Abraham Lincoln said, “The man who represents himself has a fool for a client,” and while that may be a bit strongly worded, there is some truth to it. There are hundreds of articles circulating that offer tips on how to cut costs throughout the divorce process. One of the most common suggestions provided is the idea of filing for divorce pro se. This term means that a person chooses to represent themselves in his or her legal matter instead of having legal representation. However, when dealing with a divorce, forgoing a lawyer may not be the best way to save money.
Missing in these financial planning articles is the fact that your decision to save money up front by not engaging an attorney might actually end up costing you much more later on. Here are some reasons that suggest why having a divorce lawyer is better than going pro se.
Divorce lawyers know their state’s divorce laws and courtroom procedures. The process varies from state to state, which means there are different rules and standards that both partners must acknowledge when seeking a divorce. If you choose to represent yourself, you could waste a lot of time researching the specific criteria while also putting yourself at greater risk of overlooking something important, such as knowing when to file certain petitions and motions. Divorce lawyers know these detailed laws and stay up to date on changes in the law so you can focus on other pressing aspects of your life.
Furthermore, divorce lawyers are an impartial third party. Divorcing a spouse is not only stressful from a legal standpoint, but can also be extremely emotional. The necessary discussion of personal information about the marriage often causes intense anguish, and that lack of detachment could negatively impact your strategy in the courtroom. Since divorce lawyers aren’t connected to the marriage, they will be more focused and rational when addressing legal issues to help ensure that you receive the best possible outcome.
Divorce lawyers are also helpful in preventing unnecessary delays. If an error or issue is discovered somewhere along the way in your divorce process, it’s imperative that you address the problem sooner than later. However, if you’re representing yourself, there could be a significant delay in the date that the divorce is final depending on your schedule or your inability to locate certain documentation. An attorney can provide assistance in such instances and work to keep the process on schedule so that your divorce isn’t prolonged.
Although drafting divorce documents and presenting them in a courtroom doesn’t appear to be daunting, there is a greater risk of misinterpretation if you don’t have guidance from a lawyer. Failing to use appropriate language could result in the creation of a divorce decree that does not reflect your intentions. If you hire a divorce lawyer, he or she will work with you to create a document that accurately states your wishes so that the divorce decree will be error free and precise.
For more information about the benefits of hiring a divorce lawyer, contact the family law attorneys at Protokowicz & Rodier, P.A.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide about the subject matter. A licensed Maryland attorney should be sought about your specific circumstances.