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Legal Aid Withdrawal: How to Represent Yourself

By: Clare Birtles - Updated: 28 Sep 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Litigant In Person Self Representation

A few changes in family law have recently taken place or are imminent. We thought you'd like to know the details so we've asked Celia Conrad a former specialist family solicitor and author of Fathers Matter - the essential guide to contact on separation and divorce - to cover it in a guest blog for us.

The term LIP or should I say litigant in person is used to describe an individual who exercises his/her right to conduct legal proceedings on his/her own behalf. In other words self-representation, although (according to Lord Dyson's Practice Direction of March 2013) the correct terminology continues to be litigant in person rather than self-represented litigant!

Withdrawal of Public Funding for Children Applications

Many parties, particularly fathers, have had no choice other than to become litigants in person after the withdrawal of public funding for the majority of private law children applications. This is a direct consequence of:

(1) The controversial Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 which came into force on 1 April 2013

(2) The ever-increasing cost of legal fees, many parties start off with legal representation but end up as litigants in person due to prohibitive legal costs

The emphasis is to keep parties out of the courts and, since the Family Justice Review in 2011, the Government has been focusing on funding dispute resolution services such as mediation. The aim is to direct parties in private law cases to mediation rather than funding them to proceed to court. Despite all the funding for mediation however, there is no guarantee that it will work. So if a case does proceed to court, the likelihood is that at least one of the parties will be a litigant in person whom the courts will have to accommodate.

Of course with the abundance of free information on the Internet and websites such as this one, more and more parties have made a conscious decision to act as litigants in person.

Using a McKenzie Friend

Sometimes parties act alone and sometimes with the 'right to reasonable assistance' of a McKenzie Friend. There is a presumption in favour of allowing a McKenzie friend to sit in on court proceedings so as to be able to provide that reasonable assistance. This ties in with Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which directs that "those who need assistance with the presentation of their case" should receive it.

Assistance means offering moral support, taking notes, helping with case papers and quietly giving advice on any aspect of the conduct of the case. But assistance does not extend to conducting litigation or acting as an advocate - and McKenzie Friends do not have a right to audience in court, unlike solicitors and barristers.

In exceptional cases, where a litigant in person is inarticulate or has severe health problems and is unable to present the case, some judges have allowed McKenzie Friends to address the court directly. The latest guidance in relation to McKenzie Friends is set out in a 2010 Practice Direction.

Equal Treatment is an Entitlement

The fact is that litigants in person often feel overwhelmed by the court process especially where the other party has legal representation. Litigants in person MUST be treated equally before the law and have equal access to justice. Judges have a duty to ensure a fair trial by giving them due assistance to achieve this. But that duty does not extend to giving legal advice. Nor can a judge be seen to favour one party over another, even if that party is a litigant in person.

Litigants in person should bear in mind that a judge's role is to determine both the facts of the case and the law applicable to those facts and presenting a case involving difficult points of law is no easy task for lawyers with many years experience, let alone a litigant in person. Which is why it is expected that with the increasing numbers of litigants in person, judges will need to be exceptionally proactive in managing cases where litigants in person are involved, particularly where the other party has legal representation, to ensure that the litigant in person is not disadvantaged in the proceedings.

There are some significant and imminent changes to family law with which litigants in person will need to familiarise themselves:

(1) Single Family Court for England & Wales

The 22nd April 2014 was a key date in the family law calendar. On that date there a new Single Family Court for England & Wales came in to being. There are actually two tiers of court:
  1. The Family Court
  2. The High Court
It was recognised that it was necessary to preserve the High Court's status in relation to its international work and inherent jurisdiction (which includes matter such as wardship) - but there will be four levels of judges:
  • Lay bench
  • District Judge
  • Circuit Judge
  • High Court Judge
The idea is that the creation of a single family court will facilitate the wider reforms being implemented to enable the more efficient use of court resources, and more effective administration of proceedings.

(2)The revised Public Law Outline (PLO)

The revised Public Law Outline will also come into force. In terms of changes it is not significantly different from the PLO from July 2013 but it clearly defines how care applications will be dealt with in the future.

(3)The Child Arrangements Programme

The Private Law Programme, which essentially sets out and governs the procedure in relation to private law applications under the Children Act 1989, will be replaced by the Child Arrangements Programme. The emphasis here is on the needs of the children and ties in with the amendments to the 1989 Act by the Children and Families Act, which received Royal Assent on 13 March 2014 and which among other things:

  • Makes it a requirement for separating couples (with certain exceptions such as where there has been domestic violence, for example) to attend a meeting to find out about mediation before being permitted to apply to court
  • Makes it clear to separated parents that the court will take account of the principle that both parents should continue to be involved in their children's lives, the caveat being that it has to be safe and consistent with the child's welfare for that involvement to continue. The presumption that so many parents were seeking did not make it into the statute book!
  • Ensures that any expert evidence in family proceedings concerning children is to be permitted only when necessary to resolve the case fairly and taking into consideration factors which include the impact on the welfare of the child.

Amended Court Form C100

There will also be an amended Form C100 - this is the form currently used to make an application under the Children Act for a residence, contact, prohibited steps or specific issue section 8 order or to vary or discharge a section 8 order. The Form is to be amended to incorporate the introduction of the new child arrangement order (CAO), which replaces both a residence and contact order and is to be the standard post-separation order. A CAO is defined as an order regulating with whom a child is to live, spend time with or otherwise have contact with. Form C100 will also be amended to incorporate FM1, which is the Family Mediation & Assessment Form.

The crucial question is whether family mediation will divert parties from the courts given the requirement that an applicant will have to meet with a family mediator before filing a court application.

What impact this new reform will have? On the basis that it has already been a requirement since 6 April 2011 that applicants have - needed to 'assess' whether mediation would be a better way of resolving their disputes instead of going to court and have been expected to attend a Mediation & Assessment Meeting (MIAM) to find out if mediation would be right for them - it remains to be seen

What is clear though is that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of litigants in person since public funding dropped off in April 2013 and there are now more litigants in person who represent themselves in private law Children Act applications than in any other area of family law, if my reading of data from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is correct!

Celia Conrad is a former specialist family solicitor and author of Fathers Matter - the essential guide to contact on separation and divorce.

This article is for information purposes only. The views expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily the views of the owners of this website and should not be considered as legal advice.

Check out the Separated Dads Forum... It's a great resource where you can ask for advice on topics including Child Access, Maintenance, CAFCASS, Fathers Rights, Court, Behaviour or simply to have a chat with other dads.

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[Add a Comment]
Parmo - Your Question:
I cannon get legal aid and cannot afford legal costs so after some advice please.My wife in August 2015, left abandoned the family home and left me with my 7 year old son. She has not seen him since and some 2 years later. He's now 9 Turned up at his school as she has found out me and him Are moving 45 miles away. Advice pleaseThanks

Our Response:
You can apply to court for a child arrangement order through court, if you feel the mother may try to take your child, please see link here . A child arrangement order will determine who your child should live with. As your ex has parental responsibility of your child, then you have to request her consent to move from the area. If she refuses, you would have to apply to court to take your child out of the area to live. If you cannot afford legal fees, you can self-litigate as outlined in the article. If you are on a low income and you cannot afford court fees you may be able to get a reduction, please see link here . Mediation is also an option in order to try to come to some sort of agreement or arrangement between you. Court is always seen as a last resort where parents cannot come to any agreement, please see link here . As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order. If you have been the primary carer of your child for a number of years, it is likely the courts will allow your child to remain with you as consistency and stability are valued as most important for the welfare of your child. The courts are not adverse to a parent moving on, especially where you are willing to offer the non-resident parent future contact/access to yours and her child.
SeparatedDads - 29-Sep-17 @ 10:34 AM
I cannon get legal aid and cannot afford legal costs so after some advice please. My wife in August 2015, left abandoned the family home and left me with my 7 year old son. She has not seen him since and some 2 years later. He's now 9 Turned up at his school as she has found out me and him Are moving 45 miles away. Advice please Thanks
Parmo - 28-Sep-17 @ 4:48 PM
Roadrunner - Your Question:
I'm going through a divorce and my ex is determined to turn the kids against me my eldest 2 want nothing to do with me. My ten year old has supervised phone calls. He is told what he can and can't answer, and if I ask a question that she doesn't like or say something she doesn't like she puts the phone down. This has been as simple as mentioning my new partners name or asking where he went on holiday.My only crime was that I had a nervous breakdown and made an attempt on my life. I have never hurt any of my family and she has not got any violence or restraining orders. I work with children in a private school. I live with my partner and her 3 children, but she demands that I can see my son but only if her and her father supervise me. Her father has threatened me multiple times and now lives with his daughter in the house I fully paid for and which they changed the locks on.I'm running out of money. I work part time and I can't afford a barrister. If there is anyone who can assist with my circumstances, or have been unwell and tried to get access to their children please help.I have a letter off my psychologist to say I am no threat to my son, I have a report from a social worker to say that I am a good dad to my partners kids and I had my home and my parenting assessed.I am about to go to court and I want to know do I need a barrister, or can I get away with stating my facts myself. I could maybe afford one a couple of times depending on the time frame but I don't think I can manage one for every hearing.when is the best time. She will fight it to the end and I don't think even once through the courts she will comply , but I love my son and he loves me and I have to keep trying

Our Response:
You do not need a barrister, you can self-litigate, many non-resident parents do, with success. The court will not judge you upon taking your own life. The court will only make a judgement upon what it thinks is in the best interests of your child and the courts do want fathers to have contact with their children and will do all it can to help this happen. You may wish to try a McKenzie friend for some help and advice, please see link here . Our Separated Dads forum may help you further and so would joing groups such as Families Need Fathers. Arming yourself with as much information and knowledge as possible prior to any court case is your own best weapon here.
SeparatedDads - 18-Sep-17 @ 2:05 PM
I'm going through a divorce and my ex is determined to turn the kids against me my eldest 2 want nothing to do with me. My ten year old has supervised phone calls. He is told what he can and can't answer, and if I ask a question that she doesn't like or say something she doesn't like she puts the phone down. This has been as simple as mentioning my new partners name or asking where he went on holiday. My only crime was that I had a nervous breakdown and made an attempt on my life. I have never hurt any of my family and she has not got any violence or restraining orders. I work with children in a private school. I live with my partner and her 3 children, but she demands that I can see my son but only if her and her father supervise me. Her father has threatened me multiple times and now lives with his daughter in the house I fully paid for and which they changed the locks on. I'm running out of money. I work part time and I can't afford a barrister. If there is anyone who can assist with my circumstances, or have been unwell and tried to get access to their children please help. I have a letter off my psychologist to say I am no threat to my son, I have a report from a social worker to say that I am a good dad to my partners kids and I had my home and my parenting assessed. I am about to go to court and I want to know do I need a barrister, or can I get away with stating my facts myself. I could maybe afford one a couple of times depending on the time frame but I don't think I can manage one for every hearing....when is the best time. She will fight it to the end and I don't think even once through the courts she will comply , but I love my son and he loves me and I have to keep trying
Roadrunner - 15-Sep-17 @ 9:08 PM
Then it sounds like there is nothing i can do about it, due to my aforementioned issues. Just have to accept that i cant do anything about it and try to move on (easier said then done).
Zdr90 - 13-Sep-17 @ 9:39 AM
Bina9 - Your Question:
Hi my partner and his ex separated over 6 years ago (lived together but not married) and she has stopped him having access to his daughter for the last 3 years. He has paid CSA from day one. He took her to court 3 years ago but they dismissed his case saying they needed to go through mediation. He paid for 3 sessions of mediation but she never showed up. He paid nearly £5000 for the first court case so didn't have the money to try again. We are both now trying to get financially stable and get our own house but he can't afford to do this as well as save up to take her to court again. Is there any advice out there about the best option for him to try and get his daughter back. His ex refuses all contact with him so making an arrangement with her is out of the question (for background she ran off with my partners best friend and subsequently got married to him and they have their own child together so she wants to play happy families and doesn't want my partner in the picture)

Our Response:
Your partner does not have to have legal representation in court, he can self-litigate, please see link here. Many non-resident parents are doing this with success if their case is researched and presented well. Please also see Bar Council link here which will help further. Getting a McKenzie Friend to assist with guidance may also be of benefit, please see link here . I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 1-Sep-17 @ 11:24 AM
Hi my partner and his ex separated over 6 years ago (lived together but not married) and she has stopped him having access to his daughter for the last 3 years. He has paid CSA from day one. He took her to court 3 years ago but they dismissed his case saying they needed to go through mediation. He paid for 3 sessions of mediation but she never showed up. He paid nearly £5000 for the first court case so didn't have the money to try again. We are both now trying to get financially stable and get our own house but he can't afford to do this as well as save up to take her to court again. Is there any advice out there about the best option for him to try and get his daughter back. His ex refuses all contact with him so making an arrangement with her is out of the question (for background she ran off with my partners best friend and subsequently got married to him and they have their own child together so she wants to play happy families and doesn't want my partner in the picture)
Bina9 - 31-Aug-17 @ 5:28 PM
I appreciate you getting back to me and the work that PSU do; but unfortunately that's not going to work, due to my condition. I legitimately cannot talk in front of a courtroom of people due to my condition. So I need proper legal representation from a proper solicitor who's gonna talk for me. Thank you.
Zdr90 - 25-Aug-17 @ 4:41 PM
Zdr90 - Your Question:
Can you at least get back to me please? Even just to give me bad news!

Our Response:
If you're attending court without legal representation, you may be able to get some practical non-legal help from the Personal Support Unit (PSU). For example, they help with your paperwork, take you to the right office and sit with you in court, please see link here .
SeparatedDads - 22-Aug-17 @ 2:29 PM
Can you at least get back to me please? Even just to give me bad news!
Zdr90 - 18-Aug-17 @ 5:44 PM
I need a family law socilitor, but unfortunately can't afford one due to me not working due to me being disabled, and thanks to legal aid cuts. The only advise I've really received is to go through mediation or represent myself. Unfortunately, both of these options are out of the question due to me suffering from social anxiety disorder, bi polar and thus not having relavant confidence or social skills to self represent. I mean please someone explain if there is anything that can be done, or if I'm going to spend the rest of my life never seeing my child again.
Zrd90 - 10-Aug-17 @ 7:28 PM
Steph - Your Question:
HiNeed some advice I've a contact order agreed by myself for my daughters grandmother to see my child at her house once a month for 6 hours I agreed this in February 2017 on the grounds that my daughter who is 9 said she wants to see her so I agreed to the order , but now my daughter has said she doesn't want to because she doesn't like her house and she mean so I stopped her from going as she expressed a few times that she doesn't want to attend her house anymore , her Nan has sent out a warning letter from solicitor saying I'm breaching the order that I agreed willingly , I need advice as to do I have to go back to court for caffcass to speak to my child about going her house no more or do I wait for her solicitor to apply to court and I know. She has no parental responsibility so she got no legal rights to my child how successful would she be if my child still says no to going her house can they force her even though it just her Nan thanks please help some advice would be nice as can't afford solicitor myself. I also let you know my husband is adopting my daughter but this hasn't gone through yet till court date on September 6th 2017 and caffcass are already coming out to speak to her about her dad and her Nan for that hearing.

Our Response:
Please see link here . Cafcass will speak to your daughter and ask her opinion. Her opinion will be taken into consideration and the court will decide upon what it thinks is in your daughter's best interests. However, we cannot predict what the court may decide.
SeparatedDads - 31-Jul-17 @ 3:29 PM
Justme - Your Question:
My ex and I are going through a divorce he has our oldest daughter who has special needs and I have our youngest daughter who is autistic. He has not allowed us to see my oldest since before Christmas "over 6 months now" the judge said he had to go over the evidence and we still have to wait to see her. Is there anything I can do to see my baby?

Our Response:
Have you not been advised to apply for an interim court order? Please see link here . I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 31-Jul-17 @ 2:41 PM
Hi Need some advice I've a contact order agreed by myself for my daughters grandmother to see my child at her house once a month for 6 hours I agreed this in February 2017 on the grounds that my daughter who is 9 said she wants to see her so I agreed to the order , but now my daughter has said she doesn't want to because she doesn't like her house and she mean so I stopped her from going as she expressed a few times that she doesn't want to attend her house anymore , her Nan has sent out a warning letter from solicitor saying I'm breaching the order that I agreed willingly , I need advice as to do I have to go back to court for caffcass to speak to my child about going her house no more or do I wait for her solicitor to apply to court and I know. She has no parental responsibility so she got no legal rights to my child how successful would she be if my child still says no to going her house can they force her even though it just her Nan thanks please help some advice would be nice as can't afford solicitor myself . I also let you know my husband is adopting my daughter but this hasn't gone through yet till court date on September 6th 2017 and caffcass are already coming out to speak to her about her dad and her Nan for that hearing .
Steph - 29-Jul-17 @ 4:25 PM
My ex and I are going through a divorce he has our oldest daughter who has special needs and I have our youngest daughter who is autistic. He has not allowed us to see my oldest since before Christmas "over 6 months now" the judge said he had to go over the evidence and we still have to wait to see her. Is there anything I can do to see my baby?
Justme - 29-Jul-17 @ 7:51 AM
I have 3 beautiful kids who I adore my ex is just not wanting me to see them at all and I don't know why we split 2 years ago we never had violence or smashed things we split I don't stalk her I don't go to her house I don't bother her I just want to see my 4 6 8 year old babies who I love so much they love being with me too we have so much fun together I am at court and she has just lied about everything and the court believe her and don't listen to anything I say she has a solicitor I don't I am going crazy as I can't get over someone would not want there kids seeing there dad especially when the mum knows how close we are how much they love me and being with me she just don't care at all and it's horrible and heartbreaking I just don't know what to do anymore I need help as I have to see my kids I can't miss there childhood I am there dad not just a dad when it suits there mum who just leaves them with anyone but me my daughter told me she feels like a parcel has she is getting passed around to different people slot and that kills me how can 1 person be so evil please give me advice thank you
Lc9 - 13-Jul-17 @ 10:28 PM
Ash - Your Question:
My ex partner stops me from seeing my daughter every now and then. The contact is 2h every other week in a contact centre as she has an injunction against me. I can't contact her, and whenever she doesn't show up the only way to get her back to contact is to stop the money. I've been told she does drugs while with looking after the kid(there is proof of this) that the state of the house is disgusting, and she is back with an ex partner that is been convicted for beating her up before. they live together and my kid lives with him too.I don't know what to do, I don't want her to use the injunction against me, but I am tired of the intermittent contact and not be able to do anything about it. I have been from a few weeks to 5-6 months without seeing my daughter. It's worse since she found out I'm woth my new partner.Also I want to take the contact out the contact centre, we only do the exchange there and then I can take her on my own, but it limitates my time with my daughter and my parents hasn't see her for a long time. I want proper access, overnights included with time.There is any way around this without expending a fortune and taking her to court?

Our Response:
If your ex has breached the contact order, please see link here . If you stop paying child maintenance, you will be liable for arrears. In time contact should be awarded outside of the contact centre, much depends upon what the court order specifies. Once a regular routine has built up, then you can seek legal advice about applying for overnight access. As specified in the article, you can self litigate in court which will save on legal fees.
SeparatedDads - 16-Jun-17 @ 4:18 PM
My ex partner stops me from seeing my daughter every now and then. The contact is 2h every other week in a contact centre as she has an injunction against me. I can't contact her, and whenever she doesn't show up the only way to get her back to contact is to stop the money. I've been told she does drugs while with looking after the kid(there is proof of this) that the state of the house is disgusting, and she is back with an ex partner that is been convicted for beating her up before... they live together and my kid lives with him too. I don't know what to do, I don't want her to use the injunction against me, but I am tired of the intermittent contact and not be able to do anything about it. I have been from a few weeks to 5-6 months without seeing my daughter. It's worse since she found out I'm woth my new partner. Also I want to take the contact out the contact centre, we only do the exchange there and then I can take her on my own, but it limitates my time with my daughter and my parents hasn't see her for a long time.I want proper access, overnights included with time. There is any way around this without expending a fortune and taking her to court?
Ash - 3-Jun-17 @ 12:27 PM
Hi. My children have been removed from the family homem in unsual circumstances. I came home from work to find my house had been trashed. I traced their mother to a far away town. The Police have told me to wait for the social worker get involved. I have left several messages with the social worker offices and have been told to contact a solicitor. I am very worried about the state of their mother's mental health. Their mother has threatened to make the children disappear. Its been two weeks and I do not know anything about my children and no really from social worker or the police. I believe she made some false accusations against me. She already moved my children from school without my consent. The Police and the social worker are not listening to me she for mental issues and I have paperwork to prove. I am really worried with my children safety and wellbeing.
Bneca - 26-May-17 @ 7:34 AM
Mo - Your Question:
Hi,l have got two children a boy and a girl,but the thing is there mother is married to another man,which l never knew because she would always come to be with me,have a child than leave him,but the kids know am there father.the last time she left me is when l founds that l was not the one on the birth certificate of the boy and it was her husband who was.when l found out that she left with the kids and went back to her husband and she has not let me see the children, it's now one year.so what can do.the fact that am also not on the birth certificate of the children.

Our Response:
If the mother of your children does not agree to access or mediation in order to try to resolve these issues, you can apply to court. If you want the parentage of your children to be officially recognised you can apply for parental responsibility and to be registered through the courts (despite the fact another man is registered as the father of your son). In this case, your ex can be asked to help to provide a DNA test to prove paternity, please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 24-May-17 @ 1:56 PM
Hi,l have got two children a boy and a girl,but the thing is there mother is married to another man,which l never knew because she would always come to be with me,have a child than leave him,but the kids know am there father.the last time she left me is when l founds that l was not the one on the birth certificate of the boy and it was her husband who was.when l found out that she left with the kids and went back to her husband and she has not let me see the children, it's now one year.so what can do.the fact that am also not on the birth certificate of the children.
Mo - 24-May-17 @ 10:49 AM
Dello - Your Question:
I would like more time with my daughter

Our Response:
If your wife refuses this, then in the first instance you would have to suggest mediation, please see link here. If your ex refuses to attend mediation, or the mediation process fails then your option would be to apply to court. The court will always decide what it thinks is in your child's best interests when making a decision regarding access.
SeparatedDads - 15-May-17 @ 2:57 PM
I would like more time with my daughter
Dello - 15-May-17 @ 1:37 PM
Lasaint - Your Question:
My partner and I split up a few months ago and I have not Seen my daughter since My ex had me arrested for criminal damage And now is taken me to court for a child arrangement order How dose she manage to get legal aid when I can't and I am unemployed

Our Response:
A parent can usually access Legal Aid if they have been a victim of domestic abuse of violence, please see link here. This means the 'criminal damage' your ex may have had you arrested for has allowed her to claim for Legal Aid.
SeparatedDads - 10-May-17 @ 11:43 AM
My partner and I split up a few months ago and I have not Seenmy daughter since My ex had me arrested for criminal damage And now is taken me to court for a child arrangement order How dose she manage to get legal aid when I can't and I am unemployed
Lasaint - 9-May-17 @ 9:23 PM
Hi I am not married to my children's mother however I am on their birth certificate. Me and the children split up sometime ago and even when we were together she would not allow me to take the children out on their own unless she was there so really I only saw them when I went to her house. We are not together anymore and I would like to pick my children up take them shopping to the park spend time with them and then bring them back home to there mother when I have spent time with them. But because I am not with her anymore she won't let me be a dad and see them she will not even answer my phone calls or voice message I heard that she wants me to deliberately spend lots of money to fight her legally to see my kids and I don't have that type of money I don't want to go through mediation because she has been so evil to me it has stressed me out and we will not get anywhere with that can I skip mediation and apply directly to the courts so I can see my children if so how much is that and what form do I need?
Haz - 31-Mar-17 @ 12:30 PM
bill - Your Question:
Hi I have been with my wife and married for 5 years, and been in my step daughters life for 7 years and , my daughters biological father has been in and out of prison, as of 2014 he had seen her twice in a contact centre and we were in court for a contact order but then for some reason he withdraw his legal aid and contact order and has not been in touch since. I am now going for a step parent adoption but was wondering he has legal representation would this be legal aid again or has all legal aid been withdrawn? what is the likelihood he could stop this adoption going through he hasn't seen her in 3 years or paid any money towards her upbringing.

Our Response:
Your wife would have to request consent from the biological father and much depends upon whether he refuses or not. If he does, you would have to follow this issue up in court. It is highly unlikely he will be granted legal aid, as most legal aid has been withdrawn except in cases of domestic abuse. We can't predict what a court may decide - you can see more via the Family Lives link here.
SeparatedDads - 3-Mar-17 @ 12:39 PM
Bob - Your Question:
Hiya after some advice !!my ex stopped me seing my daughter 2 years ago due to getting with her new boyfriend with no real reasons of stopping me seing her. She is now saying her new partner is her dad. Also I have some concerns as I've bin told her and her partner does drugs plus both have a criminal record o have no record and have never done drugs o bin in trouble how do I go about getting full custody/part custody? Please help

Our Response:
If you have not seen your daughter for two years, then there is no likelihood a court would opt to take your child from her resident parent and hand her over to you. The best you can hope for if you apply to court is initial supervised contact to start with (while you build up a relationship with your child) leading to unsupervised contact after a period of time. I'm afraid there is no easy answer to your question, the court will want to know why you did not apply two years ago when access was first stopped. If you would have applied then and been awarded contact to your child, you would be in a much better position to go for increased access now.
SeparatedDads - 2-Mar-17 @ 3:04 PM
Chell - Your Question:
My daughter split up from her baby's father when the baby was six weeks old. My daughter and her baby moved back home to live for the first year of my granddaughters life. She then moved out and went to live with a new boyfriend for about eight months. That didn't work out so she moved back home again with my granddaughter. After about three or four months we got my daughter and granddaughter a place of there own to live. To which she moved another boyfriend in and got pregnant with in a couple of months. Drawing all this time my granddaughter would spend most of the time at my house or her natural fathers house. My granddaughter is four years old now and still spends two to four nights a week at mine and the same at her fathers most weeks she only spends one night at her mothers house. Her father and myself have great difficulty getting my granddaughter to go with her mother. She will say she doesn't want to go her house because she just gets sent to her room and shouted at. There has also been time when she has said her mother and her mothers new husband had smacked her. This obviously upsets her father and myself but we are both to scared to say anything to my daughter in case she stops us from seeing my granddaughter. My granddaughters father has always paid maintenance through the CSA and between the two of us we buy all my granddaughters cloths and anything else she may need. It's getting harder and harder each time my granddaughter has to leave one of us. If her father was to say to her mother that his daughter is going to stay with him and my daughter called the police would they take my daughters side or would they say they are not getting involved as it hasn't gone to court and I know for a fact that my granddaughter would be saying she wanted to stay with her father or myself. As we are scarred to do this if the police will take my granddaughter away and give her back to my daughter as we don't know what she will be like to her

Our Response:
If there is no residence order involved and the child's father has parental responsibility, then he can keep your granddaughter without the police getting involved, please see link here. However, it is a precarious move as it can backfire. If you think your granddaughter is being ill-treated or neglected then please see NSPCC link here . You or the father can call the NSPCC for advice on what to do in such circumstances and its advisers can decide on the information you give whether social services should be involved - or what options you have. The fact the father and you have your granddaughter most of the time anyway is an arrangement that for the moment you should keep to until something occurs that you feel your granddaughter needs safeguarding. I'm afraid there is no clear advice I can give here as the situation is tricky to navigate. The fact you both have the child more than the mother could go in your favour if the matter goes to court and when Cafcass gets involved, please see link here. However, because of Cafcass's involvement it is difficult to say in whose favour it could go. Taking professional legal advice is also an option.
SeparatedDads - 2-Mar-17 @ 2:09 PM
Hi I have been with my wife and married for 5 years, and been in my step daughters life for 7 years and , my daughters biological father has been in and out of prison, as of 2014 he had seen her twice in a contact centre and we were in court for a contact order but then for some reason he withdraw his legal aid and contact order and has not been in touch since. I am now going for a step parent adoption but was wondering he has legal representation would this be legal aid again or has all legal aid been withdrawn? what is the likelihood he could stop this adoption going through he hasn't seen her in 3 years or paid any money towards her upbringing.
bill - 2-Mar-17 @ 1:47 PM
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