Can I represent myself in a custody case for my kids?

Reply Wed 6 Nov, 2013 09:14 pm
I can't afford a lawyer. I keep getting referred to "low income" attorneys but it's still outrageous!
I had my kids stay with their dad so I can find a stable place to live. Funny thing is, I used to own a house, I sold it for this guy. We moved into his mother's house(her and I never got along) and I got a job and started paying rent. His mother hit me when I wasn't even looking while I was holding my daughter. My daughter got clipped too! There was no arrest made even though I called the police and told them what happened.
Long story short, when I left, I was staying with my brother. My time ran out there as I was looking for a place because I was approved for a domestic violence grant. When I had to leave there I had nowhere to go and I had my kids. If I had to couch hop for a few days I didn't want my kids with me. So I told their dad to take them (back to that house which was probably the hardest decision I had to make). As soon as he had possession of the kids, he applies for state help and everything claiming to be a single father!
I have a job, he doesn't. EVERY paycheck I'm buying things my kids need. From the gate when this situation happened, I told him I will take care of them. Why wouldn't I? I have a job, of course I'm going to! So now because of the state help he's getting I'm getting child support papers sent out to me.
I broke off the relationship. That was the last straw. I broke up with him. I told him when I found a place, I'm taking the kids with me. When I broke it off, he stopped letting me see the kids. I'm their mother! I was the sole provider of my kids since they were born! He NEVER contributed anything! Nobody in that house has a job so he got that state help to put money in his pocket. I was already taking care of my kids, why would I stop!?
Now that he's not letting me see my kids, I got child support papers. I hope he didn't file them already. I don't really understand the papers very well, I need help filling it out. I've had consultations with lawyers, but I can never go further, I don't make that much money.
So much for long story short, huh?
My question is, can I represent myself? I want custody. I have a place to live now and I need my children. Theyre all I have! I know I'm a good mother, I live and breathe for my children. It breaks my heart I can't spend time with them like a mother should. I don't want to take away his rights completely, I can't do that to my kids, he's still their father. I just want my kids in my custody to insure myself that I have them. Do I absolutely need a lawyer? Will I lose if I don't have one?
Thank you for any advice.
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Reply Wed 6 Nov, 2013 09:20 pm
Where do you live? (USA? What state?)

There are free legal aid centers around. Can you get some help?

If this guy has custody of your kids and you want that changed, you are going to have to show the court you have a place for them to live . Right now, they are with him and of course, the court wants you to pay child support. You have a job.

Try to get visitation and start from there. He cannot refuse your visitation rights.
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Romeo Fabulini
Reply Thu 7 Nov, 2013 05:12 am
Sydney Jamison asked:
..can I represent myself? I want custody. Do I absolutely need a lawyer?

Hi, you're a mother but your name is Sydney, is that right?
I don't know about America, but here in England it's the right of every citizen to defend him/herself if they don't want a lawyer. If we want one, the Brit system gives us one free of charge if we're on welfare.
11 years ago I was in a Brit court facing a vigilante rap and had a free lawyer given to me because I was unemployed, but he botched it and I got 3 months in jail.
I didn't like having to sit there in silence for the 7 court appearance over 9 months while he did all the talking for me, I'd much rather have talked to the magistrates face to face myself, especially as I was constantly having to coach my lawyer before going into the courtroom by telling him to "say this, say that"
Looking back I should have kicked him off the case and defended myself as I'm sure i'd have made a better job of it..Smile

As regards your case, from what i can tell it looks pretty good for you, you can tell the judge- "I temporarily let my husband have the kids while I looked round for a better place to live, but now that I've found one he won't let me have the kids back, and he's also forbidden me to see them", which will let the judge know what a rotter he is.

If you fight a Custody battle, the bottom line is that the judge will decide whether the kids will be happier and better off living with you or their dad, and he'll also take into account who the kids themselves want to live with.
Do they want to live with you or their dad?

In Britain, we've got Citizens Advice Bureaus where you can get free legal advice, and there are also Womens's Rights free advice groups.

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