[The following is written by an anonymous contributor]
I see a lot written by parents about “corrupt” or unscrupulous solicitors and legal professionals.
I’m going to try and write something positive for a change.
I have never fully added it up but I spent about £50,000 on legal fees.
I don’t want to add it all up because I find it too distressing.
I am sure that many reading that statement will think “there you go evil legal profession”. The fees were high £240 an hour including vat and £360 including vat. They only bought out the expensive person for the financials which you could say, also shows their priorities.
I spent a lot of time choosing solicitors.
I didn’t go with the most expensive. And I didn’t go with the cheapest. I especially didn’t go with the lady who said she would “crush” my ex wife for me – in a legal sense of course – as long as I had the money to pay for it. I went with the solicitor who just asked could they come and see me for a chat after I had cancelled a meeting as I was trying save my marriage. I was working under the assumption that I would not see my kids again if I got divorced. They were also mediation specialists. They didn’t make any wild promises and they didn’t sugar coat anything.
I can say maybe that was a bit of an act. But the solicitor I had was brilliant. He well and truly cared. I’m sure there are many out there who will just say that’s what he is paid for. But he got me through a lot of the legal red tape.
For example when my ex took the children and denied me access he got mediation dropped. On their first weekend back when the police descended on my house he got them and my ex wife out of the house but the children left behind. He took all the screaming and shouting and threats from my ex wife.
He is also knew how to do the right things for court. So for example how to dress. Smart casual is preferred by judges because they see very smart as false so want you casual but judge how you turn eg no jeans and t shirt.
He dealt with all the attempts at backsliding after each court case. You could say that this is all his job but I’m not sure that I could have done it without his support. For example he got social services to leave me alone after they had closed my case but kept telling me to hand over the kids to my ex.
He also predicted before I was even prepared to accept the idea that my family would be split in 2. He told me what I needed to do and how to do it. It was the hardest thing to do but I did it. We were always fighting a losing battle in court but always came away with a positive result.
Perhaps the most important thing he did for me was that he persuaded me not to walk away.
By April 2016 I was tired and exhausted but had 2 of the children living with me. I was still getting regular harassment from the police or any agency that would listen to her (a recognisable alienating formula many abusive former partners follow), but I had been looking after the kids for 6 months and I was earning good money contracting.
Then, to cap it all, she took our eldest out of school and moved 3 hours drive away.
I reluctantly went back to court. I only wanted to get my daughter back into school. I did not have the fight for court. This was my 6th time in court and the 2nd final court order that had been broken. As usual I got lots of counter applications. The 2 worst were to now take the 2 children that 6 months earlier she had just handed over. She also wanted to take out a restraining order against me relating to her and our eldest.
In court, with my lawyer’s help, all her applications were dismissed.
There was a guardian appointed to represent the children as the judge described the evidence produced by my ex as child abuse. Unfortunately my ex convinced the guardian that it was her application to have the 2 children back that was being investigated.
At the same time I received an email from my middle daughter that looked like it had been written by an adult saying that she didn’t want to live with me or see me anymore and that my youngest should live with her mum too.
I went into a mini meltdown at this point. I just wanted to sell the house and go travelling. Just disappear. It was all too much. It would have been the worst thing I had ever done. Fortunately my lawyer talked me out of that or there is every chance I would now be homeless and childless.
Not only that but he got the judge to issue an order that said if my middle daughter was not returned within 24 hours my ex would be arrested. In turn he got a ban on the youngest 2 children visiting their mum until after the court case set for the Autumn. He also managed to block any attempts to have the court case moved forward before the start of term. This made it harder for them to be moved.
The old guardian quit when she realised what had happened. A new one was appointed and to cut a long story short after 2 weeks with me, with no pressure from me, my middle daughter was saying she would prefer to live with me. I kept custody of my 2 youngest children and I got awarded a small amount of fees.
This platform has allowed us to create a proper schedule of shared time and visits which I know would not have happened had my ex been able to take the kids.
None of this may seem much. But I had no idea at the start what I was doing and the legal professional guided me through and even kept me going when I was ready to quit.
It cost lots of money. But to me they were how a legal professional should be.
Its not right that I had to dice with bankruptcy and go to my mum for money to pay for that.
I still live on tenterhooks about what my ex will do to us next.
We can debate whether it should have cost me and, in effect, my family more than £50k just to protect ourselves. There is clearly much wrong with a family law system that can do that. But I will personally always be grateful for my lawyer’s support to help bring what structure and stability we now have and hope to keep.
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So if you align with our vision and ethos, have someone to recommend, are someone we would recommend or have something to say on the subject of shared parenting and parent equality in either a personal or professional capacity and would like a platform to have your say or contribute in some way to our cause, please contact us.
The Peace Not Pas Team