The documents that you may wish to put before the court include statements, skeleton arguments, opening/closing submissions and a Scott Schedule of allegations or responses to allegations. It really is important to ensure they will be well received by the judge and anyone else reading them. Too often parents will damage their case somewhat or even sabotage it completely by filing and serving documents which are counter-productive in content and poorly drafted. We help you get your view over to the court in an appropriate and a capable manner.
For each court hearing it is generally imperative that you provide a succinct professional position statement which will get your view and requirements before the judge efficiently. Our experienced and knowledgeable McKenzie Friends will assist you in drafting a relevant Position Statement that will get your position over to the court in a proficient manner. To produce a Position Statement that conveys the issues and solutions as you see it to the court in a way that is more likely to sway the judge in your favour takes experience and knowledge as well as certain drafting skills. They really are important documents which many times are the difference between success and failure at a hearing.
At certain times your Position Statement should contain references to relevant case law and research which may assist the court to decide in your favour. Our highly experienced McKenzie Friends will assist you in adding authorities that will improve your prospects regarding an issue without detracting from it as can happen when inexperienced parties provide such.
When filing and serving witness statements it is important to make sure they are also relevant and focused on the matters at hand. Drafting statements that put forward your view of past events and the present situation as well as your proposals for the court to consider is not an easy process for many. When there are possibly a host of issues that you may feel are relevant and you believe the court must be made aware of so it can make the right decisions, it is difficult to appreciate that sometimes this may not be the best approach and actually less is more very often. Diluting your strong points by swamping with minor issues can often detract from the effectiveness of your witness statement and even be extremely counter-productive to your case. Our McKenzie Friends will assist you in putting your case forward as sympathetically as possible in the circumstances and by doing so make it more likely that your views are heard and considered as measured and balanced, ultimately assisting your case before the court.
At appeals and sometimes at final hearings a skeleton argument may be necessary to bolster your case. This is a document that sets out the pro's and con's of both parties cases but leads the court hopefully towards deciding in your favour on the issues before it. The skeleton argument will often require references to applicable case law and research which you will need to assist the court with to raise the prospects of you being relatively successful in a case. A good document takes skill and practice to put together which our McKenzie Friends are able to do for you.
At contested hearings where oral evidence is going to be heard by the parties then written opening and closing submissions which go into more detail than a Position Statement may be necessary to raise your chances of success. If necessary our McKenzie Friends will assist you in drafting a written submission which can be put before the court rather than you making an opening submission oral statement, as the written submission can be far more effective in putting your view of the situation and its remedies as you see it across to the court.
Where the court asks for a Scott Schedule regarding a fact finding process whether within a final hearing or a separate fact finding hearing, it is important to be clear and succinct with the allegations and/or responses to allegations. The court will require that specific allegations are addressed individually on both sides, it is important to put forward your allegations or response to any allegations in a way that assists the court in understanding your view on the alleged incident. Again our McKenzie Friends can assist you with this.
Whatever the document our McKenzie Friends will assist you as required in putting together a document that highlights the merits of your position to the court.
Having Jeff’s support has helped due to his: knowledge of legal matters; ability to prepare clear concise statements; and quick thinking in the court room. But its not just these knowledge and skills – he combines a supportive understanding of a very difficult and upsetting situation with a clear headed willingness to tell you when he think such emotions risk making you say or do unhelpful things. Thanks to Jeff’s support I have seen my children for the first time in a couple of years and am awaiting a more permanent contact order to be put in place.
I see my daughter now regularly, go on holidays with her, she plays with her baby sister, sees her grandparents and I am seeing her grow up.
Jeff tells you it as it and not just what you want to hear, unlike so many solicitors I encountered.
He has many helpful tips on how to deal with the whole situation and provides thorough support
I would highly recommend using his services.
My case began as a relatively simple one, seeking to extend my shared residence of my children to include one midweek overnight stay during term time, rather than simply taking them out for tea after school and returning them to their mother.
Things became more complex when false allegations of violence against the children were made by the children’s mother against my fiancée. Social Services intervened, with both my fiancée and I unable to see the children for a period of time whilst investigations took place. Social Services thankfully saw through the allegations and determined that my fiancée posed no risk to the children.
Throughout the entire case, from drafting the initial application to court, accompanying me at court, drafting position statements, advising on dealing with social services, to negotiating a consent order with the other side’s solicitor, Colin’s assistance has been instrumental in ensuring that the final outcome not only met my initial objectives, but in fact exceeded them.
Colin has performed all of these services professionally and to an extremely high standard. I have encountered quite a few solicitors and barristers over the years in the course of mine and my fiancées dealings with the family courts. I would place Colin as at least the equal of the best of those legal professionals.
I should also make mention of Jeff Botterill, who deputised when Colin was unavailable. Like Colin, Jeff also provided a highly professional service, and gave me confidence when appearing in court.
I will forever owe these gentlemen a debt of gratitude for their assistance. I have no hesitation in recommending the services of Colin and Jeff.
Having previously had a contact order in place my contact was stopped due to malicious allegations being made against me. I contacted Colin for advice and we set out on a long journey which culminated this last week.
During the 14 months of litigation Colin held my hand every step of the way helping me to navigate the numerous reports and interviews with Cafcass and Social Services. Colin also guided me through a Finding of Fact hearing listed for a whole day after which no findings were against me.
Throughout all the ups and downs Colin has been there for me day and night whenever I have needed him and I cannot thank him enough for all the support he has given me.
I no longer consider Colin as just somebody I turn to for advice, but a true friend, thank you.
I had pre Colin paid out over £10,000 in solicitor fees and got no where fast, i contacted Colin after he was recommended by a friend in a similar situation. It was at very late notice but Colin assured me he would assist with all my legal paper work and proposals regarding my two children. Colin contacted me at a suitable time for both of us but then stayed up via phone contact till 02:00AM!!!!!
UNBELIEVABLE but yes he did, he managed to complete all my necessary paper work for the court on such late notice due to my late contact but he stayed awake completing this as the next day was the court trial. Colin also attended court in person as my McKenzie friend and assisted me in what i needed to do to get the desired result.
I was awarded the children more favourably than my ex partner and i feel, no i know it was down to Colin’s help, i will be ever in his debt as my children are my world and having them taken away by a court and their mother was the single most worst thing i have ever had to experience in my life.
Thanks a million again for yesterday, the notes were great and I will be pursuing this transcription of the judgment.
All the very best
Thanks to Colin and his in depth knowledge of this particular field of family law I was able to get a child arrangements order for regular contact with my son with no risk of my sons mother interfering.
I highly recommend Colin Brealey and his services and also Families Need Fathers, a charity who put me in touch with Mr Brealey.
Many Thanks for your support over the last 6 months.
Although I had an idea of what I had to do next with regard to starting legal proceedings I knew I needed help. I visited my local Families Need Fathers meeting and met Mr Colin Brealey who chairs the monthly meetings.
Right from the start I found Colin to be helpful, professional and above all – totally child focussed. Colin advised and continues to advise me, along with many others within the Families Need Fathers meetings. Seeing Colin’s professionalism, I decided to accept his offer of assistance to help me through the legal process as a Mckenzie Friend. - This has got to be one of the best decisions I have ever made!
Colin advised me throughout the whole process – which in my opinion was much better than any solicitor I have ever had to deal with previously.
As I have already explained, Colin is totally child focussed and therefore deals with any issue in an unbiased and morally proper way rather than one of financial benefit to himself. That is evident when my costs for everything came to approximately 10% of a similar case I was involved with almost a decade earlier.
In short, I would have no hesitation whatsoever in strongly recommending Mr Colin Brealey to represent anyone who required a professional service for any matters involving children & family.
I was completely out of my depth in this case with my ex partner and her solicitor and was basically getting wiped the floor with. That's when I decided to contact families need fathers who put me on to you. After speaking with you, you came to Lincolnshire and took charge of my case for me, liaised with my ex partners solicitor and after two hearings got the outcome we wanted.
I can't thank you enough for your help and professionalism, it's been 6 months now and everything's going well, the children are happy and we are having a great time together making memories.
All the best.
I met Jeff at my local FNF meeting. I was immediately struck not only by Jeff’s technical expertise but also by the calm, measured and authoritative way in which he gave others help and support.
I didn’t even bother looking for a solicitor, I engaged Jeff as my McKenzie Friend. He helped me file an application to court and draft a position statement. He subsequently helped support me in court.
In court Jeff was a rock-steady mentor, providing pragmatic and clear advice at just the right time. He negotiated with the other side and his clear familiarity with the system filled me with confidence in the waiting before the hearing. Importantly he had the confidence of the judge, who explicitly remarked on Jeff’s CV with obvious admiration.
In the hearing, following a rocky start (the judge thought my suggested residence schedule was too much for a 2 year old...and lots of allegations in mum's position statement - all ignored by Cafcass and the judge) the judge supported an amended schedule Jeff and I proposed; Jeff was then instrumental in hammering out a brief but prescriptive Shared Residence Order by consent.
The mother had applied for sole residence and proposed one Wednesday overnight a fortnight and every other weekend Friday to Sunday 6pm for contact. No holidays, other than alternate Christmas day.
I ended up with an SRO by consent, every Wednesday overnight and every other weekend Friday nursery pick up to Monday nursery drop off. I also got half of all holidays and alternate Christmas and Easter.
I am confident that with Jeff’s help, support and guidance I got the best outcome for my son; the long weekends and holidays in particular will help immensely in his relationship with me, his grandparents and his young cousin. I am sure I wouldn’t have secured such a good outcome for my son without Jeff’s calming influence, help and guidance.
Whenever we have been in court Jeff has always been fully prepared for the appearance and the suggestions/advice he has given me has helped me set the agenda in court. Jeff is measured in his approach and calm at all times whether in or out of court.
Despite the fact I wasn't able to get a barrister, Jeff and his associates have been able to bring my case forward, and defend my position in a way a barrister probably wouldn't have, and for a very affordable cost.
I recommend Jeff to anyone facing legal family issues and wish to have tailor made defence.
Thank you so much again.
Going to court is a nerve racking experience in any situation and representing yourself seems like an extremely daunting task, questions like what to prepare? where to stand? what to say? Were just a few of the things I was concerned about but having Jeff with me gave me the knowledge and confidence to successfully represent myself.
I am now enjoying regular and increasing access to my daughter
We are now a happy re-United family I never dreamed possible. I didn't understand the court process, I cannot thank him enough for re uniting my family.
He was helping me write statements and filling in court forms until late at night and put up with my lack of IT knowledge, he is a wonderful guy, cannot thank him enough for what he has done.
Have a lovely weekend!
After 18 months of sky high legal fees that I could no longer afford, I had no choice but to represent myself and take on my former husbands’ London based legal team with the help of Colin Brealey. This was a hugely daunting task but one that I immediately felt was attainable with the help of Colin. Colin gave me the confidence and support that I needed to stand in Court and fight for myself and my children.
I can only describe my marriage and my divorce as something out of a horror movie. My divorce was a hugely complex case, extending over 3 years with countless files of litigation including 2 Non Molestation Orders and an extensive Police chronology. The litigation included details of the domestic violence I endured, my former husband’s drug and alcohol addiction, children’s care issues, complex financials and extensive Police involvement.
Colin took it all in his stride and took time to read through the extensive history and made sure he was familiar with all the previous orders and applications. Colin assisted me at all times in the preparation of applications on email and over the phone, and in person at all the numerous hearings.
Colin always arrived early prior to the hearings which gave me great comfort as it allowed us time to meet and talk through everything before we went in. I was always terribly nervous and anxious but Colin was great at calming me and preparing me and focusing me for each hearing, particularly when I was facing counsel.
As well as helping me with all the litigation and hearings. Colin would always contact me to hear how any meetings went with the Police as well as when the children spent time with their appointed guardian.
Sadly, my divorce was one of threat and violence. Although I had panic buttons in my home - If I was ever in fear or panic, then I knew I could call Colin for help or advice 24/7.
Colin was, and continued to be, a huge support to me and my family throughout the ongoing proceedings. Colin has a vast knowledge and extensive experience in the legal field. As well as this, Colin has been an emotional support to me through the most painful and traumatic years of my life.
Before working with Colin I had appointed a solicitor and attended family court on two occasions. Each of these hearings was confusing and frustrating due to the fact that all communication was done between the solicitors involved. Decisions were made by solicitors based on very little understanding of the facts. The process was aimed more at fighting the other party than it was at achieving anything positive by way of contact with my daughter.
I contacted Colin in an attempt to remove the adversarial approach from my case and to help me understand a legal situation that was out of control.
From my initial meeting with Colin it was obvious that he knew more about Family Law than any solicitor I had talked with and that he had a constructive approach to arriving at a workable solution.
Colin explained to me in detail how my case was likely to unfold. He outlined what contact was likely to be agreed and helped me to set workable expectations. At each stage of the court process Colin removed all the unnecessary legal details and simplified what had previously been a confused legal battle in to something that was simple to understand and much less stressful to manage. We worked together, making it possible to clarify things for the court, welfare officers and the other party.
Colin focused on what needed to be done to increase contact with my daughter, he was always available to address any concerns or issues that I had and to provide guidance with any court paperwork.
At each hearing Colin sought to find common ground between both parties rather than continuing the arguments that my previous solicitor had perpetuated. This achieved an increase in contact where previously no progress had been made for almost a year.
The depth of practical experience that Colin has, and his positive, constructive approach helped me to arrive at a situation where the other party agreed to much more contact than I would have achieved if I had continued with a solicitor. At the same time Colin kept me focused on my daughter rather than on the other party.
Colin makes Family Law work for families.
When we began in the Family Courts we were paying for legal representation in the form of various Solicitors and Barristers, some progress was made but this took some 2 years to achieve at extortionate costs to us.
We approached Jeff to enquire whether he would be able to assist us in the continuing family matter and Jeff confirmed his terms and conditions to us from the outset, we were very happy with all of the details that Jeff passed over to us and we were pleased to have his support.
Jeff has been a lifesaver. Literally. Jeff's knowledge of the process that we have been going through is comprehensive and moreover, Jeff has a unique insight into our particular circumstances and has, on many occasions, offered us his support and advice on how to deal with matters that surround the Court case. This has proved invaluable and has helped us both cope with the process on many occasions.
Jeff's integrity and honesty are outstanding, he is a man amongst men. Jeff had complete compassion for our situation. Jeff has a keen eye for details and is extremely prompt with his responses - which has helped us cope with some stressful situations.
Our only regret is that we did not know of Jeff's existence when our Court proceedings began - we are completely certain that his involvement from the start would have benefitted the matter a great deal and not to mention, save us a considerable amount of money that we had to pay for legal representation.
We have absolutely no hesitation in recommending Jeff to anyone.
He is personable and empathetic, his own life experiences give him an amazing foundation for giving others support. Often in court, the judge would override an actual qualified solicitors offer of legal advice and put Colin as priority when asking legal direction. He is worth every penny and I will always be grateful for his organisation, advice and genuine support.
Thank you Colin.
Colin made himself readily available at the end of the phone or by email and always gave good, practical advice. It was clear that his knowledge of family law was vast. He attended the next court hearing with me, arrived early and, again, gave good, clear and practical advice on how we should proceed. In addition to the advice on how to proceed at the hearing, he also advised me on how to contact my daughter’s GP and nursery to ask for details of matters relating to her and gave me copies of template letters for this purpose.
Thanks to Colin’s vast knowledge of family law and his professional manner, he was able to negotiate with my ex-partner’s solicitor resulting in a final order which I was very happy with indeed. Colin continues to be available to me for advice by email or phone and I would not hesitate to contact him in the future if I had any further problems regarding contact with my daughter. I would also highly recommend Colin to anyone experiencing problems with regard to contact with their child or children.
I firmly believe that this positive result was achieved through Colin’s advice and more specifically through his negotiating skills at the final hearing as this made a huge impact on the final outcome. I would recommend Colin Brealey to anyone.
I was put in contact with Colin by Families need Fathers as a McKenzie friend, quite late in my case, but he soon helped create a very professional and powerful statement. He was very honest from the start and made it quite clear men don't win these cases very often.
Well we won, and we will all never be able to thank him enough for all he did. He has become quite a popular character round here, and some one who will always be a friend.
From one very happy Dad.
I can hand on heart say that I would recommend you for advice to anyone facing legal difficulties.
Previous experience had also taught me that attending court is an overwhelming and daunting experience so I was conscious that I needed some form of guidance to see me through to the end. Which is when I found Family Law Decisions and in particular, Jeff Botterill, whom I knew straight away was the person I wanted by my side during the whole process. Jeff is extremely calm and reassuring with a knowledge base that is immediately evident. It also helped to learn that once upon a time he had been in my shoes and could recognise the anguish and anxiety I was feeling.
Jeff Botterill is simply a genius and I’m utterly convinced my life would not be so wonderful now if it were not for him. From the moment he agreed to assist me, I knew I was in great hands and a lot of the tension which inevitably builds up seemed to dissipate there and then. Once we got started, Jeff was great at stripping the emotion away and helping you to focus on what is important and ignoring what is irrelevant, as it is very easy to get caught up in the bitterness and unjust nature of everything. He keeps you thinking straight.
He is also a master at drawing up any court documents that will be required along the way and is exceptional at articulating every point of your defence. I was truly blown away when I saw my initial position statement – It summed up perfectly in 10 or 12 sentences what I had been frustratingly screaming about for years. A work of art.
Long story short, my ex-partner dropped her application completely after the first hearing and I was able to amend the existing contact order we had in place to provide for more time with my daughter at weekends and school holidays. The result is my relationship with my daughter is as good now as it’s ever been and I feel that I have been treated fairly by the courts. This is all thanks to Jeff.
I would recommend Jeff in an instant. He really is a godsend.
His guidance and support throughout the court hearings was excellent. He put me at ease and gave me the confidence to represent myself. His knowledge of the law and the case history surrounding leave to remove exceeded any that I had heard from the two solicitors that I had used. He is also passionate about the need for both parents in the lives of their children. I would highly recommend Jeff to anyone else looking for a McKenzie friend.
On behalf of myself and my family We would like to thank you for all of your assistance yesterday. Your guidance throughout, and the presentation of the documents was first class. Restoring contact with ******* was the best Xmas present we could have hoped for.
We had a get together last night but at the weekend we can have an even better one with our *******.
Many thanks for your services.
Once again I am indebted to the support that Colin has given.
Hope you are well?
Apologies for taking so long to write to you. I’d wanted to get in touch and thank you for your service during court proceedings. It was really comforting to have someone there with me that knew the process, was understanding of my situation and wanted the best for myself and child.
I know that you went above and beyond and ended up doing CAFCASS’ job on the day too so really appreciate everything.
You stopped me deviating and gave me the focus and reassurance I needed. Your help with the position statement was invaluable and was definitely a key factor in helping me gain the contact I wanted.
I would recommend FLD without hesitation.
I have had the pleasure of working with Jeff and Colin, both highly knowledgeable and professional, they helped me remain calm under extremely difficult circumstances, without them supporting me in the background with all the court statements and by my side in court, I would have fallen apart. Their ongoing support has been overwhelming and this type of first class service is something you do not get using a firm of solicitors. I feel indebted to you both, thank you.
My advice to anybody looking at this website, pick up the phone, it will be your best decision that you have ever made too.
Family Law Decisions provided me with a McKenzie friend (Jeff Botterill), advice on the process, help working with the various experts, and other ongoing support, maintaining their child-focused ethos throughout. They clearly have extensive experience of the family law process, and they are sensitive to the effects that it all can have on a 'litigant in person'. I am hugely grateful to the support that Family Law Decisions have provided in helping me stay in touch with my son, I could not have done it without them. I wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone seeking a child-focused resolution.