Recently I heard something disturbing from a new client. While representing herself, she had gotten a bad custody ruling from a particular judicial officer. What did she do about it? Nothing. She decided to instead wait until that judicial officer moved out of the Family Law assignment, retired, or died before she sought her custody orders revisited. Meanwhile, unfortunately, three years had passed and her time with her children had been unnecessarily curtailed.
Many think family law proceedings are simple, so why would you need a lawyer? If in a custody/visitation scenario you have to show what is in the “best interest of the children,” what is the purpose of an attorney?
First and foremost, a local attorney--who has experience practicing before all of the local judicial officers--will likely know all their likes and dislikes, and therefore can file for their recusal if need be. On a related note, the same attorney can present the facts in such a fashion that a layperson does not have the training to do. Most importantly, though many family law proceedings (especially with pro per litigants) have an air of informality to them, family law litigation is civil litigation. California Code of Civil Procedure applies, as does the Evidence Code.
Since I cannot imagine what else could be more important that litigating the future of one’s life with their children, you would want as much help as possible in presenting the case to the judge. And, in the event the judge screws up, you want to have had a good record set-up so you can have a meaningful appellate review. (For the importance of this issue in more detail, see our blog entry from March 22nd.)
Please don’t wait until after you get a bad ruling to come see us. Make an appointment to discuss your case with us from the earliest stage; your future and the future of your family is worth it. I cannot imagine what is worth more. Our firm offers free consultations, with offices in Riverside, Temecula, and Anaheim.
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