‘Yield to principle, not to pressure.’ (from R Fisher & WL Ury, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In)
SEPARATED? WITH CHILDREN? or CONCERNED ABOUT THE GRANDCHILDREN?
strongly recommend that you read this book! - ‘A
New Way to Win: How to Resolve Your Child Custody Dispute Without Giving Up, Giving In, or Going Broke’, by
Tobias Desjardins, 2010 ·
Available to clients in our library
We strongly recommend that you read this book! - ‘A New Way to Win: How to Resolve Your Child Custody Dispute Without Giving Up, Giving In, or Going Broke’, by Tobias Desjardins, 2010
· Available to clients in our library
Kiwilaw Advocates Ltd is a family-law practice, based in Hamilton, with a focus on fairness for the child, the parents, and the family. (Technically it is an incorporated law firm through which Cheryl Simes practises as a barrister sole. More technical detail…)
Yes, we can help you fight for your ‘rights’, or your children’s ‘rights’, in the Family Court. (While doing so, we will emphasise to you that the children must not be caught in the middle of this; and we will explain why.)
We can also help you vigorously defend proceedings that someone else has brought against you.
We will do this if it is really necessary, or if you specifically want to spend lots of money on legal fees.
We prefer to help you identify options that will work best for your children, and try to reach a fair, reasonable and safe outcome - without having to ‘fight’.
It may not be necessary to start (or continue) Court proceedings at all.
Decisions should be based on objective criteria, not bullying and power games.
· advise you about the key principles spelt out in law
· help you to obtain expert information about what is best for your child and your family
· provide leaflets, DVDs, and other information resources for your use
· help you use this information to negotiate an outcome that works.
This may include using some of the services available through the Family Court.
Or your case may be suitable for a ‘collaborative law’ approach. Collaborative law is an increasingly recognised method of assisted negotiation which can achieve early and long-lasting results at a fraction of the cost of legal proceedings.
If you prefer, we can help you to represent yourself in Court. (In technical language, we offer ‘unbundled legal services’ and ‘limited scope representation’ as well as full legal representation.)
Different situations need different approaches. One size does not fit all.
Do give us a call on 07 839 0911, or email email@example.com, or call in to our office (strategically located in the Presbyterian Opportunity Shop building, 13 Liverpool Street, Hamilton, with the free inner-city-bus stop directly outside).
See also our recommended resources.
Our services include…
Listening to you (that’s number 1)
Helping you to:
· understand what’s important for your children, and what the law says
· assess safety issues
· keep yourself and your children safe from abuse and violence
· make an urgent application to the Family Court, to keep you or your children safe, or to get your children back, or to enforce an existing order
· explore options with the other parent
· make your own parenting plan for your children
· negotiate with other family members about what is best for your children
· get the best outcome from Court-referred ‘counselling’ and/or ‘mediation’
· express your views without making matters worse
· present your case in the Family Court
· respond to a specialist report that you may disagree with
Explaining to you:
· how the Family Court can help sort out issues about your children
· what Court-referred ‘counselling’ and ‘mediation’ are all about
· what the Court is likely to decide, if you cannot sort out the issues yourselves
· the effect on your children of ongoing risks, especially parental conflict
· the significance of specialist reports obtained by the Court in your case
Referring you to other people who can help with specific issues
Access to DVDs, leaflets, articles, book chapters, and other helpful resources (we have a small library for client use, plus DVD-viewing facilities)
Providing information and advice in writing, so you can review it later
Writing up any agreements that are reached
Liaising with your children’s lawyer (if one is appointed by the Court)
Liaising with the other parent’s lawyer, or with the other parent if they do not have a lawyer
Representing you in the Family Court
Access to information via this website: No charge
Consultation and legal advice (up to 1½ hours): $300 (incl GST)
(This is a 30% discount or more, on normal rates!!)
· personal interview, or telephone, or email, as preferred
Full fee information for ongoing work (if any) - provided at initial consultation. Fees depend on the complexity of issues, plus time spent.
Legal-aid eligibility explained without charge. (We regret that we do not currently provide legally-aided services. If you are eligible for legal aid, we can refer you to other lawyers who can help.)
Leaflets/DVDs without specific legal advice No charge
Who’s who at Kiwilaw
MA (Hons), LLB (Hons), Cert in Quality Assurance
Owner and director of the company. A lawyer, employed by the company as a barrister.
Law is Cheryl’s second career. She was the top student in her year at Waikato Law School. Her primary focus is on helping people to use the law to resist bullying and wrongdoing, to understand the effects on children of emotional and physical harm, and to identify options that can help clients and their children make a new start. She has a keen interest in psychological issues that affect family relationships.
Diploma in Child Protection Studies
Specialist paralegal and family advocate, employed by the company. Not a lawyer. Also provides administrative support.
Annette’s expertise is in child development, child protection, victim support, effects of sexual abuse, recovery from family violence, and practical parenting arrangements. She is passionately committed to helping families provide the emotional care and stability that every child is entitled to. She can help to sort out a situation where an agreement is going wrong. She can also help clients and their children to access specialist support.
13 Liverpool Street (Presbyterian Opportunity Shop building), CBD, Hamilton
P O Box 4265, Hamilton East, Hamilton 3247
Phone 07 839 0911 – Fax 07 839 4070 – Mobile 021 701 838
Office email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Resources, about shared parenting (and related issues)
Many of these items are also available in hard copy at our offices. Call in and have a look. We can also send you copies.
General information is intended to be introductory only. It is not a substitute for getting your own legal advice, whether from us or from someone else.
Not yet online:
Counselling referrals through the Family Court
Mediation through the Family Court
Sharing guardianship decisions
Collaborative law / interest-based negotiation
High-conflict parents and significant others
Key principles for parenting and guardianship decision-making
Please, please, PLEASE, do not involve children in any conflict between or about their parents. It causes long-term harm to their development. Some experts say it is as bad as feeding your children poison. Just don’t do it!
Unless there are special circumstances or it is unsafe, it is in a child’s best interests to have a strong relationship with both parents, and with their extended family. It helps them grow and develop to their full potential. Your challenge is to help this happen.
Children’s Bill of Rights (American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers website) – equally relevant to New Zealand.
Ten tips for divorcing parents (American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers website) – equally relevant to New Zealand.
We strongly recommend the (free) Parenting Through Separation courses which are available to parents and grandparents. Each course consists of two 2-hour sessions. For more information, click here (Ministry of Justice website). For contact details for course providers in your area, click here (Ministry of Justice website). (The MOJ website used to list dates and times of upcoming courses. It no longer does so.)
Parenting Through Separation – DVD for parents – produced by the Family Court. Advice and information to encourage parents to make positive decisions about their children’s care. Also has introductory information about the Family Court, counselling, mediation conference, and final hearing. Information also about ‘Parenting Through Separation’ courses. Contact us to request a free copy.
Putting Your Children First – booklet for parents – produced by the Family Court. Advice and information to encourage separating parents to make positive decisions about their children’s care. Includes, at front, details of other agencies who can assist. Also – highly recommended – includes list of books both for parents and for children. Contact us to request a free copy.
Kids Talk About Separation – interactive DVD for children and young people, with advice and information about issues that often arise when parents separate. Produced by the Family Court. Contact us to request a free copy.
Teenagers’ Guide to the Family Court – booklet – view here (Family Court website) (PDF, 586Kb). Contact us to request a free hard copy.
Making your own parenting plan for your child/ren
There is no rigid formula. We recommend that you find out what will generally work best at your child’s state of development. Then brainstorm ideas of how to put this into practice.
Think about each parent’s strengths – and also friends and extended family.
Try to ensure that the child’s schedule is the same each week (other than holidays) – because this is the easiest for most children to cope with (according to recent research outlined in September 2011 at a conference Cheryl attended).
Planning for Shared Parenting: a guide for parents living apart (Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, 2011) – we strongly recommend this larger booklet – available from our offices (cost: $10 plus $2 postage/packing). It provides careful guidance for each age group, plus issues such as holidays.
Parenting Plans: parents’ guide to making plans for their children after separation – produced by the Family Court – outlines principles, also has pages for your specific plan. Contact us to request a free hard copy. View a copy here (from the Ministry of Justice website) (PDF, 2.6Mb)
Building a Parenting Agreement That Works – a highly-recommended self-help manual, with detailed guidance on identifying and resolving issues, including using mediation and other dispute-resolution resources. Available to clients in our library. (Click here for Amazon.)
(to be continued)
Legal technicalities about Kiwilaw
Structure and role of Kiwilaw Advocates Ltd
Kiwilaw Advocates Ltd is an incorporated law firm through which Cheryl Simes practises on her own account as a barrister sole. An incorporated law firm is a type of company. Cheryl is the sole director and shareholder of the company, as required by the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006.
A barrister sole is a lawyer who focuses only on Court work and related advice/negotiation, does not have a trust account, does not do conveyancing or transactional work, and by current Law Society rules is required to be instructed through a solicitor. Traditionally the client instructs (and communicates with) the solicitor, and the solicitor instructs (and communicates with) the barrister; but this can be changed with the consent of solicitor and client. The traditional distinction between solicitor and barrister is blurred in New Zealand practice, especially in family law. (There is some controversy about this. The rule is currently being reviewed. The Family Law Section of the New Zealand Law Society is recommending that the rule be abolished.)
‘Advocate’ (as in ‘Kiwilaw Advocates Ltd’) means anyone who practises advocacy. It includes barristers. It also includes non-lawyer advocates.
Why not say ‘I’ instead of ‘we’?
In descriptions of Kiwilaw Advocates Ltd’s work, certain purists would prefer the use of ‘I’ rather than ‘we’, to reflect the ‘barrister sole’ aspect.
Cheryl prefers ‘we’ because she works with others, both within the same organisation and outside it. She has the responsibility for the work, but she could not do it without others’ help.
As she is writing this webpage, and the purists are not, she has chosen to use ‘we’.
A side issue – who may provide legal advice?
Under New Zealand law, non-lawyers are allowed to provide legal advice, including about Court proceedings, and be paid for this.
However, they are not allowed to provide (paid) legal advice about the ‘direction and management’ of Court proceedings.
In Cheryl’s opinion, and from her research, even this restriction does not apply to non-lawyers who are employed by lawyer organisations and who are providing advice to the clients of the lawyer organisation on behalf of the employer. Rather, it applies to non-lawyer organisations, such as accountancy firms. (This point is currently before the Court of Appeal and should be settled by late 2012, if not sooner through other mechanisms.)
In the past, Cheryl has employed legally-qualified law clerks who – although not holding practising certificates – were well able to provide legal advice to clients. Although cost-effective both for Cheryl and for those paying the legal fees, this proved controversial in 2009-2010 when critics erroneously assumed this was unlawful. (Those critics refused to discuss the possibility that the legal restrictions were not as they assumed. They also failed to rebut Cheryl’s interpretation. They simply took action against her for refusing to comply with their demands. The story is not yet over. It is not yet appropriate to make full details public. It is an interesting example of how dogmatic, ideological commitment can triumph over rational analysis.)
Any current or future issues
Critics or sceptics about aspects of Kiwilaw’s practice or structure are requested to raise any concerns direct with Cheryl – and as soon as such concerns arise, rather than 6 or 12 or 18 months later, as has occurred in the past.
Lawyers in particular are reminded that they have an obligation to promote courtesy and collegiality: being upfront and prompt in drawing Cheryl’s attention to perceived flaws in her practice is preferable to making anonymous phone calls to other agencies or making assumptions that are not checked.
At times we at Kiwilaw Advocates Ltd may do things differently from other lawyers. That should not, in itself, be a crime.
Page updated: 22 February 2012.