WHY SHOULDN’T I REPRESENT MYSELF IN MY DIVORCE
Why do I need a lawyer? This seems easy enough, I can do it myself. Or, my soon-to-be ex and I agree on everything, we don’t need lawyers getting in the middle of it. I see this happen a lot, and more often than not people regret not having an attorney represent them in their divorce. They feel that they could have gotten better results had they retained an attorney, and they are probably right.
There are plenty of reasons you should have a lawyer representing you in your divorce. First and foremost, getting divorced is incredibly emotional, especially if you are not the person seeking the divorce. When you are feeling heartbroken and devastated, it is difficult to look out for your own best interests. You might think you don’t want anything out of the divorce because you don’t want to hurt your partner. Or you might be angry and think you just want to be done with everything, so your partner can keep whatever they want. An attorney representing you will be thinking with their head, not their heart, and your attorney is ethically obligated to zealously represent you and do what is in your best interest. Having a third party who is not emotionally invested and can look at these issues with a clear head can be essential to your divorce.
Secondly, you won’t know what your rights are without an attorney. Attorneys spend years in school learning the law, then continue their legal education throughout each year to stay up-to-date on the law. Without an attorney, you might not know that you are entitled to a portion of your spouse’s retirement accounts. You might not know that you are entitled to be paid for a portion of the equity in the marital home, even if the other party is keeping the home in the divorce. If your spouse owns a business, you might not know that you are entitled to a portion of the business’s value. You might have no idea how to go about valuing that business to determine how much it is even worth. You might not know whether you are entitled to spousal support. Having someone on your side who knows your rights is of the utmost importance. It could be the difference between you being financially stable after your divorce and having to rely on state aid to eat or keep a roof over your head.
The Court process itself can be confusing and overwhelming. Knowing what documents need to be filed and when; knowing what hearings you need to attend and where they will be held; knowing what needs to be done to finalize your divorce; knowing how the Judge assigned to your case likes to have things done. These are all important details that an attorney will know like the back of their hand, but will be completely foreign to you. It’s worth the peace of mind having an experienced attorney on your side.
It is especially important to have an attorney if your partner is represented by an attorney. Your partner’s attorney has no obligation to you, but they are obligated to get the best possible results for your partner. Unfortunately, some attorneys are known to take advantage of the lack of knowledge of unrepresented parties in divorce cases. It’s not worth the risk. You need an attorney who will work hard to get the best results for you, just as your ex’s attorney is working hard to get the best results for them.
Don’t become a victim to any of these pitfalls in your divorce. Call my office today for a free consultation.