Although, you have the right to represent yourself in your divorce or in any other legal matter, you do so at your own risk. Recently, I was in Court waiting for my case to be called. While waiting, there were two cases that were being handled by the Court in which one of the parties decided to represent themselves. Each of these cases provide a good example of why NOT having a divorce attorney can hurt you.
CASE #1: Child Custody Case
This was a child custody case. The Mother represented herself, while the Father had an attorney. They had one child together. Prior to the summer and prior to going to Court, the Mother had most of the parenting time with the child. However, for the summer, she decided to let the child spend most of the time with the Father.
Now, after the summer, the Father brings a petition for custody to the Court. The Judge asks a lot of questions to both sides. Then the Judge asked the ultimate question to the Mother, which was: “Do you want to continue to allow the Father to have most of the time with the Child once school starts?”
If the Mother had an attorney, she would have known that the best way to answer this question was a simple “No”, with the second best answer would have been “I need time to consider this question.”
Instead, without an attorney, the Mother asked the Judge: “What are my rights?”. Since, the Judge can’t represent the Mother or give legal advice to the Mother, the Judge took this non-responsive answer as a way of saying that she was “OK” with the Father having the Child most of the time.
It was clear to me that without a child custody attorney, the Mother “froze” and was “unprepared” for the Court proceeding. With an attorney, the Mother clearly would have done much better.
CASE #2: DIVORCE CASE
This was a divorce case, where the Husband decided to represent himself and the Wife had an attorney. The parties had no children and so the only issues to be decided were the distribution of assets, spousal maintenance (alimony) and attorney fees.
Here, the Wife was the so-called “monied spouse”, as she earned significantly more income than the Husband. During testimony, the Husband testified that he owned the marital home prior to the marriage. It was only several years after the marriage that he put the Wife’s name on the Deed. What the Husband did not know was that his testimony was not sufficient to allow him to claim a credit for the portion of the home that was his “separate property.” If the Husband had a divorce attorney, the attorney would have brought forth evidence of how much the home was worth at the time he put the Wife’s name on the Deed. In this way, the Husband would have been entitled to a credit equal to that amount.
Because the Husband failed to put forth the correct evidence, he lost out on hundreds of thousands of dollars.
If you are getting divorced or have any issues involving children, you need an experienced attorney to represent your interests. You might think that you can represent yourself, but, there are too many areas of the law where you can make a vital mistake.
David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office, P.C. have represented hundreds of clients and can help you. If you need an experienced divorce or child custody attorney, then call David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office at 631-239-1702, email at email@example.com or visit our web site: www.dbnylaw.com.
The Badanes Law Office main office is in Northport, Suffolk County and he has a satellite office in Uniondale, Nassau County.
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