If you asked me “should I represent myself in court” a couple of years ago, my answer would have been emphatically “YES!”. However, my answer today is “NO!”
Some Judges are pro-self-representation and are patient and understanding. Other Judges are not in favour or as patient towards self-represented parties. Talk among the Court corridors is that days with long lists of self-represented parties makes for quite an exhausting and trying day for the Judge.
Sure, self-representing costs you far less out of pocket… however, not having the right advice or the upper-hand of having a lawyer with you can cost you more in terms of parenting orders or financial orders.
When I separated, I had no idea where to go, what to do or how to handle my situation and the intricacies involved, so I engaged a lawyer. This isn’t the same story as a friend of mine who was the Applicant. The Applicant friend was self-represented and doing a great job at it too… that is until an interim order was NOT made in the Applicant’s favour, rather in favour of the legally-represented Respondent. At the next mention, everything changed: the Applicant arrived with legal representation who was familiar with how the Judge worked and the interim orders were altered accordingly into the Applicant’s favour.
Some of you may say that the initial interim orders may have been the result of the situation and others may attribute it to the legal representation. No one will ever know. However, I ask you “what price will you put on the outcome?” (especially in parenting).
Instead of self-representing, perhaps consider working with a lawyer. Be open with your lawyer about what you need and what restraints you have (even financial ones). Your legal counsel can advise how you can help reduce costs in your own case while working together for the biggest benefit and best outcome.
The tools available through the Divorce Answered website are designed to help save you money while working with your lawyer and, if you are fortunate enough, attempting to make out of court agreements with your ex-spouse.