The decision to represent one’s own interests in court proceedings is never an easy one. Watching the drama play out in the unfolding Dylan Roof trial is a reminder of this. Mr. Roof, a white supremacist accused of perpetrating the horrifying Mother Emanuel shootings, recently petitioned the federal court to allow him to serve as his own attorney. It seems he recognized the gravity of that error rather quickly; less than a week after firing his lawyers he asked to have them back.
Perhaps the only thing litigants in Family Court cases have in common with a mass murderer like Roof is that they, too, can be faced with a decision about representing themselves. The motivating factors may be different, but the end result should probably not be: representing yourself in any sort of litigation is almost always a bad decision, in Family Court or in any court. Why? Below are the top three reasons why you should hire a Charleston divorce lawyer to represent you in Family Court:
1. You don’t know what you’re doing.
What you don’t know about the law and procedure is going to hurt you. The fact of the matter is that Charleston divorce lawyers have spent years in school, and even more importantly, have years of experience in handling cases just like yours. But to you, everything you encounter is a brand new learning experience. Inside a courtroom is no place to learn things. You don’t know the law, you don’t know the rules, chances are you don’t even know where to stand in the courtroom. Divorce or any other type of family law litigation is a life-altering event. If you want your life altered for the better, best to hire Charleston divorce lawyers to help you.
2. The “check the box” forms on the Internet are inadequate.
I get calls from approximately two dozen potential clients every year, folks who thought they could print the forms on the Internet, fill them out, and be done with the process. For one reason or another, they’ve failed. Often times they’ve run afoul of some rule they didn’t know they needed to read, they’ve done the paperwork wrong, or they find that the forms just don’t even address particular needs they have. I sympathize with them; I’ve been handling these sorts of cases for over ten years, and I’ve struggled to make sense of some of the paperwork these folks have brought to my office. The ones who hire me to fix the problems that they are having almost universally express deep relief at “not having to mess with it anymore.” Many times, Charleston divorce lawyers can handle all of the paperwork, get everything squared away, and literally all you have to do is show up. It’s worth it.
3. You have no perspective.
Those who are involved in divorce litigation often cannot see the forest for the trees. This lack of perspective manifests itself in fighting over petty things, like the china or the curtains, while making huge and uninformed concessions over the big things, like custody or tax liabilities. The best Charleston divorce lawyers understand this, and also understand that a big part of their job as your attorney is to provide you with some perspective and to protect you from these problems. Conversely, the best Charleston divorce lawyers also know how to leverage a self-represented litigant’s lack of perspective to their own client’s advantage. Most will gladly let you have the dog in return for waiving your rights to their client’s pension. Don’t let this happen to you.
Financial concerns are often the largest factor in the decision to represent yourself in court. But many times folks are surprised about how affordable Charleston divorce lawyers can be. If you’d like to discuss your options, please call us at 843-571-0537 or contact us here.