I wrote about my initial experiences of being a formal McKenzie Friend here. In the last few weeks I have consulted widely with friends and associates and have now decided to extend my McKenzie Friend(ing) service.
This decision, at a personal level, fits well. Being a full-time parent, albeit with bigger children now, still brings with it the need to work flexibly. I have found over the last few years that juggling parenting and OnlyDads (which takes up more and more time) while earning a living as an ecclesiastical property advisor puts a huge strain on me and my small family.
Being able to give up the “day job” and just concentrate on core OnlyDads work has long been an ambition. Becoming a McKenzie Friend will allow for such a transition.
Will I be any good as a McKenzie Friend?
This is the question I have been asking myself (and others) over and over.
On the plus side, I have extensive experience of assisting parents regarding contact with their children since 2007 when I founded our support organisations www.onlydads.org and www.onlymums.org and of course have built up my own invaluable experience of Family Courts and the processes involved as a Litigant-in-Person.
What will be my USP?
I will be passionate in helping clients base all their statements and evidence in a way that puts the interests of children first. This will be THE hallmark of all I do.
I will also treat all those acting for the “other side” with dignity and respect. One of my key roles will be to listen very carefully to what they are saying and understand the reasons why, and then communicate this to my clients.
What does a McKenzie Friend do?
As a McKenzie Friend I will support drafting and editing key documents for Court and other authorities involved. At Court itself, I will:
- Take notes during the hearing.
- Provide moral support.
- Provide advice.
- Speaks quietly to you during the hearing.
- Assists with sourcing legal forms and templates of submissions.
- Review documents such as draft court orders and advise accordingly.
I have been reflecting on all of these key duties of a McKenzie Friend and (with positive feedback from those I have asked) decided that I will be able to do them all and to do them all well.
With Legal Aid being cut across the country, and with more and more mums and dads not being able to afford professional legal support from a family solicitor, I know that McKenzie Friends will continue to be in demand in the years ahead.
An hourly rate of £35 will represent a huge saving compared to employing many family solicitors.
A new website setting out what I can do (and NOT do) as a McKenzie Friend is being commissioned and then it’s a case of marketing myself! That will be the bit I hate! I suppose this post starts that process though; it’s something I am going to have to get used to!
What will success look like:
- More children having reconciled parents and enjoying regular contact with both.
- An enhancement of the OnlyDads’ signposting website and support service.
- A financially sustainable future, doing the work that I have grown to love.
I post this with a degree of nervousness and will note all comments very carefully!