Divorce can be expensive, which can make people eager to save money where they can. The most often way to do this is by refusing to hire a divorce lawyer and trying to handle the process on their own.
Now, up front, this is definitely possible, and people do represent themselves in divorces all the time, but there are a lot of reasons why this really isn’t the way you want to go when you’re getting ready to go your own way.
Why, you may ask? After all, on the surface, it seems pretty straightforward. If you can work out an agreement with the spouse you are divorcing on all the major issues, you can file the paperwork for the court fee and get through it all fairly quickly.
That’s a very rosy way of looking at divorce, and it often doesn’t hold up in reality. But just to prove this point, here are a few important points gleaned from an experienced divorce lawyer.
First, divorce is often a longer process than people think it is. While many people assume it’s like in the movies, with a few minutes spent in front of a judge and then complete freedom, the reality is that a divorce can take months or years to complete.
Part of the reason for this is that dividing two lives that have previously been so united can get messy very quickly. You may think you have an agreement in place with your soon-to-be-former spouse, but that agreement still has to be formalized. Suddenly, they don’t want to make spousal support payments at all. Or, they can’t stand the idea that they only get the kids on weekends. Or, they don’t want to lose the house, they love it too much.
There are all kinds of ways an agreement can go wrong, even when spouses are on good terms, as they go into a divorce.
Lawyers can clear all of this up. They can take care of the paperwork and most of the other work so that while the divorce is going on, you aren’t dedicating your life to it. They can also work out the best deal in a passionless way between themselves so that there’s no chance for a sudden rise in resentment to destroy an agreement.
That’s all great, but the real reason you want a divorce lawyer is because they know the law, and they only represent you. While you may not wish your spouse any particular evil, you definitely want to come out of the divorce the happier person if someone has to be better off. With a divorce lawyer, you’re much more likely to get the best possible deal, and when it comes to your home, your car, your income, your debt, and especially your kids, you really do want to get the best deal out there.
If you are really confident that you and your partner can work these issues out on your own and both walk away happy, by all means, save the money, but if there’s any chance it won’t be so simple, get a divorce lawyer now.