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Just got served with custody modification papers from my child's father, and I cant afford a attorney. Can I represent myself?

Cincinnati, OH |

I have made some mistakes by interfering with the relationship of my child and his father. Long story short, at times I did not abide by the current shared parenting plan, visitation and his natural rights as a father. The last two years got myself in some legal troubles. And there are some personal issues going on in my life..... I have been the primary caretaker for my child since birth(never married), child has never lived with father, and father lives 450 miles away. I was first given a proposal which stated change of custody, I would have visitation and did not have to pay child support. Father would also handle medical....I turned it down. Now I am served with papers and do not have an attorney. I have no clue what else his attorney knows. I feel like this whole thing was a set up.

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Attorney answers 3


First stop making confessions on an open and public site such as this one. You need to hire an attorney. If you can not afford one you can try to contact your local bar association for your county and see if they have any pro bono or legal aid attorneys that can take your case. You always have the right to represent yourself but it is rarely advisable. You also have the right to remove your own appendix but again I would not recommend it. Attorneys are trained and experienced in these types of cases. Failure to adequately represent yourself can cost you a lot of money and the custody of your child. An attorney would also be able to take the emotional equation out of the case and represent you with a level head. Good luck.

The responses of Attorney Chris Beck to any questions posed on Avvo do NOT establish an Attorney-client relationship. Attorney Beck is available for private hire and consultation for a fee. Only after Attorney Beck is retained as counsel, or agrees to discuss this matter with you privately, shall he be legally deemed to be your Attorney. His responses herein are an attempt to assist persons temporarily based upon the very extremely limited amount of information provided by the questioner


The saying goes that the "person who represents oneself has a fool for a client." It couldn't be more true in child custody matters. I don't know any legal aid programs that would take contested custody case pro-bono. A better bet would be to seek out younger and less experienced attorneys who practice family law and work out a payment plan. Many attorneys will take payments as long as you make them regularly.

This answer is provided for general purposes only. If you need legal assistance you should consult with an attorney. Responding to questions DOES NOT create an attorney-client relationship.


You can represent yourself. But, based on your facts and confessions, I wouldn't recommend it. It is likely that you will get yourself in a lot of trouble by saying things in court that you shouldn't say. Call legal aid and see if they'd be willing to help you. Good luck.

This information is intended as general information only. This communication does not establish an attorney-client relationship between me and the asker.

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