Reasons You Should Not Represent Yourself During a Divorce

Reasons You Should Not Represent Yourself During a DivorceThe divorce process can be extremely stressful, especially when you take into account the financial impact it can have. Divorce can have serious short-term and long-term effects on personal finances, especially in situations in which a divorce itself is contested or when the terms of a divorce cannot be mutually agreed upon. However, the advantage of seeking out skilled legal representation during a divorce cannot be undervalued. While there are many free or low-cost legal alternatives to hiring a family law attorney to handle your divorce, they often overlook extremely important aspects of the divorce process.

Required Forms and Pleadings

Many forms are available online for you to fill out, but the language they use can range from extremely confusing to extremely vague. Entering the wrong information on such forms can cause unnecessary delays in the divorce process, and can actually cost you more in the long run should you need to refile such forms with corrected information. Many of the free legal forms available online, while sometimes helpful in preparing you for the type of information you may be requested to provide during the process, are still just templates where you plug in what seem to be the appropriate details. It is often impossible to personalize such forms, or to create your own thorough version from examples provided. Family law attorneys that focus their practice on divorce are adept at recognizing the personal details of an individual’s divorce in a way that generic forms simply cannot.

Accuracy on forms and other pleadings becomes even more important when children or individual finances come into play, as entering information incorrectly or even using the wrong word in a paragraph can have a detrimental effect on the outcome of the divorce itself. Inaccurate forms or pleadings can result in loss of business interest, increased financial obligations to a former spouse, decreased visitation time with a shared child, and many other negative consequences that a family law attorney with experience in handling divorce cases can help you avoid.

Presenting Evidence

Even then, forms are only one part of the divorce process. In many cases, a court’s final decision can be based on the presentation of evidence during the divorce process. Evidence is an extensive area of legal practice that requires knowledge of the rules of evidence for a given court. It is nearly impossible for someone to learn all of the rules of evidence that can come into play during a divorce proceeding by simply reading them or engaging in a generic tutorial on how to present evidence. Even if you are representing yourself, you are still required to abide by the rules of evidence and other rules governing courtroom procedures. While a judge may be willing to guide you through the process, attempting to navigate these formal rules without the guidance of an attorney with experience in presenting evidence during divorce proceedings can result in crucial pieces of your case being deemed inadmissible. If that happens, you may not be able to prove an important aspect of your case, and that can lead to negative financial and legal consequences once a divorce is finalized.

Negotiation and Presentation

Legal training often involves an emphasis on negotiation skills. While you may be a skilled negotiator in business or in other aspects of your personal life, that does not always translate to being an effective legal negotiator. This is especially true when you are personally invested in the outcome of the divorce, which may hinder your objectivity. While you may be able to be objective on a personal level in business or other areas of your life, divorce involves personal feelings and relationships in a way that other transactions do not. Keeping your eye on the big picture can be difficult, but a family law attorney with experience in handling divorce cases can be a useful tool in helping redirect your energy and in helping you decide which battles to fight during the divorce process. Additionally, you may end up agreeing to terms that you do not actually have to or that carry severe financial consequences you may not be aware of.

Being in court for a divorce proceeding, or for any other legal matter, is vastly different than the courtroom scenes common on television today. It is often difficult for those without formal legal training to know what to say, when to say it, and how to say it. You need to have a firm grasp on the procedures of a given proceeding in order to use them to your advantage and ensure that they are productive. Having a family law attorney that has this type of experience who can speak for you and guide you during these proceedings can save you the confusion and stress that appearing in court usually brings. Furthermore, not being familiar with the divorce proceedings or becoming too emotionally involved in your appearance can result in negative consequences. While you may not mean to be disrespectful, speaking incorrectly or out of turn can be taken as disrespectful by some judges. They are less likely to agree with your assertions when they believe you have been disrespectful, and that can cause negative consequences for you in the terms of a finalized divorce.

Tax Consequences

Most people know that divorce can affect one’s personal finances. You are likely moving from a place where you have two incomes to pay household and other expenses into another place where you are responsible for such bills on your own. Most people are also aware that divorce can result in financial obligations to a former spouse in the form of child support or spousal support depending on the circumstances of the case. However, many people are unaware of the potential tax consequences of the terms of a finalized divorce. It is important to understand the potential effects of negotiated terms within a divorce, which may include increased tax liability in some situations. A family law attorney that has experience in divorce proceedings where these types of concerns may arise can work with you to make more informed decisions based on the possible financial consequences of those decisions.

Embracing Legal Representation

A helpful way to look at the cost of divorce is to see it as an investment in one’s future. If you have made the difficult decision to pursue divorce, you have made a choice to take a step towards a future where you are happier and in a better place. If you attempt to navigate the divorce process alone, there could be some serious short-term and long-term effects that you may overlook. Family law attorneys with experience handling a variety of different types of divorce can ensure that small, intricate details of the divorce process are not overlooked, and that you are able to emerge from the process with the confidence that you are on the way to achieving the goals you have set for yourself. Given the severe consequences of overlooking any aspect of the divorce process, even something that appears to be inconsequential, the legal fees associated with divorce can actually save you a great deal of time, energy, and money down the road. To understand more about the legal fees associated with divorce, as well as related expenses and potential tax consequences, contact Scott J. Stadler to schedule a consultation.