The Pro Se Survival Guide to Family Court

First things first, I would strongly encourage anyone to seek legal counsel prior to going to court. This is because the legal process, for lack of a better word, is CONFUSING. There are meticulous step-by-step procedures that must be followed with each request you make to the court. Something that seems as simple as being able to exercise your rights to see your own children, can and will quickly turn into a paperwork war that is easy to lose without the proper knowledge.

Because I know that attorneys are expensive…and because I have a huge heart…here is my advice:

#1. Be Organized

Organization is an important life skill. You always want to know where you can find the information you need. Just imagine being in a courtroom, representing yourself, all eyes are on you and you’re nervously shuffling through papers. It’s not a good feeling and it’s not a good look. Judges are people too, they pick up on the small things just as we do. The more organized you look is a plus. The more organized you actually are will help you have a smoother process in presenting your case to the judge. Also, bring a notebook to take notes, and make copies of what you want to provide as exhibits so that you can hold on to your originals.

shuffling through papers

#2. Do your research

Do your research on the issue you are going to court for. Granted, there may not be any articles online that spoon-feed you the answers to all of your questions (this is because lawyers gotta get paid for something lol), but diligent research can point you in the right direction of what you need bring to court in order to successfully prove your position. Research can also help you with the actual trial process and the technicalities associated with it. Small things such as knowing a few legal objections can help you tremendously. Take your time, and try to gain an understanding of the trial process because it is not for the faint of heart. I would also suggest you go on to the court’s website, oftentimes they have forms you may need to fill out and you can familiarize yourself with the court’s rules.

research

#3. Keep your composure

No cursing. No slick remarks. No arguing with witnesses. Nothing. It goes without saying how stressful court can be. Doing it alone makes it that much more stressful, so it is natural for your emotions to be at an extreme level of intensity. I get it. Unfortunately, exploding in court does not make you look better than your opposing party. Take a deep breath and push through. Your emotions can take a back seat to the task at hand; winning your case!

calm down

I can’t provide any legal advice, but feel free to share what you have learned through your experience of representing yourself! I would love to hear your stories! And as always, thanks for reading.

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