Legal right to representation?- family law courts.

Robert2020

New Member
Messages
3
Hi,
Unfortunately my wife and I are in a judicial separation court process in the family courts.
I had a private solicitor, but discharged them as I could no longer afford the very high fees as have been unemployment now over 6 months.
I have now qualified for legal aid, but there is quite a long waiting list for a solicitor /barrister.
My wife, the applicant, is insisting the case is moved along, as there have been a number of postponements already.

However, the legal aid board are telling me it could take a number of months more to get me a solicitor.

The main question I have is as follows; Is there a constitutional right to representation in the family law courts?
Could the Judge “force” me to become a lay litigant, rather than give me more postponements until I’ve legal aid representation?

This seems to be what my wife’s solicitor is pushing for and the Judge the last time seemed frustrated with the legal aid delay, yet it is out of my control.
I don’t feel capable or confident to represent myself in Court.
I am also hoping that my wife sees the sense of mediation as a more efficient process for a swifter cost effective solution in the meantime.
Thanks

Robert
 

Ravima

Frequent Poster
Messages
2,499
you cant be forced to be a lay litigant.

If there are any court appearances, go and tell the judge that you are awaiting legal aid solicitor. You will be accommodated, PROVIDING you are telling the truth and have actually applied for legal aid/solicitor. Bring documents with you, lest you be asked by judge or challenged by wife's side. If you are found to be telling lies, then you will be in more trouble!!
 

mf1

Frequent Poster
Messages
4,260
There are two conflicting interests here.

1. The right of the applicant to have her case heard.
2. The right of the respondent (OP) to have a fair hearing.

Many people do choose to go it alone. The OP does not want to do that- he wants legal representation but the Legal Aid Board have long waiting lists.

There may be real factors at play here which make it important that the case is heard in the short-term- we don't know, we have no facts. We don't know whether the case is in Dublin, where there are daily Court sittings and cases do get on reasonably quickly, or outside Dublin where family law sittings only happen a few times a year.

This is not about any one being forced to be a lay litigant - it's about what is fair and reasonable in all the circumstances.

At worse, the case will go ahead and the OP won't have representation. He can appeal. That would be a risk for the applicant.

More likely, as per Ravima, once the Judge is satisfied that the OP has properly made their application for Legal Aid, the case will be adjourned.

I have one case at the moment where the respondent is playing fast and loose with the system - he says that he has gone for Legal Aid but we suspect that he has not followed up on appointments with the Board and has lost his place in the queue. He has his own reasons for acting the maggot.

mf
 

Ravima

Frequent Poster
Messages
2,499
I have one case at the moment where the respondent is playing fast and loose with the system - he says that he has gone for Legal Aid but we suspect that he has not followed up on appointments with the Board and has lost his place in the queue. He has his own reasons for acting the maggot.

I've seen something like that, but the unfortunate got put in cells for the day!
 

Robert2020

New Member
Messages
3
Hi,
If of help of more colour , so all and me are clearer of the facts.
- Im Dublin based.
- I have a letter for legal aid, saying Im awaiting an appointment.
- Im meeting a legal aid solicitor next week.
- It may transpire they cant get me a barrister until a later date that my court date (which is in a few weeks).

* Question 1: From reading the internet, if it were a criminal trial, I would have a "Constitutional Right" to representation.
However, it is a family law case and it is not clear if I have a "constitution right" to representation, as the solicitor above mentions there are 2 conflicting rights here.
* Is there no Constitution Right to representation in Family Law Courts?..

My wife's (Applicant's) solicitor is quite aggressive in approach.
As is also often the case, they believe Im hiding monies, and dont really qualify for legal aid, despite being 9 months on welfare after a losing my job.
So they are trying to push the judge not to wait for my legal aid solicitor/ barrister.
They have also now filed a spurious safety order. Ive done the same. It is getting tit for tat. Nothing serious or urgent, as relates to arguing incidents from last summer. We still are both in family home. There is no physical or sexual violence, and we both love our kids.

The contentious issue is the family home is our main asset/wealth.
My wife vehemently wants to retain it for herself, but we have not much else.
* Q2. If she gets me kicked out, there is much higher probability she retains the home, as then I dont live there? This is her primary goal.
Hence why she is pushing for the case to be heard soon, regardless of my lack of solicitor.
 

Thirsty

Frequent Poster
Messages
2,153
"...issue is the family home is our main asset/wealth."

It usually is.

The number one priority is the welfare of the children of the marriage.

So they need somewhere to live, food, clothing, education and care.

In making a judgement, that will be the overiding consideration.

To answer your main question, it would seem so long as you can establish bona fides, you will not be forced to proceed without representation.

In the meantime, try and establish some house rules and keep the home atmosphere from turning toxic; your children are suffering as it is.
 
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