Going into a pro se divorce, or choosing to represent oneself in divorce proceedings, without preparation is a dangerous idea. No matter how amicable you and your spouse are, it pays to understand the legal ground on which you stand.
Especially in the case of an uncontested divorce, a do-it-yourself divorce could end up being the best decision for all parties involved. There are clear benefits that come along with a pro se divorce:
The Cost: Attorneys can make legal proceedings infinitely smoother, but like all professionals, they cost money to hire. Representing yourself will potentially cut the cost dramatically, and when finances are an issue, that might be the most important thing.
Eased Tensions: Speaking with your ex directly, rather than through legal counsel, may ease the tension of the divorce proceedings, provided that you and your ex can communicate and behave rationally and fairly. If you and your ex can work together, this may ensure a fast and favorable outcome for all parties.
A Contested Divorce: Issues may appear that you and your ex didn’t foresee. If you cannot reach an agreement, you may end up needing to approach a court to adjudicate your disputes. Without prior experience, this may end up being an unfavorable outcome.
Lack of Experience: Divorce attorneys have had years of schooling and experience to prepare them for their job. They know which statutes to apply in order to achieve the best settlement, understand the complexities behind divorce proceedings, and have access to the resources to answer any question or conflict that may arise. Unless you work as a divorce attorney, chances are your knowledge doesn’t quite compare to a divorce lawyer’s.
Paperwork: Just because there are no lawyers involved doesn’t mean the required documents go with them. Writing them to legally protect yourself in the future, as well as ensuring that the wording won’t unexpectedly affect the terms of your settlement, is a vital part of divorce proceedings. Without trained eyes looking at the documents, there’s a chance something could be overlooked and you may end up with an unfair settlement.
Emotions: Divorces put an emotional strain on everyone involved, even if they aren’t apparent at the beginning. A good attorney will maintain an emotional distance in order to keep a level head throughout the turmoil of divorce proceedings. Without an attorney, you may end up agreeing to unfavorable terms in a separation agreement in order to get the process over with so you can move forward.
No matter your reasoning for proceeding with a DIY divorce, it’s important to get as much information as possible ahead of time. At The Harris Law Firm, we understand the value of accessible knowledge, and have provided dozens of articles that provide answers to common questions through our Family Law Resource Center. If you change your mind and choose to hire an attorney to help you with your divorce proceedings, we offer divorce representation services that can be tailored to fit your specific needs.
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