Friday, September 28, 2007

FAQ regarding Divorce # 1: Should I hire a lawyer or try to do it myself?

We get asked this question all the time. We usually respond with a rhetorical, “Would you do surgery on yourself?” We do not think you should represent yourself in any Court proceeding. However, if there is basically no property other than personal possessions, no children, and all you’re really doing is getting the Court to bless a separation that has already occurred, it may very well be that the downside of a mistake is substantially outweighed by the certainty of attorney’s fees. You should understand that representing yourself will not be easy unless you already have some legal training. Also, you should proceed very cautiously.

You should also be aware that most attorneys will not step in to correct any problems created when you represent yourself (called “pro se” representation). We have seen many situations when a pro se litigant gets to the Court date only to have the Judge deny the divorce because he or she failed to meet all of the procedural requirements. You must also understand that, other than telling you what the defect is, the Judge is unlikely to help because of they are prohibited (as are Court staff generally) from giving legal advice to the parties. If you decide to represent yourself, you must get the most current “do it yourself” package (one set is available at http://www.tyla.org/family_law.html) and make sure that you understand all of the procedures before taking action.