In a child custody case, those who try to represent themselves tend to run into significant problems. Every person who is facing a child custody case needs an attorney, for two main reasons:
Reason #1: Knowledge of the law
Becoming an attorney requires 3 years of law school, after a person has already obtained a 4-year college degree. Those 7 years of education give a person the foundation they need to then further study for and pass the Bar Exam to become an attorney. From there, the attorney gains experience handling cases. It is that education and experience that allows an attorney to properly handle their client’s case.
People who attempt to represent themselves lack that legal knowledge and experience, and all the reading of statutes and caselaw in the world will not allow a non-attorney to suddenly understand the law. Indeed, the greatest harm in cases often occurs when a person lulls themselves into believing that they understand the law when in fact they do not.
Reason #2: Emotions
Cases involving a person’s children are among the most emotional cases in our legal system, and with good reason. Caring about our children is at the core of what it means to be a human, and virtually every parent feels deeply for their children. Facing a case where the court will decide who has the children and what the parenting schedule will look like is, by definition, an emotional situation.
Anytime a person is facing an emotional situation, their judgment, reasoning, and ability to advocate for themselves will be diminished by that emotion. When such a person tries to be their own lawyer, then Instead of being able to come up with good arguments to counter those made by the opposing party, they will be bogged down with anger, fear, sadness, indignation, etc. That will lead to a less-than-effective presentation of their case, with a negative impact upon the outcome of the case.
Combining the two
When a person who does not know the law and is too emotionally close to the case attempts to be their own lawyer in a custody battle, the result tends to be that the case is not properly prepared or presented in court. Since the court is required to rule based upon the evidence and arguments presented, an unfavorable outcome for such a pro se (unrepresented) person is common. That unfavorable outcome can last for years and have a profound effect upon a person and their child.