Hiring a family law attorney or representing yourself as a pro se litigant is a difficult decision for many. You have the right to handle any legal matter yourself, but that is not necessarily always a good idea. There’s an old saying that you get what you pay for, and in the context of family law, if you don’t pay anything, you get nothing. In the criminal justice system, those who are charged with a crime and cannot afford an attorney can have one appointed to them for free. There is no such right in a divorce, child custody, child support, equitable distribution, or any other family law case. But when deciding on hiring a family law attorney, where should you start? In this blog, we hope to provide some guidance on that. We will try not to sound to biased.
Like all our other blogs, this is intended for informational purposes only and is not mean to substitute the advice and counsel of family law attorney.
Why is hiring a family law attorney important?
Family law is complicated for someone who does not deal with it on a regular basis. Among other things, there can be complaints, answers, motions, and notices of hearings to be filed. There may be discovery to request and trials to prepare for. In addition, there can be readiness conferences, mediations, and parenting education classes that you have to attend. There’s a lot to consider. Yes, this can all be learned, but the fact of the matter is, someone who representing themselves in a complex legal proceeding would likely not even know what questions to ask.
The judge can’t help you
Judge’s are supposed to be fair and impartial to both parties and, therefore, cannot give either party legal advice. Even if the other party is represented by an attorney and you are not, the judge can’t help you. If you file something wrong or you miss a deadline, you may not know it until it is too late to remedy the situation.
Considerations in hiring a family law attorney
There are many things to consider in determining whether the family law attorney you intend to hire is the right fit for you. These things include but are not limited to the following:
- The hourly rate the attorney charges
- Whether the attorney handles the particular type of case that you need help with
- Whether the attorney has any conflicts in dealing with your particular case
- The style of representation you are most comfortable with
- The manner of communication which you desire
What will a family law attorney do for me?
Attorneys provide a wide variety of services, including advice and counseling, drafting and filing documents, trial preparation, and just about everything necessary to complete your case. Amongst other things, a family law attorney will make sure of the following:
- That you have some realistic expectations about the outcome of your case
- That you are complying with everything you are required to comply with in your case
- That you are aware of your court dates
- That you are prepared for trial
- That your story comes across to the judge in a coherent, concise and organized manner
After hiring a family law attorney, the attorney guides you through the process, helps you through the process and makes the process as least painful possible, under the circumstances. You are never required to hire an attorney but it is usually in your best interest to do so.
If you would like to set up a consultation with a family law attorney, contact us.