Whilst litigants may find some of the information on this blog useful it is of course not the same as advice tailored to your individual circumstances – and you should not treat anything on this blog as legal advice. People often post comments on the blog asking for advice about their own family case, which I am unable to give via this website, because barristers have historically only been able to offer advice when instructed by a solicitor.

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 23.31.44If you are looking for a barrister or would like to instruct me please take a look at my website lucyreed.co.uk which gives you more information about instructing barristers and how you can go about it.

If you are a Litigant in Person (someone dealing with a court case without a lawyer), or if you are considering going to the Family Court you might find my book “The Family Court without a Lawyer – A Handbook for Litigants in Person” (Bath Publishing 2014) helpful. 
Family Courts without a Lawyer - A Handbook for Litigants in Person
The book explains how the courts work, and sets out the law and practical guidance in relation to cases about children, divorces and what happens about money and property when couples separate.

You can buy a copy of the book here.


You can buy the kindle version on Amazon (if you download the kindle app you will be able to read it on your computer, iphone or ipad even if you don’t have a kindle). You can click through on the link below to get straight to the kindle version.


68 thoughts on “Need Advice?

  1. Please give me the link to your book,so i can read it online,Thankyou

    • If you go to http://www.nofamilylawyer.co.uk or Amazon you can buy a copy. It is not too expensive. You can buy a kindle version on Amazon.

    • Hi my name is A I just wanted to know if you can help me because my child is in adoptive placement if the is any chance I can make appeals

      • AN I am afraid I can’t assist via this site and I couldn’t in any event answer your question with so little information. Generally if a child is already in an adoptive placement there is little that can be done – if the adoption order has not yet been made it is possible to apply to oppose the making of it once the application comes in – but that is a very difficult application and rarely succeeds. Once an adoption order has been made they are almost never overturned. If you want to challenge your child’s adoption you should speak to a lawyer and see what options are available to you based on your specific circumstances.

  2. the father has reasonable contact of my child, i have a residence order the father is not sticking to the days agreed i am also getting verbal abuse when he does want him and we have plans because he has not let me know in advance if he is having him or not, he thinks he can just ring on the day and this is not helping me and my son it is distressing my boy what can i do, can i stop the contact any info would be great can u email me back

    • Hi Kelly,

      I don’t give advice through this website. However, in general terms f there is an order in place which says when a child should have contact with his/ her dad and the resident parent doesn’t want to stick to it they will need to ask the court to vary it. I don’t know if this applies in your case.

      I do accept instructions directly where a case is suitable for public access (see http://www.lucyreed.co.uk). I have also written a book about Family Courts which you can buy at http://www.nofamilylawyer.co.uk. If you take a look on the No Family Lawyer website you will find links to a range of useful resources that may give you some answers to your question. Alternatively you may want to go and see a solicitor – but unless there is domestic violence or a serious child protection issue you probably won’t get legal aid. You may qualify for legal aid for mediation, which might be a way of avoiding going to court.

  3. i have an issue. I recently discovered that my wife of 5 (five years) is pregnant for a close family friend and because of the shame she relocated from where we live in Liverpool to Scotland while i was out of town with our 2 (two) kids and i have not been able to see them also because i do no know where she lives. I have been advised to go to court for a contact order and i would like to know whether i can get judgement from Manchester (england) or i must have to do it in scotland. I need your advice desperately

    • I’m sorry but I can’t give advice via the blog. I would suggest that you take some urgent legal advice and take it from there, even if you have to act in person at court.

  4. i was looking at the transparency project website. on the resources page the link to bailii appears to be wrong. baillii.org will take you to the proper site, the link at the transparency project will try to sell you a domain name. telling you because i couldn’t see how to tell them. please pass it on.

  5. hello can I have some advice please

  6. Hi. Would it be possible for you to blog/ discuss the rights of teenage children who have resident orders, and xontact oders that they can choose have contact or not with father.
    [confidential details deleted]
    What are the legal rights of mature teenagers who do not want father to know medical or new home address.

    • Hi Rosemary,
      It’s an interesting topic and I might cover it at some point – at the moment though I simply don’t have the time to do so.

  7. Hi
    Can you explain in general how much money an EEA self employed worker need to earn to be consider as person with right to reside status. (Total income or Total profit)

    If there is minimum earning threshold, is it applicable from 2010 onward.


  8. My cousin recently lost a court case, where my brother was her litigant in person. From my readings am I correct in assuming that we need to appeal 21 days after the hearing, to the original lower court or can we go to the High Court direct, if bias was shown and evidence blatantly ignored? I don’t know if the judge in question was under pressure from above because of policy as I don’t have a transcript to go on as I wasn’t present (travelling down by coach from Scotland at the time of the hearing, so this is second hand information but I was present at the aftermath, when the children were dragged off by social workers). Their evidence and wishes were disregarded but as minors, under the ages of fourteen, would the court automatically defer to the parents in America (not quite here long enough to claim residency) even though there was evidence of physical abuse and mental trauma?

    • I can’t give legal advice via this blog but yes the time limit for appeal is generally 21 days, although some decisions have a time limit of 7 days, and a judge may vary the default time limit. It sounds as if you are describing care proceedings, in which case your cousin will have been entitled to legal aid and her lawyer will be able to advise them on rights of appeal (Assuming she is a parent of the children concerned – I’m not quite sure from your comment if this is the case).

      • I would like to know similar if possible. a minor sustained injures not in the care of the parents or family. This wasnt disclosed, the parent had disabilities, the evidence was of the wrong person. Inconsistant repórts and inaccuracies,the family have never met the People who made the statements to defend the child and minor. How do a primary carer/ parent asked to be partied in (3rd party ) . A number of orders can not be done in the same day,what would be the best root when dishonesty has play ed a major part.

        • Hi Mrs s C,
          I’m not sure I really understand your question, but in any event even if I did, I can’t give legal advice on this blog I’m afraid.
          Best of luck

  9. My cousin is the grandmother of the children and has been looking after them for nearly a year with the parents consent.

    • TS I’ve edited the rest of your comment in case it makes the family identifiable. It sounds as if your cousin needs to urgently seek legal advice.

  10. That is putting it mildly!

  11. anthony richards

    hi my frend is thinking about doing him self in a week ago he come home from work and his wife and kids are gone he was devestaded he found out the mide wife made a referral to social servaces wife gone and three kids he found out that they gone under section 20 iv looked it up [details edited…] has he got a case need to know befor he does something stupid thanks

    • Hello Anthony,
      I have edited the details of your friends case to preserve confidentiality of those mentioned. If your friend’s children have been taken into foster care under section 20 and he does not agree with this you should advise him to contact a solicitor who does childcare work urgently. I can’t really establish from the information you provided what action he should take, but a solicitor will be able to sit him down and talk it through before advising him properly. In general terms social services cannot take away children without either the consent (properly given) of all parents who hold parental responsibility or a court order.
      Please do encourage your friend not to panic but to find a lawyer who can advise him properly – I’m sorry I can’t do that on this blog. Perhaps you can go with him to the meeting for support?

  12. My ex Wife has a Court Order against her and has breached it a total of 34 times. Under the New Children’s Reform Act, do you think I have a good case for custody, bearing in mind her behaviour is totally irrational at all times, and is clearly demonstrating that she has zero respect for mine and my Daughter’s relationship
    Thank you

    • Hello PH,
      I can’t give advice via this blog I’m afraid but things are not generally quite as simple as counting up how many times there has been a breach of an order. Under the Children Act 1989 one would need to look at what the reason for any breach was and all the circumstances. Also, I’m not sure what the “New Children’s Reform Act” is that you refer to – there is no such act in England & Wales – based on google I wonder if you are referring to some legislation passed in Ontario, Canada? I don’t know anything about that I’m afraid as this blog is based in England.

  13. My ex-partner and the mother of my child displays all the characteristics of a Histrionic with Narcissistic personal disorder. The relationship was constantly on and off until we separated. Her behaviour was very erratic and I’m concerned about my child’s well-being due to her emotional instability, the numerous short-term partners and partying. Incredibly, she holds down an office job and has convinced professionals she is actually a victim. How is the best way to get the courts and CAFCASS to recognise her true nature when she is very charming and plays such a convincing damsel in distress? I’m acting in person as I cannot afford a solicitor.

    • Paul, I am afraid I can’t advise you about how you should run your case through the blog. I’m sorry that you don’t have funds for a lawyer. You could apply to the Bar Pro Bono unit to see if you can get some advice there.

  14. Paul does raise a very good general point as it happens. How do you get the court’s attention to accept that a cause for prolonged litigation and intractable child arrangements (never mind the potential for harm) may be as a result of an undiagnosed personality disorder? Court’s don’t like “dredging” with history yet it is only history of events that gives a party the evidence to demonstrate the problem is more than likely personality disorder driven than “just” raw separation/emotion…maybe an article on the matter possibly Lucy if you are up to the challenge? I’m beginning to see a pattern in protracted and high conflict cases where there appears to be personality disorders being a root cause for prolonged cases than “just” hysteria and high emotion.

  15. Hello. I’m not sure if this is the right place to post this but I was after advice. I have a court order for contact with my ex. He is very abusive, [edited]…What can i do?

    • No A. It is not the right place to post this. I cannot give advice on this blog. You say in your comment (Which I’ve edited) that you havea solicitor. You need to seek advice from them.
      Sorry not to be more helpful.

  16. I have a CAO live and the other side solicitors have informed that they will be calling my sibling as an intervener.
    Is this something that can be prevented where the allegation is false?

    • SBB I’m afraid I don’t really understand your question, but even if I did I couldn’t answer it as I’m afraid I don’t give legal advice via blog.

  17. Hi Lucy,
    I have found the family court system and process totally baffling, and despite having been to court twice already, we still have a court order that is seemingly open to interpretation. Is there a reference source that can categorically tell me whether the last weekend of a school holiday period counts as ‘holiday’ or ‘term time’. eg. schools go back on September 4th, so is the weekend preceding still the summer holidays?
    Also, would love for you to blog about the terrible waste of tax payers money that is the ‘Working Together for Children Course’ often ordered by Judges for parents to attend. The ‘course’ (cost of £150 + moderator, + venue hire presumably) was a printed booklet which we each read in silence. A FARCE!

    • Hello Carrie,

      There is no reference source that can categorically give you the answer you want – the answer will depend on the wording of the order and the interpretation of it – if it is clearly worded it should not be a problem. If not the judge will have to be asked to clarify – it does often come up when one parent has a different understanding or view of when the term time weekend cycle is interrupted / resumes after a holiday, particularly with the shorter holidays. I’d have thought the weekend before autumn term resumes is pretty clearly part of the summer holiday though, unless the wording suggests the intention was different.

      I’ve not herd of the Working Together for Children Course – most courts refer to a Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP) which is free and as I understand it is usually in a group discussion format and based on discussion of videos. Generally people report that these are quite helpful in my experience.

  18. Hi. By court order my children’s father can see them every 2 weeks and we need to share holidays equally. He was and still is very manipulative and generally not a nice guy.
    From what I see and from my children’s point of view (7 and 8 years old) he isn’t meeting their needs ( no bedtime stories,hugs,not spending time with them-sending them outside or to another room,not listening to them expressing their wishes and needs,not honouring their routines ..etc). He cancelled few visits (making up health issues,home issues and money issues to make them feel sorry for him),isn’t always calling when he needs to..etc. All of it makes my children upset,angry and generally unhappy. I can not reason with him. He isn’t listening,twisting and turning things around. I feel so sorry for my children for not being looked after and loved property.
    Is there anything I can do to make it better? Any advice would be very much appreciated. Thank you. Monica

    • Hi Monica, I’m afraid I can’t give advice via this blog and even if I could I could not say much of use with such limited information. In general terms if there is an order you must either a) stick to it b) agree to change it by talking to him directly or through mediation or c) go back to court to ask for the order to be changed.

  19. Your book looks useful. Is it likely to have advice about the court process which might help us as grandparents with a CAO for residence – i.e. not a divorce/money etc situation? Our grandchildren’s parents didn’t contest the order so while none of us had legal representation in court before, it was fairly straightforward. Our daughter is now separated from the children’s father and wishes to apply to court to have the children resident with her. We may be able to to pay for some legal advice but would probably need to represent ourselves in court. Our daughter may be able to get legal aid but not sure. We hope we could all try mediation but it may not be suitable.

  20. Does your blog site have a page written, related to children IVF conceived children, ( whom subsequently come to harm. HFEA requires doctors declare no child will come to harm by a child resulting these two parents )

    Also. Any blog readings related to the Mental Health Act. Being sectioned. Abusive father continues to vilify mother. System follow through with his complaints with Intensive Home Therapy Treatment, complaining being paranoid and manic.

  21. Hi Lucy,

    I would like to thank you for the work you have undertaken in recognising that many accused of Domestic abuse don’t have fairness in the family courts with regard to the process and outcome respectively.
    I am currently in proceedings and have not been permitted to challenge a section 7 report because the judge feels the Caffcass officer is an officer of the court and would not permit this in her courtroom . The Caffcass report writer used risk tools to evaluate emotional and physical risk. This is a series of questions to the accuser and the accused does not get the opportunity to respond or comment to any allegations within the reporting process.(In My Case) Thereby it seems that accusations and claims(None violent) are taken as fact by the case reporter (Cafcass officer) and generally in most cases the judge goes with the report. I am left feeling more upset than i could express primarily for my daughter and am not sure we will have a future together unless the courts permit you to challenge by finding of fact. I would not suggest all accused are innocent and also feel that perpetrators should be punished as do i false claims of abuse for agenda purposes. I have read your book cover to cover and it was really good to have that knowledge by my side .The work you have been doing in family justice is monumental and accurately highlights the deception that the family courts would have you believe “Acting in the best interests of the child”.I’m in favour of protections but not to the point where you can’t defend if you claim to be innocent. I wonder what the outcome of an independent literary expert would report on gender neutrality in the family courts just by reading the laws and generic forms and parental rights let alone actual statistics.ie How many caffcass officers of the courts are men?

  22. Dear Lucy,

    When a judge issues activity directions and another judge is scheduled for final hearings . Does the latter judge have the autonomy to withdraw the interim orders if a party substantiates case law and practice direction has not been adhered to by the previous judge? Example the previous judge would not permit the caffcass report writer to be cross examined when the report was contested. As a request but not by way of formal appeal (request in writing to the latter judge). The recitals are not complete (Drafted by the opposing barrister) and the court documentation does not state a reason for not permitting a finding of fact other than it is not in the child’s interests.

    • David,
      I don’t understand your question at all, but I couldn’t give advice on an individual case even if I did.

  23. Hi Lucy,

    Can grandparents apply for a PRO? HMCTS doesn’t have a standard form for a PR agreement between mother and grandparents, so I assume it’s either not the done thing or not possible?

    Would the application for the PRO be simply an application for leave and then full application on a C1? The application would be uncontested and mother is in agreement that grandparents should have PR due to her varying mental health.

    Many thanks!

    • Only parents can make a PR Agreement. But parents can delegate PR to someone however.
      The court can order a grandparent has PR where it is also making a child arrangements order or special guardianship order, but has no general power to do so.

  24. My sister cared for my mother for the last 20 years of her life. Mum died this time last year. Its now come to light that sis drained my mothers account every month despite receiving a salary for her care role. Sis hasn’t revealed anything about my mums estate. We have no idea what assets or liabilities mum had. My question is: Can I apply for a court order that gives sis about 3 weeks to disclose mums financial picture in court. Would a judge order her to cough up the details or not and is there a standard form that sis needs to disclose this information on?

    • Thomas,
      This not something I can assist with. You need to seek some advice from someone whose field this is – not mine I’m afraid.

  25. What advice would you give to a mature person wanting to get into the law profession ? Is it possible to succeed or is it just a fantasy ? Just bought your book, I will be prepared! Many father’s rights support groups and websites and not enough Mother’s ones IMO but as your book rightly focuses on gender should not represent, it should only ever be what is best for the child! Thank you

    • Hi Susan,

      It’s tough to get into the profession whatever your age. I don’t know if you are intending to become a barrister or solicitor or legal executive – I know that some mature entrants prefer to train part time as a legal exec whilst working but that does take a long time. You can do the training for solicitors or the bar part time too. Of course the disadvantage of this is that you have even less time in your new career once you qualify!

      I don’t think I have any particular wisdom to give you other than to know that it is hard work, expensive to qualify, and that the risks of completing your course but not securing a pupillage (if you want to go to the bar) are pretty high. And if you do want to go to the bar you need to be prepared to be self employed with all the pros and cons that entails (no paid holiday, sick leave / pay, maternity pay, pension) (or you will have to find some in house post).

  26. Hi. Just a quick bit of advice. My Ex had accused me of various things in a Scott Schedule. All ultimately found ‘proven except the worst one, [edited for legal reasons] Can you help ??!
    I’m appealing as the entire case was like that but this aspect is still really bugging me !!!

    • Hi KO, I don’t offer legal advice via this blog. It would be grossly irresponsible of me to attempt to do so, particularly in relation to a proposed appeal. What I would say is that I see your comment was posted a few days ago – time limits for appeal are generally 21 days in family cases so do please get some legal advice before your time limit runs out.
      Lucy (PS I’ve edited your comment for legal reasons and made you anonymous as you are not permitted to discuss the details of your case online in this way)

      • Kevin O'Neill

        Thank you. I suppose I was merely asking if ‘generally’ a Judge is entitled to find a SCOTT Schedule allegation made by let’s say, a Woman, against a Man, as “shared”, since decisions are binary are they not ? Apologies if this is construed as ‘legal advice’, it is not, just a general question. Also, I have already appealed but am grateful for the heads-up in your response.

        • A judge is entitled, if the evidence supports it, to say that an incident happened but both participated in abusive behaviour – even if they each say it was the other that was violent but not them – if that’s what you mean.

  27. [edited for legal reasons]
    My question is
    Would this social worker be deemed as truly independent and unbiased.
    Thank you for your attention
    Kind regards
    Linda [edited]

    • Linda I’ve edited your name and your comment for legal reasons. I don’t give legal advice via blog I’m afraid (as the page you are commenting on very clearly states).

  28. Hi Lucy, I recently read your advice notes on contact with children during the corona virus. I have a court order to see one of my daughters but was told this weekend she couldn’t come due her sister showing symptoms so the whole family were isolating……then her mum was working in the supermarket like normal the next day!?! kids home alone again. Should I presume this in relation to my order?

    • Hi TH,
      I don’t really understand what you are asking if you should presume? In any event, I can’t really advise you on the specifics of your case. I can only suggest you use your best judgment as a parent and try to maintain sensible communication and flexible arrangements to keep your childrens’ whole family safe. Don’t forget some people are having to go to work even though they would rather not.

  29. sorry was meant to say pursue not presume, as in the court order has been breached

    • oh should you pursue it! Sorry, I did try and work out what you meant! I cannot possibly say whether you should pursue it – it would be quite wrong for me to advise you via this blog on such limited information. But on a practical level, I’d suggest the courts have plenty on their plates and could not possibly cope if everyone in this situation applied to court. If you can please work it out with your kids mum. If you can’t be prepared for a wait before it’s dealt with. Consider how an application to court is likely to help in this situation.

  30. With the new COVID tiers does that impact on contact between parents of separated children. E.g. can a parent living in a tier 3 area travel to tier 1/2 to pick up child and return to tier 3 for staying contact? If a child who is not usually resident in an area that becomes tier 3 be able to return to their home in tier 1/2? (I hope I have those numbers the right way round!)

  31. Joanne pritchard

    Dear Lucy I can’t find the answer to this question anywhere…can Muslim birth parents object to same sex couple adopting children? Order or even placement not yet made?? Thanks

    • I can answer this in a very general sense.
      Muslim parents are in no different position to non-muslim parents.
      At pre-placement stage there is no framework for such objection because the court is simply making an in principle decision about adoption not specific adopters. Parental preferences should be set out in the Child Permanence Report that goes through with the child through the matching and placement stage. However, once a placement order is made its up to the LA to match a child, and religion / ethnicity etc might be a relevant factor – but it is quite lawful for same sex adopters to adopt a child, and parental preference where the parents aren’t going to be involved in the child’s life going forwards is unlikely to be relevant and certainly not determinative – and in any event it would be potentially unlawful to discriminate against adopters on the basis of their sexuality).

  32. Hi my daughter is 17 in December her farther has a resident order in place but my daughter don’t want to return back to his home I’m happy for her to stay but need to no will she be removed and made to return to him if she says she don’t want to go back thank u

  33. Can you advise if the 4th edition of the book covers the use of ES1 & ES2 forms for applications to vary an existing order.

    Specifically I’m interested to establish the following:-

    The case is that the applicant is applying for a variation of an order for a financial remedy.
    I am the LIP Respondent
    The applicant is represented by a solicitor
    We have set a date of 19th April to exchange Form E2.

    1) Does the applicants solicitor legally need to file the E2 Forms and supporting docs for both parties electronically with the court by 19 April.

    2) Does the applicant need to provide me with a copy of their E2 with supporting docs to me by 19 April.

    First hearing is set for 17 July.

    3) Do both parties need to exchange their respective ES1 & ES2 forms before first hearing. OR
    Is it only the applicant that files ES1 & ES2 forms with the court.

    4) In the event we both do – then does the applicants solicitor legally need to file the ES1 & ES2 forms for both parties electronically with the court before first hearing.

    5) If only the applicant files ES1 & ES2 forms with the court then do they need to provide me with those forms.

    6) Do both parties still need to complete and file a form E for first hearing or is this replaced by the ES1 & ES2 forms.

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