Statements in Contact Cases

Question:

I am currently self representing and have just attended a directions hearing, as the applicant, where I have been directed to write a statement for my reasons for applying for sole residency. My 2 children have predominantly lived with me for 5 years and during this time many concerns have come about regarding the mother's ability to care for the children when they are with her, at weekends.

Through the family law questions site I understand how to put this statement together, however, with my situation the statement I have drafted seems way too long. Is there a preferred length and can I include my concerns without documented evidence, for example some of the things the children have told me. They are 5 and 7.

Answer:

I can see from your question that you have already read my pages on statement
here.

You might also find it helpful to download the template statement that is sometimes used in Liverpool County Court, which you can do by clicking
here. This gives you a good guide as to the sort of things the Court usually likes to know and provides a useful structure. You can of course adapt it to suit the circumstances of your case. It is in ‘Word’ format.

Drafting statements is difficult and a definite skill. Too long and you worry that the judge will get board reading it (that are only human) or that it contains irrelevant details. However, statements are important as you will not get the chance to say it all over again in court, so
generally speaking I would advice putting everything in you consider relevant.

You can of course attach exhibits and documentary evidence of things you are asserting. Just remember that the other side or the court may want you to back it up - e.g. if you file a letter from someone they may insist that the author attends court to give evidence about what the letter says.

You ask specifically about what the children have told you. This is a judgment call (I wish I could be more helpful). However, given their ages the Court is likely to consider that there is a real possibility that whatever they have told you is influenced (not deliberately) by what they
think you want to hear. This is particularly true when it comes to their wishes and feelings. Children are very adept at picking up on non-verbal signals. They generally get to know if one parent is pleased when a child says something negative about the other parent, even if the parent thinks they act in the most neutral way when discussing the other parent. That is not to say that you should not set out in your statement what the children have said but it is a good idea to show some insight into possibility that they may be telling you what you want to hear.

The best type of evidence about what children say is usually from a more neutral source e.g. a teacher or
CAFCASS officer.

I hope this is helpful.
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