Representing Yourself in Wake County Family Court: Part 1

Wake Family Court RulesI have seen many people try to represent themselves in Wake County Family Court, most don’t do a very good job at it.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of some general guidelines.  I hope they help:

  • You will be expected to know the local rules, the rules of evidence, and the law.  This means you need to educate yourself.  Some attorneys  including me, will agree to provide consulting services at hourly or flat rates to make you better prepared.
  • Most of the statutory law for divorce, custody, alimony, child support, etc. is found in Chapter 50 of the North Carolina General Statutes.
  • Evidentiary rules can be complicated.  There are hearsay rules and there are exceptions.  When in doubt have live witnesses in court ready to testify rather than trying to use letters and affidavits.
  • The Wake County Family Court Rules and many helpful forms can be found on the NC AOC website.
  • The Wake County Family Court Calendar is available online.
  • Promptly comply with discovery requests and disclosure requirements.
  • Comply with subpoenas.
  • Is you want a subpoena you will need to get it signed by the clerk or the judge per Rule 45.
  • Be on time for court appearances.
  • Dress appropriately for court.
  • When an objection is made in court wait for the judge to rule and don’t talk over the judge.
  • Stand up when addressing the judge.
  • Ask permission when in doubt about something you want to do in the courtroom (such as approaching the judge or a witness on the witness stand).
  • Make at least three copies of documents you want to try to get into evidence.
  • Treat everyone respectfully even if you don’t particularly like your ex, his/her lawyer, etc.