Don't give up if you can't afford a lawyer!
No one knows your case as well as you.
Are you facing any of the following......
Can't get Legal Aid & can't afford a laywer
If mediation has failed to resolve your dispute the inevitable next step is to bring in the 'big guns then the finally the court arena. This can be a long, drawn out, acrimonious and expensive path.
Many Australians think if they were to get embroiled in a serious legal matter that the State will provide a Legal Aid representative if they can't afford a lawyer. Generally if you own a home and earn a wage the possibility of getting aid is slim. It is recommended you contact Legal Aid in the state in which you live in to check if you qualify first before seeking alternatives such as a McKenzie Friend. Qualified legal advice is the best course of action for piece of mind. Click on your state below to check with Legal aid:
So you may be unable to obtain Legal Aid and without access to funds to pay a legal practitioner you probably feel screwed, overwhelmed and in a state of constant panic about how you are going to, for example, fight for the custody or safety of your children; or obtain a fair property settlement against an ex-partner who may have all the money in the world to to blow on a lawyer just to achieve the win despite what's fair and equitable or in the best interests of a child.
The law doesn't state you have to have a lawyer. You can self represent. After all, no one knows your case as well as you do and no one will be as passionate about obtaining a satisfactory outcome for your life than you. As the saying goes - What doesn't kill us makes us stronger. You can do it if you have to.
If you do face this this stressful decision the positive is - A McKenzie Friend can assist you and this is a huge secret the general population does not know even exists. I didn't know until 8 years into my own various family court appearances.
Don't be fooled though, taking this path is not easy. It can be frustrating for both for you and the court as well as your former partner or opponent. But on the positive side, the court must do their best to help you move through the court process.
Your partner has engaged a solicitor
Dealing with separation can be an emotional minefield. It takes time to sort through, comprise and divide your lives. Then one of you throws the first grenade engaging a lawyer when things aren't working out the way they wanted.
Communicating with a lawyer can not only be stressful, but to your detriment if you are not schooled up with your rights and responsibilities. Your partner's lawyer is not working for you. Everything in writing and spoken is admissable in court unless it is under the cloak of 'without prejudice'.
A McKenzie Friend can:
Be a sounding board if you want just want to do it yourself;
Be your guide if you get stuck;
Explain a few do's and don't's; and
Assist you forminany correspondence responding back to solicitors with a professional cohesive approach, thus letting the other side know you are in control of your matter and will not be intimated by your ex-partner going 'legal'.
Being level headed and logical during this phase can have very positive outcomes like settling your differences saving you a lot of precious time and family stress that is evitable going to the next phase - court.
Divorce, Parenting or Property Court Matters
The majority of parenting or property cases can be resolved without the need for a contested hearing, but without assistance and knowledge of the system, family law cases can become protracted. A McKenzie Friend can make a real difference during the early stages and middle stages, even before any trial hearing takes place, to minimise conflict and the time taken to reach an amicable conclusion.
A McKenzie Friend can provide support, guide and assistance no matter how far along you are in the process; such as:
Common Law Property Applications to the Court or Response Applications
Child Custody and Parenting Plans
Parenting Applications or Responses
Applications in a Case
Family Court Forms
Family Court processes procedures and paperwork
Child Support Applications and Income Objections
Have you been a victim of Domestic Violence
No individual should be the victim of any type of abuse. When domestic violence does occur, it can be difficult mentally and physically to proactively protect yourself and your children.
A McKenzie Friend can work with you very quickly, giving much need guidance and help in obtaining swift protection orders at your local Magistrates Court.
Domestic Violence Order (DVO) is a general description of two types of Orders made under the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012. A Domestic Violence Order can be either: (a) A Temporary Protection Order; or (b) A Protection Order. The Court may may make a Temporary Protection Order if it is satisfied: (a) that a relevant relationship exists; and (b) the person named as the Respondent has committed domestic violence.
The key is to get your paperwork lodged as soon as practicable after a domestic violence incident has occurred. This is the toughest and scariest part being a victim of intimate violence.
For more information on what a Domestic Violence Order is click here.
Who is Christine?
And why am I doing this?
Long story short...
I have been exposed to the family court and domestic violence courts for coming on 10 years. Legal Aid was not an option so after I exhausted all of my savings, I had to make the decision to sell my home to afford the mounting legal fees and property settlement. This was a hard pill to swallow and the sad things was the money from the sale of my home only gave me access to legal representation for 18 months. Then the money was all gone.
I had engaged Tier 1 lawyers and their Barristers who luckily taught me a lot, so when I was thrown into the only path left to me when the money was all gone - to self represent I was no longer naïve about the justice system. Being on my own, I read the Family Law Act 1974 over and over to gain a better understanding to help myself. A wonderful pro-bono Barrister kindly assisted me preparing the countless court documents and arguments for a couple of years. After a while, I started to receive recognition from friends, family and customers, from my own business at the time that maybe my true calling was to become a lawyer or somehow a 'Family Court Warrior' helping people with all the information and skills I had obtained through my own personal ordeal tackling the courts, lawyers, Barristers, experts, social workers, and police.
I was a self represented litigant for many years and have come up against a large number of applications varying in the Federal Circuit Court and local Magistrates courts in QLD and NSW.
At the endless number of court hearings over the years, I witnessed and listened to desperate lay people, like myself, trying to keep up with the complexities of the family court system. Some mothers were in tears under pressure outside the court room being told to flatly negotiate consent orders not understanding or knowing exactly what they were doing or their rights and what they were missing without a knowledgable person beside them. I could feel their despair across the room and wanted to go over and hug them, then help with my knowledge. But I thought I was not able to assist under the law because you can't publicise details of a parenting cases. I did not find out about a McKenzie friend until December 2018.
I have sat in the women's domestic violence room in court houses with females of all ages being scared out of their minds in fear of taking out a DVO on their partner for despicable acts towards them and their children. Most of the girls could not even understand the form they needed to fill out, and were unaware of their rights and were extremely intimated of going in front of a Judge and the perpetrator of the violence in the courtroom. Some retreated from the stress of it all, walking away from obtaining a protection order out of self doubt and not enough support. I remember in May 2018 assisting 3 women in the support room. Not one of them could read. The Duty Lawyer handed them the paperwork and left the room to deal with other people. I ended up filling out their paperwork for them one by one while waiting for my own case to be called up and I gave them my number to call if they ever needed help again. One rang me back to thank me as she was awarded the temporary DVO covering her and her daughter.
I have a Degree in International Business and Management and Diploma in Retail Business. I have held many high profile executive marketing and business development roles in the past and was a public speaker. I was good at research, analysis, problem solving, writing strategies, PR and inspiring the people around me. I gave the professional life away after becoming a mother. It was at this point I went into my own food business and became heavily involved in supporting the local elderly community, their adult children and grandchildren.
Six weeks after taking over my business, my first dalliance with a full blown amily court trial occurred against a family lawyer with a Masters Degree and a Barrister. And all against little old me. I'll leave it up to you to consider who prevailed.
Sylvain Maréchal (1788)