Whether or not you should hire a family law attorney depends on your specific situation and legal needs. However, it is generally advisable to seek to assistance of a licensed and experienced attorney when possible. It is important to consult with a qualified family law attorney who can evaluate the specifics of your situation and provide advice tailored to your needs. They can help you understand your legal rights and options and guide you through the legal process if you decide to proceed with legal representation. If you are trying to decide whether you should hire a family law attorney, here are some more specific things to consider:
- Self-Help & Case Complexity: Self-help has its limits. For example, some courts offer forms and self-help centers for family court litigants who cannot or do not wish to have an attorney. Often times, these forms are simplified and a more complex case might not fit the pattern or structure of the self-help form. This is one area in which having an attorney, who can draft documents without the use of pre-printed forms, would be advantageous.
- Legal knowledge & Experience: Family law can be intricate and it is constantly evolving. The law is full of rules, exceptions to those rules, and exceptions to those exceptions. Finding a rule or a legal principle may not be enough to fully answer your question, as there may be an exception or a nuance to the rule that a licensed attorney may recognize immediately or with some research. Hiring an attorney who specializes in family law can ensure that you have a knowledgeable advocate by your side, which may well grant you some peace of mind.
- Objective Advice & Perspective: Family law matters can be emotionally charged, and having an attorney can provide you with an objective perspective. Sometimes, it may be difficult to hear that your case is not as viable as you may have thought, but knowing the weaknesses of your position can help you plan for realistic possible outcomes and to prepare yourself, emotionally, financially, and otherwise for the future. Also, competent attorney can help you make informed decisions based on the law rather than emotions, by keeping you focused on the goals of your case and guiding you down the appropriate pathways toward those goals.
- Procedures & Deadlines: Family law cases often involve adherence to specific procedures and deadlines. In some instances, the procedure for a family law case may be affected by statutes, case law, state-wide rules of procedure, local rules, and judicial division preferences. Understanding each layer of these rules and requirements, and harmonizing them can be daunting and confusing. An attorney can assist you in preparing and filing the necessary documents correctly and on time, minimizing the risk of errors or delays.
- Communication & Persuasion: Clear and effective communication is essential to good advocacy. Attorneys can spend a great deal of time communicating about the law and often have experience with what is and is not effective in conveying a position or an argument. Having an experienced attorney, who has insight into how to best express your position and the arguments in support your position can improve your chances of success.
- Anticipating Consequences: When it comes time to finalize a settlement agreement or a proposed court order, a competent attorney can help you select the best language for expressing what needs to happen in the future and navigating the consequences of how an agreement or an order will read. It is worth keeping in mind that a judge is not a mind reader and may not always understand what a litigant meant to say in their fillings or agreement. Even if a judge does understand what the parties meant, future enforcement of an agreement or order may be before a different judge. Clearly and fully expressing an agreement or a proposed order can help avoid or minimize future disputes.
Disclaimer: This publication is for educational and informational purposes only, and represents Huffman-Shayeb Law, PLLC’s understanding of the present state of Arizona law. This publication does not constitute legal advice or counsel, and should not be construed as a comment on the merits of any particular case. It should be noted that the laws and requirements of the State of Arizona may change at any time and that this information may not be complete or correct.