Divorce is a complicated process with many potential pitfalls. However, for some reason, quite a few people seem to think that they can navigate divorce proceedings without legal advice.
The proliferation of books and websites advising that you can perform a quick and cheap do-it-yourself divorce might mislead you into underestimating what knowledge and effort are necessary to manage the divorce process.
While you can theoretically fill out your own forms and submit them directly to the courts, you could potentially fall victim to one of many well-known legal risks as a result of foregoing legal representation.
You could find yourself squaring off against a highly respected lawyer
It’s possible that when you tell your ex you want to divorce and handle the process on your own that they readily agree with you. However, agreeing does not prevent them from retaining their own lawyer and possibly planning to steamroll you in court.
If you go into the process expecting a relatively quick and straightforward divorce with little conflict, only to wind up arguing against an experienced professional, you may struggle to secure any of the terms that you want.
You might hurt your case by pushing for unrealistic outcomes
The family courts see contentious divorce cases every day, and many judges take an unfavorable view of individuals that they see as causing unnecessary conflict or putting themselves before other members of their family.
For example, if you try to push for sole custody of your children just because you’re mad at your ex about how they behaved during your marriage, the courts may see you as you putting yourself ahead of the children’s best interest. That strategy could backfire, meaning that your spouse will get more parenting time than you.
The same could happen if you try to push for unfair or uneven terms to property division, or if you make mistakes like not disclosing your assets in full. Additionally, you can drastically increase the cost of your divorce by drawing out the process in an attempt to secure an unreasonable outcome.
When emotions run the show, no one wins
Divorce is typically a difficult and emotional time, but that doesn’t mean that your emotions should guide your decisions. A lawyer can help you decide what your goals are and push to make those goals your future reality.
It can be hard to focus on specific terms and outcomes when everything stems from an emotional place. Your attorney won’t have the same emotional attachment to your divorce or marriage that you will, which will give them a more objective perspective and make them a critical tool in maximizing the success of your divorce.