How McKenzie Friends can Help Families on Low Incomes
When dealing with a legal dispute, the option of hiring a solicitor to help with the representation is not always available to everyone. Professional legal services cost money, which some people cannot afford, which is where McKenzie Friends come in.
In the UK, a person can opt to represent him or herself in court in a family law case. Such an individual is referred to as a Litigant in Person (LIP) and can bring someone along, called a McKenzie Friend, to help him or her in court.
A McKenzie Friend is not an entitlement for a Litigant in Person, but a court will allow it unless it has very compelling reasons not to. A McKenzie Friend is not required to have legal qualifications or training but may possess experience and knowledge that comes in handy during a case. You can pay a small fee to get a McKenzie Friend from an organisation like ours that provides legal advice.
The Benefits of McKenzie Friends
Retaining a traditional solicitor requires you to have a considerable amount of money at hand. In instances where you pay for legal services by the hour, the fees at the end of a lengthy case can total to tens of thousands.
People in the low-income bracket don’t have the disposable income to splurge on an attorney, but with the help of a McKenzie Friend, it does not mean they have to deal with legal problems alone.
Legal matters have a way of getting very complicated very fast. A simple family dispute can turn into a full-blown court battle that you may not have prepared for. Without the resources to get a high-powered attorney by your side, a paid McKenzie Friend becomes a viable alternative.
McKenzie Friends provide moral support during court cases, which can be invaluable. Legal issues can be overwhelming and having to deal with them alone can make it worse. Emotions tend to get out of control sometime in disputes, which can lead to compromised decision-making. A McKenzie Friend who is not emotionally involved in your case will give you support and guide you through the tough decisions.
The Scope of a McKenzie Friend
Before you start looking for a McKenzie Friend to assist with your case, understand what they can and cannot do so that you are aware of the level of assistance that you will be receiving. A lay legal assistant can help you take notes during your case. Regardless of how simple a case appears, keeping all the details is advisable.
You require accurate and relevant information to help with your argument. A McKenzie Friend can note down the critical details that you may overlook or forget. You can also receive help with your case papers. For example, if you are arguing about child support with your spouse, you may need receipts and other documents to make the case, and a McKenzie Friend can take care of that.
When in court, McKenzie Friends are allowed to quietly advise on points that the LIP intends to bring forward. Due to lack of legal expertise, you may not know all the issues that can strengthen your case and a McKenzie Friend can offer guidance. He/she can also tell you about the points of law or procedures pertinent to your case. When cross-examining witnesses, a McKenzie Friend can advise you on which questions to ask.
What McKenzie Friends cannot do is act in place of a Litigant in Person. For example, you cannot tell a McKenzie Friend to sign court documents on your behalf. Ordinarily, a McKenzie Friend does not have the right to question witnesses or address the court. In special situations, though a judge can grant ‘rights of audience’ to a McKenzie Friend, which give him or her the power to conduct the case on behalf of the LIP.
Come to us for Help
When you need a McKenzie Friend to help with your case, we provide low-cost services so that you can have the necessary support. If you have a divorce case that is not muddled with complications and want an inexpensive resolution, you can come to us.
You will find McKenzie Friends who prioritise your best interests. Trying to solve a legal dispute on your own can be exasperating, to say the least. We are here, so you have someone to bounce off your ideas, ask about court procedures and certain laws.
When working with McKenzie Friends, privacy is a concern, and we assure you of the utmost professionalism and confidentiality from our team.
Just because hiring a lawyer for your family law case is out of your budget does not mean you cannot have the support and advice you require.