This is a question I get asked all the time, do I need a lawyer. The simple answer is always yes, if you want to have a chance of success. In the case were one person is not represented by a lawyer or represents themselves pro se, many people in this situation feel that they do not need a lawyer because the other side doesn’t have a lawyer. Nothing could be farther from the truth. When there are no lawyers involved, what happens is whoever is the best liar and who can get enough witnesses to back up their side of the story, WINS. Do you legally need a lawyer to represent yourself in court, the answer is no, you don’t legally need to have a lawyer. But the problem is you have no idea what the other side is planning on doing or saying and if they begin to lie you have no idea how to handle that particular situation. Most pro se clients never do anything to prepare for their court date or do and have no idea HOW TO PREPARE, just thinking they’re going to tell their side of the story to the judge and they’re going to win. I would say the vast majority of the evidence that people bring to my office or think are important, the court will not even take a look at. The simple fact is certain things are allowed in court and certain things are not allowed in court and unless you’re a lawyer or spent years studying the Lord you’re not going to know what gets in and what does not. So how could you possibly prepare and represent yourself? There’s nothing worse than this type of mentality, read on and I shall explain to you why.
Most people were involved in Family Court, divorce, child support or child custody, are very close to the matter at hand and live it on a daily basis. Everyone feels so strongly about their side, and everyone feels that they are right and the other person is a horrible human being. I have never seen one situation where both people are fine or both people are bad, everyone thinks they are an angel. But without a lawyer, you can never protect yourself from what the other side is going to do.
Let me give you an example: most people when they are lying about themselves personally or something that they’re going to say in court, especially Family Court when it pertains to children, they lie to themselves so many times they actually believe their own lies. They have also told all their friends and family members the same why that they plan on telling in court, because they’ve rehearsed it so many times they actually believe it’s true. Consequently, because of this they have brainwashed their friends and family into believing your person you’re not or there’s a situation that is not occurring, but they lied about it so many times the other people start to believe it. You may feel you’ve never done anything wrong, but when the other side has a bunch of witnesses that were brainwashed, almost anything can seem different because that other person is describing it in their own words. I have never seen in Family Court, divorce court or the matter involving child support or child custody, were both sides don’t have a valid story. People have this mistaken belief that all lawyers do is go stand in front of a judge and argue a case, nothing could be further from the truth. There are hours that go into research and preparation before we get in that courtroom. This is the huge difference between pro se and not pro se, being prepared for what the other side is going to do and anticipating what they are going to do, and being prepared for those inevitable conclusions. Your lawyer doesn’t simply show up on the day of court and tell the judge everything you’ve told them, we have research the case, we have hired private investigators, we have researched the laws, and most importantly we know what can and can’t be said in a court of law. And we know how to make sure the other side isn’t going to take you for a ride.
I see it time and time again, after a court hearing I have someone who comes to my office that attempted to represent themselves pro se and explain to me how they are X lied to the judge and how the witnesses lied etc. Well people this is the reason we have lawyers, to make sure that doesn’t happen. Also another important fact is the judge is not going to help you and neither will the court staff help you. Many people have the erroneous belief that the judge in the court are there to help you, this is not the case. The judge in the court staff are there to be the referee between two parties, they cannot take sides and they cannot help either side: certainly they cannot provide any type of legal assistance or tell you what you need to do. Not only not their job, it is illegal for them to take sides and to give legal advice.
So if you plan on going into court without a lawyer, simply because the other side is representing themselves pro se, you have a lot more to fear than if the other side has a lawyer. As lawyers we’ve seen thousands of these cases while waiting for our case to be called, pro se clients lie all the time and usually the better person is who loses because the person who is willing to lie the most is the one who’s going to win. If there was a lawyer involved, we would object to which cannot be presented to the court, we would’ve prepared for the hearing and we would’ve done our due diligence to make sure we get the best results for our clients. If you going to court without a lawyer and the other side doesn’t have a lawyer, it’s going to be who ever can tell the biggest lies wins. Don’t forget the judge as a human being and does not have a crystal ball. If your ex is very good at lying, like most are, it seems the worst people are the best liars, then you are most likely going to lose miserably.
In Family Court, divorce court or in a child support or child custody hearing, these are the most important matters of your life, do you want to leave it up to your ex and what that person is planning on saying. You are a know they cheated on you, beat you up and lied to all your friends and family, how do you imagine that there not been a do the same thing to you in court that they did their entire relationship with you, which was to abuse you. Don’t go into court alone, always have an experienced attorney at your side.
Joseph F. Botelho, Esq.
BOTELHO LAW GROUP
Attorneys At Law
901 Eastern Ave.
Fall River, MA 02723