You’re sitting in Family Court. You’re surrounded by screaming children, other worried looking parents, and an overcrowded waiting area full of extra family members that are all giving advice to the worry stricken parents. There are people screaming people’s names for the child support docket. There are DHR workers weaving in and out of the crowd. You didn’t have enough time to get a lawyer or ask anyone what was going to happen. You’re terrified and wondering how you’ll be able to afford an attorney at all. You’re told that you could have one appointed to you, but you’re not sure what to do. The main thing on your mind is – how do I get my child back from DHR? You have to decide whether or not you want a lawyer appointed to you or not. What do you do? What’s the best decision? Well, these are the factors you should take into consideration:
- Family Court, at no fault of the Judge, is not very timely. There are numerous sensitive matters that must each be given their time in court. Additionally, there are numerous people having their own emergencies causing even the simplest of cases to be there for a few hours minimum. If you have a private attorney, you will pay them hourly from $150.00 an hour to $500.00 an hour. Further, for the safety of the children, the judges must be very careful. Your case is very unlikely to be dismissed right after DHR picks up your children. For safety’s sake, you’ll come back at least once. You’re not just paying for a lawyer for that day. Your lawyer will have to come back again because these cases are extremely time consuming due to their overall sensitive nature. You need to think of overall cost going into the case. Can you afford to hire an attorney? If you can, will they take the case for a flat fee? If not, you’ll need an appointed attorney.
- A good lawyer knows the law, a great lawyer knows the Judge. This is normally said in those situations where the lawyer and the Judge are ol’ golfing buddies. In this situation, it merely means you need to know the judge, the court, and the ins and outs of that system. As said above, Family Court is a very special place, it’s a whole new world to some. I’ve seen lawyers coming in and cussing out everyone from DHR, to the bailiff, to the judge. They’re shocked at the way things are handled because they’re accustomed to different facts, less State involvement, and more black and white of the law. The law for children is in the gray. They can’t always stick up for themselves, and they’ll always love their parents regardless of what has been done to them. Family Court is the place where government and lawyers all come to decipher what is the truth to keep children safe. The appointed attorneys are normally attorneys that are there almost every day. They know the routine, they know the DHR workers, DHR attorneys, and they know what can and can’t be done immediately. Private attorneys want to win at all costs, and hopefully, if they’ve worked in this court room before, they can do just that. If they haven’t been in there before, and they don’t know how to work this type of case, you may end up with your lawyer being reprimanded behind the scenes for disrespecting everyone and everything in their path.
- Do you feel lucky? It’s all about the luck of the draw. Some Family Court Appointed Attorneys are passionate and look to see the good in parents. They will fight for each case they get. They will work with you and attempt to get you back on track. Others are jaded by the system. They don’t trust the parents, and they’ll push you to give in to the system. They make you think that DHR is out to get you at all costs. That’s the thing. You don’t get to choose who you get. If you go with appointed you get appointed whomever the judge wants to appoint to you. You may get someone who checks in weekly or you may get someone who you only seen on court dates. If you hire someone, you’ll get to interview them, get to know them, and know exactly who is representing you. On the other hand, that paid for attorney may not always be who you think they are. There are public reprimands each day saying that an attorney that was retained by a client has done something completely absurd… like pull a knife on that client! Eek! Be careful who you trust with the future of your children.
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