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Ask Clare Your Own Question

Clare
Clare, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 33499
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practice since 1985 with a wide general experience.
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I have been declared medically unfit to attend a court hearing

Customer Question

I have been declared medically unfit to attend a court hearing based on my mental health problems that came as a direct result from the abuse I suffered at the hands of the applicant. After providing the courts all medical letters stating I cannot be in the same room as the applicant twice they have forced me to enter the court room with him.
I have provided all medical evidence however the court have emailed me stating they strongly advise I attend to put forward my case and submissions. I am not legally represented as I do not have access to any funds. I am suffering PTSD and agoraphobia yet they insist I represent myself against a fully qualified barrister.
Please could you advise
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Thank you for your question.
My name is Clare
I will do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
What is the nature of the case?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
It is a contact order and parental responsibility. We had a directions hearing they stated a fact finding hearings was needed yet given my health and self representing I have been unable to comply without damaging my health to a critical level as stated by several health professionals I am also nursing my newborn son and have twice had to nurse him in the courtroom much to the judges annoyance
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
I assume that the father is applying for contact with the child
Why do you not wish contact to happen and has there been a history of Domestic Violence - if so were the police called?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
My child witnessed his abuse and is afraid of him she is 11 years old. The police were involved but I always refused to press charges because I was scared so the police questioned my credibility and mental health. My daughter is now having to be home schooled and receiving psychiatric treatment due to her witnessing the abuse. She has stated to several professionals that she does not want to have contact.
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
I she also the father of the baby?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
No I have since remarried and had a baby. I was also paying the violent ex in order to keep my daughter safe from him he only applied to the court for a contact order when I ceased making payments. We have been separated 7 years. Only now he has applied to the courts
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Why were you paying him anything at all?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
He told me if I paid him back his child support payments he wouldn't hurt my daughter and I would be keeping her safe. He kept telling me to tell csa we had a private arrangement and that wasn't true we had no arrangement
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
What did the initial short CAFCASSS report say?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
They did not support any form of contact in the interim given the social services report stating they knew the family and confirmed there was domestic violence.
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
So Social Services have been involved which is helpful.
Did you take anyone with you to the last hearing and when was the baby born?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
My husband was eventually allowed in and my baby was born in July. My dr has written letters stating I am now experiencing nightmares and flashbacks since attending court and I wasn't able to express myself clearly given that my ex was in the same room neither was I really listened to. It was just the judge speaking to the barrister. The Cafcass representative even stated that I shouldn't be their unrepresented as I didn't have the capacity to handle the proceedings.
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
When is the next hearing?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
This coming Tuesday
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
And what is the nature of this hearing?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
It was supposed to be a fact finding hearing listed for two days I gave contacted the court and explained my difficulties yet the judge has declined to vacate the two day hearing and has said it will now be a formal case management hearing listed for half a day. I have no one but my husband I would have to attend with both my children as the child in question is now home schooled. Why is the court allowing my violent ex to abuse me via the courts. The court sent a letter stating I was to have my statement ready by 14 Feb yet the letter was only posted on 25 February and received 26 February I have told them this and shown the dated envelope yet still they persist and I am close to breakdown. I have replied stating I cannot attend and any orders made in my absence I will apply to set aside as I have an absolute defence for my non attendance.
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Have you no friends or neighbours who could care for the children?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
My baby is still breast feeding my daughter won't stay with anyone but me due to her anxiety and I have no one as I lost all friends during the domestic violence marriage and my family are in Portugal
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
And my mother in law passed away January 22 2014.
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Does your husbands income mean that you are not financially eligible for Legal Aid?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Yes we have no eligibility for legal aid and after having a baby we have no access to any funds. He chose a crucial moment after the recent changes in legal aid to use the courts against me.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Can they not be held liable as they have a duty of care that extends beyond their client and through these proceedings they have knowingly caused harm both to myself and the child in question.
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Did you actually apply for Legal Aid - was it financial issues that meant you were not eligible
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Yes we applied when proceedings started in September and it was due to finances that we were not eligible
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
So that was not due to the change in the law
I am afraid that the fact that you cannot cope with the proceedings is not a ground that allows the Judge to simply dismiss your ex's application for Contact I am afraid
This does not mean that the Court has no sympathy - just that they have no choice
Has anything been said about your daughter being separately represented?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
No nothing so what will happen if I do not attend the hearing?
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
If you do not attend and you make no representations at all then the Court will be in some difficulty in refusing any application made by your ex.
The matter is complicated by the fact that you are not represented because the Legal Aid board say you do not meet the FINANCIAL criteria which technically means you could instruct a solicitor to deal with the matter on your behalf
(Please do not misunderstand me - I am aware that being just over the Legal Aid limit does NOT mean that you can afford it)
I fully understand that you do not feel able to cope with a Finding of fact hearing - and that you wish that the matter would just go away - but it will not.
At the very least you need to prepare a Position Statement in which you set out your suggestions as to how the matter should progress.
The statement should repeat the Medical position with regard to your inability to be in the same room as him
You can ask for the following directions
1. CAFCASS to prepare a Section 7 report on all issues regarding contact
2. The Court to consider separate representation for your daughter
3. All future hearings to allow for you to be present via Videolink form another courtroom
You can read about preparing a Position Statement here
http://www.family-law-advice.org/writing-a-position-statement/
You should also contact the Witness Service at Court and ask for advice on how to deal with the same room issue
Please ask if you need further information
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The court has ordered a section 7 report to be completed in April. Due to my not being able to attend my husband filed my statements and medical evidence by hand yesterday at court will this not be sufficient until I am able to be supported?
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Excellent
What did your statement ask for?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
For my daughter to be represented separately in the hearings and I would consider indirect contact if that was my daughters wishes. I am simply respecting my daughters wishes and feelings.
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Then you have done everything you can
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Will it be acceptable not to attend given what I have filed I do not want to be in trouble.
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
If you cannot do so then you cannot do so
However offer to be available for a telephone hearing should the Judge wish this
Clare
Clare, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 33499
Experience: I have been a solicitor in High Street Practice since 1985 with a wide general experience.
Clare and 5 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you so much for all your patience and advice.
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
You are welcome - try and stay strong
Clare

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