Can I represent myself, without a lawyer, in divorce court?
There is absolutely no law or rule which prevents you from acting for yourself, without the benefit of counsel. Having made that point perfectly clear, however, it is our judgment, based upon forty-eight years of experience, that to do so is an extremely serious mistake--one from which you may suffer for years to come.
You don't know the procedures to be followed, although you are held to the same standards as would be an experienced lawyer. The Court or court personnel are forbidden to give you legal advice and to "tell you what to do and how to do it."
Furthermore, and significantly more important, you are not a lawyer! You do not know the law and will, most likely, will not know the consequences of your actions or the rights and remedies to which you may be entitled under applicable law.
Finally, unlike trying to treat yourself for a medical condition instead of seeking treatment from a doctor, if you make one or more serious errors as you represent yourself in divorce court, you may never know that you made a mistake, or may not realize it until years have passed.
Remember, you can always call The Family Law Center, P. C. and obtain a "free consultation." Before you do anything, and before you make any decisions or take any action, take advantage of the opportunity to speak with us.
Can one lawyer represent both me and my spouse?
While "uncontested" cases frequent conclude with the involvement of only one lawyer, that lawyer is the representative and advocate for only one of the parties. Frequently,while the "other" spouse decides to enter into an agreement without retaining his or her own attorney, your attorney does not and, indeed, cannot represent both sides. The stringent rules of ethics require that an attorney zealously represent and advocate for his client. Thus, it is impossible for an attorney to work vigorously and faithfully for his client and, at the same time, give legal advice to the other side.
When The Family Law Center, P. C. represents you, we give you the very best representation possible. Since you, our client, are being faithfully and vigorously represented, we are really not concerned whether your spouse has hired an attorney. While we believe it is a serious mistake to go through a divorce or other serious family law matter without a lawyer dedicated to your sole interests and welfare, if your spouse chooses to make that serious mistake, you will always be protected by your own lawyer.
My spouse has filed for divorce and I have been contacted by my spouse's attorney with an invitation to contact the attorney to "try to work things out." Is it ever appropriate to contact my spouse's attorney?
This answer is easy. Never, never, absolutely never communicate with your spouse's attorney! Your spouse's attorney is working solely for his or her client--why should that attorney try to help you?
How long will my case take?
This answer depends upon the kind of case you have.
If your case is "uncontested," it might take as little as four weeks, from start to conclusion.
If your case requires "service by publication," it will probably be concluded in eight to ten weeks.
If your case is "contested," the answer is not so easy. The most significant factor which influences how long the case will take is "what does the other side do?" In other words, if your spouse takes a difficult stance and cannot be induced to be reasonable, and/or if your spouse hires a "difficult" or inexperienced lawyer, or if your case involves "complex" issues, it will take longer than it would if those factors were not present. "Simple" cases can seem to disintegrate into difficulties. "Complicated" cases can be resolved surprisingly easily if two reasonable and professional and experienced lawyers can identify "what is really important" and work diligently toward a satisfactory middle ground. A "contested" case can be resolved in as little as three months or, if an agreement cannot be reached and a contested trial is required, the resolution may take significantly longer.
If you exercise diligence in choosing your attorney, and if you maintain confidence that your lawyer is committed to working effectively in your best interests, the best viewpoint is "that it will take as long as it needs to take." This is not a very comforting or satisfactory answer, but, in reality, it is the only realistic one.
If you choose a lawyer who is committed to "keeping you in the loop" by regularly sharing with you all developments--favorable or otherwise--you will likely avoid feeling that "my case is taking far too long."
How much will my case cost?
If your case is either "uncontested" or utilizes "service by publication, during your free consultation, you will be quoted a "fixed" or "flat" fee and will be advised as to the amount of the required court costs.
In "contested" cases, the amount of any required fee, payment arrangements, hourly billing rates and all other aspects of cost and payment will be discussed by you with the attorney you consult and, ultimately, engage. While we will sincerely recommend that you meet with the highly experienced lawyer in our office, we have nothing to do with any of the economic or other issues of your case.