In California, does a party need to hire an attorney for their divorce or parentage case? The short answer: It depends.
A party in a family law case is not required to hire an attorney at any point in their case, and is allowed to represent themselves. But is it a good idea?
Some people may be able to figure out the paperwork themselves, read up on the relevant laws and information, and present their best foot forward in their documents, in their declarations, and in court. Many other people may find the process to be daunting and may not understand all the nuances and how to present the case in the best way possible. For the latter, it may be wise to hire an attorney to advise you of your rights and options and help you put your best foot forward.
But what if you want to hire an attorney but can't afford one? If the other party has more income and assets than you, you can request that the court order the other side to pay some or all of your reasonable attorney's fees and costs of your case. Under Family Code §2030 the court will consider whether an award of attorney's fees and costs is appropriate, whether there is a disparity in access to retain funds, and whether one party is able to pay for the legal representation of both parties. An experienced family law attorney can assess the financial situation and advise you of your chances of getting an award of attorney's fees and costs.
Other options to keep your legal costs low could include hiring an attorney on a "limited scope" basis, meaning hiring an attorney for a part or parts of your case but not the whole case. If you feel comfortable handling some aspects of your case on your own but would feel better having an attorney for other parts, then this may be a good option for you.
Hiring the right attorney is also key. At the Law Office of Rochelle Binns, we are committed to offering high-quality legal services at a reasonable price, including full representation and limited scope options. I offer a free consultation to discuss your legal issues, and I'll never take your money if I don't think I can help. Message me today to set up your risk-free consultation!