Not every legal matter requires the use of a lawyer. Fighting a speeding ticket or going to small claims courts are two examples. However, in many other situations involving a legal dispute, you may not wish to chance the risks of going it alone without the advice of an experienced lawyer who can help you out. In fact, good legal representation can help with a number of sticky situations - such as a bad divorce. The potential alternatives for not using a lawyer can be very costly.
There is no doubt an expert Child Support lawyer can have an enormous and positive impact on your Child Support case in particular if it involves Child Benefit. An expert CSA Lawyer is not only a professional who is an authority on Child Support legislation, they also have experience and knowledge beyond what is accessible to the average CSA case worker, high street solicitor or Facebook user. As an expert, they offer factual information and analysis that can only benefit your case.
Understandably, some clients are reluctant to add more expense to what may be already escalating legal fees. Some people even think “if I can afford a lawyer the judge my find against me”. Our experience is people who are represented more often obtain a favourable settlement or judgement which will, in the end, save them money. While each person’s child maintenance case is different, there are times when then really should instruct a child support lawyer.
Below are the top ten reasons why our clients have instructed Durham Legal Services.
1. Child Maintenance legislation is complicated. They recognise because they have no legal training they have no business acting like they have. Even experienced lawyers typically do not represent themselves in court. A solid case can quickly unravel without the help of a trained and emotionally detached lawyer.
2. They understand what’s at stake and not having legal representation will cost them more in the long run. A Child Maintenance Appeal will determine your payments for many years to come. In all probability, if not conducted properly, it will result in arrears. Arrears in child maintenance case could result in a civil case that could hurt them financially.
3. Clients recognise a good lawyer knows how to challenge and sometimes suppress irrelevant evidence the other parent wants to use to discredit them.
4. Clients understand the need to properly file court documents and handle other legal procedures. Many struggle with the deadlines and protocol for properly filling out and filing certain legal documents. One late or incorrect filing could delay a case or worse - have the case thrown out altogether (and not in your favour).
5. Appeal Tribunals don’t use any expert witnesses or private detectives. Lawyers depend on an extended network of professionals to help their client’s cases. Most clients do not personally know the types of professionals who can help them discover or challenge evidence or testimony by the opposing parent.
6. Clients are not sure how to present the grounds of appeal or what options they have. Our team understand the law, client options and what will work and what will not.
7. Clients understand it is probably better to avoid problems in the first place rather than try to fix them once they arise. You may have heard the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
8. Our team can strike a good settlement offer. Our experience has seen many similar cases or at least knows enough to make a calculated guess about how it might resolve at appeal. Sometimes a settlement is the best choice, while other times it makes more sense to see your case through to Appeal.
9. The other party has legal representation. Non-represented clients are generally at a disadvantage when squaring off against opposing counsel or doing business with another party that has legal counsel. As explained above, the law is complicated and a lawyer representing your ex partner adversary (or even a non-adversarial party entering into a legal agreement with you) will take advantage of this inequality.
10. Our costs.
CSA Tribunal Preparation and Tribunal Representation
When the Child Support Agency, or the Child Maintenance Service, makes a decision on a child maintenance claim and either parent feels the decision is incorrect their only real option is to take the matter to appeal. An appeal is a process administered by HMCTS and, in most cases, ends with an oral hearing in front of a Judge sitting alone or with a financial expert. If it looks likely your case is going to get to this stage, we strongly recommend you consider one of our services to help you with your appeal preparation.
Preparation is very important because if the Tribunal does not have the correct evidence, it can’t determine the case and may seek an adjournment which drags the time out. However, if evidence is continually not supplied and someone is deemed deliberately not to be helping the Tribunal, it may just draw adverse inference and will make a judgement based on what it can see and what opinion it forms. Being properly prepared with help from people experienced in attending and representing at Tribunals can save time and money by getting it right first time. Avoiding being assessed through adverse inference can have a dramatic effect on the outcome of your appeal.
Full review of appeal papers
You supply us with a full set of the appeal papers, (the Secretary of State submission) We then carry out a full review of grounds of appeal, the period of the appeal and review the evidence to identify its relevance and, where necessary, provide you suggested case management directions to either request additional evidence or seek the Tribunal’s assistance to clarify the evidence it has requested. We then provide you with a full written report and arrange a telephone advice appointment to go over the report in full.
Full appeals representation
If you then decide toinstruct us to represent you, we contact HMCTS and obtain a full set of appeal papers. Once we have the papers, time permitting, we will arrange a full face to face appeal hearing where we go over the grounds, period and evidence with you. If necessary, we submit case management directions. This way we can reduce the risk of an adjournment and further costs and also ensure we are ready to resolve the appeal on the first hearing. As part of this service, you will be represented in person on the day by a member of our legal team, regardless of the location.
Glossary of Terms
In order to demonstrate why you need legal advice to stand a chance of being successful at appeal we have included a glossary of terms:
Grounds of Appeal - The reasons why the original decision was wrong.
It is important to identify all the correct grounds, along with whether the Tribunal has the jurisdiction to deal with the matter. For instance, the Tribunal cannot deal with arrears at all.
Appeal Period - The effective date to the date of the decision.
The tribunal can only look at the period beginning with the effective date and ending with the date of the decision. Many parents struggle with this concept and lose their appeal because they’re relying on circumstances that cannot be taken into account
Appeal Papers Review - This is the full file of evidence you should receive from HMCTS.
Evidence is key to resolving your child support appeal. All parties to the appeal are allowed to submit evidence to either prove or disprove the appeal. A real word of warning: unless you identify and understand the grounds and legislation along with the appeal period, you will be in real danger of losing your appeal. That is why we recommend, as a bare minimum, the use of our appeal papers review service.
Case Management Directions - A written request to the Tribunal to either obtain additional evidence or clarification of existing evidence.
As previously explained, evidence is key to a successful outcome. In many instances, the Tribunal itself will review the papers prior to the hearing and issue case management directions but this option is not limited to the Judge only. Any party to the appeal can send a case management direction request to the Tribunal for its consideration. This is the only opportunity prior to the hearing to request evidence from either the other side or clarification on some other issue from the Tribunal. Again, on this issue, we would strongly recommend one of our services as a good case management request can assist you in reaching a good outcome to your appeal.
Having tribunal representation at your child maintenance appeal means your chances of getting the outcome you are trying to achieve are a great deal better. Don't underestimate how difficult tribunals now are - they are a legal hearing in front of a Judge and are not there to offer either side advice or assistance.
Although child maintenance tribunals are very inquisitorial in their approach, you must remember the Judge is independent of the parties. Not only are they not able to give advice on the case, they are only able to consider the evidence in front of them.
At Durham Legal Services, we have attended hundreds of appeals making us the leading company in the country specialising in child maintenance tribunals. Our team of lawyers have been instrumental is shaping child maintenance legislation over the years from a legal definition of a Parent with Care to more recent jurisdiction about making a claim.
Our team travel all over the United Kingdom including Northern Ireland at no additional cost. We offer a fixed fee which will allow you to identify the financial benefit of having professional representation. If you are considering appeals representation or would like to find out the benefit of having us represent you, please contact us and a member of the team will be glad to assist you.