Having been involved in the California legal system through my career as a paralegal and Legal Document Assistant I somehow lost track of how badly underserved those without the ability to hire attorneys are. To be fair those with attorney’s aren’t fairing much better.
I had to be in court recently for a matter involving a family member. As I sat there hour after hour (opposing counsel was six hours late) I was able to observe a few things.
First, there is a reason the court system is so backed up … people with attorneys and those without. Yep its everyone. Although there are plenty of great hard working attorneys within the Family Law realm, there are just as many who are there reaping in the cash creating issues instead of trying to solve them. On the other hand, those in “Pro Per” who are self represented, clog the system with improper paperwork, conflicts about feelings not legal issues, and an unwillingness to come to the table with honesty and a willingness to find a solution.
Their only job is to create and enforce orders. The judges, I believe really try to make orders that are fair and reasonable but let’s face it … they don’t know you, your ex and have never met your kids. They hear upwards of 20 cases every single day, with basically the same complaints. I was over listening to it all after about the third hour. I think they become deaf to the sorrow and sadness (who could blame them) and do the best they can.
The biggest tip that I can give (regardless of your attorney statues) so please take it to heart … THE COURT DOESN’T CARE. They don’t care about your feelings, they don’t care about your kids, they don’t care about your finances, they don’t care that your spouse cheated, took all your money, left you, is making your life miserable, using the kids as pawns … THEY DON’T CARE.
How can this information help you? It can create a realistic expectation for you. If an attorney is promising you the moon and starts … I would be asking a lot of questions and check my billing. At the same time if you are self represented you can focus on the facts and realize the limitation of the court system. This will enable you to be more effective in your desired outcome.
It is ugly out there! Be smart, Be kind, Be realistic. As the phrase goes …. “This to Shall Pass … Like A Kidney Stone, but it will pass”.