My wife left me and took our children. She has now filed for child support and spousal support through Domestic Relations. Do I need an attorney at the hearing?
Unfortunately, many payors do not retain an attorney to represent them at their hearings. They receive an adverse decision and want to appeal. Many times there is little an attorney can do to help in the appeal since the attorney was not present at the hearing.
An appeal on a Domestic Relations matter is done by a process called Exceptions. You can only argue in front of a Judge as to what was said at the hearing. You cannot bring in additional information. Many parties do not supply the correct information at the hearing and therefore have no basis to have an attorney argue the appeal on Exceptions.
It is crucial that you take an attorney with you to the hearing if spousal support is involved. Spouses who leave the marriage may not be entitled to any spousal support if they cannot show legal cause for leaving. Many payors are relieved of the obligation to support the spouse if they are able to prove the spouse lacked entitlement to spousal support. You should therefore consult an attorney before going to a Domestic Relations hearing. An attorney will advise you if you can handle the matter alone or whether an attorney should be present to assist you.
Disclaimer: - These opinions represent a generalization based upon Pennsylvania law as of Nov. 1, 2014. You should consult an attorney and discuss your specific circumstances before taking any action.