Divorce: The pros and cons of legal counsel

If you are considering representing yourself in your personal divorce matter, you should first consider some of the advantages and drawbacks of doing so. It is certainly possible to represent your position successfully in court without being a licensed professional. However, if you are considering pro se advocacy, you should ensure that you fully comprehend what you could potentially gain or lose from the process as an unlicensed person.

What are the benefits of pro se legal representation?

If you chose to take on your divorce matter alone, you should make certain that you familiarize yourself with applicable divorce laws. Texas has some unique and complex family law mandates, so it is imperative to understand your rights and responsibilities. This also requires knowledge about the county's court and filing procedures. You must gather the appropriate documents connected with your divorce matter.

Once you are cultured in related procedures and laws, you may consider pro se representation. There are benefits that come with this "do-it-yourself" process.

Cost: One of the observable benefits of the process is that divorce is generally cheaper when you do it on your own. If you do not hire an attorney, you will inevitably save some money. Moreover, money saved in the process can be used to establish a life after divorce.

Control: Another major benefit of self-representation is that you have complete dominion and control of the process. You can actually execute every decision on your own behalf and retain complete oversight over the entire matter. For example, you will be cognizant of everything submitted to the court and have direct contact with the opposing party's attorney.

On the other hand, the process requires a lot of attention to detail. If you are not familiar with divorce matters, you could easily overlook an important step in the process.

What are the benefits of hiring a divorce lawyer?

While a do-it-yourself dissolution may be enough in some situations, it is best to consider a professional lawyer, who can adequately represent your interests. Attorneys have more than legal knowledge. They also have experience, which is very crucial.

Knowledgeable representation: A divorce attorney stays current with the law and any relevant changes. Moreover, a lawyer can use the law to gain the best possible outcome for your situation. For example, if your marriage has intricate details to settle, an attorney can address such issues within the context of the proceeding. Specifically, you might encounter child custody and support issues, as well as legal conflicts concerning assets, debts, future assets and more. A family law attorney has practice negotiating these matters.

A reduction in stress: A legal professional can also reduce stress associated with the process. If you spend all of your time learning the basic laws applicable to traditional divorce, you may become overwhelmed, confused and tired. This can take a toll on you, which is not what you want to deal with as you confront the end of your relationship. There is already a lot of stress associated with marriage dissolution.

An attorney can help eliminate any anxiety connected with your legal matter. He or she will need to gather information from you, but the attorney will also take care of administrative and time-consuming tasks. Specifically, a lawyer can handle the filing of petitions and other documents with the court - a process that requires expertise with applicable procedures. This will allow you more time to look after yourself and prepare for the future.

Proficiency and expertise: Another advantage of a divorce professional is that he or she can avoid common mistakes. When individuals opt for pro se advocacy, lack of knowledge can lead to errors. For example, if you underestimate the worth of a particular asset, this could cause issues in the property division process. This mistake could result in financial harm or require subsequent legal proceedings. An attorney has knowledge in such matters. He or she is not likely to stress out within the process and overlook important steps.

Additionally, legal jargon can be confusing. A lawyer trained in such language can adequately relay your interests to opposing parties and the court. If you do not have adequate knowledge of common family law terminology, you might misrepresent your position. This, in turn, could result in a final divorce decree that misstates your understanding of an acceptable agreement.

On the other hand, a lawyer can ensure that legal documents, which are submitted to the court, clearly state your position. Then, the divorce settlement will be free of ambiguities and errors.

Timely procedures: One of the best benefits of retaining legal assistance is that lawyers are good at avoiding delays. Traditionally, issues with paperwork or problems can significantly slow down your divorce matter. However, lawyers are familiar with such hurdles. A divorce professional can ensure that the paperwork is right the first time. This will help expedite the entire dissolution process. If an issue does arise, the lawyer will have the resources and experience to address the problem right away. The sooner issues are addressed, the sooner you will be on your way to a new future.

Of course, a lawyer will cost more than pro se representation up front; however, if you make mistakes in representing your position, this will inevitably cost more in the end. Moreover, while you may feel as though you have more control over your matter if you represent yourself, a seasoned lawyer will communicate with you and ensure that your position is adequately heard in court. A strong legal advocate will listen to your wishes and only act in accordance with your desires.

Divorce and other family law proceedings are never easy. This branch of law comes stamped with stress, emotions, costs and more. As a result, most individuals appreciate the guidance of a legal professional along the way.

If you are heading into the marriage dissolution process, think hard before you take on legal hurdles alone. A proficient attorney can work by your side to develop the best possible outcome for your life.

Written by the Office of Richard T. Bell