Sensitivity and empathy are vital in my role, dealing with children and their families in the most difficult circumstances – they are very vulnerable and need the highest level of support possible. I spend as much time as they need to make sure that everyone understands their options, the possible outcomes and how I can help them.
I am glad to be able to make a difference in people’s lives, even at some traumatic moments – acting for children, parents, grandparents and prospective adopters, in care proceedings, on guardianship or contact issues, my focus is a fair and safe outcome.
Outside work, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, and keeping fit; I have taken part in marathons in aid of MacMillan Cancer Support.
The court’s focus is on making sure that your child is safe and that their needs are being met. They will listen to everyone involved but will ultimately make the decision they believe, based on the evidence, to be the right thing for your child.
Listen to the professionals involved with your family. If you work with them, you have a better chance of achieving the best outcome for your family.
Be honest. It is far easier for me to help you, and do the best job I can as your lawyer, if you give me all the information I need from you and are honest with me and the other professionals involved.
What will the outcome be for my case?
At the outset it is very difficult to say what will happen. The court will make the decision they think is in the best interests of the child.
Will I be listened to, or will the court just listen to the local authority?
The court will receive and hear evidence from all the people involved in the case, including you. You will have your chance to put your case to the court in statements, and if necessary in evidence at the final hearing. I will speak on your behalf and put your case across.
Can I get legal aid?
For care proceedings involving the local authority, legal aid is automatically available for parents, other people with parental responsibility and children. It is also available on a means and merits basis (i.e. whether you financially qualify and if the merits of the case are sufficient) for other people and other cases involving the local authority.
It is also available on a means and merits basis for cases involving domestic abuse, and for private children matters where there is evidence of domestic abuse or child abuse. An assessment can be made initially to see whether this would be available in your case.