By Matt Allen
Divorced dads will sometimes consider representing themselves pro se to keep costs down at a time when resources may already be stretched thin.
Inevitably, they have two divorce questions to ask:
- Should I actually try representing myself?
- We’re agreeing on everything so do I even need an attorney?
Many family law attorneys compare the do-it-yourself divorce to the do-it-yourself surgery: you’ve broken your arm but you’ve decided to fix the problem without involving a doctor.
Can you treat your broken arm by yourself? Certainly. Will you enjoy the long-term ramifications of your do-it-yourself fix? Almost certainly not.
Litigants choosing to go it alone often are entering a courtroom for the first times in their lives and have no training on the rules of evidence, or know what divorce questions to ask, or know what it is the judge will be looking for in making a determination.
If you are representing yourself pro se, particularly against an opposing party whose attorney will draft the order or judgment in terms favorable to their client, it’s likely you will face an uphill battle in attempting to reverse or modify those initial decisions later.
The procedures in the family law courtrooms may seem simple, but they are complicated. The mistakes you make can have lasting, non-modifiable consequences.
In general, unless you entered your divorce and child custody agreement under fraud, duress or mistake in fact (but not ignorance) or the agreement is unconscionable, you are out of luck if down the road you think the agreement is unfair to you. You cannot retract an offer your spouse has already accepted and the court has entered as its decree.
The expense of receiving legal advice on divorce from a qualified family law attorney may seem unaffordable at the time of divorce, but the cost in money, time and peace of mind of not retaining a lawyer is most likely much greater in the long run.
So that cheap divorce could turn out to be costly since the "quick and inexpensive" divorce is only in proportion to how much you are willing to give up.
Cordell & Cordell has men's divorce lawyers located across the nation fighting for the rights for fathers. To schedule an initial consultation, contact the Cordell & Cordell office nearest you.
And remember the above divorce questions to ask.
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