THE MCMILLIAN LAW FIRM REPRESENTS CLIENTS IN CHARLESTON, SC AND SUMMERVILLE, SC IN FAMILY LAW AND DIVORCE MATTERS
There is an old saying that many people have heard before that goes something along the lines of "Anyone who represents themselves in Court has a fool for a client." Yet when potential clients, who would otherwise benefit from having legal counsel, try to balance the needs of having an attorney versus the costs, they are often reminded of another old saying . . . "Money doesn't grow on trees!" So is there some point or some magical line that, once crossed, takes a Family Law matter from the realm of self-representation (called Pro Se representation) into the dominion of "I need a lawyer!" The point of this article is not to focus on the obvious answer (YES YOU DO!!), but to educate you about the specific reasons why having an experienced family lawyer by your side is always the wisest course of action in any Family Law litigation.
YOU THINK YOU KNOW THE LAW . . . BUT DO YOU REALLY KNOW THE LAW
The amount of information available to potential clients in the modern age of social media and the internet has been instrumental in educating clients on all matters concerning Family Law. The potential client who walks into my office now is more informed than ever before. The major league drawback however, is that while being more informed, the potential client is never fully informed. The information age has created a world of snapshots and highlights for short attention spans at the slight of the development of full explanations and context.
Often clients will walk in and know what the 5 grounds for divorce are in South Carolina. Yet they have no idea what type of evidence and proof is needed to prove these grounds. The client knows that the Family Court will award custody in accordance with "the best interest of the child." Yet the client has no idea what the factors and considerations are that help determine what the "best interests" means. A potential client will know that marriage will generally involve the splitting of marital assets. Yet the client can't articulate exactly what marital property is and how is it different from non-marital property. Potential clients always have what I call the "skeleton" understanding of the law. They know or have a good idea of the black letter version of the law. Where potential clients are always lacking is in the "meat" of the law . . . How do I present legal concepts, what evidence do I need, when do I make this argument . . . these are the issues that self-represented parties run into that can be absolutely catastrophic to a Family Law matter.
In addition to the substantive, or "black letter law," clients are often lacking any real functional understanding of the procedural law that governs Family Law litigation. What are the legal requirements of a Summons and Complaint under the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure? Is your divorce litigation subject to mediation or exempt from it? When can divorce litigation be exempt from mediation? What are the rules of service of the divorce complaint? How long before you can request a final hearing on your divorce? Can I appeal a final order from a Family Court judge? Who appoints the Guardian ad Litem and how much does that cost? It is in the weeds of procedural law and abiding by the Family Court Rules of South Carolina where I see most self-represented parties have their case go completely off the tracks. Unless you are able to master these rules, both substantive and procedural, and can recall the relevant rules automatically from the depths of your brain in the middle of a court room, Then Yes You Need A Lawyer!!!
THE REAL COST OF DIVORCE LITIGATION TO PRO SE FILERS
The real costs of not hiring an experienced Family Law attorney can be borne out over the mistakes that are often made by self-represented parties in Court. What about the missed opportunity to get your costs reimbursed or receive spousal support because you inadvertently waived your rights during the hearing. What about the missed hours at work due to taking the time off to process all the relevant paperwork and documents involved in divorce litigation. What about the retirement funds or stocks or additional real estate that you may have had a rightful marital property claim to that now has slipped through the cracks and can't be re-tried in Family Court.
As I sit here I tell you, that the money saved by clients in trying to go this route alone in this complicated area of the law is lost on an exponential scale in the mistakes, missed rightful claims, and omissions that are made during the prosecution of the divorce action.
Something that has been glossed over here in this brief article but can't go without being mentioned is the emotional toll of Family Court litigation and divorce. In divorce, I always tell my client that I am about "80% lawyer and 20% psychologist." My job is not only to be an advocate in the court room and do the "lawyer" things but to also be that shield to protect you from the emotional strain involved in any divorce. Do you need the spouse calling you at work about the paperwork you sent them? Do you need to be arguing on the phone in front of the kids about custody and child support? That is my job, not only from the perspective of the law but also to remove that turmoil from your day to day life and let you get going with living again.
THE MCMILLIAN LAW FIRM CAN HELP WITH YOUR FAMILY LAW AND DIVORCE CASE IN CHARLESTON, SC AND SUMMERVILLE, SC
I encourage anyone with a potential life situation that may land you in Family Court or in the middle of a divorce to please call and set up a consultation. Do not let the "fear of the fee" keep you from speaking to me and allowing us the opportunity to set up a plan to move forward. I am flexible in my payment arrangements and can accept most forms of payment, including credit cards. Need to make payments on a retainer and work on a monthly invoice or need some other type of arrangement to work into your paydays or monthly military pension payments, I am here to do all in my power to make it work out for you.
I you live in Charleston, Mt. Pleasant, Summerville, Moncks Corner, Goose Creek, James Island, Folly Beach, West Ashley, Beaufort, Walterboro, Ridgeville, or any of the other fine communities of the South Carolina Low Country, please give me a call or email me today. Don't let another day go by without getting the help you deserve. 843-900-1306 or [email protected].