When you represent yourself in a contested family case, in other words without a lawyer, you are called a ‘litigant in person’ (LIP). It’s an extremely daunting experience and the best way to cope is to understand the process, read up about the issues, get good advice and guidance and be organised so as to make sure you do what’s necessary. For the professionals involved it’s their jobs. For you it’s your life and much more stressful. The better prepared you are the less likely you are to be overwhelmed.
The CPS job is to prosecute criminal cases investigated by the police. As part of this role they make the decisions about what charges will be put to an accused. The CPS does not investigate crime. They must review every case referred by the police, or other investigators. They provide early legal advice in investigations to help build cases and to identify whether or not an accused should be charged.
You may be worried that contact with your child is going to be limited. It’s a very common problem for fathers in particular, and it’s specially worrying if you already have limited contact after the breakup, as a result of leaving home, trying to find somewhere acceptable to live and having to make do with whatever awkward arrangement can be made. Many fathers understandably assume that the court will automatically side with the mother and not respect the needs of children to have good, strong and stable relationships with their fathers.
Parental alienation is one of the most difficult things to prove and yet it is one of the most damaging to children and families. It can easily lead to a child completely losing their relationship with one parent and wrongly coming to believe that the parent was abusive or wicked in some other way.
‘Gather evidence’ is the golden rule and get legal help. These are difficult and complicated cases and you need all the help you can get.
The 5 key features are: the ‘burden’ of proof, the standard of proof, what has to be proved, how to gather the evidence and who will decide your case.
There are two kinds of burden of proof. The legal burden (sometimes called the persuasive burden) which falls on the person or party that has to prove their case. The evidential burden is the task of producing the evidence to prove the case.
Here are 5 examples are of serious problems which need proof if you’re going to deal with them successfully. They all involve the police and the courts. In every case you will need legal advice about what to do. Whether you succeed will depend on what you can prove and how good the evidence is. ONRECORD can help you make good records and improve your chances of success. Read our advice about making good records – you will need it in every case.
If you were a victim of abuse as a child or young person, it is known as ‘historical abuse’. Your decision to report it now is bound to be influenced by whether you’re likely to be successful and how difficult it’s going to be. Historical abuse cases have had lots of publicity in the past few years, especially for those abused (or allegedly abused) by prominent people and it could easily put you off. It’s revealed a level of interest from the press and public, which is often voyeuristic and ghoulish. Maybe now as an adult you want to report your abuse to the police but you’re worried about proving it and concerned about the publicity, the pressure and the repercussions. This is very understandable.
To win a case in court the basic fact is that you must have evidence to prove that what you are saying has happened has actually happened; who is responsible; and that your version of events has involved a breach of the relevant law – this is known as the ‘legal argument’. Documentary evidence, i.e. written evidence, is generally viewed as the best form of evidence, so prioritise collecting emails, screenshots of texts, letters.