Schedule Your Free 30-Minute Attorney Telephone Consultation (443) 300-2335

Rusz Legal Services

Schedule Your Free 30-Minute Attorney Telephone Consultation (443) 300-2335

It depends on the facts of your case. Many domestic cases are successfully resolved with self-represented parties. Hiring an attorney for advice, instructions, document preparation, or limited representation may help you get through your case successfully at a far lower cost than if you hired an attorney for full representation.

If your case has complex issues or involves serious allegations like sexual or physical abuse then you may need a full representation attorney and it may make sense for you to try and save up for a retainer and/or discuss a payment plan with your attorney.

The cost of a family law case can vary greatly depending on the issues in the case, whether there is any agreement between the parties, and the level of legal services you require. Not all cases require full representation by an attorney and choosing a lower level of legal services can greatly reduce the overall cost.

Once your custody or divorce case is filed and the other party has answered you may be scheduled for one or more of the following types of court appearances:

1 - Scheduling Conference – This is usually the first time all the parties come to court. This is the court’s opportunity to find out what the issues are in your case and to order any additional services that might be needed like a temporary hearing, parenting education, mediation, drug or alcohol assessments, psychological evaluations, home study, or custody evaluation. The court will also give you some dates and deadlines for various parts of your case.

2 - Status Conference – Different courts use status conferences in different ways. Depending on the county you are in and the facts of your case a status conference may or may not include testimony and evidence. It is generally a way for the court to check in on a case and make sure things are progressing appropriately.

3 - Settlement Conference – Depending on what county you are in a settlement conference may be held early in your case or closer to the end. This is the courts effort to bring the parties together and see if an agreement can be reached so that there is no need for a contested trial.

4 - PL (pendente lite) Hearing – This is a temporary hearing where the parties will present testimony and evidence. Usually it will be set in the early to middle part of your case. The court may decide issues like custody, child support, or alimony on a TEMPORARY basis at this hearing. A PL Order resulting from this hearing will only be in effect until the court passes a final order at your Merits hearing or Trial.

5 - Merits hearing/Trial – This is the final hearing in your case. This is your opportunity to present testimony and evidence including witnesses and documents to the court to prove your case. Anything you want the court to consider must be presented at your merits hearing/trial.

6 - Motions hearing, Contempt hearing etc. – There are many issues that may come up in the course of a case and require a special type of hearing, these do not happen in every case and depend on the particular facts of your case.

If you are married and seeking a divorce, you do need to go to court to dissolve the marriage by divorce. If you have a written agreement with the opposing party, or if there are no issues to contest between both parties, then you will have an uncontested divorce. Uncontested divorce is a straightforward process, which includes a brief meeting with one of our attorneys who can give you all the information needed to represent yourself. If you are not married and you have agreed on custody and child support with your co-parent you may choose to file a custody or child support case to have your agreement incorporated into a court order.
It depends on the facts of your case. To modify an existing order regarding children in a divorce, custody, or child support case, you need to prove two things. First, you must show that there has been a material change in circumstance since the time of the last order. ‘Material change’ is a legal term, and not every change in circumstances will rise to the level of materiality required. Secondly, you must show that the change you are asking for is in the best interests of the minor child(ren) if it relates to custody or child support. If you are asking for a modification of alimony or some other provision in a divorce decree, it may or may not be modifiable, depending on the language of original order or agreement and what you are asking to change.
The legal procedures for divorce and custody are structured so that you can go through your case without an attorney, that is ‘self-represented’ or ‘pro se’. You will not be required to hire a lawyer at any time. Whether you can achieve the outcome you want without an attorney depends on the facts of your case. A brief consultation with an attorney can help you get a sense of what type of assistance you may need with your case. Some cases are complex and will go more smoothly if you have a lawyer representing you throughout the case. Other cases are not too complex, but the issues are sensitive and important, and you may want a lawyer advising you about rules and procedures or representing you in court. Many cases are straightforward and simple, and you may be able to represent yourself successfully throughout the case with limited help and advice from an attorney.
The length of time a case takes can vary from a couple of months to a year. The time it takes will depend on your issues and what happens over the course of your case. If you are asking to modify a previous order as opposed to asking for an initial determination, then your case may take less time. Cases that have limited or simple issues do not take as long. For example, if your case is only about child support, or if you are getting divorced and have no children and limited assets. The time a case takes may also depend on how busy the court docket is and when the court can set your hearing.
Rusz Legal Services

Schedule Your Free 30-Minute
Attorney Telephone Consultation
(443) 300-2335

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