As a parent, you may feel like all of the expenses associated with raising a child leave you short on cash. This becomes even more apparent when you're trying to budget for a child custody lawyer.
One option that you may contemplate is pro se child custody filing; this means filing for child custody on your own, without a lawyer. Here's what you need to know about filing for child custody pro se.
1. The Appropriateness of Filing Pro Se Depends on Your Case
Whether filing pro se is an option for your custody case varies greatly on the specifics of the case. If you foresee yourself and your ex-partner frequently going to court to battle out numerous custody issues, pro se filing isn't recommended.
Should your partner opt for legal representation, you'll be at a disadvantage trying to represent yourself. It's difficult for the average person to present their case while remaining objective and maintaining a thorough understanding of the child custody laws in your area. You also have to consider the numerous hours that go into gathering information (the discovery process) and filing the appropriate court documents.
One situation where pro se filing may be viable is when you expect to see minimal or no time in a courtroom. Maybe you and your ex-partner just need to get the details of your informal child custody agreement officially in writing and already agree on the specifics of sharing time with your children.
2. There Are Alternatives to Pro Se Filing
There are alternatives that fall between pro se filing and hiring an attorney to represent you in court. One option is to have an attorney assist with and review the child custody agreement you've drafted. Seeking the assistance of an attorney will ensure that the agreement is legally accurate and adheres to the laws in your state.
Another solution is to seek free or low-cost legal aid. Many states offer some form of legal assistance for individuals who meet certain income limitations; this legal assistance helps guarantee that everyone has access to legal help, regardless of their income.
3. Some States Do Have Resources for Pro Se Filers
If you've decided to file pro se, start with your state's official judicial branch website. It likely has numerous resources for individuals in a slew of different situations, including those who plan to file pro se.
You may be able to find a specific packet and detailed instructions specifically for pro se filers. Follow the instructions exactly and be thorough when providing any requested documentation; you'll need to adhere to any payment and documentation requirements for your filing to be valid.
For more information, contact a child custody lawyer with a firm like Hart Law Offices, PC.