied for. At a dispute resolution hearing they often spend a lot of time trying to broker an agreement - they bring Cafcass and sometimes solicitors will thrash out agreement. If no agreement reached it goes to final hearing and an interim agreement might be put in an interim order. I have had agreement reached via solicitors thrashing things out before but it ended up with a rubbish order that wasn’t sealed on the day. So there are pros and cons to going alone or represented. If going alone you just have Cafcass trying to broker agreement. If your ex has legal representation I wouldn’t go without a legal rep as ex solicitors can pull dirty tricks on the days, claim allegations etc.

A lot depends on your case. What did you apply for, are there any allegations and are you getting any contact right now? Assuming all is straightforward I would say go with Solicitor if you need someone with you. But give them clear instructions that if agreement is reached on the day for a consent order that you want the order typing up and sent for sealing on the day while at court.

If your ex doesn’t turn up you won’t lose as much money. If she does then you have some support and someone to talk for you. But I wouldn’t compromise on what you’ve asked for. If Cafcass can’t get agreement then it’ll go to final hearing and you then get a chance to get the order you want.

I am actually having the same dilemma - whether to take Solicitor or barrister to first hearing - but it’s an enforcement application so different thing. I can’t do it alone as ex has an evil solicitor.
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#7
Thanks for all your replies so far, it's certainly worth taking all your views into consideration. I received a call from CAFCASS a few days ago who will be visiting just myself at my home next week. In the meantime, my ex has had either a home visit or phone call from I believe the same CAFCASS officer that I will be seeing. The problem is, and I do not know what is true and what my ex has made up, is the fact that she has now got in there first and probably making out that I am the bad guy in all of this just so it looks like she is right.

She has copied me in on 2 different emails that she sent to CAFCASS and my solicitor with her proposed child contact arrangements which I find completely preposterous as they are quite clearly done in a way that suits my ex.

She goes from one extreme of not letting me see my kids to suddenly 'dumping' my kids on me on virtually every single day that I have regardless if I have plans or not. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids but I obviously need time to myself as I work shifts and quite often work 7 days in a row with just a couple of days off so I need some time to myself and have some social life as well, not that I get much anyway! My solicitor did tell me some time ago that because I am the one that is applying for the CAO it is me who decides what contact I want and not my ex.

What I am worried about now though is the fact that my ex has shown the CAFCASS officer her proposed contact arrangements which apparently my ex said that the officer agrees with but I am not happy with it one bit as my ex also expects me to drop off and collect the kids on some occasions from her boyfriends house where my ex sometimes stays which is miles away, so why should I use my petrol just to suit her needs? My ex is extremely controlling and loves dictating to me what I should and should not do.

But when I see the CAFCASS officer next week and show them my proposed contact arrangements which will show less contact than my ex has proposed, will this go against me and make me look bad in court? Does CAFCASS have a big influencing part on how the judge makes the final decision as if this is the case then what is the whole point in me spending thousands of pounds on solicitors and court fees and having to get a loan to pay for all of this when I do not get the result that I want?

That is my main concern now that my ex will get exactly what she wants without having to pay for anything and that will just make her gloat and yet gain she will be controlling me and holding all the cards to get what she wants all the time just to suit her.
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#8
The court will only put the children in your care for the times that you state you are available.

Cafcass are very powerful in the court arena and a significant amount of emphasis is placed on their recommendations however, sometimes they do get it wrong and you will have the chance to cross examine the officer (if you don't agree with the report) at the final hearing.
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#9
well I don't want to be judgmental and I'm not even sure if I'm reading this correctly, but it comes across as though that both the parties are at the court ( and CAFCASS got involved too !) because they want the other party to have more time with the children ? which is a first for me, in which case I don't see much of a point for barrister/solicitor.

By the way ex making up stuff, telling lies and twisting her stories to CAFCASS to suit her case is a proper textbook case ! I wouldn't worry about that.
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#10
Most important thing is to work out what contact you can manage within your
work schedule . Your ex shouldnt be emailing including cafcass in conversation. Best place to pick up child/children ideally is from school . Picking up from a location where her boyfriend is present is ridiculous due to hostility and kids would witness conflict. Your ex probs could force situation where u pick up and drop if u cant do school. This should be a neutral location preferably with cctv which normally forces ex partner and her boyfriend to behave themselves in a proper way. Do not listen to anything your ex is saying ..cafcass wouldnt of agreed to her schedule she is winding u up. However the fact she is throwing lots of contact or some contact is a good thing. What are actually looking for contact wise . In general its half the holidays ..pick up from school friday every other week until sun pm or Monday am.. and 1 or 2 overnights during a week ..generally one
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