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Why you shouldn’t handle your divorce alone

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2024 | Divorce

There is one mistake that is most commonly associated with modern divorce, it might be the decision to completely forego legal representation. Many people preparing for a complex legal process that could affect their finances for years to come try to cut corners by handling the process on their own. They think that saving money should be the biggest priority.

While there is something to be said about minimizing the expense incurred during a divorce, a pro se filing on one’s own behalf is not necessarily the smartest financial choice. In fact, many people come to regret a decision that they initially made to save money and recognize that it cost them far more in the long run than it saved. Why is it dangerous to represent oneself in a Florida divorce?

Laypeople don’t have a nuanced understanding of the law

The first and most obvious reason that divorcing without legal representation is often a mistake is that even the smartest member of the general public likely does not understand Florida state statutes in nuanced ways, nor how to apply them as effectively as possible to their advantage. From confusion about what is fair for the purposes of equitable property distribution to a misunderstanding about time-sharing statutes, people may misunderstand their rights and may fail to properly advocate for themselves.

Not only may they not recognize when a violation of their rights occurs, but they may make unnecessary concessions that put themselves at a long-term legal or financial disadvantage. Additionally, there is the very real possibility that someone filing for divorce on their own behalf could make mistakes with the paperwork. They put themselves at risk of the courts dismissing their filing or of having far more challenges throughout the process because of those mistakes.

There is also the possibility that the other party involved in the divorce may initially promise to cooperate in an amicable divorce but could then hire a lawyer, leaving their spouse at a marked disadvantage. Even someone somewhat familiar with state law might have a hard time holding their own when negotiating with a lawyer about divorce details.

People who accept unfair property division terms or who make major co-parenting concessions when representing themselves may end up paying far more to correct those mistakes later than they would have invested if they secured assistance from the earliest stages of the divorce process. Having a lawyer during divorce proceedings can give someone information about the law and an understanding of what they can expect. They can rely on a calm professional handling negotiations and advocating for them in court.

For many people, the support provided by the attorney during a divorce could help them achieve the best outcome and may alleviate their sense of anxiety throughout the process. As such, recognizing why a pro se filing can be a dangerous choice may benefit those preparing for divorce in Florida.