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Representing myself or Using a Solicitor
Do you think these accusations are solely so that the ex's can get free legal aid?
Accusations are made because ex partners dont want to share children with their dad. They enter a new relationship and want you out of picture, revenge and to get free legal aid.
Ok I’m with you now- thanks for clarifying. If you can afford it, a direct access barrister for final hearing could help a lot. You then have a barrister to do the cross examination of ex and to write a skeleton argument for you. If direct access you would need to do the statement yourself. If using a solicitor and a barrister the solicitor would work with you on the statement. However a direct access barrister would probably look over your statement and advise and you could also get help on here.

The statement is a very important part of final hearing as it is your evidence and you can attach evidence to it, referring to it in the statement. It is also the opportunity to show why it should be 50/50 and to attach a draft order termed in the way you would like it making (and including everything you want on the order).

You could do it yourself and plenty of people have. My own view is a good barrister will get you the results you want. Sometimes an order is reached by agreement on the day before going in to see a Judge via negotiations between barrister and the other side. This usually means compromises on both sides. I wouldn’t recommend that - based on mynn by own experiences. But some of that depends on whether it is a judge on the day or magistrates or which judge it is (if the Barrister knows them). I had the situation of - accept the compromises or go before the judge and risk getting less. Difficult. I accepted the compromises but regret it - I would rather have gone before the Judge, done my best and taken what was ordered (and I think I would have got what I asked for after Judges comments after consent was reached!).

Plenty of people have self repped. You would need to cross examine ex yourself and present your own argument. Some people are more confident about this than others. I wouldn’t do well as I’m not good verbally - I’m better on paper. A big factor as well is Judges are human and can warm to one party or the other - they Judge your demeanour and personality as well.

If you use a solicitor and a barrister then yes it can cost thousands. My solicitor fees were three times those of my barrister fees. The barrister fee can be a fixed fee for the day and include a consultation. After that I have used a direct access barrister - you get a lot more for your money and it costs a lot less overall - but you have to do all the solicitor side of it yourself - writing your statement (usually no more than 8 sides of double spaced A4), preparing the bundle for the hearing etc. If your ex has a solicitor and you don’t then usually that solicitor prepares the bundle instead. But you can’t trust them. And they do dirty tricks and don’t communicate.

Ideally you would have a good solicitor barrister team- that are used to working together. But you’d be talking 8 to 15k probably. A direct access barrister fee could be anything from 1k to 25k (and up!). My view is any barrister costing 1k is not worth spending the money on. But you can get a very very good one for 4K - a one off fee.

If you want 50/50 then it could clinch it for you. But if you are confident at representing yourself then you may get it anyway.

You would also be cross examined by ex (or her legal team) - mostly the cross examination would be on your statement- their job is to trip you up and find inconsistencies in your statement to try and prove you are lying (that works both ways). The lawyers job is to do that to win the case by proving the other person is lying so the whole of their statement is then undermined. Which is why it is crucial that everything in your statement is 100% accurate. and truthful. Anything you say in it is just words unless backed up by evidence. And it needs a few drafts over two or three weeks to get it just right.

What tends to happen is ex’s do a lot of lying and slagging off in their statements and it can be a shock to read it (statements are formally exchanged just before the hearing) but if what they write is not backed nil by evidence it is classed as “he said she said “ and mudslinging. Courts don’t like mudslinging so yours shouldn’t include any. Just calm reasoned facts and arguments with a focus on what is best for the children.

If you get the same Judge it sounds good - but I had a different one for final hearing.

If your ex has a legal team , it could be a good idea to at least have a direct access barrister yourself. An ex with a legal team can do some shitty stuff. I read once if a final hearing being adjourned in the day for a fact finding when an ex solicitor insisted on it and further allegations.

When is the final hearing? Have a think about it.
Thanks Charlie, I’ve chosen to go with a solicitor and a barrister for the final day. As you say the ex is a slippery one and I fully expect fowl play from her legal team. Her legal team in my preliminary hearing tried to get the judge to ask cafcass to do the report again because of domestic abuse claims (false accusations). Judge said it would be a waste of time and there is no need as stated cafcass no longer need to be involved. I’ve been quoted £5k for solicitors and from 2k up for the barristers fees. It is what it is I know it’s quite rare for a school change but I believ I have very good grounds. I probably am the only one to say this but I’m actually looking forward to my final hearing in February. I feel like everything is finally going to be dealt with and yes I want the result I want and what’s best for kids but even if I don’t I know the ex is powerless over me and everything I get will be clear and I’m black and white so she can not control that anymore. Any tips with my statement? I’ve been reading to keep it focused on the welfare check list and why it’s in best interest for children, and to not slag the ex off in my statement to
I would also try to have some of it in your own words - a sort of open honest heartfelt bit about why you think the children would benefit from the 50/50 schedule, what sort of things you do together - eg swimming on Sundays (when it’s not the pandemic), maybe mention the benefit of full family relationships with both sets of grandparents and extended family, any friends they have near you etc. How your work enables you to be there at xyz time and any previous parenting from before divorce - eg if you’ve always been hands on, done the school run, cook etc.

Your solicitor should give tips with the statement.

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