Representing yourself in family court

You may want or need to speak for yourself in court, because:

  • you can’t afford a lawyer
  • you can’t get legal aid
  • you'd prefer to do it yourself

When you represent yourself, you’re known as a litigant in person.

Free legal support and representation

These organisations may be able to help you if you can’t afford a lawyer or get legal aid:

  • Advocate finds barristers who volunteer to give free advice or representation in court.
  • Support Through Court offers support and guidance before, during and after court.
  • Witness Service from Citizens Advice gives free legal and emotional support to witnesses giving evidence in court.

You can also get legal support through us.

How to prepare

Before the hearing:

  • organise your court papers
  • make copies of any papers the court might need
  • set down what you want to say in points
  • practise saying them
  • your court papers and anything the court might need
  • paper and pens to make notes about what is said or decided

At court

  • Don’t bring your children to court unless you have permission.
  • Arrive with plenty of time and sign in.
  • Switch off your phone while in the courtroom.
  • Stand when the judge enters.

Speaking to the court

  • Be polite.
  • Call the judge sir or madam unless told otherwise.
  • Stay calm and don’t interrupt.
  • Raise your hand if you have something to say.
  • Speak clearly, slowly and briefly to the judge, not the other parent or ex-partner.
  • Ask if you don’t understand.

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