Hi all, we enjoyed our little Cornwall break immensely - back now to piles of washing, work and the hearing on the 16th.
My partner decided against the barrister in the end, as the one we had met and really liked has gone into hospital, and we got a message yesterday to say they could try and find someone else if we wanted, but after the brilliant Cafcass report we recieved last week, he spoke to the solicitor who''s been advising him and she said he could do this by self representing, hes already done three Directions hearings!
What we are nervous about however is the actual day, he is hoping that they will agree the order early on, as his statement supports the Cafcass findings, however we havent seen his exes statement as yet, and as the report basically says she cant safeguard their daughters needs enough to have a residence order and the only reason theyre leaving her there is on condition she gets a lot of specialist support we think she may fight it - its not yet clear either if she still has legal aid funding as she doesnt appear to have a chance of being succesful based on the report.
If however it goes to cross examination this is the bit we are worried about, what type of questions to ask, how to phrase them etc, has anyone any experience of self repping at a final hearing?
Does he have a good McKenzie? If he his self-representing and having to cross-examine, a McKenzie is advisable and should always be someone with no other involvement in the case. If that isn''t possible, he should remain very calm and very polite (the art of cross-examination is not the art of examining crossly).
The ex should file her statement in plenty of time for you to read it and respond to it. Otherwise you will have to ask for an adjournment. Don''t allow yourselves to be bullied into an agreement which is not in the daughter''s best interests.
It is important to prepare questions in advance. They need to be questions which encourage a full response - not just a yes or no answer. The purpose of these questions must be to put and substantiate your own case while undermining the other side''s case. Keep it short; don''t have too many questions.
You need the judge to see the merit of your case and to lose confidence in the other side''s case.
Keep the questions relevant to your case theory which you have established in your statement. Put the questions together in a sequence; break the sequence down into small chunks so that each question builds up an irrefutable argument. If you can get the ex to agree each small step, you may force her into a corner where she is obliged to agree the final, decisive question.
Don''t try to be too clever, though; there are no prizes for a performance.
A couple of other points:
To undermine the other side''s case you really need to understand it fully.
If you expose a lie don''t jump up and down punching the air - remain professional.
Keep your focus on the judge and watch how he or she is reacting to your questioning.
''Final'' hearings are not always final - some cases can involve many final hearings.
Careful preparation is required and unless someone is a good public speaker practice at asking the questions to another person or mirror can be useful. The aim of cross examination is to get factual information clearly set out for the judge by asking relevant questions rather than a brawl between the parties.
A case outline/skeleton argument is the script which provides a checklist to refer to. Pick the main themes and concentrate on getting them across. A judge may help a litigant in person as long as they know the point they are trying to get at.
Know when to stop and don''t make the case more complicated than it needs to be. A common mistake is to try to ask questions about everything. Make a list of things that are important that have not yet been established and work out the most important things in a logical order. The points to be addressed with any question should be clear.
Have notes at hand so that evidence to back up points can be referred to clearly. When the reply to a question isn''t the required answer the question can be approached another way, but don''t repeat the same question if there isn''t a different angle. Just move on.
acfair I know its a little cheeky of me but would you mind sharing the kind of questions you asked?
The back ground is a Cafcass report that says mum isnt safeguarding her needs, all contact with dad stopped 6 months ago as mum suddenly claimed he might abduct his daughter (7 yesterday)
Loads of care needs,poor hygiene, speacial needs child, only at school 80% of the time, late a lot, no bedtime routine, mum ahs convinced her dad isnt part of her family any more.
Becasue school currently is stable for her, they recommend no residence order but an immeidate contact order for overnight alternate weekends at our home which is in the Midlands. Mum is in london her latest statement now says she would support every third weekend but wants a residence order, also now wants a police check on me despite Cafcass writing int he reports that safeguarding checks in relation to me are outstanding.
It was his daughters birthday yesterday but mum said he could only have a call and couldnt see her because tehy had plans. those plans consisted of going to her boyfriends mums house for tea and doing nothign all day at home (thats what his daughter told him anyway!)
We dont really know what sort of things we should be asking? We have outlined what he wants from this, he has done a statement fully supporting the Cafcass report, dont really know what else he can ask? she is fully represented too which makes him nervous