Regardless of what side of a case you are on, it is never a wise choice to represent yourself in a domestic violence hearing (a “50B”).
It may sound self-serving for a lawyer to advise you to hire a lawyer, but there are many pitfalls in a 50B case that you simply aren’t aware of. An experienced family law attorney can help you put on the best case.
If you are seeking a restraining order or have been granted a temporary restraining order, you will be required to establish certain legal elements at the hearing in order to keep the order in effect. You can be sure that the attorney for the defendant is going to know these elements and is going to try and use them to defeat your case.
An experienced attorney will organize your case and walk the court through all of the facts of the case and apply the law in an effort to justify the restraining order you are seeking.
On the other hand, a person defending against a restraining order really needs a lawyer because the consequences can go beyond what is commonly understood. A restraining order does not merely limit your contact with another party, but also affects other rights.
Some defendants will agree to have a restraining order issued against them believing that it only prevents them from contacting the other party when they have no wish to do so any further. However, there are also federal ramifications to having a restraining order issued against you. A restraining order can affect your ability to own a firearm even after the order expires as well as create immigration problems for non-citizens. Some employers do background checks and may view a domestic violence restraining order in your past or present unfavorably.
Also if you have a custody case, the Court is required to consider evidence of domestic violence and the entry of a 50B against you may harm your case.
Although judges try very hard to be fair, in a close case they will often err on the side of caution. That’s why you need to put forward your best defense.
I have represented many clients on both sides in domestic violence cases. If you heed my advice and decide to hire a lawyer, I can help.