If you are currently involved in a divorce [whether contested or uncontested], a legal separation or a paternity case, the information in this guide will be useful in understanding some of the most important family law topics. On our family law website [www.SanDiegoDivorceLawyerHelp.com] we also have articles about many subjects which are not contained in this guide. If you have questions on an area which is not covered in this guide or the website as it is impossible to list all areas and issues, please feel free to send me an e mail personally at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to answer. It is imperative that you list your goals before starting this process since the strategies and techniques will be dependent on your goals. My hope is many find this useful and it assists them during a stressful and most difficult time of their lives.
Chapter One: Should I Hire An Attorney?
The first issue is whether you will represent yourself or hire an attorney. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.
The advantages of hiring an attorney is that you will have an experienced professional counseling and assisting you. In addition, the attorney will prepare all of the pleadings and make sure that they are timely filed and served in accordance with the local rules on current judicial council pleading forms. This is a very difficult area of the law to be a client and there is a “peace of mind” in knowing you are being represented by an aggressive attorney who will give you honest and frank advice and always look out after only your best interests which is non economical. Another advantage is that a divorce, legal separation or paternity is a very emotional case and it is not a recommended strategy to make decisions based on emotions. An attorney can help you be objective which will help your case.
The disadvantage is that hiring an attorney will cost money.
The advantage of representing yourself is that there are no legal fees and you can use the money you would pay to an attorney for your own expenses and family.
The disadvantage is that you are emotionally involved as above, do not know the law and do not know what is a realistic expectation. Many attorneys will offer a free and confidential consultation in which your specific case can be discussed so that you will have a realistic expectation.
No attorney can guarantee the result of any case however some realistic expectations should be able to be discussed. For example, in San Diego, all parent’s must attend the mandatory mediation before a Judge makes an order for a parenting plan [custody and visitation orders] with the exception of emergency orders due to abuse, neglect or molest. An attorney can discuss with you the procedure for this and, in this book, specific strategies are discussed for the mandatory mediation. Ultimately, of course, it is your decision whether or not to hire an attorney.
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