Look – I get it. Hiring an attorney is expensive. But have you ever thought about how much more expensive it could be to not hire an attorney?
You may say that my opinion is biased since I’m a family law attorney and would, of course, encourage you to hire me. But for the sake of presenting both sides to an argument, here is my argument on why you should represent yourself.
If you can answer YES to these 9 statements, then Pro Se representation may be right for you:
- You understand your case clearly enough to explain it to a judge
- You understand court procedure and how to properly present your case
- You have time to prepare evidence, make copies, file the paperwork in the required steps for the court, and present the opposing council with the necessary copies
- You have the time and resources to do legal research
- You are able to read, understand and appropriately respond in a timely matter to the other party
- Your case is simple
- You are prepared to argue or negotiate with the opposing attorney
- You can keep your cool when the other party lies or attacks your character
- Your case is not that important and if mistakes are made along the way, it’s ok
The bottom line is this: If you cannot afford to lose your case, you cannot afford to represent yourself. That’s not to say that just having an attorney guarantees you’ll get everything you ask for in the divorce. But without professional representation, 99% of the people reading this without a law degree don’t even stand a chance.
You may walk into court with your testimony ready and your evidence organized and highlighted, but how do you handle it when the opposing party objects 20 times during your testimony? You may not know how to respond and the court will not allow you to continue, or strike your comments from the record. What if you didn’t properly file your evidence? All of that evidence you worked on so hard can be tossed out quicker than you can say “I should have hired a lawyer.”
Sadly, it happens all of the time. You think all of the circumstances and evidence are in your favor. You rehearse it 100 times in your head. You show up to court prepared, organized and confident. But, as soon as its lights, camera, action in that courtroom – it’s a whole new ball game.
Especially if the other party is represented by council, expect everything you say, every piece of evidence you present, every question you ask to be criticized and countered.
If there is money on the line, if there is property on the line, if there are other assets on the line – and especially if there are children on the line – you absolutely cannot afford to have proper, experienced and professional legal representation. Otherwise, you face less time with your children than you deserve and less financial compensation than you’re rightfully owed (in the form of paying or receiving alimony, child support, asset separation, etc.)
Contact Flood Family Law to learn more about the benefits of experienced representation for your divorce or paternity case.