The Answer Is, Probably, but It Does Depends
Video Transcribed: Do I need a lawyer for an Oklahoma child support hearing? I’m Tulsa attorney, James Wirth, and I’m going over frequently asked questions. And that’s the question, if you’ve got a child support hearing, do you need an attorney? And my answer is, probably, but it does depend.
Okay. So, if you have a child support hearing, somebody has to make that request. The court’s not automatically going to set it for a child support hearing.
So, was that you, was that the other party, was that DHS? Are you in DHS court, or are you in district court? Are you trying to get child support, or is the other party asking you to pay child support? So, I’ll go over some of those circumstances and give you an idea.
If you’re trying to get child support set up where there’s never been child support before, there are certain papers that have to be drafted and filed. And if you’re not an attorney, then you may not know how to draft those.
And for the most part, drafting services that can help, like drafting an agreed decree or other agreements, most of the time, they don’t draft paperwork for matters that aren’t agreed upon. Just because the paperwork that you need can change depending on how the process goes.
So, if you don’t know how to draft those on your own, you’re probably going to want the assistance of an attorney, but you’re not required to have an attorney.
You’re never required to have an attorney. You are allowed to represent yourself, and you can take that right to represent yourself and do so. It can just be difficult knowing what needs to be filed, how to draft it, how the procedures go, how to get it set.
And particularly if it goes to an evidentiary hearing, if you’re representing yourself and you’re pro se, you’re going to be held to the same standard as an attorney about knowing the court rules.
And that’s not just the Oklahoma statutes and the district court rules, it could also be the local court rules, lot of different information you’re going to be held to know. So, that can be tough.
However, sometimes if you’re trying to collect child support, if DHS is an interested party because benefits are being provided, they may file the paperwork. They may push it forward. Under those circumstances, it’s important to know that Oklahoma DHS does not represent you.
However, your interests may be very well aligned. The state of Oklahoma’s interest in child support cases is to collect child support. So, if you’re the one trying to collect child support, DHS for the most part may do the heavy lifting for you, filing it, setting it for hearing, getting an order set, and helping to collect on that. In which case, you may not have to have an attorney all of your own.
You may be able to save the expense of that and allow some benefit from DHS doing it. Which is fine, so long as you know, they don’t actually represent you. It’s just that your interests are pretty well aligned.
If you’re on the other side of that, though, you probably are going to want an attorney. DHS’ interest is going to be the opposite of yours. DHS is trying to collect child support, and you may be in the position that they want more child support than you think is fair.
They may be of the position that, “Well, you paid that child support before, but you don’t have proof you paid it, so we don’t want to give you credit for it.” Under those circumstances, you’re much more likely to need an attorney to go up against the DHS’ attorney, particularly if you’re going into DHS administrative court.
I mean, that’s their court, everyone in that building works for DHS. You’re probably going to want somebody by your side that works for you.
But if you’ve got a specific circumstance, the advice may be different into your particular circumstances. So, talk to an attorney. If you want to speak with somebody at my office, go to makelaweasy.com.