Representation is crucial to winning child custody

Given that many Salt Lake City, Utah, residents have limited knowledge of and experience in family law, individuals facing the prospect of divorce are always advised to seek legal counsel. And in cases involving child custody arrangements it is especially important for parents to learn their legal rights and options to ensure that the agreement is fair and appropriate. Because there is evidence that the results of a child custody dispute can depend greatly on whether or not both parties have legal representation, many attorneys and rights advocates are working to ensure that more people have access to counsel in civil cases.

Everything from restraining orders to child support payments are addressed in the family court system and thousands of cases are handled by the courts each year. In 2006, the American Bar Association took efforts to guarantee that legal representation was available to low income individuals in civil cases, recognizing that the outcome of such cases often depends on whether or not both parties receive legal support. According to one study, individuals that chose to represent themselves in child custody disputes were less likely to win, and joint custody rulings were less likely to be granted in cases where only one party had representation.

In cases where an individual does represent themselves, the judge may attempt to guide the person through the legal process, but cannot go so far as to provide biased assistance. Using California has an example, having legal representation on both sides of family court cases only occurs around 25 percent of the time, leaving many at a disadvantage. That is why state legislators and advocates are pushing to create a system where qualifying individuals can be paired with attorneys to handle their civil cases. 

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