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Maintaining Professionalism is KEY When Representing Yourself in a Custody Case

Professionalism means treating the other party with courtesy and respect. I understand that you may not consider yourself a professional if you didn’t go to law school and you’re not a lawyer and you’re representing yourself. But in these cases you can still act with professionalism even if you don’t consider yourself a professional.  

It’s really important because as you proceed through your custody case and as you gear up to go to trial, chances are the emails and text messages that you have exchanged with the other party are going to end up as exhibits. So if you are discourteous and rude and disrespectful, then the judge is going to see that and those are going to be strikes against you.

Always maintain an air of professionalism. I was surprised in one of my recent cases where I had sent a letter to another attorney asking her to take action on some things her client was doing that were in violation of a preliminary injunction. I gave the attorney a deadline to respond to my request. It was a deadline that I kind of picked out of the air but I wanted to hear back. I didn’t want to just say let me hear from you and have her take her sweet time.

In response to the letter and the deadline that I gave the attorney, she sent me an email and basically said “your deadline is irrelevant to me”. Those were the words she used. She went on to say she would “respond at her earliest opportunity”. Certainly she could have used harsher or worst language but the fact that she included language that my deadline was irrelevant to her was pretty unprofessional for someone who is trained to be a lawyer.

That is my own personal opinion, but I do think that it was borderline kind of abusive.   As professionals we should try to work with one another and work to solve issues. If she was out of town or on vacation or had a heavy case load, then really that was all she needed to say. She could have said she was busy and she couldn’t respond to my deadline but she would when she got the chance.

So you can bet that if we end up in trial her letter is going to end up as an exhibit in support of attorneys fees and costs because she was in my opinion unprofessional.   As a layperson who is handling your own case, it’s always best to be professional and courteous. Don’t cuss out the other person. Don’t be rude or disrespectful and always maintain your professionalism.