When you're seriously ill or need surgery, you don't roll up your sleeves and get out the scalpel. You realize that the medical profession exists because practitioners with expertise and experience can more quickly and accurately assess your condition and perform any needed surgery. And while divorce may not involve any literal life and-death scenarios, it will impact your life in a huge way once the divorce process ends.
So, can you get a divorce without an attorney? Sure you can. But the risks massively outweigh the benefits. If you're looking to save money or gain more control over your circumstances, forget about it. Here are some key disadvantages to becoming your own divorce attorney:
- The legal system is incredibly complex. You don't do this for a living, so where do you begin? Well, there's a lot of paperwork. Do you have the right forms? All of them? Where do you file the paperwork? Which court? When are all of the deadlines? How do you serve the complaint to your spouse? The sheer amount of forms, rules, and deadlines represents just the tip of the iceberg. Underneath the surface, you'll continually confront complex legal processes and requirements that you must follow.
- Collecting the right information requires thorough dedication with little room for mistakes. Once you begin to establish your case, you will need thorough financial and personal information about your assets, debts, and living arrangements. There is no room for error here. Not providing essential information will hurt your case in the eyes of a court. Experienced attorneys know what information is needed and will help collect it, taking this burden off your plate.
- You will lack an impartial communicator and negotiator during your divorce process. Emotions run high during a divorce, even when you think you can stay cool and impartial. After all, you lived with your spouse for many years, you're divorcing for a reason, and you're too close to the situation. Lawyers remove the emotional baggage from the equation and become impartial negotiators and communicators. People often rely on their attorneys to communicate between spouses to make the process easier.
- A bad decision based on your inexperience will permanently affect child custody, child support payments, and alimony payments. Unless you're a family law attorney, it will be hard for you to know what's possible and what's realistic in your divorce case. A mistake based on inexperience can affect aspects of your life that will have a permanent effect on your well-being. Is representing yourself to save a few bucks worth losing custody of your child? Do you want to pay extremely high alimony or child support payments because you didn't know enough about how to present your case to a court? With such major life-changing decisions in the court's hands, you don't want to mess around by playing lawyer.
- Managing your divorce case is like having a second job. So, how much time do you have to learn about the legal aspects of divorce, collect tons of detailed financial information, constantly fill out paperwork, and handle communications from your spouse, attorneys, and the court system -- all while holding down your normal job and raising your kids? We thought so. Quite simply, a divorce takes a lot of tedious, detail-oriented time. That's what attorneys are for.
Again, it's not impossible to represent yourself in a divorce case. But it's like any number of professions where only rare people are able to handle their own case like an expert. You're no doctor, and you're probably no attorney. Let an expert handle your divorce who has the time and experience to really help you. Contact us for a consultation on your case!