Nevermind applying Constitutional law to your court motions… how does one even absorb it all in the first place?

Finding yourself stuck in the maze of Family Court life, you are likely to run into a situation where you feel helpless (um, yeah that’s why you’re here, right?). Yet, while seeking knowledge about your parental rights is not a substitute for the representation of counsel, it helps move your case forward more efficiently if you have an idea of where you want your case to go. Watching the Palmers’ webinars got me to that place.

So how does one learn such a convoluted area of study? Well…

WHAT KIND OF LEARNER ARE YOU?

This is the first question you should be asking yourself. For me, I happen to be an auditory learner. I also learn by reading and writing, but not as efficiently as if I was hearing all the information. Many people say they are Kinetic learners who learn by doing/acting out something…I don’t think I am one of those.

When I do something and don’t get it “right”, I’m known for growing angry and frustrated with the process, which clouds my ability to keep my mind open for learning.

Nevertheless, it is possible to educate yourself on constitutional rights, basic legal jargon, and the like… if you know what kind of learner you are. Fortunately, there are a gillion ways to learn. Find yours and learn about your fundamental, parental rights in which you hold so near and dear.

One of the things, we are so blessed is having so many tools. There is scholar.google.com (thank you internet!), and many, many other publications available online to read more about your rights and where they come from. We also have law libraries available to the public where you can get templates and learn the legal jargon. And then you have the simple webinars and classes from Fix Family Courts to help you make sense of it all. Having some baseline knowledge can facilitate crucial conversations with your attorney if you have one, and can give you some direction if you are pro se.

And if you really don’t like to read, if you have a MacBook, you can highlight oodles of text, save the text as a spoken track, and listen to it. That’s exactly what I do. I cannot read black-and-white print for hours on end, so I created a library of “audio books” that are accessible in iTunes. If you don’t mind the sound of a creepy computer speaking an hour’s worth of text, go for it!

The webinars that the Palmers create also assist me with this in part. I can listen to these over and over. For me, repetition is absolutely crucial, especially in this area (my background is NOT in Civics or Law, but health and wellness). This is a painting that I did while listening to some of their webinars.

As a mom of a child with autism, I had to be very creative in learning about how my son learns best. Lots of trial and error, but I find that adults are not much different than kids. If you don’t know your learning style, think of the last time you had to learn something. What frustrated you? What ultimately “worked”? If you find yourself frustrated, not understanding what you are reading, try a different approach.

While it’s no substitute for an attorney and nothing is guaranteed, it’s a lot better to learn something, than it is to learn nothing. I’m sure we have all experienced walking into court and being utterly clueless and subsequently losing your entire case. This is what happened to me in summer of 2013. I didn’t even know what “proposed orders” were (ouch!). I was too overwhelmed with the pro se process that I mistakenly relied on the GAL’s testimony because he recommended equal rights to both parents. Putting all my eggs in that basket got me nowhere, and ultimately resulted in me being stripped of more rights to my son than I had before.

If I had done even a bit of homework, I may have been able to support the GAL’s recommendations with some constitutional arguments. Fortunately, I am capable of learning from mistakes and moving on. I started learning as much as possible after the second trial that I lost. I now know that walking into court empty-handed was not going to work for me.

To begin this process, use FFC as a starting point to outline your case. All the best!