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Litigants in Person
Coercive behaviour is defined as “an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim. Coercive control involves repeated, ongoing, intentional tactics which are used to limit the liberty of the victim.
When you represent yourself in a contested family case, in other words without a lawyer, you are a ‘litigant in person’ (LIP). It’s a daunting experience and the best way to cope is to understand what’s going to happen, who is going to do what, what issues are going to be seen as important and what will not be seen as important, get good advice and be organised and make sure you do what’s necessary.
If your case involves ‘harmful conflict’, the links in this blog show you exactly how CAFCASS will assess you and your family relationships. FCAs are expected to follow these processes although they do have discretion in how they conduct their assessments.
As part of their Child Impact Assessment Framework (CIAF), CAFCASS have guidance on how to assess families and how they work with children where there is parental alienation.
The links in this blog will show you exactly what the Family Court Adviser (FCA) will use to assess or analyse your family and you can see exactly what CAFCASS thinks is useful. FCAs are expected to follow these processes although they do have discretion in how they conduct their assessments.
The Child Impact Assessment Framework (CIAF) sets out how CAFCASS think children experience parental separation, how the child’s reaction can be understood and what should be done. The framework consists of four guides which Cafcass practitioners can use to assess different types of problem, known as ‘case factors’.
The CAFCASS website explains how they consider these cases and how they deal specifically with allegations of domestic abuse, high conflict cases, parental alienation, substance abuse and mental illness.
The CAFCASS worker preparing the report will decide what enquiries to make based on what the court has asked them to look into. This may include talking to children (depending on their age and understanding) about their wishes and feelings and what they would like to happen.
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.
You will gain a lot by understanding what’s to be covered in a CAFCASS interview and to have had time to think about how you’ll reply. So prepare well. Read their interview plan to see what CAFCASS cover in their interview, understand the principles by which they work and read my previous blogs with more CAFCASS information.