Representing Yourself vs. Getting a Lawyer in a Divorce Case
Pros and Cons of Hiring a Professional Attorney
Going through a divorce is considered one of the most stressful and most expensive experiences a person can go through. This is a common experience for the parties involved that are abstaining from hiring an Orange County divorce attorney.
By not bringing divorce attorneys into the situation, people feel that they can save money by merely handling the situation by themselves.
The question of whether to hire an Orange County divorce mediation attorney or to represent themselves in negotiations is something every couple going through a divorce asks. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, but there are some things to consider before you make the decision.
The Pros of Representing Yourself
When someone represents themselves in court, it’s called “pro se.” This is a Latin word used in the legal world to mean “for oneself” or “on one’s own behalf.” It’s tempting to attempt to deal with a divorce pro se for a variety of reasons, such as:
- There is no need to pay attorney fees.
- It might feel like a better way to keep things amicable with your spouse, and
- The benefit of doing it alone outweighs the potential benefit of hiring an Orange County divorce attorney.
Imagine a couple that doesn’t have children or significant assets. There is no abuse in the relationship, and there isn’t a ton of money in the bank nor substantial debt between them. If the couple decides that the marriage is no longer working and wants to get a divorce. In this scenario, the couple might feel that there is little benefit in hiring an Orange County divorce mediation attorney. They may just divide what little they have and go on their separate ways.
Unfortunately, this scenario is scarce. More importantly, one side might say there is no need for an attorney when they already have one lined up. Sadly, some couples see divorce as a game where there are winners and losers, and winning must come at any cost.
Why You Should Never Go to Court Without an Orange County Divorce Attorney
It’s easy to rationalize that going pro se is the best option because it will save you time and money, make things easier, and might avoid harder feelings from your ex. At the same time, not having an Orange County divorce lawyer can actually work against you.
Here are some of the top reasons you don’t want to go to court alone:
- You May Unknowingly Give Up Your Rights
A divorce is more than just filing a few documents and calling it a day. Divorce attorneys know the rules of the legal system, what is worth putting up a fight for, and the best strategy to ensure a fair trial. Having representation becomes even more important when the other party hires a lawyer.
Even those who do their research, attend public hearings, or ask around may not wholly know their full rights. How can you expect to know what to fight for if you’re not fully aware of the options? Agreeing to a settlement without knowing all of the information can cost you much more than you would pay for a divorce attorney’s fees.
- You’re Not Prepared for the Unexpected
It’s easy to think that both parties have worked out all of their issues. You’ve worked out a custody arrangement for your children, child support, alimony payments, or even come to terms on how to split joint assets. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, your spouse changes their mind in the middle of the divorce.
There could be some other unforeseen issues that may arise during the trial that catches you off guard. Even with all of the prep you may have put in, you can’t be ready for everything. Hiring an attorney at this point in the game is going to be more expensive than having one from the start.
- You End Up with A Longer Divorce Process
Even if you think an Orange County divorce attorney isn’t within your budget range, they understand the divorce system in a way that can speed up the process exponentially. While an extended trial on your own may not cost you more money, it does cost you a great deal of time and frustration.
More importantly, not knowing the rules and laws around divorce can be extremely frustrating. If you’re not sure about the rules of evidence, procedural rules, etc., you’ll end up wasting your time trying to learn things on the fly.
While the judge may explain some of the rules as you go, it’s not the court’s job to advocate on your behalf or teach you the process. Your divorce attorney can prepare you for what to expect.
- You Might Lose Your Objectivity
Going through a divorce will take a hard toll on your emotions, especially if there are children involved.
If the relationship had any kind of abuse or one partner always seemed to dominate the other, the end agreements might not actually be fair. Being too close to a case can mean losing sight of what’s in your best interest.
An Orange County divorce attorney offers a fresh perspective on the entire situation. They can also help you focus on the issues that matter most and not just the ones that trigger your emotions.
- You Can Hurt How You Are Perceived
Judges typically find that people who argue for themselves in court actually do more harm than good. You may not be aware of courtroom etiquette or the appropriate body language that helps a judge take you seriously.
Since judges make their decisions based on the rule of law, being able to talk about the law in a rational and persuasive way is critical. Lawyers not only understand the law but are able to talk about it eloquently.
Presenting your case without the appropriate demeanor or understanding of the law can simply hurt how the judge perceives you.
You Don’t Have to go Through it Alone
Even if you feel incredibly isolated from the divorce or just want to get things over with so you can move on. Help is only a phone call away. If nothing else, a skilled Orange County divorce mediation attorney can ensure that negotiations with your ex go smoothly, fairly, and efficiently.
More importantly, you’ll be prepared for anything that comes your way. When it comes to your children, your assets, and your livelihood, it’s worth getting every advantage you can muster.