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Should a California child custody case be handled alone?

It is likely that when many California couples decide to take the plunge and go for the divorce they have been wanting, finances can be an issue. Many of these people try conserving finances and cutting any cost they can, but it may not always be a wise decision. While there are some who may be tempted to represent themselves to cut corners, when the outcome can be a life-changing issue like child custody, child support or property division, it may not be worth the risk.

In the state of California alone, more than 60 percent of people who handle their divorce do so without an attorney. The more obvious reason is to save on attorney fees, but many are likely confident they will be successful at doing it themselves. While there are many occasions where one could benefit from representing themselves in the court of law, a divorce or child custody case is probably not one of them.

In terms of child custody or child support, an attorney can make hundreds of dollars of difference in how much a parent may have to pay to or receive from the other parent. Although there are upfront costs to working with an attorney, it can cost a person more if they do something wrong with their case. An attorney is paid for just a short while, but child support payments are made until children reach adulthood. In addition, the outcome to a child custody case may not go as expected if the parent makes the decision to represent themselves.

A California divorce or child custody case can be difficult on its own, and it may be beneficial to not have to worry about motion filings or the scheduling of court hearings in addition to the normal stressors. Ultimately, each divorcing parent has to make the decision that best fits their own circumstances. Before they risk making a costly legal mistake, however, it is most likely that they will benefit from fully researching all of their options under California divorce law to be sure they make informed decisions.

Source: USA Today, Is the law something for do-it-yourselfers?, Mark Vanderhoff, Dec. 29, 2013

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