Robert Gougaloff ‘s Parent Alienation Blog

A blog about Parent Alienation

Legal Representation or In Pro Per…

Uuuhhhh…. this can be a touchy subject!!! Just a little disclaimer up front: This is not supposed to be a recommendation, advice or even an influence; it is merely my opinion, based on my very own experiences.

Family law has enjoyed a burgeoning of child custody cases of unparalleled proportions in the past 30 years. This dramatic increase has primarily been the result of two recent developments in the arena of child custody litigation: The replacement of the “Tender-Years Presumption” with the “Best-Interest-Of-The-Child Presumption” and the increasing popularity of the “joint custody” concept.

Unfortunately, the adversarial system of our judicial foundation, which determines divorce and child custody issues in our country (and most of the western world), can often work against the best interest of the involved children. It often defines “winning custody” not as the right to parent one’s children, but as the power to prevent someone else from parenting his children with the help of the government (Baskerville, Stephen (2007). Taken Into Custody – The War Against Fathers).

Additionally, more often than not, situations which started out as an amicable custody arrangement turned into a war of financial and emotional attrition as soon as bilateral legal counsel entered the scene, where the winners were the “legal counsel” and the losers were the torn-up families and emotionally challenged or even injured children.

Now that being said, I still maintain that legal counsel is a better idea than self representation if you have the financial means for it. I have personally been on both ends of the spectrum and I can submit to you that it is not easy to be “in pro per”, however, the pay off is that you are in complete control over your case and you have one distinct advantage: your motivation is that you are fighting for your childrens’ right to have equal access to both parents. Your attorney’s motivation on the other hand is usually the next paycheck.

So what is my perfect world? To have legal representation, but you control the case. In other words, you use your attorney to do all the footwork in court, but you author and proof all declarations, parenting plans, motions, OSCs etc.

P.S. There is a rather extensive collection of legal forms for your convenience to download on the “Resources” Page. These are specifically made for the California Family Court System. So, check with your local court rules in other States, whether these are applicable.

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September 7, 2008 - Posted by | General Information | , , ,

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