Trying to go it alone in the Family Court System with the emphasis on access for all is a gamble. Even for trained professionals, the adage states that ‘He who represents himself has a fool for a client’. When a distinguished jurist called me into chambers 30 years ago after ruling in my favor, he affably reminded me that my self representation had been unwise. Respectfully in reply to one for whom I had great respect, I replied, “But my lawyer always returns my phone calls”. I had given the retort in part to parry his condescension as much as to relieve my lingering distress having had poor communication from my previous attorney, who had also often been late to arrive at my hearings. Having been sensitized to client abuse, I have make it a point to both respond to my clients’ messages and be prompt. I know how it felt as a client myself. Access for all to court redress with trained facilitators does have its place in our modern world of threats and domestic violence. But absent poverty I encourage lay fathers to seek out representation. Most lawyers will try to accommodate, as do we, those of modest means. Most family lawyers work on a retainer basis — see if the one you select will adjust rates for your financial situation or modify the representation to provide guidance if not full legal services. PJM.
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