Ruth is a domestic abuse survivor. She was living in a refuge with her young son when she sought help from Fiona Cavell from Stephens Scown when child proceedings were started by her former partner.

“This was the most terrifying time of my life. I was still coming to terms with the abuse I had suffered, and was desperate to protect my son,” says Ruth.

“I had been to see a solicitor about my situation before, but I found it very confusing and had not really understood the advice I was given. I was nervous when I first went to see Fiona, but she immediately saw that I needed a lot of support. Quite honestly I wasn’t myself because of the trauma I had been through. I needed hand holding and Fiona gave me the kindness, help and guidance that I needed.”

Ruth’s case came to court and Stephens Scown’s Peter Marshall represented her at the two day fact finding hearing.

“Before I was faced with this experience I wondered what the big deal was about going to court. But the lack of control and feeling that the future of my son and I was out of my hands was terrifying. I was so scared because I would have to come face to face with the person who had put me through so much,” says Ruth.

“Thank goodness for Fiona and Peter. They have done this hundreds of times before and their calmness and confidence pulled me through. There is no way I could have done this on my own. With them behind me I found I managed okay in court and had the strength to face the questions I was asked.”

Ruth is in a much better place in her life now and is settled in a new house with her son. Although there will likely be further court cases ahead, she feels that she is in a much stronger position. She says: “Most of all I feel like my son and I had our voices heard. I don’t think that would have been the case without Fiona and Peter’s help. I’m so grateful for their support and the future they have secured for my son and I.”

Ruth’s advice

– Never feel ashamed about what you have gone through. Remember you are a survivor.

– Find a solicitor you feel comfortable with. Don’t be afraid to meet a few until you find someone you really like.

– Keep very detailed notes of everything; from visits to a doctor to your meetings with your solicitor.

– Keep your paperwork in order, so that it is easy to find the things you will need.

– Write lists of questions so that you don’t forget to ask something when you meet with your solicitor.

– Talk to family and friends. They will give you a different perspective and may think of questions to ask that you had not considered.

– It can help to take someone along with you to any meetings with your solicitor to jog your memory about what to mention and help you remember what was covered in the meeting.

– Your solicitor’s job is to help to explain the process and prepare you for what is going to happen. Sometimes that can be hard, but it is much better to be realistic than have someone tell you what you want to hear.

– Don’t underestimate how long it will take to come to terms with what has happened to you.

No matter what your circumstances are, if you find yourself starting 2018 with a divorce, please have faith that things will get better. You are not alone and there is help and support available for you. Sometimes the hardest parts of your life are also the start of a new beginning.

Our team of expert lawyers have many years of experience in handling divorce cases sensitively and professionally.  Visit our family law pages for more information, give us a call on 0345 450 5558.