Monday, January 16, 2012

Do I need to retain an attorney or can I represent myself in a family law case?

You can certainly represent yourself in your family law case; however, you must weigh the negatives and the benefits to representing yourself. Obviously, it is less costly to represent yourself and in some cases, proper person litigants may not experience any problems especially in non-litigated cases. There are also negatives to representing yourself. There are complexities to family law cases that proper person litigants may not be aware. Furthermore, in Court, proper person litigants are held to the same standard as a family law practitioner. A judge is not permitted to assist you with your case or provide you with legal advice. Once in the courtroom, you are on your own.

There are problems that many people face in the courtroom when representing themselves. I have observed many litigants in Court representing themselves and they frequently make the same mistakes. If you do choose to represent yourself in Court, do not interrupt the judge, make sure to filter what you say so as not to offend the Court, think through your argument prior to entering the courtroom, do not argue with the Court or the opposing counsel/litigant, speak only to the Court not the other party and STAY CALM.

I never recommend signing any documents or representing yourself in proper person without at least consulting with an attorney to become more knowledgeable as to your rights.