Can I represent myself in court when making an application for divorce?

Updated: Nov 19, 2020

You sure can, however it is often the case that when a person represents themselves in family court, they may be at a disadvantage compared with the ex-partner who is able to pay for representation in the way of a solicitor or barrister, as they often do not have an understanding of Family Law. Divorce can be very complicated if you are not familiar with current legislation, remember the divorce settlement includes and financial matters, properties and children.

When it is clear that a divorce is inevitable, a question people ask is ‘how much does family law court cost?’ and ‘can you still get legal aid for Family Law?’ Solicitors and Barristers fees are often not within reach of many people, and many people do not have the option to pay for legal representation as they cannot afford it, and in the last few years it has become common practice for a person to represent themselves in court, mainly due to the financial aspect, these people are called ‘litigants in person’. This is due to the government stopping legal aid for most people making applications to family court even for those who rely on benefits. Often one of the persons involved is not able to have access to any funds until the divorce has been finalised, and many legal reps demand their fees paid upfront.

When one party is represented, the judge has a duty to ensure that the hearing is fair, but the judge cannot be seen to be one-sided therefore it is of most importance to prepare yourself, to ensure that you know what is going on, including any legislation and most importantly your rights. Most importantly know what you want to say. I have worked within the family court arena for over 16 years, my background is in Social Work and although I am not legally trained, I have a precise understanding of the procedure in divorce and any child matters. I am able to prepare your case in a professional manner for you to be knowledgeable and confident in court whilst representing yourself.

Should you use a Mckenzie friend?

The most important aspect of representing yourself in court is to ensure that you understand how any significant issues can affect you, but also to be aware of the other party’s position on the issues. An alternative could be to hire a McKenzie friend, they are not legally trained but often have the expertise of the court system and can prepare your case file and any statements on your behalf and guide you if you choose to represent yourself, the cost of this is often only a third of the cost of a solicitor or barrister, therefore it may be worthwhile considering.

Contact: Deborah Harry for more advice.

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