Ann’s lowest point came when she found herself curled up on the bedroom floor, in tears, having been served with court documents. She did not know what to do next or where to find help and felt petrified about what the future held for her family.
She had asked her ex-husband to deal with his ongoing severe alcohol dependency to ensure that the children were safe with him during their periods of contact. When he refused to acknowledge this was an issue or discuss any of her concerns, she felt she had no choice but to stop the children’s contact with their father because of the impact it was having on their mental health, and the risk to their safety. In response, her ex-husband hired a lawyer and issued an application for a Child Arrangements Order to court.
Ann, who works part time, could not afford to pay for a lawyer and did not qualify for legal aid. She had no idea where to turn until she received support which enabled her to send a question to Free Legal Answers, the online platform run by LawWorks. Her question was answered by a pro bono family lawyer, Simon Bruce, who also volunteers at Dads House Legal Advice Clinic, one of the clinics in the LawWorks network. By transferring the case to Dads House, Simon was able to give Ann more in-depth legal advice and support on her case. The relief that Ann felt on speaking to Simon was enormous. He was able to negotiate with her husband’s solicitor in order to come up with a solution which satisfied both parents, including regular alcohol testing and the build up of supervised contact with the children. This agreement was presented to the court at a telephone hearing by Simon, representing Ann on a pro bono basis and made into a court order immediately by the magistrates who heard the matter.
“The words “thank you” are not adequate for the literally lifesaving help I received from Simon and his law clinic. Without any means to legal advice and facing my ex-husband’s lawyers and court alone, I was subdued and left feeling completely overwhelmed with fear and hopelessness in respect of protecting the children.
Simon contacted me; he listened to me without judgment, calmed my fears, and readily answered my never-ending questions always with patience and understanding. It took a tremendous weight off my shoulders and with his words “you are not to worry anymore - I will do the worrying,” I was again overwhelmed but with relief, not fear anymore. Thanks to his expertise and dedication to the case we received the best outcome in relation to the children's welfare in the future.”