Attorneys, when they have legal issues, almost always hire their own counsel. So, this by itself may help you answer this question. If attorneys are willing to spend their own money on hiring counsel to address their legal issue(s), do you not you think that speaks volumes if attorneys are worth it for your custody case? The only reason the topic even comes up is because there is no insurance to cover legal fees like medical insurance. If there were legal insurance, then you can certainly bet this question would not arise—at least with any frequency.
This noted if you have children and seek custody and/or an equitable division of the assets/liabilities of the marital estate (if this is a divorce case) how will you do so at trial if you do not know the laws that apply and what to argue? It is very important to understand that an individual who elects to represent himself will be given no deference for lack of legal knowledge or other legal protocol. In fact, Indiana law is very clear that a pro se litigant is held to the same standard as a licensed attorney.
For most people, their children are what they live and work for and to handle your own domestic case yourself will very likely result in a negative outcome for you and your case. Most good domestic attorneys have seen this occur over and over again. A pro se litigant shows up with a stack of “exhibits” that could well cause them to prevail in their case. However, because the exhibits are not in an admissible format and a pro se will not know how to lay the evidentiary foundation for the evidence, his or her evidence will most likely be excluded and not considered.
Think about this for a second, you as a potentially pro se litigant and parent may have won your case if you had an attorney. You lost because you did not.
This noted, many litigants simply believe if they lose, they will move to modify custody and child support. However, that is not possible. To modify physical custody, you have to demonstrate in the evidence that there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the last order under the factors the court is to consider under the This type of re-litigation plan is sure to fail.
As it relates to modification of child support, this is at least as hard as it is to modify custody, particularly within twelve (12) months. Pursuant to the controlling statute, “[child support] modification may be made only upon a showing so substantial and continuing as to make the terms [of child support] unreasonable; or (2) upon a showing that (A) a party has been ordered to pay an amount in child support that differs by more than twenty percent (20%) from the amount that would be paid by applying the guidelines; and (B) the order requested to be modified or revoked was issued at least twelve (12) months before the petition requesting modification was filed.”
If this is a divorce case, there are not any potential do-overs even with the passage of time (unlike custody and child support). The property division made by the court is final after thirty (30) days unless it is appealed. The only thing the court can do is enforce the property division order. It cannot change it. Ultimately, a person who represents himself in contested custody property dispute matter has a “fool for a client” and cannot do much more to harm their case if they intentionally tried.
This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Associates who practice domestic law across Indiana. This blog is provided as general educational material to help make you a more informed legal consumer. The blog is not written to be relied upon in any given matter or issue. This blog is not legal advice. It is an advertisement.