If you have recently decided to get a divorce or if your spouse has recently filed the paperwork for a divorce, you might be wondering the best way to meet your legal needs throughout the process. There are several options; many people choose to hire a lawyer, while others decide to go the self-representation route. There are pros and cons to both, of course, and only you can decide which is the best path to take to settle your divorce. Read on to learn more about self-representation and hiring a private attorney.
Benefits of Hiring an Attorney
The route that most people are most familiar with is that of hiring a lawyer to manage a divorce. The way that it works is that you would have one attorney while your spouse would have another. There are some benefits to going this “traditional” route and hiring a lawyer. They include:
- The lawyer will handle all of the paperwork. This is a big reason that many people strongly consider (and end up) hiring an attorney. Divorce comes with a lot of paperwork that needs to be completed and filed by a certain time. An attorney can take care of a lot of it, and he or she can walk you through gathering the documents that you need.
- A lawyer can explain options that you might otherwise have been unaware of. If you are not familiar with divorce settlements (and even if you have been divorced before, you probably don’t have a wide berth of experience), there are likely options that you might not even know about. A divorce attorney can help you weigh your options.
- An attorney can give unbiased advice. The most important part of a divorce lawyer’s job is to advise their clients on what is best when working toward a settlement. You won’t have to make any decisions solely on your own, which can be reassuring during this stressful time.
Drawbacks to Hiring an Attorney
Along with the benefits of hiring a lawyer, there are, of course, also some drawbacks.
The main drawback is money. Divorce attorneys are very expensive; you could easily find yourself spending thousands, tens of thousands, or even more. This is particularly true if you are responsible for some or all of your spouse’s legal fees, too, which is sometimes the case if you work full-time to support the family and he or she stayed home with the children.
One other drawback is that by hiring an attorney, you might be telling your spouse that you are not willing to work out your disagreements regarding property and child custody on your own. This can turn an otherwise amicable divorce into a bigger fight, negatively impacting your settlement, wasting time and money, and affecting your children.
Benefits of Self-Representation
Many divorcing couples choose to represent themselves. This process is often shortened to one of the Latin phrases, “pro se” or “pro per.” When couples represent themselves, they enjoy a few specific benefits:
- Self-representation is much less expensive than hiring an attorney. You will not have to pay for every phone call, every photocopy, and every minute that a lawyer spends on your case. This can save you both many thousands of dollars.
- Self-representation allows the two of you to work together to manage your divorce. If you are hoping to remain amicable, it can be the best option. You will also be free to brainstorm solutions that work for you and your children.
- Self-representation can boost your confidence in yourself. If you prefer to figure out things on your own, a pro se divorce can be a good way to learn more about the family law system, work together with your spouse one last time, and learn to speak up for your wants and needs.
Drawbacks to Self-Representation
Of course, there are also drawbacks to self-representation. If you are not at all amicable with your spouse, then it might seem impossible to represent yourself. If he or she hires an attorney, you will not be on similar legal ground. And it’s possible that one or both of you will get short-changed with self-representation because you are unaware of the laws and don’t know all of the options available. Finally, if you are not organized, you can easily lose track of court documents, paperwork, and hearing dates, which can lead to your divorce being held up or a judge deciding on orders that are not in your favor.
It Doesn’t Have to Be All or Nothing
The good news is that you don’t have to choose between hiring an expensive attorney and going through the process completely alone. A legal resource group can help you by keeping track of dates, assisting you in completing paperwork and documents, understanding all of your options, and most of the other tasks that an attorney would provide. They also charge a fraction of the cost of a private divorce lawyer.
Even if your case is not amicable and your ex is suing you for full custody, trying to get out of paying child support, keeping your child from you, or otherwise disregarding a judge’s orders or not prioritizing your child’s best interests, a legal advocacy group like Family Law Legal Group can help. We can refer you to a parenting evaluator, a private investigator, counseling services, and other professionals that you might need to help you secure a fair settlement and get through your divorce in a timely manner. In the unlikely event that your divorce goes to trial, we can help you get through that, too.
Contact Family Law Legal Group to find out how we can help you represent yourself throughout your divorce and save you thousands of dollars in the process. There’s no reason to think you have to do it all alone; you can avoid some of the pitfalls of self-representation while still working through the process without the costs of a private lawyer when you depend on a legal resource group with the experience and expertise you are looking for.