To give yourself the best chance of success in family court you have to handle your feelings. Solicitors are effective because they have no emotional ties to the people they represent. This is not the case for you, and it certainly wasn’t the case for me.
I found controlling my emotions to be the hardest part of representing myself. I felt angry, anxious, stressed and tearful all of the time. Whenever anyone spoke to me I either swore, ranted or cried. A solicitor can communicate effectively because of their detachment. Representing yourself means you have to find your own way to detach so as not treat your case as a chance to play the blame game.
Don’t rush, take time to think.
Don’t speak in haste and don’t reply in haste. Read all letters carefully, making sure you understand everything. Take the time to really think about your ex’s side of the case and analyse the points you don’t agree with. If you take your personal feelings about your ex out of the equation, is your disagreement still valid? Do your reasons for disagreement have a direct link to your child’s best interests?
Writing is therapy, so write it all down.
Writing all of your feelings and thoughts about your ex, your kids and your case down is therapeutic. Give it a go because no-one ever has to see what you have written. It doesn’t have to be neat or grammatically correct, it just needs to be honest. Once you have written it, put it away somewhere safe and after a few days re-read what you have written. The time away helps you to calm down and emotionally detach from the feelings you had while writing. Returning re-engaged and with a clearer mind, you can highlight any valid points for use in your case.
Resist the temptation to criticize or blame.
The magistrates will have little interest in the personal grievances between you and your ex. Every point that you make during your case has to be centered on what is in the best interests of your child. If, for example, you consider your ex to be argumentative and disrespectful when they pick up/drop off your child for contact, how does this affect your child? How could this problem be resolved?
You are in control.
Court is not permanent but during the stress of representing yourself it can be hard to keep a clear perspective on things. Remember that you are in control. The ability to control how you think, feel and behave is in you. How you react to your circumstances is also in your control. One way or another your case will be resolved, so what is the outcome that you want? How can your outcome be achieved? What compromises are you willing to make?
Get guidance from a professional.
Though you can’t afford to pay a solicitor to represent you fully, there are still ways to obtain professional guidance. Many solicitors offer a free initial consultation, you could use this to explain your situation and get a professional opinion on what the strengths of your case are. It is the strong points in your argument that make up the body of your case.
If you can’t make sense of your argument then neither will the magistrates. Handling your case in a calm and detached way allows for logic and reason to take centre stage.
Do you have any tips or tricks to help another mother detach emotionally so she can think clearly? Leave a comment and get involved.