It is not unusual for those facing an impending divorce or custody dispute to decide not to hire an attorney. Common reasons people chose not to hire an attorney include trying to save money, collaborative separation or the assumption they can handle it themselves (often with the help of online resources).
Unfortunately, while this thought process may make sense at the time, there are serious risks when you decide to proceed with divorce or custody proceedings without an attorney.
- I can’t afford an attorney and it will be cheaper if I just sign the agreement.
Not retaining – or at least consulting with – an attorney could be a big mistake. While there are attorney’s fees, you will often end up saving money in the end because you are protected from entering an agreement that may not be in your best interests. By hiring an attorney, you will be able to avoid issues that would require additional litigation to resolve any disputes.
While many people would struggle to pay an attorney from their salary alone, a person may have access to additional savings or resources to help with the cost. If the one party has significantly more income, they may be responsible for some of the lower income party’s fees in the divorce process.
- I’ve done my research, I can handle this case on my own.
If you know the other party has retained an attorney, you should never attempt to handle your side of the case without your own representation.
A licensed family attorney understands the legal system’s ins and outs and knows what information is going to be the most important to provide to the courts.
Part of this process requires your attorney to submit evidence. In order for this to be successfully admitted, technical and complicated paperwork is required. If it is not submitted correctly, the important parts of your case may not be admissible in court.
- The other parent or spouse is indicating they would like to work things out amicably.
Even in amicable situations, it is critical to have the agreed upon settlement drafted appropriately. Without the experience of a family attorney, it is nearly impossible to think of and properly address the various issues that are part of the agreement.
While the forms provided by the court are a great starting point, they cannot address all the nuances of every case. An attorney can help create a settlement agreement that is still agreeable to both parties and does not interfere with the amicable settlement process.
It is also not uncommon for a party to retain an attorney to work behind the scenes. While you are negotiating without the advice of counsel, you may be ultimately entering into an agreement that has been essentially drafted by an attorney representing the other party.
- You don’t need a detailed parenting plan because you’ll be able to resolve time sharing issues on your own.
If time sharing, vacation time, use of cell phones by children, cost of cell phones, car insurance and other details are not specifically set forth in the parenting plan, you are at the mercy of the other parent’s willingness to agree to those requests. What if one of you remarries and their plans now conflict with yours? What if, at some point in the future, you and the other parent are not getting along?
There are unforeseeable events that could affect the time you get to spend with your child.
Get a Reliable Attorney
These are just a few of the reasons why it is important to consult with a family attorney such as The McKinney Law Group when you are involved in a divorce or custody case if you need a reliable family attorney to handle your case.