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Questions about self representation...

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Is it simple enough and how do you go about it?

Hi there, I posted a little while ago having issues with my mother in law.  Well when it rains it pours… My husband was served papers on Saturday to attend court on 2 August.  Was so nice to be given plenty of notice, given that the application was filed on 24 June and he was served on 9 July.  But anyway, the affidavit included in the documents basically states (apart from several personals attacks on the circumstances of their break up 7 years ago and what a horrible and selfish father he is yada yada yada) that she is seeking permission to move with the children about an hour from where we live. And the other issue is that she wants him to pay half of all major medical and dental expenses.

Ok so as far as her moving he will not object to that, although she has worded it in a way that would essentially stop us from relating from where we are which he will argue that if she wants to move the children away from him then we should not be forced to stay in an area we do not like for no reason.  We only moved to the area we are in to be nearer to his kids so if they move away we would like to move further in the other direction so as to be closer to my family seeing as we have a child together and they are our support network (we do not see my husbands family at all).  He also currently picks his kids up from school Friday and returns them to school Monday on his contact weekends, he would not dispute the kids being returned on a Sunday evening given that it's unfair for them t travel a long distance and then have to focus on school all day.  However, he will certainly argue the extra money that she wants.  She recently started a dispute with CSA regarding his earning capacity and all this rubbish (her child support went down due to an increase in her income). Although her payments went down he agreed to continue paying what he had been paying for the last 2 years as it was within our means and he was trying to do the right thing, so he currently pays $66.50 more per month than he is required to pay. So he thinks she is just being greedy now and said he will argue on the basis of already having agreed to a higher amount, and ultimately where does it end.

OK so my questions are… given the details above, and that we are not in a financial position to hire a lawyer, do you think it would be reasonably simple to represent himself (I would help him but have not much of a clue about legal matters)?  Does it sounds to you like he is being reasonable regarding wanting the freedom to move our home also and also to not agree to more money? And can someone please tell me how to go about filing a response?  Is there anywhere I can get a pro forma of an affidavit that we can use to do one for him?  I notice that she has all of these application forms, do we need similar forms or do we just need to submit an affidavit and any documents of evidence (re agreed CSA amount)?  Unfortunately as mentioned above the court hearing is set for 2 August and I rang our local public legal office today and the first appointment they can offer is 1 August so obviously we are on our own unless we have a money tree pop up in our backyard to pay the private lawyers fees!

Thanks in advance for any responses, hopefully I get some.  Also if you have any other tips or dos and donts for self representation it would very helpful.

Kind regards,

Mel

Self Representation

Your situation sounds very similar to ours except that we moved over 500km away from my husband's daughter's mother. I will acknowledge I am not an expert but have been going through Family Law stuff since 2005 and my husband since about 1998.

My hubby represented himself in 2008 and the judge did not look upon this very highly at all.  The reason being is that as individuals we do not know the law.  More to the point having researched further we are restricted on certain things like the number of subpeoneas you can request.

As you are not in a position to hire a lawyer have you tried applying for Legal Aid in your state?  There is also grounds to apply for Legal Aid under Financial Hardship should you be eligible.  Remember though that when applying for Legal Aid that both your incomes are taken into consideration whilst for CSA the are not.  Your husband can represent himself the first time whereby he asks for an extensive of time to apply for legal aid and/or find a lawyer.  As for CSA, the only advice I can give is he needs to stop being so nice and only pay what he can afford and seeing as he has you and your daughte to support. Overextending himself through CSA will mean they and the mother will continue to expect him to. If he can prove via Tax Returns and payslips that he doesn't have to pay as much as he has been then he needs to reduce it. Also you have shared care of his children so you are supporting them when they visit any way so to pay out extra means less for when they visit.

It is not unreasonable for you to want to move as you are a new family with a child from that union so this is normally taken into consideration.

Filing a response can be done by yourselves.  I am not sure of the website but if you google Family Law, you will most certainly find what you are looking for.  From what I remember your husband will be required to participate in mediation before it goes to court in any way as it is now mandatory (or it was in 2008).  I prepared my husband's affidavit for the first hearing but the judge shot him down in flames for not having representation and everything went against us initially.  From memory, you do not need application forms but rather response forms.  However, if you would like to make your own application should your husband wish to apply for residency himself or for any other reason then he will need application forms.  Affidavits are often submitted with response/application forms.  It may also be worth him requesting a Family Report which is prepared by an experienced Family Psychologist (this can be appointed by the courts unless you can find a good one to see through any bad stuff from both sides).

As I commented above, you do not have to on your own.  At the first hearing your husband should request extra time to obtain legal aid and find a lawyer that he likes (and I would recommend obtaining advice as you want someone who will represent you and what you want).

Personally, as it is going to be a major stress for everyone involved to go through the court process including the child you now have together (even though you will try to keep them out of it they will sense it through your own body language and emotions).

I hope this helps. I can't always get on here as I have an infant to look after but I will keep an eye on your post.

Oh, and good luck.  The road ahead is not going to be easy at all.
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