Top Considerations Before Representing Yourself in Family Court in NJ

Weigh All of the Variables Before Representing Yourself in Family Court in New Jersey

Pro se is a Latin term that has historically been used in the legal realm as representing yourself without the benefit of an attorney. Many people, and even licensed attorneys, who have been faced with the decision of representing themselves or hiring an attorney to represent themselves have chosen the latter for different reasons.

Top Considerations Before Representing Yourself in Family Court in NJThere are advantages and disadvantages when it comes to representing yourself in court. A main advantage is that you will save a lot of money. The financial advantage to represent yourself is often the only advantage and can skew your ability to decide whether or not it is a good idea to represent yourself. The next advantage can also be seen as a disadvantage. You may be thinking that you know your case better than anyone else. However, you only know the one side of the case, and it most likely is not a completely objective view of the case. If you have emotions entangled in the perception of the facts surrounding your case, it will be hard for you to reach a justiciable end. Without the ability of seeing the case 100% objectively, you may overlook aspects of the case that will prove to be detrimental and negatively impact the judge’s decision. This is more likely to prove to be a disadvantage, rather than an advantage.

Obvious disadvantages is that you do not know the law, the nuances of the law, and/or how case law may affect your case before a particular judge. You may not have the relationships in your life with other attorneys, judges, mediators, etc. to help yourself achieve a quick and justified result. This can lead to the case consuming every aspect of your present life, while negatively and permanently affecting your future life.

Top Considerations if You Are Planning to Represent Yourself in a Custody Case

In order to determine if you should represent yourself, there are several things that must be considered. The first step in finding out whether or not to represent yourself is figuring out where you stand financially. How much money is there in your budget to spend on legal fees? You will want to be comfortable with the amount of money you are spending in legal fees. Custody cases can get expensive, however, the efficiency of an attorney can prove to be invaluable.

The second step in this analysis is to call a custody lawyer, request a free consultation, research online, and ask about what the custody lawyer may be able to do for your case, and how much money you are likely to spend if you decide to hire the attorney you are considering.

The third step is to discern what amount of time you can dedicate to the litigating of your custody case. After finding out what amount of time you are willing and/or able to dedicate to your case, you must place a value on your time. Ultimately, your time is money. Multiply what you value your time by the number of hours you can dedicate to your case. A reference point to the valuation of your time is what you are paid at work. How much time will it take you to litigate your case? This includes the filing of the paperwork, the negotiations, the court appearances, the phone calls, etc. Compare the cost of hiring an experienced attorney with the cost of representing yourself.

Explore the Possible Outcomes of Your Self-Representation in NJ Custody CasesCommunication Channels if The Other Party Did Hire an Attorney

If your adversary hires an attorney, you must keep in mind that this attorney will be your only conduit to the other party. All communications must now go through the hired attorney and you may not contact your adversary. Also know, that this attorney will be educated and well-versed in all aspects of the court proceeding. Everything from saying “Your Honor” in court, to the font required on the pleading being filed. These are all possible pitfalls for the pro se litigant. Now, your adversary does not have to worry about the little things because they have hired someone to do that for them. They can now focus entirely on their case and how best to help their representative win the case for them.

Benefits of Having the Support of Your Own Attorney

Going to court can be a scary occurrence, and most likely not the best moment in your life. People do not go to court because life is going great and they decided to cause issues. People go to court because there is an aspect of their life that can only be fixed in the courtroom. Also, people fear the unknown. Court proceedings are foreign to most non-lawyers. Having an attorney next to you as your representative and protector in the courtroom can prove to be invaluable. If you have an attorney, you will be limited in what you have to say to the judge.

Talk to Our Law Firm Before Making Your Final Decision

Having a knowledgeable and highly qualified family lawyer represent you can benefit you in a lot of ways. Remember, attorneys are paid to effectively represent your interests in a court of law. In order to do this, they must pay attention to the seemingly trivial rules of court that will inevitably go overlooked if you represent yourself. Most of all, an experienced family law attorney will give you peace of mind, which you can not put a price on. If you would like to speak with an attorney at The Montanari Law Group about a child custody, divorce, child support, prenuptial agreement, or post-divorce modification matter in Montclair, Woodland Park, Clifton, Paterson, Wyckoff, West Milford, Haledon, Caldwell, and throughout Passaic County, Essex County, and Bergen County, NJ, contact (973) 233-4396 for immediate assistance. We are pleased to provide you with a free consultation and answer all of your questions.


To speak with one of our highly knowledgeable attorneys, contact us today at (973)-233-4396 or toll-free at (888)-877-7985. You can also complete the form below to begin your conversation. We are a personalized, boutique-style law firm that offers free initial consultations and flexible appointment options.