Many individuals who are about to become involved in a New York family law matter, such as divorce, child custody, and support, or spousal maintenance, wonder whether they should hire a family law attorney to represent them or save some money and handle their own case.
While there is no law that requires you to secure legal counsel in a family law procedure, there are several good reasons for doing so, especially if your situation is a contentious one.Â Below is a list of the ways that a New York family law attorney can assist you with your case.
- Expert legal advocacy
New York family law is complicated and constantly changing as cases set new precedents. The average layperson likely wonâ€™t have the requisite knowledge to adequately represent him or herself, which puts one at a disadvantage if the other party has retained an attorney. A family law attorney will know what issues to prepare for, what outcomes you are reasonably entitled to under the law, and how to present your case in a thorough but concise manner for the judge.
- Objective support
An attorney can serve as a knowledgeable and impartial advisor when it comes to decisions about your case. They are not personally involved in your situation and are professionally committed to your best interests. While family and friends, especially those who have been in family court themselves, can be great supporters and sounding boards, they are not qualified to advise you.
- Awareness of court procedure
Pro se litigants are held to the same standards as attorneys when it comes to procedures like drafting, filing, and serving documents while adhering to certain deadlines. If you donâ€™t put a document together correctly or serve it as the law requires, then it can cause delays and other complications in your case. A New York family law attorney has the training and experience to follow legal procedures correctly.
- Serve as intermediary
When one party in a family law dispute is not represented by an attorney, theyâ€™re more likely to hear threats like â€œYouâ€™ll never see the kids again!â€ or â€œYouâ€™re not getting a cent from me, ever!â€ if they donâ€™t comply with their former spouseâ€™s demands. This is because they worry that such devastating outcomes are actually possible. The presence of your attorney can keep these threats in check or, at the very least, allow you to understand that they are legally insupportable.
- Your peace of mind
Family law proceedings can be stressful when youâ€™ve never encountered the system before. An attorney can help you understand what is happening, both in and out of the courtroom, which minimizes stress due to confusion and uncertainty. Thereâ€™s also little chance of you signing something that you donâ€™t completely understand, only to seriously regret it later.
The decision on whether or not you need a family law attorney is yours alone, but having competent legal advice and representation during a trying period in your life can give you more confidence and immeasurable peace of mind. Jayson Lutzky is a Bronx, NY family court attorney with more than 33 years of legal experience. Â He offers free in-person consultations for family court matters such as child custody and child support. Call 718-329-9500 to set up your appointment. Visit www.MyNewYorkCityLawyer.com for more information.