Representing Yourself In Court, Part 2

Representing Yourself In Court

Show Topic

This show aired on July 2, 2017. It was hosted by David Enevoldsen, and co-hosted by Shelley Rosas, an associate from Family Law Guys. The two discussed representing yourself in a court proceeding, ensuring that you have a position that makes sense through some objective feedback, ways to ensure that you understand procedurally what will happen in a court case, basics of court etiquette, and how to outline what will happen in a hearing before you walk into the courtroom. Note that this is a continuation as part 2 of the show on June 25, 2017.

Headlines

Headlines on this show looked at the Pidgeon v. Houston decision from the Texas Supreme Court which denied same-sex married couples state benefits that heterosexual married couples were receiving, the United States Supreme Court’s opinion in Pavan v. Smith which held that Arkansas’s statute related to the issuance of names on birth certificates as it was being applied to same-sex married partners was violating the Obergefell decision, and re the gay wedding cake case involving Charlie Craig and David Mullins’s lawsuit against baker Jack Phillips after Phillips refused to be involved in their same-sex marriage and the fact that the case will be heard by the United States Supreme Court.

Did You Know

This show’s Did You Know looked at an incident related to General Eisenhower’s failed efforts to rid the Women’s Army Corps of lesbians when Sergeant Johnnie Phelps and their secretary indicated that they were both lesbians.

Transcript

Speaker 5:                         The discussions and information provided in Family Law Report are intended to be general in nature and are not directed for any individual circumstances. No attorney-client relationship is being formed through this program. If you need legal advice, your particular circumstances can vary from what is presented and you should seek the advice of an attorney licensed to practice in your state.

FLR Ad:                               Welcome to Family Law Report, the show that explores issues related to marriage, divorce, and children. Hosted by David Enevoldsen, a practicing family law attorney in Arizona. Now, here's your host.

David Enevoldsen:           Hello everybody and happy Sunday. Welcome to Family Law Report. I am your host David Enevoldsen, here with you every Sunday at noon with Independent Talk 1100 KFNX. Here on Family Law Report, we talk about all the current topics of family law, and that can range from what's going on in the political arena to basics like how to work through the nuts and bolts of a divorce.

                                             We are joined today by my cohost, Shelley Rosas, thank you for coming on Shelley.

Shelley Rosas:                  Good morning.

David Enevoldsen:           You've been doing so well lately -

Shelley Rosas:                  I know, I have this thing down now.

David Enevoldsen:           No, you don't. You just said good morning.

Shelley Rosas:                  Okay. Huh. Good afternoon.

David Enevoldsen:           The last couple weeks you actually said, "Afternoon," and now you've switched over to morning.

Shelley Rosas:                  It feels like morning.

David Enevoldsen:           I was so proud of you but...we are both family law attorneys, and we both practice in the area of family law, I guess that's what being a family law attorney would mean. When we say family law, that pretty much means anything related to marriage, divorce, fights over custody of children, child support, prenuptial agreements, grand parent rights. All of that fun stuff. I am a partner at a law firm here in Arizona, called Family Law Guys, and we focus principally on helping divorcing parents avoid getting screwed out of time with their children.

                                             Shelley works for the same firm as myself. We have offices here in the Phoenix area, and while we don't practice outside of Arizona, if you want to call us and schedule an appointment to talk about your case, you can do so by calling 480-565-8680 or you can check us out on our website at www.familylawguys.com.

                                             Today we are going to be talking about tips on representing yourself in a family court proceeding. Now, this is a topic we started last week if you happened to hear last week's show, but we're going to flush that a little more because number one, I was a little slow. I was a little more focused on the headlines last week, and we just didn't quite cover everything that I wanted to cover. So we're going to finalize some of that up and we'll review briefly what we talked about last week in terms of some of those tips and I just wanted to flush out some more of that stuff.

                                             I also wanted to say that this happy holiday coming up, it's sort of a holiday weekend. We've got Monday in between the 4th of July, but the 4th of July is coming, and in advance of that, happy 4th. I feel like we have to acknowledge it as attorneys because even though we sit here and complain about things in the legal system or the government or whatever, we still live in the United States, and I have to appreciate much of the mechanics of the system and I appreciate much about what goes on here in the U.S. and the fact that we live in a system that, even if there are problems with it, and even if there are things that we can complain about, even if we have situations we feel are unjust, we have a mechanism that lets us walk out there and be heard. There is something in place that, in many respects, there are a lot of positives about it, so I feel like we have to acknowledge the system on some level.

                                             At least, that's my opinion. I know not everyone agrees with that, but I appreciate being here in the U.S. and I appreciate the legal system we have here, and the rights that we have here, and I certainly have to give some props to all the people that stand on the front lines and defend the system, and everyone everywhere that does everything to contribute to a system that gives us the rights that we have.

                                             In headlines, there are super interesting headlines this week, to me. There is a lot going on.

Shelley Rosas:                  There's been so much going on.

David Enevoldsen:           This week was just packed with stuff.

Shelley Rosas:                  Yeah.

David Enevoldsen:           In particular in the court system. A lot of this, everything I have in the headlines is related to homosexual marriage. I've said in a couple recent shows that, if you all remember, very recently we had, within the past couple of years, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that homosexual marriage is a fundamental constitutional right and the states can't prohibit that. Well, as I keep saying, there's fallout when you have a decision like that because all sorts of other little ancillary laws have to get altered and changed, and there's usually little fights over that sort of thing. We're seeing all sorts of that kind of thing right now. 

                                             First off, there was a decision out of Texas called Pigeon vs Huston. It came out this week on Friday from the Texas Supreme Court and to the extent that this ruling is the final ruling, this represents kind of a major blow to the homosexual rights movement. To understand what's going on here I have to give you a little background. If you remember Obergefell, that was the U.S. Supreme Court decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court said homosexual partners can get married, and that's a fundamental constitutional right.

                                             Before that, there was another U.S. Supreme Court decision called United States vs Windsor. That came out back in 2013. In that opinion it kind of paved the way for the Obergefell decision, but that opinion basically said that, I'm just summarizing very briefly for simplicity's sake, the federal government can't discriminate against homosexual married couples for determination of federal benefits. Now, that's the backdrop of this current case, the Pigeon vs Huston case. What happened was, as soon as that came out back in 2013, there was a city attorney for Huston that reviewed this decision and said, "Okay, look. Texas, the city of Huston, has people that are going out to other states..." At this time Obergefell hadn't come out yet, so Texas was not recognizing gay marriage, but they were having people go out to other states, get married as same sex couples, come back, would work in the city of Huston, and the way that the law was set up there, they weren't allowing the same-sex married couples to receive the benefits from the city that heterosexual couples were benefiting.

                                             They extrapolated a little bit in terms of, at least that this was the city attorney's position, was that they were extrapolating a little bit saying, "Okay, Windsor was here. Windsor said states can't deny federal benefits," and now we're going to say," Well, that extrapolates out to the city benefits. The state generating its own benefits can't deny the homosexual couples benefits on that basis."

                                             So, city attorney talks to the mayor. The mayor implements this whole system where they'd say, "Okay, we're now going to turn around and hand the same benefits that heterosexual couples would get to same sex couples." With me so far? Am I making sense? Yes? You have to say yes.

Shelley Rosas:                  Yes.

David Enevoldsen:           Okay. Thank you.

Shelley Rosas:                  I'm reading the Supreme Court decision.

David Enevoldsen:           Okay, so, all this happens-

Shelley Rosas:                  I'm ahead of you.

David Enevoldsen:           After this happens there's two Texas tax payers. Jack Pigeon and Larry Hicks. They come in, they see this practice going on and they say, "What the heck? This is a complete waste of taxpayer money," and they file suit. They say quote, "The city is quote, 'Expending significant public funds on an illegal activity,'" and they say, "This isn't fair. You can't do this, as a taxpayer, you're wasting my money."

                                             Well, long story short the case works its way up to the Texas Supreme Court and by this time the Obergefell decision has come out. The Obergefell is again the one that says homosexual married, homosexual couples, have a constitutional right to be married. So the Texas Supreme Court is looking at all of this stuff and the way that they come out is they say, "Well, we're going to narrowly interpret what Obergefell said, and say that while the states have to recognize the marriage in same-sex partners, it doesn't say that the states are required to provide publicly funded state benefits to same-sex married partners." So, this represented a pretty significant blow and this came out on Friday to the same sex rights movement.

                                             I do have to say, I'm having, in light of the following headline we have, a difficult time with the rational underlying this, but I read through this entire opinion and it was super well written, super well researched, had tons of citations, so, it was at least well reasoned even if ultimately it doesn't hold up. I don't know what happens from here procedurally, I don't know if this gets appealed up to the U.S. Supreme Court or what the deal is, but if it doesn't go anywhere else, I think this does sort of represent sort of a blow to the homosexual rights movement.

                                             Now, the next headline in here, which is also super interesting to me is from the U.S. Supreme Court, and they

Shelley Rosas:                  Same week, yes, same week.

David Enevoldsen:           The same week, yeah, this came out on Monday, so the last decision the Texas Supreme Court one came out on Friday-

Shelley Rosas:                  After the U.S. Supreme Court.

David Enevoldsen:           Yeah, came out after this previous one. Was in the case called Hammond vs Smith, and this one is kind of the other direction to the extent where picking sides between the gay rights movement and the anti-gay rights movement, I guess, I don't know what the other side would be called. So, in this particular case, it was actually a consolidation of two different cases, and dealing with two different same-sex married couples. Everyone involved was female. First couple was Leah and Janna Jacobs, married back in Iowa back in 2010, and Tara and Marissa Paven, who were married in New Hampshire in 2011.

                                             Everybody here lived in Arkansas. Both couples filled out paperwork for birth certificates after having children, so in this situation you have four different women, same-sex female couples and one of the two women in each of the two couples had a baby. The Arkansas...they fill out the paperwork for the birth certificates, and at that time, Arkansas was only allowing you to put in mom and dad, as what is being listed on the birth certificates.

Shelley Rosas:                  As in male father.

David Enevoldsen:           Correct, well this is father, I think this is all it said in the birth certificate paperwork.

Shelley Rosas:                  Yeah. Right.

                                             I'm just reiterating, male father.

David Enevoldsen:           Correct, yes. So, Arkansas' department of health says its only going to issue birth certificates for the name of the mother that actually gave birth to the child, and the statute they're relying on that came out of Arkansas says quote, "For the purposes of birth registration, the mother is deemed to be the woman who gives birth to the child," subsequent quote, "If the mother was married at the time of either conception or birth, the name of her husband shall be entered on the birth certificate as the father of the child."

                                             Now, this goes up to the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Supreme Court says, "Well, you can't do that. That's a violation of the Obergefell decision." They came in roughly at the same time as the Texas Supreme Court's decision, and that's why I find this so interesting. It's almost a conflict between the two -

Shelley Rosas:                  We'll come back to that after the break. It's too much here.

David Enevoldsen:           Yeah, we're going to take a quick break. I'm attorney David Enevoldsen and I'm joined by my co-host Shelley Rosas. When we return, we're going to be talking a little more about headlines, and our Did You Know? And then we're going to talk about representing yourself in a family court proceeding. You are tuned into Family Hour Report on Independent Talk 1100 KFNX.

FLR Ad:                               Family Law Report is hosted by Family Law Guys, an Arizona family law firm. Family Law Report is dedicated to confronting difficult issues related to marriage, divorce, and children. This can range everywhere from addressing the legalities and controversies of topics like gay marriage to current faults of the divorce system, to simply providing tips to those getting married or going through a divorce or custody fight. Tune in every Sunday to Family Law Report at noon, here on KFNX. If you want to know more or want to schedule an appointment with David or another one of the Family Law Guys attorneys, call 480-565-8680, that's 480-565-8680.

David Enevoldsen:           Welcome back to Family Law Report. I am your host David Enevoldsen, attorney with Family Law Guys, an Arizona law firm, here with you every Sunday at noon, on the Independent Talk 1100 KFNX. Joined today by my co-host Shelley Rosas, and we both work for the same firm, Family Law Guys, and if you want to reach out to us and set up an appointment to talk about your case, you can do so at by calling 480-565-8680 or you can check us out at our website at www.familylawguys.com.

                                             If you are listening and you want to call in and ask any questions, or share thoughts, you can do so by calling 602-277-KFNX, and today we have been talking about some headlines, and we kind of want to finish this up because this is so interesting to me, there's just so much going on this week, so I want to finish

Shelley Rosas:                  It's a crazy week for Arizona.

David Enevoldsen:           I want to hit our... yeah, because there's stuff going on in Arizona too. I want to hit our Did You Know? Then we're going to talk about our part two of representing yourself in a family court proceeding. Okay, so when we went to break, we were talking about a couple of decisions that just came out. There was this Texas Supreme Court case, Pigeon vs Huston, that basically said Texas does not have to recognize or give out city benefits to same-sex couples. Simultaneously, there was this U.S. Supreme Court decision that came out this week, Hammond vs Smith, which said that the, with respect to Arkansas, they are required under the Obergefell decision, which is the U.S. Supreme Court decision that says homosexual partners have a fundamental constitutional right to be married. So the states can't prohibit that. They said, under that same basic line of thought, Arkansas does not have the ability to say that one of the two married partners does not have the right to be on a birth certificate of a child born during the marriage.

Shelley Rosas:                  I think the important part here is, okay, we have artificial insemination or sperm donor.

David Enevoldsen:           Correct.

Shelley Rosas:                  Okay, and we have a married couple that's homosexual vs a married couple who is heterosexual, and so typically in history, prior to Obergefell, if a state did not recognize same sex marriage, the father, whether he was the biological father of the child or not, was listed as the presumptive father, the legal father, on the birth certificate.

David Enevoldsen:           Correct.

Shelley Rosas:                  So Arkansas was denying, in many states, denying same sex couples to list the other female partner as the "father" on the birth certificate, saying it doesn't flow from biology and they are not male.

David Enevoldsen:           Right, now here's why I find all of this so interesting, when you put all of these decisions together. Here's a quote from the Paven decision, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that came out this week. " The Arkansas Supreme Court's decision, we conclude, denied married same-sex couples from the constellation of benefits that the state has linked to marriage."

Shelley Rosas:                  And among those listed, were birth certificates.

David Enevoldsen:           Yes.

Shelley Rosas:                  Among the governmental rights, benefits, and responsibilities that typically accompany marriage. That came right out of Obergefell.

David Enevoldsen:           Now, yeah. That's them quoting Obergefell. Why I find this so interesting is that I feel like this statement conflicts with what the Texas Supreme Court was saying -

Shelley Rosas:                  Completely.

David Enevoldsen:           They were saying in the Texas Supreme Court decision that they were very narrowly defining what happened in Obergefell. And also, at the same time, this has impact on a case that's going on right now through the appellate court system in Arizona.

Shelley Rosas:                  Actually it was the Supreme Court.

David Enevoldsen:           It said the Appellate Court system.

Shelley Rosas:                  Oh, sorry.

David Enevoldsen:           The Supreme Court is part of the Appellate Court system.

Shelley Rosas:                  I'm just saying, I got all excited when I saw...last week we said, "This is going to be at the supreme court," and the next day I look, and it's there today.

David Enevoldsen:           Yeah, we talked about the McLaughlin case last week which was...has been going up and down through...we've got two different opinions in Arizona dealing with our paternity statute. It talks about specifically the issue dealing with whether or not in our statute where is says the father, it's looking at the father...

Shelley Rosas:                  The male father.

David Enevoldsen:           This is the question. Does the word father in our paternity statute, looking at married couples, if they're a same-sex married couple, does this presumption carry over to a same-sex married couple that doesn't have a male in the equation. So, we've got a split in our Appellate Court system and this went up to the Arizona Supreme Court, and so they've been looking at that.

                                             So, I've also been thinking that this Paven decision has impact on the McLaughlin decision, and so I think it was argued, that's my understanding, that they argued McLaughlin in front of Arizona Supreme Court, but they don't actually have a written opinion on this yet, so while they were doing this argument, meanwhile, the Supreme Court of the U.S. issues the Paven decision -

Shelley Rosas:                  Simultaneously.

David Enevoldsen:           Which seems like, to me, that it would significantly impact what's going on in McLaughlin because the issues in the Arizona case and the Arkansas case seem really, really similar to me. I find this all super fascinating, and I'm going to hit another headline, and I know I'm completely blowing my timeline here, but there's one more thing that I found super interesting. If you've heard about the gay wedding cake case. It's been all over the press recently. Basically there's a baker who is...this all started back when Charlie Craig and David Mullens approached baker, Jack Phillips. And they said hey, we're getting married, we're a same sex couple, we're getting married, can you please make us a cake? And he said no.

                                             This was out in Colorado, and over there they had a statute that said basically you can't...I'm saying basically a lot today...but they have a statute that says you can't discriminate against someone based on their same-sex relationship. So, he ended up in violation of this statute there. Jack refuses, he says, "You can buy whatever you want in my store, but it's against my...it's a violation of my religious beliefs to force me to go out and take involvement in a same sex marriage, when I don't believe in that."

                                             So they challenge it. This goes up to Colorado's Supreme Court, and Colorado finds that Jack, the baker, was in violation of the law for refusing to bake the cake in the first place. Apparently, he's refused several bat threats at this time, I was reading about this as well. He's gotten a lot of negative press, he's gotten two actual death threats, he's been told that he doesn't deserve to live, he's been told, "Christians should be thrown in the Roman Coliseum with Lions." There's been a lot of vitriol coming in his direction.

                                             Well, the interesting thing about this case is that Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. The U.S. Supreme Court doesn't have to hear every case they get, but this is now going up and they have to request or petition for writ to get into the U.S. Supreme Court to have it heard. Now the U.S. Supreme Court is looking at another gay-rights implication case. We'll certainly follow that in shows to come, we'll certainly talk about what happens out of that. There's been so much stuff this week that happened, just spilling out of the homosexual rights universe. There's the Arizona case, the Texas case, the U.S. Supreme Court case, and the Colorado case that's going to become another U.S. Supreme Court case, so the news has been fascinating me recently.

Shelley Rosas:                  I think, well its hopefully the U.S. Supreme Court case will hopefully settle some of the states down. Do you think?

David Enevoldsen:           No.

Shelley Rosas:                  I guess it depends on which state.

David Enevoldsen:           I think you've got people who are strongly entrenched in either position on this and we've got significant change -

Shelley Rosas:                  It's politics, not law though...

David Enevoldsen:           Some of that is underlying that -

Shelley Rosas:                  I know, to me it defies the U.S. constitutional rights for the individual -

David Enevoldsen:           Well obviously there are scholars out here in these various courts that are disagreeing with you, so -

Shelley Rosas:                  I know, but can I read what the state responded in that case really quick?

David Enevoldsen:           Which case?

Shelley Rosas:                  Back at the Supreme Court case.

David Enevoldsen:           Which supreme court case?

Shelley Rosas:                  The Paven.

David Enevoldsen:           Paven, okay, go ahead.

Shelley Rosas:                  Lawyers for the state responded that the presumption for fathers is justified because," In the overwhelming majority of cases..."

David Enevoldsen:           What are you quoting from?

Shelley Rosas:                  An article about Paven.

David Enevoldsen:           Okay.

Shelley Rosas:                  So, this is out of Paven. "The mother's husband is the marital child's biological father," adding that, "Parental rights flow from biology, not from marriage."

David Enevoldsen:           Well, there you go. I want to hit Did You Know? Real quick, because we're running out of time in this segment and I'm going to completely mess up the whole schedule here, if I don't get to something.

                                             Did you know since we were talking about all these homosexual rights and issues, I looked at some of the history of things that have happened in the homosexual universe, and a story I found that I thought was really interesting dealt with general, leader, president, Eisenhower. When he was general, he had a sergeant named Johnny Phelps that worked for Eisenhower. She was in the Women's Army Corps, and helped govern what was going on, and she gave an account later about something that happened in their interactions.

                                             There was a time when Eisenhower approached her and he was really concerned about ferreting out...this is the quote from Eisenhower...she quotes Eisenhower saying this, "We need to ferret those lesbians out, we're going to get rid of them." He asked her basically, to get rid of the lesbians. So, identify the lesbians who are in the Woman's Army Corp, so they can get rid of them. She later said that the Battalion she was in was probably like 97% lesbian, by her estimation. She ends up, after being asked this, talks to Eisenhower and says...looks at the secretary standing next to her, looks back at him, and says, "Well, sir, if the General pleases, sir, I will be happy to do this investigation for you, but you have to know that the first name on the list will be mine.

                                             The secretary looks at him and says, "Sir, if the General pleases, you must be aware that the Sergeant Phelps' name may be second, but mine will be first." She goes on to basically tell Eisenhower there's all these people here, there's a bunch of lesbians, but we're all doing a great job." And apparently Eisenhower ended up dropping the issue after that. I thought that was a really interesting homosexual story, and this is back at a very different time, from what we've got now.

                                             Okay, we're going to take a quick break, I'm attorney David Enevoldsen, joined by my co-host Shelley Rosas. When we return, we're going to be talking about presenting yourself in family court. Your tined into Family Law Report on Independent Talk 1100 KFNX.

Shelley Rosas:                  Laura Ingram, mornings, Michael Savage, afternoon, Lars Larson, nights. On Independent Talk 1100 KFNX.

FLR Ad:                               Family Law Report is hosted by Family Law Guys, an Arizona family law firm. Family Law Report is dedicated to confronting difficult issues related to marriage, divorce, and children. This can range everywhere from addressing the legalities and controversies of topics like gay marriage to current faults of the divorce system, to simply providing tips to those getting married or going through a divorce or custody fight. Tune in every Sunday to Family Law Report at noon, here on KFNX. If you want to know more or want to schedule an appointment with David or another one of the Family Law Guys attorneys, call 480-565-8680, that's 480-565-8680.

David Enevoldsen:           Welcome back to Family Law Report. I am your host David Enevoldsen, attorney with Family Law Guys, an Arizona law firm, here with you every Sunday at noon, on the Independent Talk 1100 KFNX. Joined today by my co-host Shelley Rosas, if you want to reach out and schedule an appointment with our firm, Family Law Guys, you can do so at by calling 480-565-8680 or you can check us out at our website at www.familylawguys.com.

                                             If you are listening and you want to call in and ask any questions, or share thoughts, you can do so by calling 602-277-KFNX, and today we are talking about representing yourself in a family court proceeding. We're just going to talk about some basic tips and recommendations about how to do that. Now that we've gotten through all our headlines, I feel like we're a little rushed going through there, just because there's so much going on this week.

                                             Alright, self representation. The reason we're talking about this is because there are so many people in the family court system that represent themselves. Our...there are way more people that represent themselves, in my experience...and I don't have anything empirical to support this, but I know it's true. That there are way more people representing themselves in family court proceedings than there are people going in with attorneys. A lot of people just can't afford the attorneys. A lot of people can, but cheap out, which is often an error, but there are a lot of people that can't, so they go in and they're going to do it.

                                             Whatever the case is, if you are going in without an attorney because you just don't have the money, because lets face it, attorneys are, unfortunately, very expensive. Or if you just can afford it, but don't want to spend the money on it and you feel like you can do it yourself better, then this would be a great show for you to listen to. Now, we talked about this last week a little bit and the first thing we talked about, and I feel like this precedes everything else, in my opinion, is your position. This isn't really a technical skill, but this is something that I feel is critical going through the process, making sure...and I don't want to spend a lot of time talking about this because we talked about it last week, but just to reiterate. Make sure your position makes sense. That doesn't mean go to your buddy and say, "Hey, can you affirm to me that the other side is crazy, and that I'm completely right, and the judge is going to tell me whatever I want to hear?" That is not what we're talking about here.

                                             What I mean is, find some sort of an objective assessment, and that could be run out through an attorney. Even if it's just pay the attorney for an hour or something, or go to someone who is disinterested in this, or you know will give you an objective stance, and make sure that your position makes sense because if you're going through this case and you're just running from a perspective that you just want the other side to pay because you are angry or hut or whatever, and you get to the end of the court proceeding and the judge feels that you've taken an unreasonable position, you could be paying attorneys' fees, there are other potential implications in this, and you may have wasted a lot of time, and you may be even more frustrated than you were at the end.

                                             You should simultaneously be doing everything you can to settle your case, if you can talk to the other side and there is something that is...you've got settlement offers between you and the other party that are remotely acceptable, then you should strongly consider taking those things. If you've got some...now, there's a balancing act here. I'm not saying just accept anything that the other side offers but you should strongly consider settlement anytime someone is giving you settlement offers for the same basic reason. If you end up at trial, you don't know what's going to happen. I cannot count the number of times I have had someone come to me and say, "I cannot even conceive of how the judge can come up with a perspective different from my ow." I've looked at it and said, " I can't even conceive of how teth judge can come up with a different perspective from your own."

                                             Then we go to trial and the judge comes up with a different perspective. Unfortunately, there's a lot of subjectivity built into the family court process built into a lot of different places, and the judges inherently have different perspectives than you are goin to have. They have different life experiences, they have different values, they have different perspectives on the factual evidence, so when you get into trial, especially when you have another side coming at you with these different perspectives of saying something, say, presenting a very different picture in the whole image, the judge may not come out where you think they're going to come out. I've been doing this for a while and I still don't know always what the judge is going to say, and it's kind of a roll of the dice in a lot of ways, when you're walking into court.

                                             Again, there are times to fight. There are times to say, no I'm going to stand my ground on this, and you need to either give me my basic rights on this, or we're going to go to trial, but at the same time, before you go on that road, I think it's incredibly important that you get an objective perspective from some third party to look at what's going on, make sure that what you are saying makes sense and simultaneously make sure that you have tried everything you can to settle this, so that the control is in your hands and not the judge's.

                                             Okay, that was pretty much what we talked about last week, and we started to get into the following section, but we didn't really get too far there. The next major thing I wanted to talk about is just understanding procedurally what happens with cases. There's unfortunately, these are not super simple, and we're lawyers, so, to us, they may seem much simpler, but to the average lay-person who's not used to dealing all day, everyday with the court system, this stuff can be pretty confusing. One of the first things I feel like you should do once you've verified that your position makes sense and you've done everything that you can to settle the case, is have a basic fundamental understanding of how your case is going to operate.

                                             A lot of that stuff is going to be built into the orders the court is issuing. Very often, for example if a trial is scheduled, there's typically an order that says, a trial is being scheduled and here's the date, and here's all the things you need to do, and if you follow that order, typically you're going to be in good shape, but there's a lot of stuff that goes on when you're getting ready for a trial. Things like you have to prepare exhibits, you have to prepare a pre-trial statement. There's all this stuff that goes on -

Shelley Rosas:                  And it's very expensive, and very time consuming.

David Enevoldsen:           Expensive to the extent that you're using an attorney, but we're talking about non attorneys. Can be expensive in terms of your time.

Shelley Rosas:                  Time, that's what I'm thinking. It's going to take a little time off work to get it ready. If you're going to do a good job.

David Enevoldsen:           Well, that's certainly true, yeah. Or it's at minimum going to fill up your evenings, you have to account some time to account for that. Even before that though, look at the life cycle of a generics case. Typically somebody files a petition, it gets served on the other side, and then you're going to have at least one, potentially more preliminary hearings that are called a couple of different things and have slight variations in what they are, and then you're going to have a trial if things don't settle. That's kind of...there's a lot of other stuff that can happen, but that's just the broad, brush overview.

                                             So, you file your petition typically, you're going to have some short return hearing, preliminary hearing, resolution management conference. Something where you just get in front of the court with all the parties and say, hey judge, here's what's going on, we need you to appoint experts, or schedule a trial, or whatever it is that you need the court to do. Very often, at that return hearing, you're going to be scheduling the actual trial, but a lot of people confuse the return hearing with the trial itself and they think, "Oh there's a court date, so I need to go in and I'm going to be prepared to present all my evidence." Or they go into the return hearing, and they start trying to argue all the evidence and the judge doesn't want to hear it, and the judge gets irritated.

                                             It's very important you understand what hearing you're walking into. You understand procedurally what to expect. Couple ways you can do that, and again, one of them is to look at the order that scheduled the hearing that you're walking into, have an understanding of what that is. Very often it will just say you can also look at how long a hearing is scheduled for. If it is 15 minutes, you are not presenting a trial. If you've got three hours of time you're blocked out for, you're probably presenting evidence.

                                             Another thing you can do, that I very often tell people for a host of reasons to do, and I've even seen attorneys do this and frankly, I myself have done this in the past is, go and watch some of the exact same hearing that you are scheduled for. For example, if you have a judge and your going in for a return hearing and you're saying, "Oh my gosh. I've never been to a return hearing before. I'm terrified of the court, like, I don't know what's going on. I don't know what to expect." You can go in and watch these hearings. All of these hearing are public. You can go, and they've got benches in the back in most of the court rooms. You can just go in there and sit there, and as long as you're respectful and quiet, and you're not making a scene or having your cellphone go off or anything like that, you can just sit there and watch. So, this can be extraordinarily beneficial to you for a couple of reasons.

                                             One is that you're going to have a basic understanding if you go and watch some of the same type of hearing that you're going in for. You can have basic understanding of what it's going to be like. You can go in there and kind of get a feel for this is what this particular hearing is going to encompass. Here's what I should expect, here's things I should repair, and then you can go and prepare it. Another thing is, it's going to let you see the judge in action, it's going to let you see the court system, and make you feel a little more comfortable about walking in there in the first place, because most people, in my experience, most people that walk into the court feel a little terrified of the whole thing. When you're walking in and you've got emotional issues embedded in the underlying facts of what's going on you've got this case that is already messing with your head because it's dealing with your kids, or because you're dealing with some breakup that hurts like heck, or whatever it is, you're already super emotional.

                                             Now, pile on to that, you're trying to figure out all the intricacies of the legal system and now pile onto that, you're having this crazy unknown of walking into a courtroom where there's this person on, sitting high above you, with his big black robe that could potentially be angry or upset and you don't know what's going to happen. You've got this additional unknown that you're getting in there. Going in ahead of time and seeing how these work is going to help tremendously because you're getting rid of that unknown. You at least have a feel for how it's going to go. You may not know what's going to happen in your particular proceeding, but you at least have a sense of it. I always recommend to people, I again, sometimes recommend this to attorneys. That they go in ahead of time and just check out some of the same type of hearings so that you've got a vibe for what's going to go down.

                                             I used to do this in law schools, and actually before law school, when I was in paralegal school, I did this. I would go down to the court and watch hearings, I would just go in. Sometimes clerks would come over and be like,"Are you here on a case?" And I'd be like, "No, I'm just here to watch."

Shelley Rosas:                  I did that too. I got questioned all the time. Like, why are you here?

David Enevoldsen:           Yeah, because, there's not a lot of people that do it, and it's weird when they see people do it. Do that, if you're wondering what's going on. I'm attorney David Enevoldsen, I'm joined by my cohost Shelely Rosas. When we return we'll be talking more about representing yourself in a family court proceeding. If you want to call in and ask any questions, or share thoughts, you can do so by calling 602-277-KFNX. You are tuned into Family Law Report at Independent Talk 1100 KFNX.

FLR Ad:                               Family Law Report is hosted by Family Law Guys, an Arizona family law firm. Family Law Report is dedicated to confronting difficult issues related to marriage, divorce, and children. This can range everywhere from addressing the legalities and controversies of topics like gay marriage to current faults of the divorce system, to simply providing tips to those getting married or going through a divorce or custody fight. Tune in every Sunday to Family Law Report at noon, here on KFNX. If you want to know more or want to schedule an appointment with David or another one of the Family Law Guys attorneys, call 480-565-8680, that's 480-565-8680.

David Enevoldsen:           Welcome back to Family Law Report. I've David Enevoldsen, your host, an attorney with Family Law Guys, an Arizona law firm. Here with you every Sunday at noon on Independent Talk 1100 KFNX. Joined today by my co-host Shelley Rosas, if you want to call out and schedule an appointment with our firm, Family Law Guys, you can do so by calling 480-565-8680 or you can check us out at our website at www.familylawguys.com.

                                             If you are listening and you want to call in and ask any questions, or share thoughts, or tell me how amazing I am or how much more interesting I am than Shelley who's playing on her phone right now who seems kind of disengaged -

Shelley Rosas:                  Oh my gosh.

David Enevoldsen:           She doesn't like it when I say that. Then you can do so by calling 602-277-KFNX and today we are talking about representing yourself in a family court proceeding as an individual. Of course if you have an attorney, they should advise you some of what's going on. Now, we just talk a little bit about the options of going in and checking out hearings before hand, because they're all public and one of the things that you should do if you are going into watch a court hearing is to follow the basic court etiquette. This is the stuff that isn't really written anywhere, but it's sort of understood. They tell you about it in law school expressly, but its stuff that I, very often, find I have to instruct, and I have a checklist where I talk to people before we walk into a hearing, of here's all the things that you should do.

                                             Please understand that if you're walking into a court hearing, you have to treat that hearing with a lot of respect. This is not just your walking into a grocery store. This is a very different kind of hearing, and for whatever reason, I don't know if its because people go in thinking they're better than the court, I often see that not happen. In my mind that means a few different things, one is you talk to the judge in a formal way. That doesn't mean you have to use formal language, per se, it means that you have to not treat it like you're just talking to your buddies, and you're using curse words. Or anything like that. You have to act like you're in a place of some import.

                                             Another major thing is, you have to dress well. Dress in your Sunday best if you've got a suit, wear a suit, if you've got a tie wear a tie. At minimum wear a nice dress shirt. Do not go in wearing ripped jeans and a T-shirt that says some crazy thing on it that the judge is going to take some offense to that. You're going into something that you need to be showing some degree of respect for. Also, be very, very careful about showing up on time. Bad things can happen if you don't show up on time, but many of the courts will take offense at, and they won't all, but a lot of them will take offense at you not showing up on time. And if you don't show up on time, very often, they will cut time away from you in your hearing, or they may proceed on and make decisions without you.

Shelley Rosas:                  Without you. Yeah, that's exactly what will happen.

David Enevoldsen:           Many a time. Normally, I tell people, and I try, myself to show up early. I say, okay, I'm going to account for -

Shelley Rosas:                  30 minutes, at least.

David Enevoldsen:           Yeah, at minimum 15 minutes, but very often I try to get there 30 minutes ahead. I do the same thing. That's just to account for things like getting through security, sometimes some of the courts, like if you go downtown to the Superior Court there, at certain times when there's a big rush, it can be difficult to get in there, and through security quickly, because there are so many people going there at the same time. There can be accidents on the road, we've all seen that, especially if you're going to a place where there's a lot of traffic. If you're going during rush hour, account for that, give yourself extra time.

Shelley Rosas:                  When you arrive, find your courtroom.

David Enevoldsen:           Yup.

Shelley Rosas:                  And outside your courtroom door will be posted a calendar for the day, like an itinerary of the day. Check the itinerary, check the time where your case is listed, and double check your watch.

David Enevoldsen:           Absolutely.

Shelley Rosas:                  I as an attorney have been, where I thought my hearing was at 10:30, because that's what my office and my calendar informed me, and I showed up, and yup, my hearing was at 10 and I walked in at 10:04 and the whole thing was over.

David Enevoldsen:           Absolutely.

Shelley Rosas:                  And you and I know very well what happened then.

David Enevoldsen:           Yeah definitely,

Shelley Rosas:                  That got okay, saved, eventually. But it was a disaster at the time, so, check the calendar.

David Enevoldsen:           And build in time -

Shelley Rosas:                  Yeah, plenty of time.

David Enevoldsen:           Build in extra time to make sure that you're not going to be late.

Shelley Rosas:                  There's parking meters, parking garages -

David Enevoldsen:           So many things that can slow you down, unintentional, unplanned things. Don't let some of those unplanned things ruin you. It's much easier to just show up early and have that extra time built into your calendar than run the risk of showing up 15 minutes late, and you're trying to explain to the judge why they should undo what they ruled against you just because there was some traffic problem, or something, and they just don't want to hear it. So, show up on time.

                                             Also, when you are in the courtroom, just another court etiquette thing. A lot of people figure this out as they're going, but when the judge walks in, a lot of times the bailiff will say this as well, but stand up. Like, even if nobody says anything. If the judge walks in, you stand up. Then as soon as they say you can sit down, you sit down again. Again, just kind of a respect thing and you're treating the court like it's a serious thing.

Shelley Rosas:                  And when you address the judge, be standing, unless you're seated in the witness stand.

David Enevoldsen:           Absolutely, yes.

                                             Now, sometimes you can ask permission to remain seated. You'll see, for example, in trials a lot of times, attorneys will say, "Can I remain seated?" That's okay if the judge says to, but I usually will ask before you just start doing it, so that if you're going to have to go into a trial very frequently, for example, you will go to a podium and ask questions from there, or go to the witness stand, or whatever the case may be, and at a minimum just say, "Judge, is it okay," or, "Your Honor, is it okay if I remain seated when I'm doing this part of whatever it is I am doing?" Once you've gotten their approval, then it's okay, but prior to that, make sure you're at least asking permission or just flat standing up.

                                             Okay, one of the last things I want to cover, and it's just basic court etiquette. One of the last thing I want to cover is actually, walking into a hearing because I think there's a lot of confusion about what happens there, and there's a lot that goes in. Like I said, the first thing is to ensure is that you understand what it is you're walking into, and what the kind of hearing you're going in for is going to be, and what the basic expectations are going to be. That's what's going to drive what you're going to do in there. You may just have a very simple return hearing where the court is just trying to schedule out a trial, and that's all you're going to do, and there's many a hearing where you're just showing up to schedule stuff.

                                             I have a good friend, another attorney, who used to say that the return hearing is the hearing to schedule a hearing because sometimes that's all you're doing. But sometimes you're talking about substantive issues. So, just, have a basic understanding of what it is you're going in for.

                                             Now whatever kind of hearing it is that you're trying to go in for, create an outline of the major things you want to cover. It doesn't have to be a word for word script but just bullet points of what it is you need to express at that time. Understand that very often that is not necessarily substantive issues. If you're at just a basic return hearing that's 15 minutes long, just a hearing to schedule a hearing, the judge probably does not want to hear you going on about how horrible the other party has been to you and you trying to argue the merits. That's there for trial.

Shelley Rosas:                  Well, and the judge almost never wants to hear how horribly the other party is. They almost want to hear what your case is for yourself.

David Enevoldsen:           Oh yeah, absolutely.

Shelley Rosas:                  So make that your main focus.

David Enevoldsen:           And that's a whole different point of making sure you understand exactly what you're...let's talk about that very briefly, make sure that the thing you are discussing is directly tied to what it is you're arguing about. For example, this is a really common problem I see, super common problem.

Shelley Rosas:                  I know what you're going to say.

David Enevoldsen:           Have an understanding of how what you are trying to tell the judge is related directly to the thing that you are trying to get to have happen. Example is -

Shelley Rosas:                  The outcome, yes.

David Enevoldsen:           Not necessarily the outcome, but the law underlying it. For example, if I'm trying to argue about I should have a particular parenting plan in place. I want to have my child on such and such days, there is a statute ARS25403 subsection A in particular that talks about you have to do what's in the best interest of the child in determining how that parenting plan is going to go down. So, if you're determining what's in the best interest of the child, looking at that statute, the judge really does not care about all the times that the other side emailed you and said you're a monster. And yet, that's what everyone wants to come in with because the other side emailing you saying you're a monster and I hate you and I don't like you, is not going to do anything to say a word about what the parenting plan should be in respect to the best interest of the child. So this is another place, where having an objective 3rd party look at things and particularly as they apply to the statute, is going to be super relevant.

                                             Now, when you're going in for a trial or something, and you need to express what your position is, a lot of times people get overwhelmed and hung up on the rules of evidence. I can tell you right now they're very confusing. Attorneys argue about them as we've said in the past, we've had a couple different classes talking about just what the rules of evidence are. Generally speaking, hearsay is super complicated, all this stuff is super complicated. Understand that the family law rules in Arizona have been significantly made easier. That was a terrible sentence.

Shelley Rosas:                  Relaxed

David Enevoldsen:           Relaxed. Your focus should be on conveying your story. Don't worry about objecting to hearsay or or any of that stuff. If you're an attorney then you can worry about that stuff, but otherwise, don't even worry about it. Just fixate on, convey your story, convey the points that you want to get across as they directly relate to whatever it is you're there to get from the court and then do your best. That's pretty much it.

                                             Alright, that is our tips on self representing, that's about all the time we have on today's show. You've been listening to Family Law Report, I am David Enevoldsen, an attorney with Family Law Guys and with me Shelley Rosas, and we have been talking all about all sorts of interesting things, but lastly representing yourself in a family court proceeding.

                                             Hope you join us again next week, on Sunday at noon, for more of the latest on family law. Here on Independent Talk 1100 KFNX.

                                             Thank you all for listening.

FLR Ad:                               Family Law Report is hosted by Family Law Guys, an Arizona family law firm. Family Law Report is dedicated to confronting difficult issues related to marriage, divorce, and children. This can range everywhere from addressing the legalities and controversies of topics like gay marriage to current faults of the divorce system, to simply providing tips to those getting married or going through a divorce or custody fight. Tune in every Sunday to Family Law Report at noon, here on KFNX. If you want to know more or want to schedule an appointment with David or another one of the Family Law Guys attorneys, call 480-565-8680, that's 480-565-8680.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.