Why It’s Dangerous to Represent Yourself
Judge won’t change an order unless there’s been a “material change in circumstance
Put simply: if you represent yourself and don’t fair well - which often happens when people try to navigate the waters of divorce without professional help - it’s very difficult, usually impossible to fix. Once a judge makes a decision on a case, it sets a foundation for the case. So the judge is highly unlikely to retract. In fact, generally, unless there’s been an error or substantial misrepresentation, a judge won’t change an order unless there’s been a “material change in circumstance.” You never get a second chance to make a first impression. The first time you’re in court on a case, you need to get it right - it’ll set the tone for the rest of the case.
Example: Family law
Example: Susan did a lot of family law research online. In fact she researched so much that she felt like she’d be fine handling her child support case. How difficult can this be? Her ex, Jack is “good with numbers,” and what he put on his financial statement wasn’t entirely accurate. Jack got a favorable child support order. Susan now has to convince a judge to change the order.
Example: Father’s rights
Joe did a lot of research on father’s rights, and was confident he’d do well representing himself. He’s articulate, confident, and at the end of the day, the judge will give credit to an involved father right? After hearing, the judge ordered far less visitation time than Joe expected. Absent any significant changes, will the judge reconsider next time Joe goes to court on this case? Highly unlikely.
Simple Tips to Hire An Attorney
Hire an attorney that focuses on divorce and family law practice.
Beware of free consultations because you may be getting either a sales pitch or unreliable information. You’re better off investing in a reliable assessment and quality advice.
Beware of attorneys that try to excite your passion, such as, “We’ll send him a message.” Those types of attorneys will probably waste your money and hurt your case.
Hourly billing is the best fit for a contested divorce. While flat fee arrangements work well in uncontested divorces, if used in your standard contested divorce, it may result in either you overpaying or your attorney being under-compensated, which may not bode well for you.