While representing yourself may seem like a way to save money, it can be a risky choice, especially for those with complicated cases. In addition to deadlines and paperwork, representing yourself means understanding the laws around child custody in their state. Unfortunately, learning what you need to know about a case can take a lot of time. Here are some scenarios to look for when considering if you should hire a lawyer or not.
Your Ex Hired a Lawyer
If you know your ex has hired an attorney, then it may be time for you to consider hiring one for yourself. While having an attorney does not always mean things will get controversial, it is understandable to be nervous about other parent’s access to legal counsel. A custody lawyer has specific education and experience of family law to help you research and prepare for your case.
Circumstances of Your Case Have Significantly Changed
Sometimes you start with a simple case that gets more and more. If the circumstances have changed, may be time to consult with a lawyer. Some things can make you case more complicated, including:
- A parent has remarrying or moving in with a new partner
- A parent turning confrontational
- A parent not following the custody agreement
- A parent relocating to another city, state, or country
- Evidence of domestic violence, child abuse, or neglect
You are Not Familiar with Family Law
Navigating a child custody case on your own requires a lot of research and planning. Attorneys, who must thoroughly understand the laws that apply to their case, are singularly responsible for keeping track of paperwork, deadlines, and court dates. They understand the court process and can help you understand each step of your case. Your attorney is not just a legal expert – they advocate for you. When you hire an experienced attorney, you can rest a little easier knowing someone who manages your case is looking out for your best interests.
Your Partner Changed Their Mind
If your ex has changed their mind about sharing custody or you believe that they will try to convince the court that you are are not able to take care of the kids on yoru own, you should talk to a lawyer. All courts use the best interests of the child when it comes to determining custody arrangements and the other parent generally must provide a substantial proof that you are unfit. And because the risk is so high in situations like these, it will benefit you to have representation.
Your Ex Prevents You from Seeing the Kids
If your ex is trying to get between your relationship with your kids, you should consider hiring an attorney. Whether your ex is blocking you from contacting your children, denying time you spent with them, or canceling at the last minute – these behaviors justify support from a lawyer who can help you solve this issue.
Enroll in Treatment or Take Classes
If the court is requiring you to take parenting classes, anger management classes, or to enroll in drug or alcohol treatment, then you are probably already at a disadvantage in the eyes of the court. In these situations, it is best to hire a lawyer to represent you. The only exception would be if all parents in your county or state must participate in parenting or anger management classes as a standard part of any child custody proceeding. Some jurisdictions require some parental education for all child custody cases, in which case, you will be on equal footing with your child’s other parent.
However, If the court has ordered treatment or classes outside of practice, that means the court has already deemed certain behaviors of yours a potential risk. It is unlikely that you will be able to get out of classes or treatment, they will be able to skillfully advocate for you and present your compliance, willingness to improve, and merits to the judge.