posted in Family Law
on Friday, August 31, 2012.
According to reports, the recession has caused an influx of people representing themselves in court. This has caused many people without proper training seeking to receive a favorable determination in their divorce cases, particularly in alimony and child custody determinations. This often clogs up court proceedings, because, unlike attorneys, their professions are often not contingent on their understanding of pertinent laws and rights.
One woman from Connecticut has been representing herself for three years. Her case involves visitation, child support and paternity, all of which could determine the future well-being of her child. Despite having been directly involved in the process for three years, she says that she still gets nervous when she is in front of a room full of strangers.
She is 23 years old and, like many others, cannot afford court costs. But due to the increase of people representing themselves with minimal knowledge of what they should be arguing and what they can and cannot do in court, groups are pressuring attorneys into providing more free and low-cost services to those in need.
The number of people living in the U.S. with incomes that are at or below 125 percent of the federal poverty level may hit the highest it has ever been this year: 66 million. According to government figures, a family of four operating at that level of income makes $28,800 per year.
Data shows that fiscal year 2011 saw at least one self-represented party in 85 percent of the 45,000 family law cases in the state of Connecticut. High percentages of this occurrence are also being reported in other states. A survey of the American Bar Association found that three-quarters of attorneys believe that a person representing her or himself is more likely to lose their case. Be sure to keep this in mind when considering the option of going into a family law court without an attorney.