Considering Filing A Pro Se Divorce? Here Are 3 Reasons You Might Want To Rethink That Plan

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Should you and your spouse try to do a do-it-yourself divorce? If you and your spouse are able to agree on everything and the divorce is amicable, you might be tempted to file the entire case pro se, which is the legal term for an action done without the assistance of an attorney. While the temptation to avoid involving attorneys may be strong, there are some compelling reasons that you should each hire an attorney to at least review the documents you've created before you sign them and ask a judge to finalize them.

1.) You could end up costing yourself more money than you think.

One of the biggest errors made by pro se litigants is not filing the proper paperwork, filing paperwork that has something missing in it, or filing the paperwork in the wrong location. If that happens, your case will likely be bounced and you'll be out all of the filing fees and court costs that you're assessed up to that point—because they will not be returned. If you have to take the day off work for the hearing and travel to the courthouse, you're also out those wages (or at least the person time) for nothing.

The nominal fee that you would pay an attorney to look over your paperwork and make sure that everything is correct and you're filing in the right courthouse could end up saving you both money and time in the long run.

2.) You could be giving up something that you don't have to give up.

A lot of the research that you did for your case was probably done online, which can be a wonderful source for broad information but not always the best when it comes to dealing with the unique facets of a case. You may be giving up entitlement to something that you don't have to give up because of information that you find online that doesn't go into enough detail about exceptions that might apply to your situation. 

And some mistakes can't be undone. For example, if you think that you aren't really entitled to alimony because of your income but you actually are due to other factors, like the quality of life that you experienced while married, signing away your rights to any alimony is an irreversible mistake.

3.) You may not be aware of some potential pitfalls.

You also need any attorney to look over the divorce and warn you of potential pitfalls for your situation. For example, does your divorce assign the debt from a joint credit card to your spouse? If so, that's great for you—unless he or she fails to pay it. In that case, the credit card company won't care what's in your divorce papers because you're still legally on the hook for the debt and creditors can still come after you for the debt and damage your credit.

If you and your spouse want to handle most of the details of your divorce yourself and can come to an agreement on all of the terms, that's fantastic—but be smart about the situation. Each of you should hire an attorney like Kalamarides & Lambert to look over the paperwork and advise you of any potential problems before things are finalized.