It may be tempting to try to handle your divorce or child custody case without an attorney. The cost of representation is often the most important factor for a party in a divorce. However, there are a lot of things to consider besides the financial expense of hiring an attorney. If your case is complex (Are there a lot of assets? Are there pension plans or retirement plans to be divided?), you probably do not want to handle your divorce yourself. If you and your spouse are unable to amicably co-parent (Are you unable to agree on issues such as parenting time or where your child will attend school?), you may want to have an attorney to help you through the custody and parenting time dispute.
It may be helpful to look at a recent study done by the American Bar Association, in which judges around the country were asked about their opinions on the impact of not having an attorney in a divorce. More than 60% of the judges interviewed believed that not having an attorney hurts parties in divorce cases. Why? Some of the problems that non-represented parties had were the failure to present necessary evidence to the trial judge (94% of judges saw that as a problem), the failure to effectively examine trial witnesses (85%) and making poor or ineffective arguments to the judge at trial (77%). The report is available here: AMA Report.
It is true that not every case requires an attorney, but when you are dealing with issues as important as custody and parenting time for your children, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Before you decide to hire an attorney, make sure that you meet with any prospective attorney to make sure that you and s/he are a good fit. You should also make sure that you clearly understand the financial arrangements that you make with any attorney you hire. Many attorneys offer alternative payment methods that may help you afford an attorney, such as payment each month by credit card instead of having to provide a retainer.
If you are looking for an attorney in the Portland, OR area, contact Bobzien McGuire today. You can reach our attorneys from 8-5 Monday through Friday at (503) 245-0894.