If you’ve received a contempt notice for failure to pay a child support order, be aware that the judge can put you in jail. The constitution guarantees you the right to an attorney when your liberty is at stake, but your county may or may not provide this to you; assume that you won’t be able to speak to an attorney.
A family law case involves at least two people, and more if there’s children. The judge knows this, and So should you. Even if you’re the reasonable one and your ex is busting your chops the whole way, you chose that person as a spouse and/or co-parent, or at least didn’t run away sooner after the warning signs.
Traditionally, people get a lawyer for their family court case. Hiring a lawyer means you trust someone else who’s educated, experienced, and knows how to study the particular facts and apply them to the law. That’s the best way to get help, but also the most expensive. How do you prepare without the money to pay a lawyer?
“Never hate your enemies. It clouds your judgment. Never let anyone know what you’re thinking.” Two wise sentences from Michael Corleone to his Nephew from the Godfather. Unfortunately, this has deep, close application to family court. I’ll explain.
The family law Court system puts father and mother against each other in a legal war, and parents often try to completely destroy the co-parent because of the pain, raw emotion, and deep wounds that were inflicted from the relationship or the separation. Ideally, they’d support each other for the benefit of their child, but the reality is that the pain and emotion of the break up can be so intense that it causes aggression, irrational behavior, and destruction to one or both parents.
You researched the forms, the law, and the procedure, and you filed a Petition, or were served with one. Now its time to prepare for the conference, hearing, and/or trial. In preparing your case, ask yourself 3 questions:
1) What do I want the judge to order?
2) Why should the judge give it to me; and
3) How am I going to prove it.