June 18, 2014 By Paul Wallin
Family Law Court
You should never represent yourself in family law court

Representing yourself in court may sound like a good idea. You may think you are saving on legal fees and the stress of finding a trustworthy attorney. Unfortunately, almost all divorces involve complicated legal details and affect your future finances and child custody.

That is why having an attorney who is experienced in these matters is extremely crucial to obtaining the best possible legal outcome for you and your family.

Leslie Moore quickly discovered that representing herself in a family law case can lead to an outcome that she was not hoping for.

Leslie Moore. v. Terry Moore (Super. Ct. No. FL034462)

Leslie Moore and Terry Moore were married for over 27 years. Terry worked as a police officer with the Chico Police Department while Leslie served as a homemaker. Leslie’s first two attorneys requested to withdraw from the case and the court granted each of them permission. As a result, Leslie decided to represent herself in the divorce proceedings.1

Leslie represented herself during trial on various issues such as division of Terry’s retirement and employment benefits, property division, and spousal support. Terry was ordered to pay spousal support in the amount of $900 per month. Leslie was awarded the family’s home, which was worth $230,000. The court also awarded her with half of her ex-husband’s retirement benefits.

However, Leslie was not awarded a share of Terry’s retiree medical reimbursement account or his accrued sick leave and was ordered to make an equalization payment of $153, 648.2

Leslie felt that her ex-husband’s retirement and employment benefits were unfairly divided. She also felt that her spousal support payment was unfair and that the trial judge was very biased because she was not an attorney. As a result, she appealed the court’s decision.

The Court of Appeals reviewed Leslie’s case. They ultimately decided that she did not provide sufficient evidence to show that her spousal support award was too low or that she should have been awarded attorney’s fees and costs3. On the issue of the court’s bias towards Terry Moore’s attorney, the Court of Appeals felt that she was not able to provide sufficient evidence.

4 Reasons for Hiring a Divorce Attorney

The “do-it-yourself” route may work in some rare circumstances, but Leslie Moore’s case shows this is not your best option in family law matters. Here’s why you should hire a private family law attorney to help you with your case:

  1. Reduce Stress

Going through a divorce or family law matter is a sure way to add stress to your life. An attorney can help relieve this stress by gathering all of the necessary information and evaluating your case to get you the best possible legal result. This gives you more time to continue focusing on taking care of yourself and your family.4

  1. Help Avoid Mistakes

While Leslie Moore felt that she could handle her case, her unhappiness with the results proved otherwise. By hiring an attorney, you are safeguarding yourself from forgetting, overestimating, or underestimating your finances and the value of your assets. Your attorney’s job is to accurately and effectively represent you in this regard.5

  1. Clear and Binding Agreement

By having an attorney represent your needs, you can ensure that the proper legal documents are being provided to the court. A family law attorney is trained and experienced in hearing your desires in your case and appropriately stating those to the court. By representing yourself, you may accidentally tell the court things that you did not intend to.6

  1. Avoiding Delays

Managing your life and dealing with all of the other issues related to your family is stressful and difficult enough. With all of the events surrounding your personal life, it can be difficult to meet certain deadlines regarding your paperwork and documentation for your family law case. Failing to meet these deadlines can result in significant delays.7

Call the Divorce Lawyers at Wallin & Klarich Today

Going through a divorce is going to be a stressful situation for you, but choosing to handle the case by yourself is only going to enhance that stress. Your attorney will allow you to breathe by representing your interests accurately and efficiently. The experienced attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have been successfully handling our clients’ family law matters for over 30 years.

With offices located in Orange County, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Torrance, Riverside, West Covina, Victorville, Ventura, San Diego and Sherman Oaks, our knowledgeable family law attorneys are available to help you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (888) 749-7428 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.

1. http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/C065210.PDF

2. Id.

3. http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/C065210.PDF

4. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-centeno/5-reasons-that-you-need-a_b_3937368.html

5. Id.

6. Id.

7. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-centeno/5-reasons-that-you-need-a_b_3937368.html

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