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The Unforeseen Cost of Representing Yourself in a Divorce

Updated: 05/04/2023

Est. Reading: 3 minutes

It is a common thought that, “I can save a lot of money on attorney fees if I do not hire an attorney.” This may be the case, but what will it cost you in the long run? There is an abundance of hidden risks that people take when they decide to try to handle their divorce by themselves. The old saying goes “he who represents him [or herself] has a fool for a client.” Here are a few things to consider before deciding whether or not to hire an attorney to assist you through your divorce proceedings.

You may lose rights that you never knew you had

Obviously, if you are not paying a divorce lawyer to represent you, you will save money upfront. Even though people do go through simple divorces without an attorney, the chances of a divorce remaining simple are low. When speaking to self-representing parties, I am not surprised to find out that they lost many rights that they would have kept had they hired a good family law attorney.

There are numerous rights that most people are unaware that they have. Without an attorney advising them, those who self-represent as pro-se will remain in the dark, unaware of their rights when they could have, and should have, received a better result. Simply put, you cannot defend the rights you do not know that you have.

Going through the grieving process involved in divorce is not the best time to handle the most important issues and decisions of your life by yourself

People are often emotionally invested in their cases, with or without an attorney. However, when individuals represent themselves, they often allow their passion and emotion to blind their ability to reason. The divorce process is an emotional roller coaster. The high level of emotion and conflict can often cloud our normal reasoning ability and blur our rationality. Thus, self-represented parties have a high likelihood of unreasonably focusing their attention on matters of slight, if any, significance.

an image of a divorce courthouse

This can cause them to miss the forest for the trees and end up becoming less likely to obtain the outcome they seek. The old saying that “we are our own worst enemy’ becomes extremely true when going through the divorce process. This is one of the reasons why hiring an attorney is so important. Good family law attorneys can see cases from an objective and professional perspective. Such a perspective allows them to avoid missing the forest for the trees, keeps their client’s focus on the relevant issues that will help them and their cases, protect their client from further emotional turmoil, and guards their client’s rights through the process.

Avoid being the person who has a fool for a client and invest in your future

Why is it said that he who represents himself has a fool for a client? The self-represented pro-se party is likely to lose much more money in the long run than they would have spent had they hired an attorney. An attorney’s job is to aid their client and help them understand their rights and to mediate, negotiate, or litigate to keep their rights well preserved.

The long-term costs of not protecting your rights can affect your pocketbook, your children’s lives, and your own quality of life. How much time would you like to have with your kids? What will your parenting plan look like? How will your assets be divided? There is something to be said about letting your attorney work for you to advocate for your future. This can protect you from a lot of the emotional costs involved in your divorce case.

The benefits greatly outweigh the upfront costs

At first glance, it may seem like a good idea to go through the divorce process on your own. After all, you can save upfront costs on attorney fees. However, your long-term financial and emotional costs may outweigh your short-term benefit. Thus, if you would like to save yourself more money in the long run, be able to rest assured that your case is being handled professionally and that your rights are being protected, rather than attempting to deal with the complexities of the law while you are going through the grieving process, then hiring a good family law attorney to work for you through the divorce process is without a doubt in your best interest.

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