Mr CA – Surrey
Child arrangement application, mediation, occupation order, McKenzie friend
(Names in this divorce story have been changed to protect privacy)
I came home from work to find to a letter from my partner telling me that she and our two children had left, as she felt that we had drifted apart and become two different people.
In the following 10 months we went through the process of mediation which did give us some positive direction. Unfortunately, this process ended in stalemate as our views on what should be the outcome of our separation were poles apart and it was at this point that my partner made an allegation against me in relation to our daughter. This led to a referral to social services and the police and I lost the contact that I had been having with our children.
I found this very hard to accept as I had been a father who saw his children every day, to then one day per week, and then having this privilege removed altogether. I now found myself at a very low point in my life, with so many unanswered questions and feeling very alone in the world, and with a battered self-esteem I needed to find answers to my questions.
So, like anyone else who finds themselves in these uncharted waters, I decided to seek professional advice from a solicitor. However the advice I was given was very poor, and to add insult to injury I had to pay a lot of money for it.
My partner then made an application to the family court for an occupation order against me, which was presented to me at my place of work, and left me completely dumbfounded.
It was at this time I was fortunate enough to find Diana’s book “A better way of dealing with divorce” which led me to finding her website, and her free guide “7 things you should know about legal advice”. Having read this comprehensive guide, I knew that I had to get in touch as the things that stood out were Diana’s experience and her frank advice.
After having a free 20 minute call with Diana, I knew that I had found the right person to help me with my case, as she listened carefully to what I had to say and showed lots of compassion and understanding towards me and our children.
Diana and I had our first meeting where she went through all of the details of my case, and then explained very clearly how she could help me, and also how to keep my costs down to a minimum.
Diana, was the first professional to suggest that I could represent myself, and also the first to suggest the use of a McKenzie friend, which was something I had not heard of before.
Having had this meeting with Diana, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders, as I had found a true professional who had explained how I could move forward, and gave me hope that I was going to be able to deal with my case myself. This new found confidence that I gained from Diana, was confirmed by my counsellor who I was seeing at the time, as she commented that she had never seen me smile so many times in a session as she did after I had had this meeting.
Diana suggested that I should make a child arrangement application to the family court so as to re-establish my contact with our children. Once I had submitted this application, myself and Diana worked together via emails and phone calls to produce my statements which worked well as Diana is quick to respond to emails, and is easy to get hold of on the phone.
I found this to be a challenging task to do, but also rewarding as I was able to be directly involved in the process, and to know the progress we were making, and that I wasn’t spending more money than I needed too.
On the day of the first child arrangement hearing I felt nervous, but also reassured that I had done all that I could, and Diana had done likewise in helping me with my statements, and also in finding me a McKenzie friend who attended the hearing to assist me. It was very reassuring to have a McKenzie Friend at the hearing, as he was able to take notes, give advice and pick up on the important details that a novice like me might miss.
There have been further court hearings relating to the child arrangement application and also the occupation order, and this has resulted in a lot of difficult changes in my life such as having to move out of the family home and having to find somewhere else to live.
However, all of this has been made a lot easier to cope with knowing that I have had Diana’s help, and I can say without hesitation that without it I wouldn’t of been able to cope with all of the stress and anxiety that I have experienced over the past 8 months.
You might also be interested in reading the ‘Legal Structure of Divorce’ a two-minute guide to divorce proceedings.