Divorce cases can often escalate when couples choose to go down the traditional route and battle it out. Here is an example of how expensive and out of hand a divorce settlement can be without working things out amicably. Please note the names have been changed:
Pam and Geoff had a little girl called Stephanie, but sadly their relationship did not last long and Geoff left Pam when Stephanie was but an infant. However, although Pam was not after finance, Geoff insisted on Court action to grant an access order. The Judge concluded he should have his daughter every other weekend, one night a week and for half of the public holidays like Christmas and Easter.
As Stephanie grew older and reached the age of ten, Pam became aware of tensions between her daughter and her former husband. Steph was unhappy and didn’t want to be taken to her father’s home, where he had a new wife and two children. Pam was not sure what the problem was but realised action was called for after Stephanie ran away from her father’s house. Pam didn’t take her back and Geoff saw this as a breach of the court order and threatened court action himself. This resulted in Pam suggesting mediation but Geoff would not listen. In his eyes Pam had broken the Court order and he wanted the Court to deal with it.
Pam didn’t know what to do. Her daughter was at risk of harm if she ran away from her father, and Pam didn’t want to see her daughter unhappy. And how could she defend herself against her ex in the courts. A friend said she knew of some excellent lawyers who specialise in family law relating to children and Pam took her advice.
The lawyers had two months to prepare a case and went into overdrive. They found witnesses who had seen Geoff and Steph together. They got CAFCASS to sit in on a meeting between Geoff and his daughter and then they interviewed Stephanie alone. They brought in a QC who they briefed, and who spoke with Pam for two and a half hours and who was to represent her in court. And they adopted a tactic designed to make Geoff “go neutron”. They issued a counter court order against him for finance. Not that Pam wanted it but they wanted Geoff to be angry and to slip up.
Finally the Court day arrived. Geoff had not employed a lawyer. To save money he was representing himself. By comparison the QC was very impressive, although the judge seemed to be most interested in the CAFCASS report
The case was not about money but access. The report stated there was no emotional contact between father and daughter. Verbal abuse had been witnessed and there was reason to suspect physical abuse in the past.
The judge was not prepared for Stephanie to endure any more of her father’s brutality and changed the access order to two supervised sessions of 3 hours each week.
A victory for Pam perhaps except the CAFCASS report, so important to the case, was free. She could have asked for that. Geoff had been shamed in court but hadn’t paid anything. Pam on the other hand, had a legal bill to pay and was physically sick when she was told it was £70,000. No sooner had her brother and father agreed to find the money when she received another legal bill for a further £10,000.
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