Many potential clients I have met with all come in with the assumption that their divorce will be easy, or there is not anything to fight over. Most come to try and get advice on how to kick start their own divorce proceeding themselves. Although it is not impossible, it is important to remember why there are experienced attorneys for your family matters.
Overall, the general framework of every divorce is the same. The same pleadings get filed at the beginning and at the end. The cliché saying is that every divorce is different, but this could not be any more accurate. This is because every relationship is unique, no two are the same. No two can own the same properties, assets, even have the same children.
The Pro-Se Litigant
Parties that are looking to represent themselves are referred to as “pro-se litigants.” This means that they are not represented by an attorney. Many people will attempt to represent themselves when they believe they do not have the money to get a divorce, but many do not know how expensive fees can be.
However, it is important to know that there are options that exist for people who are financially struggling. These options can come in the form of fees being waived, but require a procedure be followed. This procedure includes filling out and filing the paperwork, calling the court to get a hearing date, and noticing the other party about this hearing. Some will qualify for having their fees waived, but the truth can not be said for everyone as you must show your financial need.
Being a pro-se you may often get the feeling that nothing is being done on your case, but it is important to be on top of the ball. Since nothing happens automatically as a pro-se it is your job to follow up with everything going on in your case.
What if my Divorce is Uncontested?
There have been many potential clients that believe their divorce will be uncontested, and simply want to hire an attorney to draft their final agreement. However, many do not understand fully what is considered uncontested. To be uncontested, the two parties will need to have reached an agreement on everything including; child custody/support, and the division of property and debts. The actual reality that parties have come to an agreement regarding all of this is rare.
Uncontested divorces are key to spouses wanting to save money by avoiding hiring legal representatives to do work from start to end. At any time though your case can quickly turn in a contested divorce. However, even if your divorce is contested you should know that it does not have to be expensive at all.
The truth of the matter is divorces can go as smoothly as the parties make it and be as difficult as the parties want to fight. Having an attorney at your side when your case is taking a turn in ways you are not prepared to handled an attorney will be there to help ensure you are getting what you’re entitled to by law.
Hiring an attorney is important because they can assist you in ways you are not able to. In a divorce more is required than just filing forms. A good lawyer knows and understands the law, the legal system, the entire divorce proceeding, and what is worth fighting for and the proper way to do so.
In understanding the law and legal system, an attorney will make sure that you are not being sold short in your divorce case and you will not have to risk not getting what you are entitled to. Understanding the legal system, the attorney will know how the court has handled the issues you are facing in past decisions to better prepare you and your case.
Overall, your attorney is the expert where you fall short. This is because there is so much to know about the law and walking into something blind could possibly hurt you more in the end. Your attorney will advise appropriately when you should settle, or if you should go to court and fight.
Another big reason many will consider hiring an attorney is because of all the stress doing a divorce yourself can bring. As if it was not enough that your marriage has come to an end and your whole life is changing every day, now you must do your divorce on your own. You will become even more stressed trying to grasp what the divorce proceeding requires, and that comes with many risks.
For instance, an attorney is the person who can help you remain levelheaded when your emotions may tell you to act otherwise. Your attorney is the person who must remain objective to the pending matter, and if you are a pro-se you will risk becoming too emotionally invested in your case. Through this, you will begin to lose sight of what is in the best interests of yourself and children.
Avoid Mistakes & Delays
Lastly an important reason many should consider hiring a divorce attorney is to avoid typical mistakes that pro-se litigants make. Often Judges will become frustrated with a pro-se by their lack of knowledge or experience. This can be to your disadvantage because many Judge’s would rather work with an attorney who is experienced.
The mistakes an unrepresented party may make can cause significant delays in their divorce proceeding. As mentioned above, the court does not typically do any work that is not requested by the party. It is up to the party to be well informed about what forms and information is needed, where to access the forms, the rules of the court, etc. All this information can easily be overlooked if you lack the knowledge, experience, and patience.
In conclusion, a person should know that it is never required to have an attorney represent you in your divorce. However, you should be cautious with what comes with representing yourself or believing your matter is uncontested. Having an attorney will offer you expert advice, reduce stress, and help you avoid mistakes and delays. Here at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan we have experts who are ready to assist you in your divorce.