Are you considering self-representation in your divorce case? Perhaps you and your spouse are on amicable terms and want to reduce costs. Or maybe you think it’s best to deal with one another directly to move things forward, since lawyers will just get in the way and potentially make matters more contentious than they already are.
Whatever your rationale, representing yourself (or going “pro se”) in your divorce can be much more expensive than the fees you think you’re saving, and your decision can have irreversible consequences. Here are five reasons you should retain a well-versed divorce lawyer, instead of self-representing.
#1: You risk not getting as much as you’re entitled to by law, and giving up rights you weren’t even aware you had
Getting a divorce involves much more than just knowing what documents to file, and when and where to file them. A seasoned divorce lawyer knows the rules of law and the legal system, what to fight for, and how to fight for it. The consequences of not having a lawyer represent you are compounded if your spouse has retained one, putting you at a serious disadvantage.
Think about it. If you don’t really know what you’re entitled to, how can you be certain that you are getting the best possible outcome for yourself? Settling without being properly informed can cost you significantly more than a divorce lawyer’s fees.
#2: Unforeseen issues may arise that you are not equipped to handle
While you may think that you and your spouse have all the issues worked out, divorce by definition is the separation or parting of ways with another individual. Your interests are not truly aligned, no matter how amicable the split may be. For example, your spouse might change his or her mind about alimony or child support in the middle of the divorce.
It’s also possible that some unforeseen issue arises during proceedings that you aren’t able to handle. It can be even more costly to bring an attorney into your case mid-way through to fix issues that might not have otherwise come up if you had retained a lawyer in the first place. Particularly when children or a decent amount of assets or debts are involved, it’s advisable to have an attorney represent you from the start.
#3: You may be subjecting yourself to a longer and more frustrating divorce process
A divorce lawyer’s fees might appear high, but consider the skill, expertise, and ability to navigate the legal system that a lawyer brings to the table. This can significantly speed up the process of your divorce, especially in uncontested cases.
What’s more, the legal process will inevitably be more frustrating for you without an attorney by your side. For example, if your divorce ends up in court, you may not know the rules of evidence, and you will be frustrated because you don’t know why you can’t submit certain items into evidence.
Remember, it’s not the judge’s job to advocate on your behalf, or to advise you about what’s in your best interest. You can’t rely on a judge to assist you throughout your case. An attorney, on the other hand, can let you know what to expect, prepare you for court, protect your rights, and ensure your best interests are represented.
#4: You risk prejudicing yourself in front of the judge
According to an American Bar Association Coalition for Justice survey, judges believe that self-represented litigants are doing a poor job, and that they reach unfavorable results for themselves. If you are unaware of courtroom etiquette, you may not exhibit the appropriate demeanor, body language, or manner of dress or speaking, all of which can sway a judge’s opinion of you.
You also probably won’t be able to speak eloquently or intelligently about the law. Judges make their decisions based on the law and rules of the court. You risk a judge opining that you are wasting the court’s time if you don’t know what you’re doing, which can have a negative effect on your case.
#5: You risk losing objectivity
It’s hard not to be emotionally invested in a divorce case, particularly if you have children or the relationship is contentious. Worse yet, if your relationship had a pattern of one spouse dominating the other, your settlement might well reflect this. Being too close to a case means you risk losing sight of what’s in your best interests. A lawyer will be able to get a fresh perspective and let you know what you are entitled to and what you should fight for.
The outcome of your divorce case can have lasting effects on you and your children, ones that you’ll have to live with. The divorce lawyers at Pintar Albiston work with you every step of the way to protect your rights and financial interests, and help you reach the best possible settlement. Call 702-685-5255 to arrange an initial consultation.
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