Divorce and family law cases are not enjoyable experiences. For almost any party, they seek to avoid having to have their matter end up in the family court.
For many parties, they might try marital counseling first. They also might try mediation or other methods or alternative dispute resolution to try to reach a settlement outside of court.
Nevertheless, in some circumstance, the divorce or family law matter ends up in court. It might be that the other party files the case in court and simply proceeds. When a party is served papers, they have no choice but to file a response in court within the deadlines. Otherwise, they could be found in default.
Default would result in the other party essentially getting whatever the relief is they are seeking in the case. To give an analogy, default is like forfeiting in sports because your team did not show up to the game.
In other cases, an individual might feel as if they have no choice but to file their case. They might not be able to see their kids without a court order. An individual might feel as if they need a court order so that bills are paid and their needs can be met.
In other circumstances, an individual might just be finally read to move on with their life. After trying counseling and mediation to no avail, they might file as if they just need to proceed so that their life can get better.
A question many parties ask if about lawyers and fees. Many feel as if they cannot afford a divorce or family lawyer. Many might be able to afford a lawyer, but they feel as if it is going to be a struggle. It might be that money is not available now, but that it will be freed up about the divorce or family law matter is over. Or, they might feel like the other party has the money available to contribute to their fees.
What can a party do if they do not feel as if they can afford an attorney. This list is not all-inclusive, but below are some options to consider:
1.) Some may have the money needed in order to pay the initial deposit (or retainer) for a lawyer. From there, what they might need to do is seek an order of fees from the court if the other party is capable of contributing. Thus, if can be important to seek an order for attorneys fees and suit money on account pedente lite quickly.
2.) Some should consider seeking out a trusted or family member who can help. Oftentimes, there are others out there that know your situation and who will be willing to help. While it can be hard to ask others, if you have no other options, consider swallowing your pride and doing it. Many will be more willing to help than you think.
3.) It might be possible for some individuals to seek out a loan or use a credit card to pay their lawyer fees. While this is not always the most appealing option (and can result in debt), it might be the only option for some in order to secure representation. Ultimately, once the case is over, and money is freed up, hopefully, these loans and credit cards can be paid off. But the reality is that if you do not get a lawyer, and the case does not go well, it can often cost more in the long-run to try to fix the situation.
4.) If none of the above are possibilities, there are organizations in most jurisdictions that offer pro bono legal representation. While not everybody qualifies based on their income level, it is vital to check with the pro bono agencies that are available in your jurisdiction if you absolutely cannot get the funds to pay for an attorney.
Ultimately, divorce and family law matters are important types of cases. Just like you would want a doctor to help you with your medical care or a surgical procedure, anybody going through a divorce or family law matter will also want legal counsel.
While some might consider representing themselves pro se, the effects of these cases can be long-lasting. There are also intricacies and considerations to these kinds of cases that only an attorney can really know. For example, what if there is a trial or a hearing in your case? Do you have the skills to do this yourself? Further, do you have the knowledge to know how to file the appropriate legal paperwork with the precise language that is often needed.
Unless an individual has had legal training, the answer to these questions is probably “no” for most parties. Thus, securing an attorney to help guide you through the process is almost always critical.