Welcome to Family Rights Group Parents’ Discussion Forum.
My name is Suzie and I am an Adviser at Family Rights Group. I am sorry that you are having a difficult time at the moment trying to get representation at Court as well as dealing with the loss of your grandfather.
I will respond to your two posts together. You say that you wish to vary a Child Arrangement Order and obtain a Prohibited Steps Order but you are unable to pay the solicitor to attend court to represent you. Do you know if the solicitor has made an application for legal aid for you or not. You mentioned that you provided evidence from Women’s Aid so I assume there were issues of domestic violence with your child’s father. If the evidence falls within what is required to apply for legal aid your solicitor should submit an application.
It may be that the solicitor is seeking payment because at present there is no legal aid to represent you at court and he wishes to be paid for that work until legal aid is granted after your application made. Perhaps you could ask your solicitor whether he could make an urgent application for legal aid to cover the forthcoming hearing.
Unfortunately, a solicitor will not carry out work or attend court unless they know how their fees are going to be paid. This is why the solicitor is not willing to represent you at the first hearing without a retainer being paid. I do understand the difficulties you may have as a single parent in trying to raise this kind of money. Your solicitor does not have to provide another solicitor.
The procedure is likely to be similar to the previous hearings you attended in respect of the Child Arrangement Order. You will have given your reasons for wanting an order and the judge will consider this and decide what further information is to be provided to the court. If your son’s father attends the hearing and objects to the order being made, then the court will give directions for you both to provide statements setting out your respective positions.
In order to obtain more information about private law proceedings, I suggest that you contact Child Law Advice Service on 0300 030 5480 or go to their website
which has very helpful advice sheets. You could also try this website
about attending court without a lawyer.
Private law does not fall within our remit so I hope you will get some helpful advice from them. Do not worry too much about the hearing, the courts are quite used to having parents represent themselves since the changes to legal aid for private law cases. In most situations there is no legal aid except in specific circumstances.
I hope this information is helpful to you.