Top tips for LiPs – general
- Keep a full set (either electronic or paper depending on preference) of all correspondence and documents on your case. A well-ordered ‘file’ from commencement of the case will stand you in good stead going forward;
- Treat your ex-partner’s Solicitor (and their staff) with respect and courtesy. Remember, they are only doing their job! Do not be offended if they ask you to put your position in writing. This often minimises the risk of being misunderstood;
- If you are writing to the Court or an expert, remember to send a copy of the letter or document to your ex-partner’s solicitors. Once solicitors are instructed, only communicate with the solicitor about the case, not your ex-partner;
- Review the glossary of terms for family cases;
- You can ask for representation at any stage of your case on a discrete point or generally. If you instruct a barrister under the Direct Access scheme, make sure you give them all of the information with plenty of time before the hearing.
Top tips for LiPs – at Court
- Every Court is different and may adopt a slightly different procedure. If in doubt, ask the court staff, although they cannot give you legal advice;
- Ensure you arrive early to give yourself time to familiarise yourself with the building and find out where you need to be for your hearing. Check in with the Usher on arrival and if you manage to find a private room, note down the number on the sign in sheet so people know where to find you;
- Consider taking a friend with you to court for moral support. However, you will need to check with the Court if they can come into the hearing with you;
- Do not interrupt the Judge during the hearing. The Judge will give you a chance to speak;
- Ensure you understand any Order made at Court. If you do not understand, ask the Judge during the hearing. There may also be a free legal advice facility at the Court such as a PSU (Personal Support Unit) or Citizens Advice Bureau;
- After the hearing, and the Order is made, ensure you keep a note of any deadlines as it may take the Court some time to approve and send the Order out to all parties;
- If you have been ordered to do something in an Order, you must comply with the Order, otherwise the Court may penalise you. If you do not attend a hearing Orders can be made in your absence.