Wake County has a family court system and a set of family court rules. In addition to the local county rules, there is statutory law and case-law that applies to every family court case in North Carolin. If you represent yourself you are expected to know all of these rules and laws, as well as the rules of civil procedure and evidence. This is a daunting obstacle.
There are basically three solutions to the problem: ignore the rules and law and do the best you can in court, educate yourself as best you can, or hire an attorney. It should go without saying (but I will, nevertheless,say it): do not ignore the rules and the law! Your case will be jeopardized, you may be sanctioned, and you might not be allowed to put on evidence. If you ignore the rules and the law, bad things will happen.
You can try to educate yourself. I say “try” because unless you have the ability to push yourself, spend hours reading laws and cases, and learn how to be your own lawyer, you will likely never be able to pull it off effectively. Furthermore, when you represent yourself, it will be very difficult for you to be objective since you are, so to speak, in the middle of the storm.
Consult with a lawyer. It need not be me or my firm, but get professional help. A healthy portion of my practice is cleaning up legal messes that have been created by parties with good intentions trying to do it themselves. In most cases, legal help on the front end of the problem would have avoided or reduced the self-inflicted damage.
So, how do you get help with your case? You pick up the phone and call a lawyer. You schedule a consultation, and you take your paperwork and issues and concerns in and get advice and direction. If you go to someone who knows what they are doing, you should get a plan to move forward, an idea of the costs involved and a menu of options to work towards making your goals a reality.
Scott Allen is a divorce attorney in Raleigh, NC with over eighteen years of experience in all areas of family law litigation and settlement. Call him at 919.863.4183 to get help with your case.