Finding free support when you’re representing yourself at family court is hard if you don’t know where to look. McKenzie Friend – giving a helping hand or just a bad plan? explores one avenue of help available to litigants and this post will explore another.
Personal Support Unit
Who are they?
Personal Support Unit is a charity who has volunteers in some courts across the country. They provide free, practical and emotional support to litigants in family court.
What can they do for me?
They can’t give legal advice but they can give information about court procedure. They can help with filling out court forms or help to organise your paperwork. They can help you plan what you want to say at your hearing, attend with you and take notes.
Where are they?
The volunteers are not in every family court. They weren’t in mine so, sadly, I didn’t know of them when I represented myself. This service is one I found when researching for McKenzie Friend – giving a helping hand or just a bad plan? Their volunteers seem to be based in all major cities: Birmingham, Cardiff, Exeter, London, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle to name a few. A full list is available on their website.
Why Personal Support Unit?
Because, as a litigant, you’ve got absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain from giving them a call. Maybe they’re not close enough to attend court with you but, maybe they can answer some of the questions you have. They may also be able to point you in the direction of other help and organisations.
I remember, in my own case, when my ex’s solicitor informed me that I would need to file my bundle with court. I had no idea what she was talking about and though I googled it, my head was all over the place. I visited family solicitors in my town and left every one of them crying. No-one had the time to explain what a bundle was and I didn’t have the money to pay for their time. It sounds stupid to me now, but that was my reality back then. If I had of known about Personal Support Unit, I could’ve phoned the office closest to me and asked for help. What is a bundle? How do I file with the court? Give them a call and see what they say.
Further information on Personal Support Unit, including their contact details, can be found on their website http://www.thepsu.org
Since I don’t have personal experience with this service, do any of you? Leave a comment and share your experience of Personal Support Unit and help another mother in court without a solicitor.
#mothers4justice2 – amazing things can happen when women support each other.
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