In 2004 when I started this venture, I too was of the opinion that representing myself in court was foolish. Having gone through a trial with an attorney (I wasn't to happy with the results), an appeal with an appellate attorney (Again, I was not thrilled with the results) and spending mega dollars on both (every dime I had), having taken time off from work to attend hearings of attorneys whom are suppose to be the best in this field (my research/opinion) I came to the conclusion that not only could I do this, but I could probably do it better that the attorneys I had, at least I could satisfy myself.
I first realized that this was not brain surgery and since I could not afford another dollar to attorneys and I could not be in a battle without giving an effort to fight back, I took up my own legal pursuit and started an education process. It has been a challenge, which I have been rewarded.
Having won four contempt issues and NOT paid an attorney; having appealed an Order Upon Remand which is pending a decision from the 2nd DCA, I realize that old Abe may have been right in his day, but not today and not in Family Court in Florida. I can only applaud those that can afford an attorney and I can only wonder that if an attorney is retained, how come the attorney is not earning that money and fighting with every breath to win, ie..doing research...
In addition, a strategy that I did learn and has worked for me is that I present case law to the trial judge in my opening as evidence (they must follow precedent cases). I give a packet of the cases to the judge, to the opposing counsel and to the court reporter (preserving an appeal). I highlight my points (they MUST follow cases on point) and then move forward.
For each issue I am arguing, there I find a case on point and argue to the best of my ability. Thus far, the opposing counsel has not been able to produce any cases (evidence) at the hearing to refute my arguments and did not have case law with him to fully support his position.
I am on my 3rd judge and all have hated how I do this...All have commented that they don't agree, but it was the law and they had to follow...in short, my point is that this process has worked for me... By no means is this legal advise, but my story as to how I am fighting...
[Note: The Pro Se Self-Help Guidebooks on Alimony, Contempt, and appeals are excellent how-to and reference books that will facilitate defending yourself in family law court.]