Tips for parents giving evidence in court - Family Law Partners

Tips for parents giving evidence in court

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This blog has been designed to help parents prepare for giving evidence in court.

If you are a parent involved in court proceedings about your child, you are likely experiencing one of the most stressful times in your life. It is difficult enough for those who have a lawyer guiding them through the process, but many parents find that they have no choice but to represent themselves as they can’t afford representation and legal aid is only available for family cases in very limited circumstances.

The conclusion of the proceedings, if you have not been able to reach an agreement with the other parent along the way, will be a final hearing, which is sometimes referred to as a ‘trial’.  You are likely to be asked to give evidence at this hearing which can feel very intimidating if you don’t know what to expect.

As a lawyer, I have a duty to the court, not just my client, so I am not allowed to coach my clients. I cannot for example rehearse likely questions and answers with them before they give evidence.

What I am able to do is explain to my clients what is likely to happen on the day and give them some tips to make sure that they present themselves (and their case) in the best possible way. It also helps to lessen the nerves and anxiety which are inevitable.

Tips for parents giving evidence in court

What happens at a final hearing?

If they are instructed, the family lawyers will usually start by giving their opening statements. If you are representing yourself then you can give an opening statement but try to keep it concise and factual.  This is an opportunity to summarise your case and explain how it is illustrated by the evidence before the court. It is not an opportunity for you to give evidence or opinion. If in doubt keep it short, if you end up ranting about the other parent or how unfairly you have been treated it will not help how the court perceives you.

Next, the court will hear evidence. Usually any professional witnesses, such as social workers or Cafcass officers, will be heard first, followed by the applicant and then the respondent. When it is your turn to give evidence, you will go into the witness box where you should find drinking water and the trial bundle, which is a bundle of all the papers in the case which are being considered by the court. You will be asked to swear that you will tell the truth by swearing an oath (religious) or affirming (promising the court). You must take this seriously, if you lie whilst giving evidence you will be in contempt of court. You will then be taken to your statements of evidence and asked to confirm that they are true.

Your family lawyer, if you have one, may ask you some questions to clarify or update your written evidence. The other party’s lawyer, or if there is no lawyer the other party themselves, will then have an opportunity to ask you questions. This is called cross-examination and is an opportunity to stress test your evidence. Your lawyer then has a chance to ask you a few more questions at the end if they feel it would be helpful. Sometimes the Judge or Magistrates will ask you some questions as you go, or save questions until the end.

After everyone has given the evidence there is an opportunity for closing statements. If you are representing yourself, similar rules apply to the opening statement. It is an opportunity to highlight to the court how the evidence that has been heard supports the case which you had set out at the start of the hearing. Keep it to the point and concise.

Tips for giving evidence

If you remember these tips while you give evidence you should give your best impression to the court.

  • Re-read any written statements you have filed to refresh your memory. Also, familiarise yourself with the rest of the evidence before the court. Concentrate on the issues that are in dispute and the weak areas of your case, as these are the areas that you are most likely to be questioned about.
  • It may seem obvious but the most important thing is to listen to the question and make sure you answer the question that is asked. Keep your answers to the point. Don’t be tempted to elaborate or find yourself going off at a tangent, it may not be relevant and could even be damaging to your case. If you don’t understand a question, say so.
  • Take your time. Speak slowly and clearly, the lawyers and Judge or Magistrate will be taking notes as you go. Make sure you fully understand the question and think about your answer before you start talking.
  • Try not to be defensive. This is easier said than done when the other party’s lawyer may be intentionally trying to trip you up.  You don’t want to give the impression you have something to hide and defensiveness can sometimes be misinterpreted as aggression. Your evidence will be more persuasive if you appear to be relaxed and open with the court.
  • Keep your cool. Stay polite and calm. If you lose your temper in the witness box the Judge or Magistrate may be wondering what you are like behind closed doors.
  • Direct your answers to the Judge or Magistrates. They will be assessing your answers to inform their final decision. It may also be easier to give a calm and reasoned answer to them than the lawyer who is intentionally asking you tricky questions.
  • You may find the experience stressful and/or upsetting. If you need a break, let the Judge or Magistrates know.  Also, speak up if you need a comfort break, sometimes cross-examination can go on for some time, and will be difficult to concentrate and give your best evidence if you are distracted by needing the toilet. There should be water in the witness box, but if you need some, ask.

There is no doubt that appearing in court can be a daunting experience and when it involves your family, all sorts of emotions may be involved. Taking specialist professional advice from a family lawyer throughout your case will not only improve your chances of securing the best outcome, but the right family lawyer will provide important emotional support too.

This blog was originally written by Lauren Guy. For a consultation with a member of our specialist family law team please contact us.

104 responses on “Tips for parents giving evidence in court

  1. You mentioned about not ranting with evidence. Can the judge take petty domestic issues as evidence or is there a law that the judge can only consider relevant child access matters in the decision making process? I am asking as I have just had a final hearing where mum has made allegations against me and I have only given relevant child focussed evidence, however the judge has taken mums allegations into consideration for the final judgement. This was not a fact finding mission.

    1. Thank you for your comment. The court is generally only interested in evidence that is relevant to question in hand, what arrangements are in the children’s best interests? I am unable to comment any further given I was not in attendance at the hearing.

    1. And the father. I’ve just been through a fact finding to fight false allegations clearly designed by mum to secure housing, maintenance and control of our two boys.

  2. My son has a solicitor but can no longer pay the cost. Can he go forward and give evidence himself without a solicitor or barrister for final hearing

    1. Thank you for your comment. Yes, if your son cannot afford a solicitor then he can represent himself within the proceedings.

    1. We have removed this, Susan. A member of our team will follow up on your query shortly

  3. If social services took my son into temporary foster care while my partner and I was in hospital looking after our son. Can a judge rule for temporary foster care while we are not in court?

    1. Thank you for your comment Kevin. I would require more information from you before I can answer your question. Parents who are respondents in care proceedings are entitled to legal aid so I recommend that you contact a legal aid solicitor urgently to arrange representation.

  4. I reluctantly agreed to a interim care order in January, I am due back in court shortly and have received the social workers Parenting Assessment. I disagree with a large amount of the assessment and some of the information is inaccurate, which I can prove. A large amount of the assessment is based on the social workers opinion and not fact based. The social workers recommendation is for the children to stay in long term foster care until they are 18. My solicitor stated that he doesn’t feel I should challenge the assessment and that I should agree to the recommendation that they remain in permanent foster care as he believes I haven’t a case to fight. I don’t want to agree and I feel I am being bullied into agreeing. I am also being advised that if I take the stand they will tear me apart and continue to search for more evidence against me. What do I do?

    1. They will tell you that, they want you to give up. You can appeal an adoption and placement order.

  5. I reluctantly agreed to a interim care order in January, I am due back in court shortly and have received the social workers Parenting Assessment. I disagree with a large amount of the assessment and some of the information is inaccurate, which I can prove. A large amount of the assessment is based on the social workers opinion and not fact based. The social workers recommendation is for the children to stay in long term foster care until they are 18. My solicitor stated that he doesn?t feel I should challenge the assessment and that I should agree to the recommendation that they remain in permanent foster care as he believes I haven’t a case to fight. I don?t want to agree and I feel I am being bullied into agreeing. I am also being advised that if I take the stand they will tear me apart and continue to search for more evidence against me. What do I do?
    Can I ask for a extension of the proceedings?

    1. Thank you for your comment Cheryl, I am sorry to hear about the difficult position you find yourself in. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide tailored legal advice on this forum. Your solicitor’s role is to advise you what he or she is in your best interests, using their training and experience. Whilst it is sensible for you to properly consider your solicitors advice, remember that the decision is yours to make.

    2. Hi could I ask what the reason for this care order is ? In very interested to find out your outcome

  6. What is the likelihood of a father being granted 50/50 custody of a child that is 6 months old and exclusively breastfed? I know the laws are more equal in terms of gender but surely this is not common practice in the UK for an infant?

    1. Thank you for your comment. When making a decision as to with whom a child should live the court will take int account all of the circumstances of a case. This will include if a child is being breastfed. If you would like to discuss your case in more detail please contact us to arrange an initial appointment.

  7. What is the criteria for getting a safety order renewed. My ex broke the current safety order 2 years ago. It is due to expire soon. Will i get a new one.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Emma. Unfortunately we can not give legal advice on this forum as we would need to know much more about your situation and the order to you refer to as a ‘safety order’ before answering your question. If an order has been made against your ex-partner for your protection, such a non-molestation order or restraining order, then you may be eligible for legal aid if you meet the financial eligibility criteria.

  8. I have 4 grandchildren under a kinship care order & was providing childcare to another grandchild as well as the other 4 in my care. Social services asked me to take the next baby in the sibling group of the 4 already in my care & I had to refuse as there were to many children for me to care for in my opinion. Since then my circumstances have changed & I only have the 4 grandchildren under the kinship care order to care for now & I have been made party to proceedings for the youngest sibling currently in foster care. I am currently representing myself but am concerned the judge will dismiss our abilities to care correctly for this grandchild also under the same kinship agreement as the older siblings?

    1. Thank you for your comment Helen. I would recommend that you instruct a solicitor who is a member of the Law Society Children Panel to represent you within the current proceedings.

  9. Hi. I am currently preparing for next hearing. my custody dispute has moved from being heard by family magistrates to the district judge. The next hearing will be note hearing in front (via telephone conference call) of a district judge. Is the above post referring to cases in this setting or will there be another way I should be approaching this. I am representing myself but I will up against a solicitor for the other party. or is there somebody I could talk too

    1. Hello Chris. If you would like to discuss your case with someone please contact the office and we will be happy to book you in for an initial appointment.

  10. I and my wife separated in Jan 2019, we have shared the children 50 / 50 from the start by an agreement between both parties. However, in December 2019 she wanted to change this arrangement which I did not agree with. Following this, she then applied to the courts for a CAO.

    We had the first hearing in March 2020 where the Judge kept the status quo of 50 / 50 but tweaking the arrangement to 7 days off, 7 days on, ordered a Section 7 Report.

    I received the Section 7 report whereby it was recommended that the both children live both parents on alternative weeks.

    We had the following up hearing whereby I agreed with the report however the ex-wife disagreed with the report which has now resulted in the court going to a final hearing.

    Although this is disappointing what are the chances of the final hearing going with the Section 7 Recommendations still?

    1. Thank you for your comment Ian. Generally, the recommendation of a well prepared section 7 report will hold a lot of weight with a Judge, but they are not determinative and the final decision will rest with the Judge rather than the author of the section 7 report.

  11. can an ex partner use photos and videos taken out of context, to paint one as one thing and themselves as something else?

    1. Thank you for your comment. Within the proceedings you will have the opportunity to challenge any evidence filed by the other party and the court will determine how much weight should be placed on a particular piece of evidence.

  12. Please can i ask during fact finding I am LIP, Ex has barraster. I received witness statement within a week od hearing. Can i take along with me proof of his allegations and provide to court even though i have not submitted it electronically prior to hearing?

    1. Thank you for your comment. Usually the court must give permission for evidence to be filed. You could ask for permission to file a statement on the day, if there is no time to apply in advance.

  13. My ex lies in court and cafcass, they all seem to believe her lies, as a result cafcass are recommending she retains residence, the cafcass officer has been bias from the start, she has been nothing but rude to me and my partner, once telling her to “shut up” we have both seen her laughing and joking with my ex despite my ex claiming she doesn’t speak english, everytime she gets caught lying in court she blames her interpreter, how can I expect to win this case under these conditions?

    1. Unfortunately, we are not able to comment on a specific case in this forum and could not do so without having sight of all of the case papers. If you require tailored advice please contact the office and we will be happy to schedule an appointment.

  14. If a parent accuses and makes up lies about the other parent, would the judge ask to see evidence or something which relates to their accusations?

    1. Thank you for your comment Christopher. Generally, both parents will have an opportunity to file statements and any other evidence that may assist the court. The Judge will then assess the evidence and make a determination.

  15. I’m struggling with the enormity of my divorce. I’m seeking help from a counsellor, will this be used against me when I go for our custody hearing?

    1. Thank you for your comment Alex. It is really sensible to seek support from a counsellor when going through a major life change such as divorce. Please do not consider this a sign of weakness, the court is often reassured when a parent identifies and accesses support they could benefit from.

  16. My friend is at court on Friday for the final hearing, her ex has serious issues and a compulsive lyer but denies it.

    Hes flown of the handle a few times now infront of the judge, he was told by cascaf he could send a birthday present by post to his son.. he said he would send it to the local post office (They dont even offer this service)

    He complained about Cafcas because the present never arrived so the judge has asked for a receipt. the best part is hes now submitted one and it’s clearly a shopping basket of a major website retailer. It even says no postal address nor payment has been added and hes changed the email address, which on emailing them is a animal website !! Even by visiting the correct retailers website it’s not the same..

    Hes already admitted lying by various methods but the most shocking is he told everyone he had cancer and even got his parents to take him, drop him off at the hospital. Shaved his hair off and took selfies several weeks in a row before beating it..

    Cafcas has recommendations NO contact at all, the judge is already really angry with him and it’s not going to end well..

    My question really is can he get done or could the judge have him charged for submitting it and lying?…

    1. Thank you for your comment. We are unable to give specific advice to individual circumstances within this forum. I would recommend that you obtain some advice as soon as possible from a Resolution lawyer as there are a number of issues that you will need to address.

  17. I have a final hearing date. Cafcass recommendations are for my ex to attend a domestic violence perpetrator programme. My ex refuses to as he disputes this conversation ever happened with cafcass and that cafcass promised him direct contact. The s7 report clearly says no contact prior to attending and completing DVPP. This will now be heard at a 2 day final hearing. Evidence has already been heard at the finding of fact so what evidence will now be heard at the final hearing? What is the judge looking to hear from us? I am a victim of DV so will my perpetrator be able to question me?

    1. Thank you for your comment Rita. A Judge at a final hearing will generally place significant weight on the recommendations of a section 7 report. I cannot comment on whether you will need to give oral evidence at the final hearing or whether your ex-partner will be able to cross examine you directly as I would need a full understanding of your case. If you require tailored advice then I would encourage you to contact the office to make an appointment.

  18. Under cross examination I became frustrated by the questions. I was being pushed for an answer that I couldn’t quantify. I tried to give an answer that would show the question had no bearing on the bigger picture. After the third time of being asked the question I simply answered ‘I don’t know’ – which was true. The line of questioning stoped at this point and went to something else.

    My ex husband avoided questions, deflected, laughed, was sarcastic and rude during cross examination. My barrister described it as like pulling teeth afterwards.

    Do you think the judge would recognise this too?

    In the witness stand Cafcass said child would be at extreme risk of emotional harm if my ex carries on as he does.

    1. Thank you for your comment Sarah. Unfortunately, I am not able to comment on the specifics of your hearing having not been present myself. I am unclear whether this hearing was a final hearing or a hearing regarding an interim issue. If you are required to give evidence again then I would advise you to listen to the question carefully and provide a focused and direct response to what you have been asked. Please call the office and book in for an initial appointment if you require advice tailored to specific circumstances.

  19. Once a court hearing regarding children and mothers visitation, is the solicitors outlined letter binding until the actual court order is received

    1. Thanks for your comment Sash. An order made in court is generally binding from the day it is made, although we are experiencing delays with receiving the sealed orders.

  20. My ex husband is taking me to court for a child arrangement order and he is asking for full custody and for my son to live with him full time. He has filled in a domestic violence allegations form and is claiming that I am abusive emotionally and psychologically towards my son. I believe he has done this because I mentioned that it would cost him money whereas it may not cost me anything as he has been both physically violent and emotionally controlling of me in the past and ongoing. He also has been threatening to take me to court for two years but only actually went a head one week after he was ordered to pay me child maintenance and I believe that this is his true reasoning. I am terrified of losing my son because of his manipulative behaviour.

    1. Thank you for your comment Jennifer. I would suggest that you instruct a solicitor to represent you in the proceedings as soon as possible. If you are a victim of domestic abuse you may be entitled to legal aid. The system does require evidence from a third party source, such as caution or conviction, a social worker, medical professional or refuge worker who are able to confirm that you have been victim of domestic abuse from the respondent. This link explains the evidence that is acceptable to the legal aid board. You must also be financially eligible for legal aid. You can find more information here:

  21. I am so happy I found your blog and I absolutely love your information about tips parents giving evidence court! I liked and it is wonderful to know about so many things that are useful for all of us! Thanks a lot for this amazing blog!!

  22. We have a first hearing tomorrow and our solicitor, who was supposed to be advising us has told us to obtain other representation, as she is on holiday this week. We have sent through copies of messages to her, which we have been charged for her reading but no advice as to how to present these at the hearing except from her sectary to provide as mush evidence we can. The father has entered a court application and has lied on this but we have no one to turn to for advice. Checks have been done on both parties but a conviction the father has and times he has supposedly spoken to Social service have not appeared yet every contact we have had with both the police and social services is listed. We have no representation in court as we could not afford an additional charge for a barrister and as our solicitor was away he would not have had anyone to speak to about the evidence we has sent through. The only thing the solicitor has done is send a letter to the other party. What do we have to pre4pare at this very late stage and will we be able to send through evidence or do we await for the further investigations that have been recommended by Cafcass. I am writing this for my daughter as she has PTSD which has been hugely triggered by this whole stream of events. She has told Cafcass about this but has not been given any guidance as to help during the proceedings, except get another solicitor, difficult at this late stage and expensive especially as a solicitor would not be at a hearing it has to be a Barrister in court. Any advice would be greatly appreciated

    1. Dear Sandra, thank you for your comment. I can see that the court hearing is now likely to have taken place – I hope it went well. If your daughter needs any advice or assistance going forward we would recommend you contact a lawyer who is a member of Resolution. If we can assist on a formal basis please get in touch. In the meantime you may find this factsheet helpful:-

  23. My case is complex, my ex had made severe allegations both criminal and in family court, it took months of adjournments by then I had started drinking, before I was cleared criminally of committing any crimes but when I went back to family court my solicitor and my barrister asked had I started drinking which I said yes, so instead of my barrister saying anything other than I had started drinking,now my drinking is under control and I hardly ever drink in fact and I have proof by way of a key worker who has helped me get the right therapy from all this. My question is if I was to go back to court 1)would she get done for wasting police time,perjury and falsifying evidence but 2) even if by now she has brainwashed our child, would it matter if I still drink no matter if its socially or once every blue moon?

    1. Dear Adam, thank you for your comment. We are unable to provide specific advice within this forum. The background to your case is clearly complex and we would recommend getting in touch with those that previously represented you or seeking advice from a Resolution lawyer.

  24. as a respondent can i use previous statements from criminal proceedings to challenge , the applicants statements in family court regarding non molestation?

    1. Dear Ishmael. Thank you for your comment. You will need to seek an order from the family court for disclosure of such evidence by the police/criminal court.

  25. Asking for a friend.her partner is divorced but,he has heard lots of stories since divorce saying he is not his sons father.he has asked for proof he is by asking for blood test.his ex is says he went to court when divorce was ongoing fighting for visitation rights,his ex is saying that is proof he is the father,is this right.

    1. Dear Angie. Thank you for your comment. Only a DNA test will categorically confirm whether your friend is the biological father of his child. If the mother is not in agreement then he can apply to the court for an order that DNA testing is undertaken.

  26. I’m representing myself and have been throughout a very stressful court proceedings for a change to an existing order. My ex wife has objected to everything to date to try and resolve the situation. this has now resulted in a final hearing. Is there any advice in preparing my 4 sides of A4 position statement? What should be included, structure, supporting evidence etc?

    1. Dear Nigel, thank you for your comment. As I am sure you will appreciate the issues in relation to your case will be very specific and unique to you and your family. We therefore cannot advise you what to include in your position statement and we would recommend that you seek advice from a Resolution lawyer before filing it with the court. However, there is standard information that needs to be included such as the court name; case number; the parties names. We would recommend that you keep the statement as concise as possible using plain English and no legalese; use a clear size 12 font and double line spacing if possible. Ensure that the paragraphs are numbered and use headings to make it easy to navigate/read. Set out the outcome you are seeking and why. If you are involved in Children Act proceedings then refer to the Welfare Checklist in S1 of the Children Act 1989 and have this in mind at all times when writing the statement. Ensure your statement is child focussed as opposed to ‘parent’ focussed. We hope this helps but if you need any assistance on a formal basis please get in touch.

  27. Hi, 2 questions. Due to appear at the magistrates because my ex has refused my offer around child contact. He has not provided me with the full witness statement despite me requesting this on 2 separate occasions. Is it illegal for him not to provide me with this? Also a position statement and an opening statement, are these the same things or two separate items?

    1. Dear Laura, thank you for your comment. You will need to advise the court that you have not had sight of your ex’s full witness statement as he may be in breach of a court order. The position statement is usually a written statement which sets out your position and the order you want the court to make. An opening statement is usually a verbal statement made at the start of the hearing by each party.

  28. Hello. firstly I must say I really appreciate what you are doing offering what advice you can give.

    I’m a father currently getting my case together to present to the court, my children’s mother has stated that interim access be denied until CAFCASS complete a full assessment of my self and family members due to concerns that she has regarding the children’s well being whilst in my care, however she has also sent me a message contradicting this, asking why I’m not making contact and has also taken to social media to voice her opinion, which I feel is damaging to my reputation and are false claims.
    I have proof that I have asked on multiple occasions to see them up until I had blocked her on all channels due to constant abuse via messaging and phone calls.

    is this something that I should bring to the courts attention?
    Should I present any evidence i.e. abusive texts and messages from myself that back up my willingness to see my children?

    Luke B

    1. Dear Luke, thank you for your comments. We are unable to provide specific advice or comment on specific cases within the forum for reasons I am sure you will appreciate. We would recommend seeking advice from a Resolution lawyer who will be able to provide you with detailed guidance as to how to present your evidence. If we can assist on a formal basis please get in touch.

  29. I?m due to have my first court hearing for joint custody after my daughters father has sent for joint custody, After being absent in her life for 3 years and making minimal effort for contact, I was concerned about him not being fit enough to look after her as he was taki drugs and drinking lots, he?s now got a 12 month and want Her to be apart of his life, I have no idea where to start

    1. Dear Harley, thank you for your comment. I am sure it must feel very overwhelming for you. I’m sorry but we are not able to provide specific advice via this forum but I would strongly recommend that you seek advice from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible.

  30. hi has a grandparent can i write to the judge and request they have our concerns and feeling to the matter included in proceedings has social services and cafcass have never included the parternal grandparents (my wife and I) in any previous hearing or investigation .

    1. Dear Stan. Thank you for your comment. There is no automatic assumption that grandparents should be included in any Children Act proceedings or investigations undertaken by Cafcass or Social Services. We would advise your son/daughter to speak to their lawyer about whether any evidence from you should be something that they pursue to assist the court.

  31. Hi I split with the mother of my 3 children on 1/12/20 we have a 17month old and twins 4months old I delivered my twins at home they was 10 weeks early and was 2lbs my little girl went down the toilet I got her out and gave cpr for 15 minutes my mother done the same for my little boy in the front room till the ambulance got there . Since we split my ex blocked me on everything got me arrested For DV ,wrote loads of stuff about me and my mother on social media. I have now had NFA from the police Iv paid nearly 2 thousand pounds in solicitor fees my first court hearing is the end of next month .
    we spoke for about a hour on messages about the kids she then blocked me again andhas now got a non mol out on me the day I got served the papers she unblocked me on Facebook so all of our pictures of us and our children come back it’s like she is doing it to get me to message her while this order is in place. I have to attend the return hearing this week she is doing everything possible to stop me seeing my children it’s not fair at all the social worker has sided with my ex and won’t speak to me or tell me when the assessment will be done . Iv paid for mediation she didn’t answer the call Iv tried contact Center but they won’t help until the assessment has been done . I feel so stuck and lost right now just waiting for the court date . What happens if my ex does not answer the call for the non mol with myself and the judge and both solicitors? Also will the judge see in family court next month I have been stripped of my 3 children for no fit reason Iv jumped through every hoop and I’m getting nowhere I can’t even contact my ex now because of this non mol at the moment

    1. Dear Harry, thank you for your comment. I am sorry that things are so difficult at the moment. We are unable to provide specific advice within this forum and would recommend that you speak to your solicitor who should be able to answer your queries. I hope that things improve for you soon.

  32. Hi, so glad I found this blog. I have a quick question, my ex-husband has lied in his position of statement saying that I refused him contact without son. Whereas, I have WhatsApp messages exchange with him of me agreeing to contacts and him taking out son out on multiple occasions. I have already stated in my own position of statement that I have never refused him contact, but didn’t include any evidence. But upon receiving my ex-husband’s position of statement, he has actually claimed that I refused him access from 2018, but I can supply evidence that this is a lie. I’ve had a search on gov UK site for what form I should use for applying to submit evidence on the day, but I don’t know which form to use 🙁 I really hope you can point me in the right direction.

    1. Dear Tabita, thank you for your comment. It isn’t clear at which stage you are in the proceedings. If you are receiving assistance from a lawyer please ensure you raise this issue with them as soon as possible. Generally, both parents will have an opportunity to file statements and any other evidence that may assist the court and the stage of the proceedings will be relevant.

  33. This is really helpful, thank you for doing this. My sons father is now wanting 50/50 custody since I contacted child maintenance, does a court look at that sort of thing? Secondly he works on call always and has a full time job 6-6 each week day, he isn’t available to have our son, but is basing this on a change in circumstances, because he has a new girlfriend (now fiancé) after 5 months… will the court find it acceptable that he can have our son 50/50 even if he can’t guarantee to be there due to call outs?

    1. Dear Jessica, thank you for your comment. When the court considers child arrangements the welfare of the child will be the paramount consideration. They must take into account a number of factors known as the ‘welfare checklist’. Part of that will include looking at how capable each parent is of meeting the child’s physical, emotional and educational needs. Practical arrangements will need to be considered carefully as will any issues that appear to be driving the application.

      You may find this factsheet helpful:

  34. I recently had a hearing regarding a child arrangement order, however it was done over video call due to COVID. Evidence was sent over by the other party but not shown or used in my hearing. I just wanted to know if am entitled to ask for a copy of the evidence or should have received a copy?

  35. Hi,

    I had a remote court hearing yesterday regarding my son.
    His Dad stopped contact with him since december 2020, but he is saying that I have stopped him to see his son.
    We had an agreement yesterday and he should call his son with video on Wedneday evening and visit him to take him to the local park on Sunday afternoon, while Cafcass is investigating to do a section 7 report for the Court.
    So today, Wednesday, no phone call from his Dad…
    I would like to know what I should do Sunday, in case if his Dad don’t come to see my son. Because, all the time it is his words against mine, and I need to know if I should have a witness or something, I don’t know what to do, but I need to prove that I am saying the truth and he is the one, not coming to see his son.

    1. Dear Christelle, thank you for getting in touch. We are unable to advise on individual cases within this forum. All we can suggest is that you keep notes of the times that your son’s father does not adhere to the agreement so that you can update Cafcass and the court when you are given the opportunity to do so.

  36. We’re due to have our Final Hearing in a few weeks, both representing ourselves. Are previous statements submitted at First Hearing and DRA stages automatically given to the magistrates in the bundle? I don’t want to repeat myself in my statment for the Final Hearing, but there’s also things I want to dispute in her earlier statements if they do get to read those.

    Follow-on point, we’ve only been asked at the DRA to provide statements setting out what arrangements we want. Am I free to include a position statement/evidence that supports or explains why I want those arrangements and argue against the arrangements she wants? I don’t want to do too much but don’t want to miss the opportunity to say what I want to say. I’m assuming I can provide more detail or examples in the hearing itself?

    1. Dear Stuart, thank you for your comment. Any documents that have previously been filed with the court should be included in the court bundle. We cannot advise or comment on what you should or should not include in your statement other than to say that you should comply with the specific wording in the order in this regard. We would also recommend seeking legal advice in respect of the contents of your statement and with regard to the final hearing itself.

  37. Hi Lisa – thanks for reply above.

    A follow-up question please. If the respondent instructs a direct access barrister, are they liable for submitting the bundle to the court for both parties (as I represented myself) and the associated costs, and is the barrister acting ethically if they and their client neglect to tell me in advance they have legal representation for the hearing and just turn up on the day together?


    1. Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide advice on specific cases within this forum.

  38. I have just had a floating DRA and the judge has only seen a skeleton bundle from my ex partner’s solicitors. I received no bundle at all. The judge has said we are to go to a final hearing but there are many issues that haven’t even been looked at. I’m LIP and feel that, because I have tried to remain child focused, many of the issues which relate directly to the welfare of the children have been overlooked so far. One of my children will not see nor speak to me since shortly after my court application, when there was a fallout and I shouted at them and removed them from the table for having a tantrum. Ex partner immediately stopped all contact straight after and the case has become about the welfare of the kids. CAFCASS report states that there are no safeguarding issues and that the child that won’t see me has said I have never hurt them. Ex states they have been encouraging contact, but I have witnessed, first-hand, the denigration of the other fathers of the older children and have even previously been told of disparaging comments made about me by my ex to the child that has rejected me. I’m at a loss as to how to present all of this now as it feels like, by not “mud-slinging” I have lost a valuable opportunity to say what needs to be said. My last statement explained that, whilst there were many discrepancies and partial truths in the statements made, I was looking to move forward but these discrepancies would need to be addressed before any final order was drafted. The judge has asked for parent/child mediation to take place to help them unpick what is going on, and also ordered extended contact with my other 2 children, including an overnight every fortnight. I’m sorry this is so garbled but the case is complex and involves neglected healthcare, my name being sullied which has resulted in a lack of support, and neglected education.
    Have I lost the opportunity to point out all of the issues that lead to this point? What would my statement for a final hearing look like?

    1. Dear Eric, thank you for getting in touch. We have not published your query due the personal and identifiable nature of your comments. We are unable to advise on individual cases and would recommend that you seek urgent advice from a family law specialist who is a member of Resolution.

  39. My kid & partner complaint to social services that I have been physically assaulting them for 15 years , social services reported to the police and police arrested me , seize my mobile for download and granted bail with the conditions of not visiting family home and not to contact My partner & kids , however My partner refused to give statement to the police and said nothing happened and also turned down social services claim as well , hence police dropped the charges after 2 months , I was away from home and during my absence my partner & kid was influenced or made up a plan and provided statement and a photograph of my partner hand which was having bruises , police arrested Me again and after 3 months they charged me under ABH and the matter is in court and I plead not guilty , but during this time she did’nt allow me to meet or talk to my other kids (I have 4 kids) and she got non-molestation order in place for a year with the same restriction as police imposed on Me .
    I want to get access to the kids at-least telephonic or supervised contact until criminal case comes to the conclusion , hence I completed online court form C100 , I am currently not working and not claiming any benefits , am I entitled to get legal aids (solicitor / barrister ) to represent Me or I will have to represent Myself , do you think court will allow Me to meet My kids or will wait for the criminal case conclusion , My partner is currently using every tactic and law to keep My kids away from Me and playing a victim and woman card .Please advice . Thanks

  40. I have 50/50 shared residence, mum broke it for the third time, i put in a enforcement order but before the hearing date mum filed a prohibited steps order based on social services being involved for safeguarding reasons which are untrue, so she has me under the microscope atm, social services have sent their report in as requested which clearly states no involvement and no safeguarding concerns aparent, also a section 7 has been requested by myself and granted, once all her lies are shown as just that will i get 50/50 re-instated as at the moment my residence order has been suspended and i have no contact until cafcass visit and deem it fit to allow indirect and supervised contact until the next hearing, all mums statement is pure lies and will be found out as just that. Any advice will be helpful thanks.

    1. Dear Lee, thank you for getting in touch. We are unable to provide advice in respect of specific cases within this forum. We would recommend that you seek advice from a family law specialist who is a member of Resolution as soon as possible.

  41. The respondent is represented by a Barister whom writes up the order, passes it to me, to agree with, before passing to the Judge for signing off. At the last hearing, we could rea an agreement about the dirrections, and so this was returned to the Judge for their completion.
    Unbeknown to me at the time, the barister passed this with a lengthy cover letter, which I felt was very biased. The judge signed off to some extent on the basis of this letter, which has lead to extra challenges.
    The children now have a guardian and solicitor. Will / can I request that the children’s solicitor be responsible for drafting up future orders, such that a workable document is produced?

    1. Dear Craig, thank you for getting in touch. We are unable to provide advice regarding current cases and proceedings. If you are concerned about the drafting of orders we would suggest that you raise this with the Judge at the next hearing or seek your own independent legal advice. Generally, you should be copied into any communications sent to the court by any of the parties/their representatives.

  42. hi i am wondering after seeing this what happens my ex hasnt seen our son in over 6 years now and don’t show any willingness to come see him. I am wanting to go on holiday for 26 days to US next year and fear i will have to talk to him about it. I had several occurrences of having to chase Child maintenance over past few years. Also i am fearful of talking to him as every-time do he causes me distress and anxiety as he makes me scared he is controlling me. could i just file a court order or can i go on holiday without his permission

    1. Dear Claire, thank you for getting in touch. If both parents have parental responsibility and there is no Child Arrangements Order in place providing for where the child lives, both parents will need to consent to take the child abroad. If approaching your ex is difficult we would recommend doing it though a third party (a mediator, family consultant or solicitor could potentially assist). If he consents to the holiday ensure that this is put in writing. If your ex is unwilling to provide consent to the trip you will need to make a formal application to the family court.

  43. My sons ex had a child 2 days ago and refuses a dna test or access. The lady in question has 5 serious mental health issues and as a result social services have made the child ward of court and won’t provide us with any information until paternity is provided. The lady In question had my son arrested several times after leaving him, all of allegations were proved to be false and we since found out she has a history of doing this to several men as well as having a very disruptive lifestyle.
    My son will contact a solicitor today but he can’t afford fees, is there anywhere we can get help for free.

    1. Dear Jade. Thank you for getting in touch. If the child has been made a Ward a court it is likely that your son will be entitled to Legal Aid. We recommend finding a solicitor who has a Legal Aid contract in your area. This link may assist

  44. Hi
    I am getting ready to go court as a litigant person to see my daughter. It has been over a year know I haven’t seen my daughter. I asked help from mediation but she said no to them so the case is closed but now I am going court for my daughter. I have harassment order against them not contact them directly or indirectly apparently I was stalking her anyways I want to to no will that go against me in court to see my daughter she might also say I have mental health issues and alcohol and drugs problem which I don’t I 2 or 3 years I did have it not anymore. Will that all go against in court what will the judge look at after she says all that about me?
    Thank you would mean a lot if you reply back

    1. Thank you for getting in touch. I am sorry that you are experiencing some difficulties at the moment with seeing your daughter, but we are unable to provide advice regarding specific cases and current proceedings within this forum. We would recommend that you seek advice from a family law specialist who is a member of Resolution as soon as possible.

  45. Hello, I hope you can help. We are about a month away from our final hearing. My ex-husband has failed to complete his statement for this. I would like to file evidence and am struggling getting my side and evidence seen. Do I file it with a C2 form every time?

    1. Thank you for getting in touch. I am sorry that you are experiencing some difficulties at the moment, but we are unable to provide advice regarding specific cases and current proceedings within this forum. Generally speaking, a form C2 is to enable you to make an application within existing proceedings and it could be used to request that the court makes a particular order or directions (for example, the appointment of an expert). The court has the power to control the evidence before it, and it may use this power to direct the issues on which it requires evidence, the nature of the evidence and how it is placed before the court. The court may also exclude evidence. As your final hearing is only a month away, we would recommend getting legal advice to discuss your query as soon as possible.

  46. Hi,
    My ex is claiming I abused her through the relationship in different ways and is claiming I am not able to be alone with our son (because I didn’t do antenatal classes and she claims I get angry – which I do not).
    She has now blocked me from entering her flat (I would see our son with her mum being there and my ex in the other room), she was sent a MIAM request and this has angered her. I am now having to try to organise a visitation centre where she is requesting I am supervised and a report is written at the end resulting in large fees.
    Will the judge take her accusations seriously considering she was letting me in her flat, and once our son arrived it was often just me and her alone. These accusations only started when our son arrived and I wanted to see him without her, I have all our old messages and there is no mention of any form of abuse.
    She has also made up lies about my own mother (who is a nanny and already a grandma), hitting my nephew. So she is using this lie to say my mum can’t supervise. There are so many contradictions with the things she says and constantly accuses me of things and when I reply she gets her solicitor to send my solicitor a letter telling me my tone is out of order – which is subjective.
    I am powerless right now as she registered our son without me as the father so I have no parental rights.

    1. Thank you for getting in touch. I am sorry that you are experiencing some difficulties at the moment with your ex-partner, but we are unable to provide advice regarding specific cases and current proceedings within this forum. You have mentioned that you already have a solicitor, so we advise that you discuss your concerns in more detail with them.

  47. Hi , I am due in court in April for a trial final hearing regarding me spending time with my 5 year old daughter, I was wondering how much illustrated evidence I can submit to help my case ,my ex wife is pretty much throwing all the parent alienating drugs and alcohol abuse kind of stuff at the court , however, I have no issues with these , also the Cafcas officer on one occasion said she sees no reason for a supervised visit after attending a play center with my daughter, she then later revolved what she said , I feel my cafcas officer has very old fashioned ways and is not at all focused on my child , I suffer with mental health and I’m still representing myself and I have to do a statement, thank you for your time from Cameron

    1. Thank you for your comment, Cameron. Unfortunately we cannot give legal advice on this forum. If you would like to discuss your case in more detail, please contact us to arrange an initial appointment.

  48. Hi ,separated from my ex of 10 years,during this time he had a drink problem & was abusive,he has taking me to court regarding our girls who have stated they do not wish to see him,judge had a welfare report advising no contact & also no supervised contact, but now its going to proof ,what are his chances?

  49. My children have both been very clear they no longer want to live with their mum, but with my partner and I. I have tried to arrange meetings to discuss the request, she does not reply to messages or dodges the issue verbally. The children are more upset now nothing g is being done. I do not believe she will take into account the children’s wants and wishes, and we will end up in court. Any help and advice would be greatly appreciated

    1. Thank you for your query, Joe. I am sorry to hear that you find yourself in such a challenging position. There are a number of factors in play here, including the ages of your children and any welfare concerns. There are alternatives to court that you may wish to consider which may include mediation or working with a family consultant, however as we are unable to offer tailored legal advice within this forum, I cannot comment on what is appropriate for your individual circumstances. I would suggest that you consider obtaining some advice from a Resolution family law solicitor as they will be able to explore your circumstances in more detail with you.

  50. We had 50/50 i had a alcohol relapse 6 months ago. I am seeking help again. I reluctenlty agreed the other party could have residency but i wanted every other weekend. still going on in court. He has now passed away and so his parents now want live with order and im not able to see our son. If the court order was between me and the father who has now died can I have access? is the current order irrelevent? or do I have to let them carry on untill we are back in court. as i believe my son belongs to the court untill new order made. but ware does that leave me

    1. Thank you for your comment, Judith. I am afraid I am not able to comment on individual cases and give tailored advice within this forum. Your situation appears complex given that there are ongoing court proceedings and how you proceed from here will depend on a number of factors. I would recommend that you seek advice from a Resolution family lawyer as soon as possible.

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