Divorces can run the gamut from relatively quick and easy when a couple is amicable to long, drawn-out, and contentious when they are not. If you are expecting the former, it can be tempting for you and your spouse to forego attorneys altogether and attempt to accomplish your divorce without help. Going through a divorce unrepresented can put you at a considerable disadvantage, whether you realize it or not. You may not be fully aware of the rights that you have, and a divorce can go from amicable to disastrous in the blink of an eye. Remember that you and your spouse are splitting for a good reason and strongly consider getting legal help from the start, even if you think you could go it alone.
What Are Some Things that Could Go Wrong if I Get Divorced Without a Lawyer?
Getting your own legal counsel is extremely unlikely to make your divorce more difficult under any circumstances, but failing to do so could cause problems. Going into a divorce unrepresented is a risky option for reasons like:
- Amicability changes - It might seem like you and your spouse are still friendly despite the breakdown in your romantic relationship and will have no issue handling the divorce alone. However, this could change very quickly. You could discover that your spouse’s personality or demands change when they begin dating someone else, or you could experience much more conflict than you initially thought over certain issues.
- Secrets emerging - Can you say for certain that your spouse is not hiding any money or assets that you should be entitled to a share of? Probably not - it is more common than you might think. Finding out midway through a divorce that your spouse has a retirement account you did not know about can be a huge setback. An attorney will be able to locate secret assets during the discovery process.
- Sticking points - Most couples find that there is at least one issue they simply cannot agree on. Child custody concerns are a common sticking point. When you and your spouse reach an impasse, you may have little choice but to seek help from a lawyer. It is generally easier if the attorney has been representing you from the start as opposed to entering your case at a late stage.
Divorce attorneys are often quite good at minimizing conflict if that is your goal. Hiring a lawyer is not likely to turn an amicable divorce into a contentious one, but the reverse could be true for some.