Posted on by Randi

Usually, we write articles relevant to recent statutory changes and newsworthy changes in family law statutes, rules and cases.  However, sometimes we provide some basic advice, as we do here.

There are many reasons to hire an attorney if you have a child custody, divorce or spousal maintenance (“alimony”) problem and you must have a court determine the outcome.

Although people, parents and spouses can certainly represent themselves, there are good reasons to hire an attorney.

For example, if you represent yourself, you are required, by the Court, to know the Rules of Family Law Procedure, Rules of Evidence, possibly the Rules of Civil Procedure (which are all extensive), updated and current case law and how to conduct yourself in Court, all of which will likely affect the outcome of your case.

If you go to Court without an attorney, you will be required by the Court to know about Hearsay (among many other Rules of Evidence affecting how to get the Judge to pay attention to your evidence) which is, “a statement made by someone other than a person who is testifying in Court, offered into evidence to proof the truth of the matter asserted.  The statement may be oral, written, or non-verbal conduct intended as an assertion.

There are many “exceptions” to the hearsay rule and there are also rules regarding hearsay which IS permitted in a Court. You will need to understand the objections to hearsay evidence, the arguments you must make to convince the Court to allow you to provide it, and “hearsay within hearsay.”

This, alone, takes quite a bit of study to understand, let alone put into action in a court room.

Also, Rules change every year.  The Arizona Rules of Court Book is updated every year and the current version is well over 1,400 pages long. The Rules of Family Law Procedure alone are 200 pages of information, in small print, with lines spaced very close together.

Also, you will need to know the “Local Rules of Court,” in addition to the many rules referenced above.

If you don’t have an attorney, you may not know, for example, that the “form” the Court provides you on their website, for filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (starting a divorce) basically becomes your end result position, even though there is so little you may know about your own situation.

Why? The court form available has a person “fill out” a statement of everything they do and do not want out of their divorce.

There is little room to change what you want down the road even though there may be much you do not know about what you are entitled to, what you and your spouse actually has in bank accounts, retirement accounts, etc.

On the other hand, quality family law attorneys file your divorce or child custody matter by filing something called a “Notice Pleading,” which is very generic and does not specify, in depth, what you want.

The reasoning is that you may not know whether a spouse or parent has convictions or has engaged in behavior which the Court will consider relevant to whether you are awarded “sole legal decision making authority (Custody),” whether you will be designated the primary residential parent, whether your children should have input about these considerations and the list goes on.

SIRLIN LAW FIRM, LLC works hard to ensure that clients get as much access to representation by an attorney as they need and/or can afford.  The representation will always be top quality and you will have an attorney who not only is effective and knowledgeable, but will take a caring and personal interest whatever are the challenges you face.

For more information, please contact us at or by calling 602-561-8107.


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