Representing yourself in court

Going to court and representing yourself can be a stressful and daunting prospect. Lucy Reed, a specialist family law barrister and mediator, has made a series of three videos to help explain how to prepare and what to expect when you have to go to court and do not have a lawyer to represent you. These videos are particularly useful for individuals who are going to court to sort issues over separation, money or children. Below the videos are links to organisations who might be able to help you through the process.

Family Court without a Lawyer

Lucy firstly talks about getting ready to come to court and what might happen before the hearing. 

Family Court without a Lawyer part 2

In this video, Lucy explains what to expect at the first court hearing. We take a look at the layout of the courtroom and who might also be present in the room.

Family Court without a Lawyer part 3

In this final video, Lucy talks about giving evidence and challenging the evidence of other people.

Top tips for Litigants in Person

  • 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.
  • If attending court, 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 without any last minute stresses.
  • Consider taking a friend with you to court (and ask if they can attend the court hearing itself with you).  A second pair of ears can be invaluable.
  • 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.
  • Ensure you understand what is going to happen at Court and any Order made at Court. If you do not understand, ask the solicitor or court staff.

Useful Links & Organisations

Gov.uk - Represent Yourself in Court
Government information website providing information across a range of subjects, including how to represent yourself in family legal matters and at Court. The site includes links to downloadable forms.

Ministry of Justice - Forms
Ministry of Justice (MoJ) downloadable forms and guidance.

Advice Now

Advice Now is an independent advice organisation. Their website includes downloadable guidance covering a range of issues, including relationship breakdown. They also provide information about legal aid.

Advice Guide
Advice Guide is the information and advice website of the Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB), you can find information about the legal issues relating to divorce and separation as well as your local CAB.

The Parent Connection
Information and support for all separated parents.

CAFCASS
CAFCASS is the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service. Their site provides information and guidance for parents and for children and young people.

Personal Support Unit
Personal Support Units (PSU) provide practical and emotional help and support to people representing themselves at Court. At present, they are available in eight major Court centres; go to the website for further information about locations and services.

Gingerbread
Gingerbread provides expert advice and support for single parents, including tailored online advice and a helpline on 0808 802 0925.

Grandparents' Association
The Grandparents' Association provides information and support for grandparents affected by divorce and separation of their children. The website includes a range of factsheets and a telephone helpline is available on 0843 289 7030

Family Mediation Council
Information about mediation, Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMs) and a directory of mediators.

Families Need Fathers
Information, advice and support for parents to help achieve positive outcomes for their children. Their site include information about the law and legal processes and their helpline is available on 0300 0300 363.

Rights of Women
Legal advice and information for women, the website provides access to factsheets and their helpline is available on 020 7251 6577. 

OnlyMums and OnlyDads
Both OnlyMums and OnlyDads provide information, advice and support to single parents. In addition to their online information a Family Law Panel is available to answer email enquiries.

Money Advice Service
Advice and information about dealing with financial matters, including the particular issues you might face following a relationship breakdown.