Before people make the decision to act as their own attorney during their divorce, there are four things they should consider.
For many people in Colorado, filing for divorce seems easy. While this may be true for people without children or assets, others may be at a distinct disadvantage trying to handle a divorce on their own. Before people choose to act as their own legal counsel, they may want to consider four reasons why they should have an attorney.
1. Knowledge of the law
State law provides both spouses with rights concerning property and assets acquired throughout the marriage. When people decide to end a marriage, their property is divided through equitable means. Many believe that spouses will share assets equally, but this is not necessarily true. In some cases, one spouse may receive a significant portion of the property, depending on certain factors.
An attorney can help you discover whether you are entitled to a share of your spouse’s pension or other retirement funds, or whether a trust interest is also marital, subject to equitable division. There are many areas where the lack of legal knowledge by someone representing himself or herself can result is a very unfair outcome.
A family attorney can explain these factors and assist in gathering information that will support a claim on marital assets. Attorneys also help people identify all existing marital property such as retirement plans, interest on premarital assets, stocks, work bonuses and real property.
2. Less stress
Going through a divorce can be mentally and emotionally exhausting for everyone involved. Hiring a family law attorney can lessen the stress and allow spouses to focus on other things, such as helping their children adjust to the change. Attempting to file for divorce on one’s own can easily become overwhelming for even the most resilient person, due to the amount of information required and the filing deadlines. Experienced family law attorneys have the resources to help you through the divorce process. This can include referrals to mortgage professionals who can help with financing issues, tax specialists, vocational support professionals, financial specialists and others, for example.
Attorneys have support staff to make sure that everything is filled out correctly and that the courts receive the requested information within the established time frames. We can help reduce the stress on you and your children.
3. An equal playing field
It is rare that both spouses are in equal places of power and knowledge when a marriage ends. Having a family law attorney on your side helps assure a greater sense of equality.
If one spouse has an attorney, the other spouse will be at a distinct disadvantage. Having a family law attorney in your corner levels the playing field. An attorney can review a proposed settlement, help a battered mother seek protection for herself and her children through a domestic protective order, and take legal steps if the other spouse is hiding marital assets or trying to get rid of marital property.
When parties have never married, the challenges of learning to work together to solve parenting issues can be great. Having a family law attorney on your side will lead to better parenting outcomes for you and your children.
4. Costly mistakes avoided
The law in the State of Colorado states that a person who represents himself or herself has the same duties and obligations as a fully trained attorney. Thus the same rules apply to people who represent themselves as apply to attorneys. When one has a serious medical problem, it is unwise to practice medicine on oneself. When one has a serious medical problem, it is unwise to practice medicine on oneself. Similarly, when you face serious legal problems, you should not be your own lawyer. If you do proceed without counsel, you will need to familiarize yourself with court procedures and how evidence should be presented. This can be time-consuming and if a mistake is made, it could jeopardize the outcome of the case. It is simply too late when you are in court and cannot figure out how to have the judge consider a critical document in your case. When you represent yourself, there are no do-overs if your court case goes sideways.
For many people, going through a divorce is traumatic, and they can benefit from meeting with a compassionate and skilled attorney. Littman Family Law has experienced and skilled attorneys who can help through this difficult time in your life.