By: Danica Joan Dockery, M.Ed
Family court can be a stressful and emotional experience for those involved. While hiring an attorney is always an option, some individuals choose to represent themselves in court. As a mediator, I have witnessed both successful and unsuccessful attempts at self-representation. In this blog, I will share some insights on representing yourself in family court.
Understand the Court System
The first step to representing yourself in family court is to understand the court system. Familiarize yourself with the rules and procedures of the court, and the laws that apply to your case. Most courts have resources available online or in-person to help you understand the process. You can also seek the assistance of a mediator or legal aid clinic to guide you through the process.
Organize Your Case
Proper organization of your case is key to success in family court. Collect and organize all relevant documents such as contracts, financial statements, medical records, and any other evidence that supports your case. Ensure that you have multiple copies of these documents to provide to the court and opposing party if necessary.
Know Your Rights and Obligations
It is essential to know your rights and obligations before representing yourself in family court. Understand the legal issues involved in your case and how they may affect your rights and obligations. Seek legal advice or consult with a mediator to gain a better understanding of your legal rights and obligations.
Be Prepared for Court
Preparation is key to successfully representing yourself in family court. Make sure that you have all the necessary documents and evidence to support your case. Dress appropriately for court and be respectful to the judge and opposing party. If you have difficulty speaking in public or articulating your arguments, practice beforehand to feel more confident.
Mediation can be a useful tool in resolving family court disputes without going to trial. A mediator can help you and the opposing party negotiate an agreement that works for both parties. If you are representing yourself in family court, consider using mediation as a way to reach a resolution that is fair and just.
Representing yourself in family court can be challenging, but it is possible to be successful with proper preparation and understanding of the court system. Seek legal advice or consult with a mediator to gain a better understanding of your rights and obligations. Collect and organize all relevant documents and evidence to support your case, and be respectful and prepared for court. Consider mediation as a way to reach a resolution without going to trial. Remember, the goal is to achieve a fair and just outcome for all parties involved.
Danica Joan Dockery is a certified family mediator, anger management/domestic violence specialist and co-parenting expert, the author of “A Happy Child Co-Parenting Course” a court ordered family stabilization course for parents who are navigating the challenges of co-parenting after a breakup. She is also the founder of Kids Need Both, Inc and co-creator of the Hope4Families.net platform, a collaborative community that provides education, support and resources to families.