There are many aspects of our economy that are forcing people to file their own divorce as an effort to save money. Or it may be a confidence of having accomplished other tasks on your own that you had not done before. In fact, there are even many websites encouraging people to consider a do-it-yourself divorce and have some documents you can use. Even though they try to sell you on the economic benefits and ease of DIY divorce, divorce is rarely a simple process because it is about your whole life and every aspect of it or at least can affect every aspect of your life. Also only some terms of your divorce can be changed or modified in the future, so if something is done wrong you may not be able to change it very easily if at all. Filing your own divorce can complicate things. It comes with many disadvantageous risks that could cost you in the long run. While you might not be prepared to spend thousands of dollars on a lawyer, having an experienced legal professional that has dealt with the same situation or something similar on your side is money well-spent.
We hear of too many stories from people needing or desiring to get some changes done from their original divorce or being sued for changes to be made to their original divorce by their spouse and hear the stories of how some simple errors and other times complicated errors cause so much grief. In each of these instances it would have been worth the time and money to get it done right the first time.
Costs of Divorce
The first cost is a priceless cost because aspects of divorce cannot be changed in some cases or only except for limited or specific circumstances, such as property or debt distribution, alimony (spousal support), child support, and child custody. Can you live with the “cost” of not seeing your children as often as you could have if you would have hired a capable divorce attorney? Are you happy paying your now ex-spouse support for much longer than needed when you have both long moved on? In any case the cost of changing or modifying an aspect that can be modified will cost twice as much as the original DIY divorce gone wrong cost, sometimes even triple or quadruple the cost depending on what needs to be changed and how big of a case it is to change and correct with the Court.
Too many times we have people come to our office that paid a few hundred dollars for 22 9 CHAPTER 23 documents or found them for free somewhere on the internet and then paid the Court filing fee of a few hundred dollars only to find out some aspects are not enforceable or not acceptable. This can happen with people that have come to us as simple as a typographical error that cost around $4,000 to a situation where the spouse knew something that was an issue, but thought it would be handled outside the divorce and didn’t get it taken care of during the divorce and created an expensive issue to attempt to get fixed or modified into the divorce.
Issues With a DIY Divorce
One of the most crucial reasons not to represent yourself in a divorce is if your spouse has hired an attorney, especially a capable and experienced one. Their duty and job is not to make sure they have a fair deal for their client and you. Their first priority is to work towards a deal their client has hired them to work on. If you represent yourself in a divorce and the other party has a capable and experienced lawyer, that lawyer will take advantage of the fact that you don’t have the help of a legal professional. Their lawyer will know from experience what a good deal is, an average deal, and an unfair deal based on experience. Their lawyer will also know all the intricacies of the law that could leave you with a less-than-fair settlement. As a result, you might not get your side of the story heard at all or not sufficiently, and the other party will prevail.
Another issue with a DIY divorce is that you may not understand the law. You can do all the research you possibly can, but many different situations arise where a family law attorney truly understands your legal rights and options. Not only do they have the necessary education to help you in a divorce hearing, they also have practical experience negotiating and agreeing upon settlements that are equitable (fair) for both parties under the law. A lawyer can uncover all possible assets in a divorce and help you get a fair settlement.
A lawyer knows how to argue your case and negotiate outside of the courtroom. They know all the paperwork that needs to be filed and how to meet the deadlines. They also know all the ins and outs of the court system. Lawyers have been through the process many times. In addition, representing yourself could bring about legal issues. If you purchase divorce preparation services from a person not licensed to practice law, you could get in trouble, as this is against the law.
Ultimately, representing yourself in a divorce is not a good strategy and neither is purchasing a “divorce kit”, just like taking out your own appendix instead of consulting with a doctor or having a doctor take it out. There are too many risks that it may not end well. To be sure, self-representation is a huge undertaking, and it is something you should avoid at all costs if you want to achieve a favorable outcome in your divorce and can easily become much more costly.
An Attorney is a Valuable Asset in the Divorce Process in Georgia
You may think that a DIY divorce will save you money because you won’t have to pay lawyer fees. However, going this route will likely cost you more in the long run. A lawyer can help you in many ways. Make sure to protect yourself in the divorce process by reaching out to a talented Georgia divorce attorney for representation. You’ll be more likely to get the settlement you deserve.