Our Family Court Support Service assists clients who have a dispute over contact with their children, which is know as Private Law Child Contact Arrangements. Please read our Child Contact – Self Help guide before deciding whether you think this service could be of benefit to you.
We are not a substitute for experienced and qualified family solicitors, and we always recommend that you get representation for your hearing from a solicitor if at all possible – we can help you find one if you like. We would also urge you to consider settling your dispute via mediation if this an option rather than going to Court. However if you have a court hearing coming up where you will be unrepresented NCLS may be able to help you.
In the first instance you should attend our Free Legal Advice Service on a Tuesday morning to see a family solicitor. If they think you would benefit from support you may be assigned a Family Court Support Volunteer who can help you with completing and submitting Court forms, and who can attend hearings with you. However we have limited capacity and this service is subject to the availability of volunteers.
Our volunteers are not legally trained and cannot represent you in court. What they can do is provide valuable moral and practical support during the often stressful experience of appearing as a ‘Litigant in Person’. Such support may include: organising paperwork; helping you to identify what you want from the proceedings; explaining the Court system; keeping you calm before a hearing; taking notes; and quietly reminding you of points to raise in Court.
What we cannot do
- We cannot represent you during proceedings and are not allowed to speak for you in Court or sign any documents on your behalf. This service in no way replaces legal representation and clients who can afford to do so are urged to instruct a solicitor.
- We can only attend cases which are heard in the Norwich Court (cases will usually be heard in this Court if the child lives within the Norwich area.)
- We cannot assist clients where a conflict of interest check reveals that we have advised the other party in the case.
- The court do not notify NCLS of hearings. It is essential that clients inform NCLS well in advance of any hearing or court dates and times if they wish to have someone to support them.
- In addition the Court does not provide NCLS with any documents relating to cases.
- Ideally the Volunteer will assist each client until their case is concluded. However we cannot always guarantee that there will be a volunteer available, or that the same person will be able to help you throughout your case.