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Case Study ::  Final Hearing Ancillary Relief Case

 

Jools: case study final financial hearing.

 

Kirsten took the call from Jools (names have been changed) aged 46, going to court in the West Country. She sent an e-mail starting:  

 

It is two days before I am going to court for the final hearing and I am a total wreck. My x has sent several proposals for me to negotiate out of court one of them being no spousal maintenance from him as he wants a clean break with 50% of my pension. This was so ridiculous as my son would be 14 when I am 60 and he was refusing spousal maintenance but wanted to strip me of my pension. At the FDH hearing his solicitor addressed to the judge some things that were not true e.g. I was earning 30.000 a year and in good health and there was no reason why I could not continue in my full time job. The truth is that when he left I was working part-time and I had a month to run around to find a full time job as I was really frighten of losing the house if I could not keep up with mortgage payments.  He stopped paying half the mortgage even though it was in joint names. 

 

Kirsten spoke to Jools over the phone and asked her what her greatest fear was about going to court. She replied “Him telling a lot of lies in courtâ€?and “I don’t know what to do or say or expect.â€?Her solicitor had been trying to negotiate out of court but Jools felt it was unfair to negotiate on false figures; she knew there was incomplete financial disclosure but she had no idea how she could get this over to the court; she just knew she had to give it a try - against her solicitor’s advice. She had written:   

 

I went to see a solicitor about the house situation and him pulling out from the mortgage. She explained if he no longer wants to pay half mortgage and it is in joint names then you need to get him to sign the deeds over in your name. She wrote him a letter we got a letter back a few days later and he said he is not signing and is putting in for a divorce. I then phoned Family Crisis and said I need help, and the talked me through the issues and said that you have been emotionally abused for years I was just sobbing and crying... 

 

Jools said she felt intimidated by her solicitor, but she had met her barrister and felt she was on her side and sympathetic to her reasons for wanting to go to court for the final hearing. In Kirsten’s view Jools was showing a lot of courage and knew she could help her focus on her ancillary relief case and how to keep the emotions out of it â€?even if they had less than 48 hours before the case commenced. 

 

Kirsten and Jools agreed a programme which included speaking over the telephone for 2 hours in total - an hour the first evening and an hour the next.

 

In the first session Kirsten ran through what Jools might expect in court. She had been there before but had little idea of what to expect. She had confidence in her barrister and Jools was reassured to realise she was there to present and argue her case for her. They also spoke about how to behave if things were being said by the other side which she knew were not the truth and how and when to speak. Jools was also able to imagine placing an invisible wall between her and her ex-husband, a useful psychological ‘barrierâ€?against the impact of the negative emotional energy between them. That evening Jools sent Kirsten a message: 

 

Thank you so much for all your advice and support. Talking really helped me a lot and I feel so much better and more confident. I am ready to have a good sleep for the first time tonight.

 

The next day, the day before the hearing, Kirsten and Jools ran through some more tips and techniques, especially how to act under cross examination â€?simple things like make sure the question is understood -things people under stress cannot see the importance of until it is too late. She was able to focus on her needs, her case and the importance of making sure she and her legal team jointly agreed the case and what they were trying to achieve beforehand â€?at 9am the next morning. That evening Jools wrote: 

 

I feel very assertive and would never have asked this without your support. Thank you so much will definitely be phoning you when I get a break as I will not only be fighting my x but staying calm and being assertive about my case. Thank you Kirsten 

 

The following day, the day of the Final Hearing, Jools telephoned Kirsten at lunchtime to report progress. She sounded confident. Later she telephoned again, obviously greatly relieved it was all over. That evening she sent back her feedback form writing:

  

Q: How do you feel now after having ‘got through�the court hearing today?

A: I feel very confident in myself. I was pleased that I was able to stay calm and know how to speak to the barrister and the judge on yes and no answers without losing my nerve. It is so important to be prepared ahead.  

  

At first I was told I would not need to speak and the barrister would speak for me but because they needed more evidence I was then told I would have to speak. But I was prepared. My barrister said she was very surprised that I did so well.  

  

Q: How did Kirsten’s services help you?

A: I was able to speak to someone who was not involved in the case and they helped me to stay calm. The main thing was that they went through the procedure of the court with me and how they may ask the questions. 

 

Q: What would you say to other people faced with a Final Hearing?

It is very important that they have a clear idea of the procedure. And the most important thing is knowing how to speak to the other person’s barrister and the judge when they ask questions.  

What was useful was knowing their support is on the end of the line. At my final hearing when we had a break I was able to get more support. Also the friendly text the day before and on the morning gives you have a sense that it's okay go for it as there is someone there to support you. And even though I did not get everything but the main thing is I got my house and was able to keep my pension I was able to feel good and move on. Kirsten talked me through what happens if it did not go well and see that at the end of the day, it was going to be over and you could move on. So the end was a relief that it was all over at last, as this had been going on for a year. 

 

Q: Any other comments?

A: I advise anyone who has to face final hearing it is important to have guidance on preparing themselves as it can be very stressful in the room especially if you have not seen your x in a long time.  

  

Thank you Kirsten for all your help, you have been fantastic.

 

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