In family law matters, many people choose to represent themselves rather than hire a lawyer. Although representing yourself in family court has the potential to be risky, many of our clients are quite successful at it. Obviously representing yourself and using a non-attorney service for document preparation can save a lot of money in attorney fees. On the other hand, for people who cannot afford an attorney, representing themselves in family court may be the only option.
Get help representing yourself in Family Court!
If you are representing yourself in family court, there are things you can do to give yourself a better chance at winning or getting the best outcome in your case. The most important thing you can do for yourself is to hire an experienced legal document assistant with a good reputation to prepare all the necessary documentation. Taking this path will give you the best opportunity for the most favorable result. An experienced legal document assistant like A People’s Choice will have years of invaluable experience in presenting facts and explaining circumstances.
You may also want to research the applicable laws and rules that deal with your legal issue. Keep in mind, legal research may require a great deal of time and effort. In reality, however, legal analysis is often not needed in common family law proceedings. Also, most courts in California have family law facilitators that help with certain family law matters. Some family law facilitators even offer basic workshops on things such as how to file for divorce. Some courts have step-by-step videos to guide you on the steps required to complete certain required filings. Unfortunately, many people fund these self-help programs greatly lacking and insufficient and not much help at all.
You can also talk with a family law attorney who can give you general advice on the basics of the relevant law, and any strategies you might want to consider. Meeting with an attorney for a consultation is a lower cost option than hiring an attorney for full representation. You can then hire a legal document assistant to help prepare and file your legal paperwork.
How to Represent Yourself in Family Court
If you are representing yourself before the court, sometimes it is helpful to visit court and watch similar hearings. This will help you get a “feel” for what to expect at your own hearing. Watching other cases will make you more confident when you appear before the judge. You will also see first-hand court professionalism and dress code. It is helpful to see how the parties act towards the judge and each other.
Make sure to file all the required documents on time before your hearing. A People’s Choice not only prepares documents, but we also help submit all documents to the court so clients need not worry about this task. If you have evidence you would like to show the judge, such as photos, you must mark them Exhibit 1, Exhibit 2, etc. On the day of your hearing, make sure you are on time and ready to present your case.
Representing Yourself in Family Court vs Hiring an Attorney
While representing yourself may be a good option in some instances, in some situations it may be better to hire an attorney rather than go it alone. Remember, you can always use a legal document assistant for your document preparation and only hire an attorney to make the necessary court appearances. This combination gives you more value for your dollar and allows you to reduce the cost of legal services. In a divorce or child custody case, if your ex has hired an attorney, you may consider hiring one to represent you at the hearing as well. However, this is not necessarily a given requirement! A high percentage of our clients have positive outcomes in their case, even when the other side had an attorney and they did not.
If your case is one of those rare, complex matters, you definitely should consider hiring an attorney. A complicated case means more complex issues, more filings, and concerns that require investigation and discovery. If there is a lot at stake in your case, the legal expertise and mind of an attorney may be valuable. Before deciding to represent yourself in a family law matter, you should carefully consider if it is your best option.
Successfully representing yourself in family law court is definitely possible. Contact A People’s Choice at 800-747-2780 to discuss how we can help you.
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