At BadgerLawyer, we’re all about empowerment. Making available to you information about the law that you can use to help yourself in the event you have to go it alone. That does not mean we advocate representing yourself. Far from it. The information on this website is only a tiny fraction of what a good lawyer knows, and your skill in the courtroom, no insult intended, isn’t close to that of an experienced trial attorney.
But doing your own divorce is easy, right?
You just go to court, file some forms, fill out financial statements, and then four months later voila
, you’re divorced. Why pay someone to do that? Well, kind of the same reason you pay someone to cut your hair.
Sure, you can do it yourself (the Badger confesses he cut his own hair frequently in middle school to irritate his mother). And yep, it’s going to look terrible. But it will be out of your eyes, off your neck, and over your ears. Functional, but don’t go on any job interviews. It’s the same with DIY law, except that given a little time, hair grows back. Mistakes made in court — and there’s lots of room for error — often can’t be fixed. Not to mention that bad court rulings tend to hurt a lot more than a bad haircut.
So here are a couple specific, good reasons to hire an attorney to help with your divorce. What’s going to surprise you is a good divorce lawyer can pay for himself.
In all likelihood there will be continuing financial obligations between you and your spouse after the divorce, whether in the form or child support or spousal maintenance. You will either be receiving payments or paying them. The decision about who, and how much, will be decided by a judge. The judge may be fair, but he is not going to research and investigate your case for you. The decision is really going to be made based on what is presented to the court and how the case is argued.
You are up against your ex. Someone who obviously does not have your best interests at heart anymore. Someone who may be thinking very selfish thoughts about the money divisions right about now.
You don’t know the law. You don’t know everything you are entitled to. You don’t know all the things that might be exceptions to your obligations. The chances of you not getting the best result for you are pretty significant. If your ex hires a lawyer, the chances are close to 100%.
If you hire a lawyer, you get the best result possible for you and your children. Think of it this way. If a lawyer gets you even $100 per month better result, that extra cash is going to pay for the lawyer within a few short years. And that’s just $100.
Not all court orders can be changed. Those that can be changed sometimes have long waiting periods before changes can be made. That the law. There’s also reality. Judges are human, and once they have reviewed a case and rendered a decision, they aren’t going to want to revisit it. They are trained legal specialists with confidence in their ability. The very first thing they will think is “If I made the right decision three months ago, why would I make a different decision now?”
What I’m getting it, is once an order is issued, it becomes the king of the hill, and if you want it changed, you have to come up with a pretty good reason for changing it.
The DIY problem is that you aren’t trained to think about all the little legal issues that could come up later, and you may agree to something now that sounds fine, only to realize that you signed a custody sharing agreement that has the kids with your ex for your mom’s next four birthdays, and she’s not happy with you. Or that you need to change jobs but your support payments have you so cash strapped you can’t get on with your life. Or your ex is getting remarried and the new spouse wants to go to a different church, and that isn’t mentioned in the decree.
If you do it yourself, you are going to end up back in court more often, fighting more, and get less of what you want. It may cost more up front to hire a lawyer, but it will save you money, headaches and time in the long run.