If you’re about to start your divorce process, you may be tempted to believe that representing yourself will save you money that you’d rather keep than throw at lawyers. While this is an understandable reaction, the truth is that you’re probably underestimating what the whole process of divorce involves and requires. If you’re not familiar with that process, you may end up hiring a lawyer later, and spending that money anyway on top of the money and effort you’ve already spent trying to do it yourself.
The following are five reasons why you shouldn’t try to self-represent in your divorce case.
1. Your knowledge of available legal options may be limited
There are several ways to solve your divorce case legally, and not all of them involve going to court. Even if you and your spouse decide to self-represent, and come up with what you believe to be workable solutions together, a judge could reject your plan based on legalities of which you had been unaware. Consequently, you could end up confused and your divorce case might be delayed, thereby causing you more trouble and expense.
2. The paperwork can be overwhelming
Filing a divorce involves a lot of paperwork. These documents must be filled in correctly and accurately. The information supplied must be devoid of misrepresentation, even if it’s caused by an innocent mistake. The sheer volume of paperwork could lead you to skim over some details, which your spouse could interpret as an attempt to hide information. If the judge agrees with your spouse’s interpretation, you could lose credibility and favor with the judge.
3. You have to be familiar with matrimonial laws
It’s true that the judge will listen to your story and justifications concerning why you want the divorce. However, the judge will not determine your case based on emotions or what you think is right. Instead, the judge will put your case through the filter of existing family laws. Whether you’ve gone to law school or not, judges hold self-represented litigants to the same standards as family lawyers.
4. Volatile emotions can cause poor decision-making
For both spouses, divorcing is an emotional process that comes with feelings of rage, depression, fear, confusion, and even betrayal. These emotions can sometimes hinder your ability to collaborate with your spouse to resolve your divorce matters peacefully. In most cases, people who try to represent themselves in their divorce cases fail to make wise decisions about the future simply because they were carried away by their emotions
5. Sometimes “winning” means losing
The pressures of the divorce process can narrow your focus to “winning” the case instead of getting the best deal possible. Anger and frustrations might make you unwilling to compromise on ultimately inconsequential issues while glossing over the essentials or “must-haves.”
Having an experienced family lawyer on your side to provide strong legal guidance during your divorce can make the process work out more quickly. In the end, doing things right the first time around can even save you money.