If you can’t afford a lawyer, you’re not alone. The vast majority of people in family court can’t either and don’t have lawyers. They go it alone. Depending upon where you live or who you ask, the number of self-reps can range anywhere from two-thirds to 90 percent. The first thing to ask yourself before you decide to go without you, is will it hurt you? Can you do it?
The reasons to get a lawyer are obvious: the stakes are high and you’re fighting over your children. Nothing matters more than family and your children, and what happens in court will affect you and them for a long time. Most people will tell you that you should get a lawyer especially if the other side has one.
But the reality is that you might not quality for free lawyer because you make too much, but you don’t earn enough to afford one. If that’s your situation, then you’re in really good company, because that’s most people – and this website is for you.
With the free videos on The Law Center YouTube channel, I try to educate people to make it easier for them to handle some matters yourself. If you don’t have a lawyer and the other side does, you’re at a disadvantage – that’s just a fact. But let’s look at why self-reps (people who represent themselves) do worse than people with lawyers.
Self-reps don’t know basic law and don’t know what they have to do to get what they want. Some don’t know how to present their evidence to a judge or to communicate clearly. Emotions run high, adrenaline clouds judgment, and non-lawyers don’t have the experience to know what to expect.
The good news is things have changed over the past 30 years or so for the better. It used to be that legal representation was all-or-nothing. You either retained a lawyer, or you didn’t. When you have a lawyer for the whole case, it is called full representation. The lawyer handles everything, including documents, written communication with the other side, investigation, court hearings, questioning witnesses, and arguing in court. If you didn’t get full representation, you were completely on your own.
But now things are different. if you can’t afford the traditional complete representation (and let’s face it, most people can’t), there’s a less expensive form of partial representation. Not all lawyers do it, but the lawyers who do call it “limited scope” representation or “unbundled services.” The internet and technology make it much easier to find these lawyers who are flexible with this partial representation and there’s more of us. We provide only what is needed rather than the real expensive all or nothing option.
This allows you to select from a menu of legal help and customize your representation. There’s really no limit to the type of arrangement you can have, you just have to spell it out in writing. For example, you can just have a lawyer represent you in court, but you draft all the paper work yourself. Or you may want to hire lawyer to handle the paperwork, but you can handle yourself in court. Limited scope representation is designed to be an affordable option where you can get some legal advice and guidance without having to come up with money you don’t have to get any help at all.
In summary, its not all or nothing with the entire legal industry any more. The profession doesn’t freeze out people who wont pay their whole retainer. There’s affordable options now where you can get the help that you can afford rather than over-paying for services you don’ t need. It might not be as good, but it’s MUCH better than nothing. If you need a lawyer, even if in only a limited capacity, click the “Request Consultation” button for a free case evaluation.