When it is apparent your marriage just is not going to work out, you might start looking for information about the divorce process. Like many others, you turn to the internet for help. Some of the results you find may lead you to think that it is not necessary to have an attorney to help you with your divorce; instead, you decide to try to handle it on your own. You could not be making a bigger mistake.
Here are some of the dangers of do-it-yourself divorce. I have seen many clients who have caused themselves serious problems that have been difficult, or impossible, to reverse. I don't want you to make similar mistakes.
An attorney knows how the divorce process works
You may think that the ending of a marriage is a situation where anything goes. You may want to try to portray your former partner as a terrible person and parent; or your spouse may do that to you. Either way, you may think that these nasty claims are important in court, but generally, they are not. The courts work to reach an equitable outcome for both parties. The reasons for your divorce (generally the "grounds") do not really matter, unless they directly impact an issue, such as a parent's ability to care for his or her child.
Your attorney will:
- Explain what divorce is,
- Explain the steps you need to take,
- Identify the issues and your goals, and
- Make a plan to achieve those goals.
This will help you know what is coming, and you will be ready for what is about to happen in your life.
If you represent yourself, you may not know:
- How to do the divorce (the process),
- What really is important,
- The various options available to reach your goal, or
- How to combat those nasty claims raised by your spouse.
An attorney is looking out for your best interests
You and your spouse are going to have disagreements during the divorce. Even if you agree on 99 percent of the outstanding issues, there is always going to be something that is said or done that causes the other side to become upset. If you get caught up in these emotions, you may decide to give in, just to put the divorce behind you as quickly as possible.
And, have you actually thought about, and settled all of the issues, or have you missed some? Have you actually made the best deal?
Your attorney helps you focus on the actual issues, instead of allowing you to feel trapped into feelings of despair or anger. He will help you to think carefully about what is best for you, and help you find the right divorce agreement.
An attorney will make sure you get it right the first time
There is nothing more frustrating than finding out you did something wrong, or forgot something, during your divorce. When you go back to try to make changes, you discover that you may have to live with the consequences of your decisions, or that it will cost a lot to change things. You are only allowed to revisit certain aspects of your divorce, and this only is permitted only under certain circumstances.
So, do it right the first time. Find an experienced family law attorney.
Do not enter into any agreements until you have talked to your attorney. You need to know exactly what options are available to you to help you best protect your interests at this time.