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Guide to Court 3: False Allegations, Cafcass & Representing Yourself

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 2 Feb 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Guide Court False Allegations Contact

Here is part 3 of our Guide to Court. This part of the guide explains: how to handle false allegations and perjury; dealing with cafcass and representing yourself in court. There are also three sample letters for you to use as templates. You can download the entire guide (see below) or you can read it here it on the site.

If you haven't already done so why not read part 1 - the 1st hearings, court forms and writing a court statement

and

part 2 - constructing a skeleton argument and using character references

Perjury or False Allegations

Perjury is committed where a person is proven to have lied in court. The elements necessary for a conviction of perjury are:
  • Deliberate lie
  • Told whilst on oath
  • Proven to be a lie

Whilst lying on oath is probably most common in divorce proceedings where emotions are often running high, these are the cases in which it can be the most difficult to prove, as it is essentially one person's word against the other.

Where perjury is proved, the penalties can be high and even include short prison sentences. However those committing perjury, in divorce proceedings particularly, are not always prosecuted due to the difficulty in proving lies.

How to deal with perjury during a trial

There are no particular rules on how to deal with a witness who you know has just lied under oath. However there is a "trick" that most barristers use:
  • Check what the witness has just said with them
  • Ask for more specific details about what they have just said (allowing them to dig themselves into a deeper hole)
  • Point out the conflicting witness statement or evidence that proves they are lying
  • Directly point out one must be incorrect and ask which
  • Suggest to witness that they are now deliberately misleading the court (don't be surprised if they deny or don't answer; you're point has been made to the court)

For Example:

Sue says to court that John never helped out with the children or around the house.

John's barrister: You said that John never helped out with the children or around the house isn't that correct?
Sue: Yes
Barrister: So you had to pick up the children every day from school isn't that right?
Sue: Yes
Barrister: You cooked tea for the children every night didn't you?
Sue: Yes
(etc. - don't overdo the confirmation questions - 3 or 4 will do)
Barrister: Can you look at this statement please. What is this document?
Sue: My witness statement
Barrister: This statement was made by you wasn't it?
Sue: Yes
Barrister: That's your signature on the last page isn't it?
Sue: Yes
Barrister: Please can you read the last paragraph to the court
Sue: "I confirm that this statement is true to the best of my knowledge and belief"
Barrister: So everything you have written in this statement is true?
Sue: Yes
Barrister: Please read the first line of the fifth paragraph
Sue: "I usually finished work at 6:30pm and didn't get home until 8pm on the bus as John wouldn't let me have the car."
Barrister: If you didn't get home until 8pm, how did you always pick the children up from school and cook their tea when they finish school at 3pm?
Sue: (Her response is really irrelevant)
Barrister: I suggest Mrs Smith that you are in fact deliberately trying to mislead the court today aren't you?
Sue: (Again her response is irrelevant - you have shown the court that she has lied and discredited her whole evidence)

The general rule to allow them to say enough that they can't say it was a simple misunderstanding of the question. (A misunderstanding won't discredit the rest of their evidence.) This technique is colloquially called "give them enough rope to hang themselves".

Dealing with Cafcass

Cafcass are the Child And Family Court Advisory and Support Service. They are experienced in dealing with matters involving children, from care proceedings to residence disputes.

You will come across Cafcass if you apply to the court for any order involving your children. Essentially a Cafcass officer will report to the court advising them on what is best for the children (which may not necessarily be the position you are asking the court to impose).

Usually Cafcass will want to meet with you to discuss the application made. It will always be best for you to cooperate with Cafcass and arrange a meeting. Remember that the court will very rarely pass a ruling on an application that is against the recommendations of the Cafcass officer. The meeting is therefore your chance to openly explain your side of the matter to the Cafcass officer and discuss possible alternative arrangements and the impact these would have on you.

Tips for your meeting / discussions with Cafcass

  • Be honest with the officer (they are highly experienced and trained to spot lies or inconsistencies)
  • Be open and answer questions fully (they are not asking about your day-to-day activities to judge you but to get a fuller picture of your family life. Therefore if you go clubbing once a week while your mother babysits the children, say so)
  • Don't be afraid to disagree with the officer (if they suggest a solution which you don't think would work, such as would involve any unreasonable amount of travelling on your part, explain this to them - It may mean they don't suggest this as an agreeable solution to the court)
  • Don't be embarrassed (the officer will have heard every possible scenario before and I can assure you that there will always be situations worse than yours!)

Representing yourself in court

On TV you often see a dark wooden courtroom with a judge sitting high up behind a bench, lots of barristers all wearing black gowns and wigs, someone at the back behind a glass screen, witnesses giving evidence from their special wooden box, and journalists hurriedly writing down every word said.

This is a criminal court - NOT family court.

Family court is much more informal. There will still be a judge sitting at the front behind a bench, but no one wearing wigs and gowns and there are rarely any media present.

Media and the family court

Family court used to conduct all its work in private. However this led to a lack of public confidence in the court system and so family court proceedings are now open to the public. There are lots of restrictions on journalists in these cases though. For example they are not allowed to publish any details that would identify any child involved in court proceedings. Some proceedings such as those involving domestic abuse are often still held in private.

Consider however, the public interest in knowing your family's contact or residence arrangements for your children. A good test is whether a stranger on the next street would care about what your arrangements are. No? Then it is unlikely that a newspaper will pay a journalist to report on your particular case. (Contrary to common belief even many murder cases go unreported in the media as there are just too many cases and unless you're famous or the case involves something horrific such as extremely serious child abuse or mass murder, often there is no point in publishing it as it doesn't sell papers.)

Partial representation

When in court, you will have to stand up and tell the judge your case. You will also have to answer any questions about your case from both the other side and the judge. The judge will stop your ex-partner interrupting you, but can't stop them pulling faces etc which can be off-putting.

If you are happy to do everything yourself but feel a bit anxious about this part, you can opt to just instruct counsel (a solicitor advocate or barrister) to represent you for the final hearing. This will severally reduce your costs but may relieve some of the worry for you.

Free help and advice

There are ways to get help with your case without paying for it however so you're not on your own!

You can get legal advice and help preparing your case (including the points you want to say in court) at your local Citizen's Advice Bureau. They sometimes have walk-in clinics but often allow you to make appointments to discuss matters too. You will still have to speak for yourself in court, but if what you say is pre-planned, it isn't as hard.

You may also be able to get representation in court via Legal Aid if you have a low income and so can't afford to hire a lawyer privately. This may also exempt you from paying court fees to lodge your case.

Letter Template: Requesting a character reference

[YOUR ADDRESS]
[DATE]

Dear [name],

I am writing to ask you to give me a character reference.

I am going to the family courts in [PLACE]. This is in relation to a [contact / residence / parental responsibility] application. This character reference may be considered by the court to help my case.

Below are some tips which may help you in writing the reference.

Useful tips for what referees should include in your reference:

  • Address to the judge directly (if known) or to the relevant court
  • State how you know the person you are writing the reference for and how long you have known them
  • Any positive attributes you can attest to
  • Any activities of the person you wish to draw to the court's attention
  • The likely effect on the person of the order being or not being granted
  • Only state the truth (it is an offence to mislead the court and will likely damage the person's case)
  • Sign and date your reference
  • If possible put the reference on letter-headed paper

Please return the reference to me at the above address so that I can forward it with the relevant papers to the court.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to help me in this matter.

Yours sincerely,

[SIGNATURE][YOUR NAME]

Letter Template: Cover letter to send with your court statement and court forms

[YOUR ADDRESS]
[DATE]

Dear Sirs,

Please find enclosed my court statement and forms in relation to my application for [contact order / residence order etc].

Please can you confirm receipt of these forms via post (to the above address) or email (to [email]).

Yours faithfully,

[SIGNATURE]

[YOUR NAME]

Template letter: Representing yourself

[YOUR ADDRESS]
[DATE]

Dear Sirs,

(Re: Case Number [CASE NUMBER])

Please note for your files that I will be representing myself as a litigant in person in the above case.

I propose to bring with me [NAME] as my supporter and [NAME] as witness.

If you have any objections to me representing myself, please notify me within the next three days.

Yours faithfully,

[SIGNATURE]

[YOUR NAME]

We know that some of the dads on here don't have much spare cash. So we are offering the downloadable guides for free.

To help us develop more guides and other products to help separated dads we would really appreciate a small PayPal donation. Our content is written by a qualified barrister. It would really help us and we would appreciate it.

More information

If, after using our information, you have successfully negotiated the court process and managed to secure a court order enabling some kind of access, contact or residency order, congratulations! If you are finding that the court order is not being adhered to, then you may want to take a look at our guide: After the Initial Court Order.

** NEW** Separated Dads Chat Room & Forum

The Separated Dads Forum is a place where you can discuss relevant issues and concerns including Child Access, Maintenance, CAFCASS, Fathers Rights, Court, Behaviour or just have a general chat with other dads.

Please help us launch it and make it a great resource for dads going through difficult times. We hope to see you on the Forum soon....

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[Add a Comment]
Okay I have an issue, My 16 yr old daughter gave birth to my grand daughter in December , the conception was when she was 15yrs of age ....the father is applying for custodybut has lied about what information he was given about her vulnerability ....I maintain that as she was subject to a child protection plan for sexual exploitation andmy grand daughters father was fully aware of this... what if anything can I do to inform the court of his lies...This is also being investigated by the police with whom I have given a statement.
Kevjames29 - 2-Feb-17 @ 1:10 AM
I need help . My husband has made false accusations against me of dv , now I'm to be summoned to court on 2 charges of assault.I can handle that but they are using my 8 year old daughter against me in court, has anyone come across this before ?
Lost mum - 28-Jan-17 @ 1:48 PM
@Georgio - thanks for the advice. It's a minefield out there for sure. Lee.
LBH87 - 28-Nov-16 @ 2:38 PM
People you need to understand that even solicitor and Baristers can get it wrong. And it will be you that will lose and pay out money. Befor you go to see a solicitor or report something to social service you need to get your fact straight or it will cost you double the money. Just going to a Solictor don't mean your trouble are over they mean your troubles have just began. People you need to prepare months before you get legal advice. The firs hour is free in a good solicitor practice, be prepared take a note pad don't be shy talking get all the information you need get a law book steady your problem before you take it all the way. And if you skint and can't afford to go to court you need to use cunning. Even if you Solicitor says you have a good chance also if you get legal aid you still may have to pay it back out of a settlement and be left with nothing but a headache or much worse. Don't trust or speak to the person you are he is taking you to court. Keep a diary at all times and believe in yourself.
Georgio - 28-Nov-16 @ 6:11 AM
The best why forward for anyone that just can't afford to pay out money is to make the other party take the mater to court first, then all you have to do is prove them wrong by working hard and getting as many people that you know can testify on your side. If you are a just and good person then you will do all right. The judges can see the truth and you should never over do it in court just believe in yourself and family's around you they to can help letters don't cost money. And if you need to involve a solicitor then get take your time, log things that the court would like to know. Months befor a court case started. Also even if you don't need to do all this becouse you put your trust in your partner or family member when it comes to kids and problems you should always start as soon as possible and have a day to day dairy and write down anything that you may need in the future. Believe in yourself, You can do it.
Georgio - 28-Nov-16 @ 5:47 AM
Hi Duchess, There are similarities with your situation and mine, although I currently have residency of my grand-child under a child arrangements order. Social services recommended it and the judge made the order. Next time I saw the social worker was at a monthly child in need meeting where she announced the case was now closed. And that is when the trouble began.... Hostility in many firms from both parents and no support for me, left to deal with it alone. And of course there is a toddler being used as a pawn by her parents. Malicious child protection referrals to social services about me all proved unfounded. Then the court summons drops through my letterbox. Then come the false allegations, which the social worker repeats in her report to the court. She did not even ask me about them all but made out she had. If she had I could have given her evidence of the lies, she asked about 2 different allegations and them merged them to say that was my reply to what was never out. It is all bonkers. I feel for you Duchess, you are not alone. Good luck
Speck - 12-Nov-16 @ 6:40 PM
Hi all I'm due to attend a first hearing for access to my Grandaughter who I raised when her mom my daughter was young after little one was on a child protection plan then child in need plan we all worked to get her mom has had many problems including attacking me and my partner her step dad baby's dad not involved we've been given permission from the courts to apply for the child's arrangements order but carcass r not helping and state that the courts can't make a interim order cause mom had parental responsibility yet carcass have not listed all moms behaviour and have stated to think carefully before giving us contact mom has lied stating we abused her but we didth and went school reports when she was younger and baby's father can't be involved as daughter stated to police at the time it was a alleged rape can we instruct that the judges request a DNA test to determine if he is the baby's father and can the judges make an order or does a section seven have to been done first any help or advice would be appreciated thanks
Duchess - 2-Nov-16 @ 6:19 PM
My ex partners' solicitors informed me today that they requested transcription from the final hearing. Does anyone know please whether they have to share the content with me? Also,is it possible to appeal after the allowed appeal time which is 21 days in my case as it's Family Court?
Lily - 1-Sep-16 @ 12:24 AM
Hi there. I really desperately need some advice as my ex partner has lied in court and her lies have been used against me despite me proving to my solicitor she was lying my solicitor failed to defend my side. Instead my ex's solicitor ruled the court room and mine sat there in silence hardly saying two words. An interim contact order was made and the residence order she asked for was declined. However although she has never been there for my son until recently which I proved also, after leaving us both in 2014 forming A new relationship with someone and having another baby to him she then began to see our son more often and took me to court to get residency of him. She had now basically been handed all that she asked for for to my solicitor failing to defend against her lies. I feel I have been unfairly defended and want to know how I can put this right ASAP. My solicitor has refused to help me any further stating that he cannot cope with it all and he isn't earning enough money from it, He told me to sack him on the day of the child welfare hearing and walked away from me several times whilst I was explaining to him that I wasn't happy with the curator report and what was about to be granted to my ex. He said he doesn't want to act for me anymore and stayed I should go elsewhere to someone who can help me further. My son does not want to be with his mother half the time as he doesn't get on with her due to her never being around before they don't have a bond as such. Her new partner smacks him etc and he refuses sometimes to go back to hers and so on. Please please help me. Any advice would be greatly appreciated I don't know where to turn for help and have lost faith in the legal profession as my solicitors negligence has now lost me my son who I have raised alone since his birth. Many thanks in advance.
Heartbrokedad - 13-Aug-16 @ 12:50 PM
Iv got a final hearing coming up but in my last hearing my ex partner lied on two occasions to which i can proove he has lied how do i go about this as taking me to court was his way of being malicious and now iv been told by my solicitor that bcus he made an application for an order he can take me back to court as much as he feels he needs to as he has rights to. Where do i stand with this now if he gets the order like he hopes for then what happens if he lies more and takes me back iv been made aware its imprisonment .. he can easily say the orders been broken as he loves to interfeer with my peraonal life yet iv moved on in my life he wont accept.
mandi1513 - 8-Jul-16 @ 3:41 PM
My son and daughter in law have been taking steps to gain full custody of her son, who is at this moment in time is residing with her mother.Social services collect her son twice a week to have supervised contact with his father.Today my daughter in lae has received a court order from cafcass which amoung other things states that they believe her son lives with me, his step nan.
Jean - 15-Jun-16 @ 8:08 PM
I am looking for advice about appealing against a final court order. I have evidence that social workers and family support worker has lied under oath. The judge allowed evidence by my ex's barrister to be considered that the judge said was not allowed at the beginning of the final hearing. If my ex is not happy with the conditions of the order can she take it back to court to get this changed, she is trying to control when I have my son for 2 weeks over the summer as she is not happy at the dates I have chosen.
ash - 30-May-16 @ 9:43 AM
Hardtimedads - Your Question:
Have just had confirmed emergency court hearing regarding an application to take my son on holiday. My ex won't let me take my 14 year old son and it's all paid for and she has known about it for two years. It's partially in term time, so he will miss a week. At first my ex said she did not want him to have the time off school, even tho she took him out of school for a holiday last October, now she says it's because it's Turkey and she doesn't want him to go. I was just about to remove my son from travel documents when he asked me not too, as he wanted to come. I have sent an email almost begging his mother but she still said no and no to my son. He's adamant he wants to come. What are the chances of the court granting this and due to timescales will cafcass want to speak to my son, as he would clearly be telling them he wants to come.

Our Response:
I'm afraid this is impossible to predict what the court may decide. But given your son is 14, then his opinion will be taken into consideration. However, whether the court will agree to him being taken out of school in term time may be another matter.
SeparatedDads - 20-May-16 @ 2:56 PM
Have just had confirmed emergency court hearing regarding an application to take my son on holiday. My ex won't let me take my 14 year old son and it's all paid for and she has known about it for two years. It's partially in term time, so he will miss a week. At first my ex said she did not want him to have the time off school, even tho she took him out of school for a holiday last October, now she says it's because it's Turkey and she doesn't want him to go. I was just about to remove my son from travel documents when he asked me not too, as he wanted to come. I have sent an email almost begging his mother but she still said no and no to my son. He's adamant he wants to come. What are the chances of the court granting this and due to timescales will cafcass want to speak to my son, as he would clearly be telling them he wants to come.
Hardtimedads - 20-May-16 @ 1:23 PM
JULEZ51 - Your Question:
Has anybody appealed in family court and won when social services are involved?Has anybody reported social workers to HCPC and had a good result?

Our Response:
You may also wish to try the Separated Dads forum to broach your question to our readers.
SeparatedDads - 20-May-16 @ 10:49 AM
Has anybody appealed in family court and won when social services are involved? Has anybody reported social workers to HCPC and had a good result?
JULEZ51 - 19-May-16 @ 7:42 AM
Hi I hope you can help us we have 3grandchildren in fostercare .aged 3/2/12weeks we have been fighting them they have no real reason to hold them expect the normal crap but what I do have is footage of my old social worker telling us he did not write the section 37 he was builled in the work place because he was black and list goes on had a transcpit of the DVD done. We have been set up big time the court case is in may and it's does not look good the lies they have made up where can we take this without getting into trouble or make or case any worse than the social services have mad it? Many thanks
vizzy - 27-Mar-16 @ 11:44 PM
I am at present waiting for a final resolution hearing and have a CAFCASS meeting before this. My appeal against a Domestic Assault conviction will be heared on May 20 Child arrangement hearing is 4 days before this. My question is do i adjourn for outcome of appeal which i have evidence to prove i am innocent or go in with the conviction? Any advice?
VICTOR - 9-Mar-16 @ 8:29 PM
Can i ask the judge to look at the case again if I feel the social worker doing the report is very bias and one sided..there in no truth is the allegations made by the ex or evidence to prove it.
Kel78 - 7-Mar-16 @ 8:13 PM
Mal administration racial discrimination perjury defamation of character caff Cass have stated theythey have lied , allegations made thrown out but i have only been given indirect access how is this possible that one can be judged on whats said in court and not whats actually provenby fact evidance etc
myz - 25-Feb-16 @ 5:58 PM
I would like advise on what to do when old boss and girlfriend write a stat Declaration against me that were false but i was proven innocent in a medical court. Stat declarations they wrote were lies and I have proof it was all lies.
Nipper - 18-Jan-16 @ 6:49 AM
I've been fighting for2 years for contact it has cost me 22000 pounds in legal fees my wife continually breaks court orders the court doesnothing about it. Cafcass are useless and side with her. I'm giving up
Mac1 - 2-Jan-16 @ 8:14 PM
I have been to family court and my final earing was in April I got a order to se my son every other weekend. But I've changed my job and I cant get him Some weekends. I've asked my ex can I pick him up from scschool the week days I don't work and take him back the following day. The answer was no . To be honest I don't really want to go through court once again. But this is not leaving me with much choice. The last time we was there I can actually prove that she lied to discredit me. There was that many but I can prove that she lied not by other people by my phone bill that she suggested that she rang me crying down the phone to take my son back I never received one call frrom her on the suggested day but to be honest I really would want to go down the amicable rote but as my son is only eight she does not have to .
gazza - 19-Dec-15 @ 10:23 AM
I am being falsely accused by my stepmother of saying something derogatory to her.Her mother is the only witness.
barry - 3-Nov-15 @ 1:18 PM
Hi all, I am a separated dad of a lovely 4 years old son. I am going to try to make it short and as accurate as possible. I had to get a court order stamped by the court to get access to my son and have my name on the birth certificate 3 years ago. At this time, we haven't been in front of the court as the mother of my son has been scared so we have written an agreement specifying our names, the name of our son, the fact that we will add me as the father on the birth certificate and the number of days per month I will get access to my son. Today, the mother of my son is telling me that prior adding me on the birth certificate she changed our son's surname to her partner's surname which is I think a story she has made up but I am a bit worried. I remember that when we have been to the birth registration office (it was after getting the court order) to add my name as a father, my son's surname was clearly her surname. I have the birth certificate showing that. So, my questions are: 1) Is she lying to me as the birth certificate is clearly showing that my son's surname is her surname? For your information, I have traveled abroad with son 4 months ago and his surname was her surname on his passport. I have also been in touch 2 weeks ago with my son's school and when they asked me the name of my son I have provided his surname and they found him straight away. 2) Is there a chance that she is telling me the truth but in that case how is it possible that the birth certificate shows that mys son has his mother's surname? 3) If she has really (I don't know how) changed our son's surname before adding me on the birth certificate and most importantly before our agreement being stamped by the court, can we consider that she has deliberately lied and given false information to the court and then risk to get in trouble if I sue her in court? What does she legally risk? Thanks for your help and guidance.
Fayce - 14-Oct-15 @ 11:33 PM
So mmh solicitor just rang . What was a 3 hour hearing has now been postponed for another month and dropped to a 2 hour hearing ? Is this enough time for a final hesring ? Cafcass report is strongly on my side so hoping they just want to ask cafcass officer a few questions then rubber stamp the order and we be on our wY ? Anyone heard of a 2 hour hesring before ?
Confuseddad - 10-Oct-15 @ 2:33 PM
Nearly there- Your Question:
Hi after some help After a year long battle with the wx I have received my sec 7 report amd is strongly in my favourStates all time should remain as it is and no time to change at allAfter this report has come my ex has slammed the cafcass officer in her final statment saying that I have conned the cafcass officer , then accused me of domestic abuse but does not have one little hint of evidence. My wuestion is in light of this un substained alligations would the judge follow the cafcass report amd is it common for judges to follow cafcass ?

Our Response:
While judges are not legally bound to follow the CAFCASS report, they do in general follow its recommendations. However, there is still room for change as the judge may take on board some of the recommendations, but not all. I have included the link: My Positive Experience of Cafcass, here which may interest you.
SeparatedDads - 6-Oct-15 @ 1:49 PM
Hi after some help After a year long battle with the wx i have received my sec 7 report amd is strongly in my favour States all time should remain as it is and no time to change at all After this report has come my ex has slammed the cafcass officer in her final statment saying that i have conned the cafcass officer , then accused me of domestic abuse but does not have one little hint of evidence . My wuestion is in light of this un substained alligations would the judge follow the cafcass report amd is it common for judges to follow cafcass ?
Nearly there - 5-Oct-15 @ 5:39 PM
@Shiela - I imagine it would depend on how damning the accustions are.
Rich - 21-Sep-15 @ 10:40 AM
I have been told by a member of socail work department that the information I have told socail work about my daughters father can't be reported to the court without his permission. How can this be the case when they wrote things about me that were hear say & not investigated to be fact in a report to the courts without my permission. I think socail work are trying to cover their self by saying this, so I back off. they thought the best place for our daughter was with him but his behaviour has changed & the socail work have facts of this but can't report it to court, what I learned at my socail science course was socail work can report the facts when standerds of care of a child is at risk & can overrule needing permission or they would never get convictions. someone please advise me on this matter. Thanks
Sheila - 20-Sep-15 @ 2:01 AM
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