Great book; great price. No book can replace experience or a lawyer, but, for the price that you pay, this book is brilliant.
Even if you instruct a lawyer, it really is worth getting this book to give you further insight into how the family court works.
I highly recommend your read this book if you are representing yourself
Being a litigant-in-person requires a significant amount of research. As someone who had no prior knowledge of the legal system, an understanding of the basic aspects of running a legal case is crucial. It’s very easy to get lost in legal details without understanding the bigger picture and a number of books I read fell into this category.
What this book provides is both the foundation aspects of being a litigant-in-person, so crucial in representing yourself successfully, as well as the depth required in specific points of family law. It covers the legal procedure in handling your case, a key requirement so you don’t get lost in the process, as well as how best to represent your case following points of law. It’s written in a concise to the point manner which aids a litigant-in-person when navigating a complex topic.
Representing oneself is no trivial task. I successfully represented myself on two separate occasions. This book gave me the knowledge to run my case from a procedural perspective, as well as argue my points and represent my legal position succinctly in front of a judge.
I highly highly recommend this book.
Dean Palfreyman, review on Amazon
"Excellent book. Get it before you even think of going to Court."
"Cheaper than a solicitors letter. I was able to gain enough confidence to act as LIP after reading this book. I also fended off a top flight barrister and solicitor! saved me ££££ thousands so far. Great Book"
"... clear and to the point. It helped me save tens of thousands of pounds in 3 years."
"An indispensable resource for anyone facing the possibility of attending Court either with or without a lawyer."
Ruth Langford, Amazon reader
"I actually used the book for the first time this week with a client - I was so impressed! Loved all of the references to the FPR etc - it was so accessible but backed up with citation of authorities. I've recommended it to many Clients since, as many simply do not think that it is possible to present their case fully as a litigant in person. This book provides all of the necessary legal information and all of the necessary padding (e.g. how to prepare/ present), giving it a holistic feeling.
Carl Makin, Citizens' Advice Adviser
"I would recommend this book if you are going through family court without a solicitor, it will help you to prepare and understand the procedures of the family court. It covers just about everything you need to know from completing forms/procedures and explains the meanings of the legal jargon used."
"...I read your book again. I know it's for non-lawyers, but it is also a great tool for advising clients jargon-free!"
Arlene Small, Barrister, Clerksroom
With the government about to announce its final cost-cutting plans for legal aid there is clearly a market for self-help books aimed at people who need access to justice, but can't afford professional help.
Into the fray comes Lucy Reed, barrister and author of the Pink Tape blog, waving her new handbook for DIY litigants: Family Courts without a Lawyer. "Litigants in person clog up the courts," she says,
"Slow courts mean delay for children and parents and injustice for families. Helping litigants in person to get it right procedurally is doing everyone a favour."
Reed's book is a response to the proposals to withdraw legal aid for many family cases and while she doesn't dismiss the problems this will cause, she believes that litigants who represent themselves need not be at a significant disadvantage if they have the right information.
The handbook is not aimed at any particular section of the population:
"The cab rank rule (the rule which says barristers must not turn away clients who want to instruct them) means that as a barrister I represent mums, dads, partners and kids in pretty much equal measure," she says.
"Some are wholly reasonable and well intentioned, some are malicious, and some are just idiotic. I don't see any of those characteristics as exclusive to men or to women."
This is not a legal textbook (though lawyers may find it useful) nor is it a substitute for legal advice: "I've had to strike a balance between being clear and precise about what the law says and providing too much detail which can be confusing and can make matters worse," says Reed. "The book covers the things that litigants in person are most likely to come up against but it doesn't (and can't) cover all possible eventualities."
An accompanying website nofamilylawyer.co.uk, contains links to useful online resources and downloadable versions of the model documents included in the book.
Reed manages to cover a good deal of ground in this fairly slim volume, which takes the court user from the starting block – finding your way around the legal system - to the finishing line, whether that is divorce, financial arrangements for separating cohabitees, contact with children, or getting a non-molestation order in cases of domestic violence.
The aim of the handbook is to make people who represent themselves feel more confident in court. "I often encounter litigants in person with a perfectly good case which they struggle to prepare or present, or who become distracted by points which are legally irrelevant," says Reed.
"Litigants in person who do not have even a basic grasp of the law may not be able to articulate the strengths in their case and may do damage to it by adopting the wrong approach."
In the much-needed "Reality Check" chapter Reed disposes of popular myths (there is no such thing as common law man and wife) and manages expectations telling readers:
"There is a lot in the media about the wives of very rich men walking away with vast fortunes on divorce. If you are reading this book you are probably not in their social circle and your own divorce will have a very different outcome."
"For most families the court has to make a rough and ready estimation of what is in the pot and try to do its best to be fair to both parties, putting the needs of the kids first."
The straightforward style of this book, its tone of encouragement, and its plain English approach to family law – including a "jargon buster" section — are among its strengths. Reed does not talk down to her readers — she is with them every step of the way.
The Guardian website
Not another DIY divorce book? Or is it just a stablemate of such sites as ‘Lawyers: cats settling disputes between two mice’? On the tin(troduction) Reed claims that she will explain family law in a manner which does not need a law degree to understand, provide tips to litigants in person (LiPs), assist those whose solicitors may seem too busy to answer their questions, and help a LiP’s friends and family understand what is happening. Rather off-puttingly for her eponymous market, she announces that:
‘Litigants in person are clogging up the system … When people running their own cases don’t have a clue what they are supposed to be doing … hearings take longer and have to be postponed … slow courts mean delay for children and parents and injustice for families.’ (p iv)
That the ‘court is not the best way to resolve family disputes’ (p 44) comes rather late in the day and not only is too little said about mediation (pp 5, 16 and 44–45) but what is said could be more encouraging. No explanation is given as to why ‘this book does not cover care proceedings’ (p 124) and it is surprising that nothing seems to be said about wills. The titles and sub-titles of the 25 chapters and the ‘Toolkit and Resources’ certainly appear to be in line with the stated purposes , and compared to many other law books there is very little padding, such as big bare statutes taking up the whole of the second half. But if you are still wasting your time by reading this rather than ordering the book, no more carping and artificial suspense: this is a brilliant piece of work and I don’t mean the review.
The first thing that hits you from line one is the unremittingly plain, clear, get-it-first-time, language and the second is the way this is used to integrate highly practical points – of the sort that only learning from experience can bring – with very accessible explanations of the relevant law and procedure. Clichéd though it may be to say so, no LiP ‘should be without it’ and as one myself – with a 100% win record against reneging suppliers – I look forward to an equivalent work on non-family matters. Yet it would be a mistake to think that practitioners, of all people, should not buy this book: I took it to a Stafford Mediation Centre CPD gig where my lovely assistants, Neil Robinson and Steve Kirwin, and many other experienced professionals present, thought it would be useful for such as their own trainees, not to mention themselves. The same could well apply to judges, and not just those ‘who are happy for you to do what makes you feel comfortable if you don’t have a lawyer’ (p 39).
To Reed’s stated purposes (see above) might be added some others, which she understandably omits. These include its value as a gift from lawyers to LiPs on the other side and to help, not that anyone else seems to be applying an effective shoulder to this wheel, in the battle to disabuse bar room bores, fiction writers and the media, of their harmful misperceptions of family lawyers. Lucy Reed is a very modern family barrister indeed and her colleagues on both sides of the profession should be very proud of her. We know enough from her asides about such as the impending and counter-productive cuts in public funding to put her in front of Government Ministers NOW.
Professor of Family Law