You should hire an attorney to represent you in your divorce for several reasons. The first and most important reason is that the attorney is not as emotionally invested in your case as you. You are very emotional about your divorce and emotional people often make bad decisions, including decisions that cost them dearly in terms of money, family, and aggravation. An attorney can give you good advice not clouded with anger or other emotions that hinder good judgment.
Another reason to hire an attorney is that the attorney knows the law and rules of procedure. Many people think that they know the law, but they often do not know the law nearly as well as they think. An attorney can give you advice based on working in this area of law every day. An attorney knows the procedures, deadlines, and how to meet the deadlines. This means that an attorney knows how to get the things done that you need to get done.
An experienced attorney knows the judges and how they tend to rule and think. He knows what arguments to make to particular judges. He knows how the judges tend to rule on what issues and what evidence. For example, you may want to move your child to another state, and if you happen to have a judge that almost never allows such moves, an experienced attorney will know to use your one “free” change of judge. An experienced lawyer will know what arguments your particular judge tends to find persuasive.
Another reason to hire an attorney is that, unfortunately, some judges tend to give attorneys a lot of credibility and listen to them, but they do not appear to do the same with unrepresented parties. How many times have you heard someone say that the judge went along with everything that the opposing party’s attorney said, but disregarded everything the unrepresented party said? A lot of this has to do with the attorney knowing what evidence to present and what arguments to make. Some of it has to do with the attorney appearing regularly before the judge. But some of it may be that some judges are more likely to place more weight with the attorney.
A good example is a divorce case that I recently completed. The unrepresented opposing party missed deadlines, failed to submit evidence, made arguments that are contrary to law, seemed to have no idea how unreasonable the party was being, was extremely obnoxious in court, and seemed to make every decision based on anger and contempt toward my client.. A good attorney could have explained the law to this party, presented evidence, pushed the party towards more reasonable positions, met every deadline, and kept this party from engaging in obnoxious courtroom antics. A good attorney could have settled the case without going to trial. Instead, we went to trial and the trial was a disaster for this party.
I realize that it sounds self-serving for a divorce lawyer to say that everyone in a divorce needs a lawyer, but it is a fact. I am a divorce lawyer and I would not go through a divorce without a lawyer. Even if you don’t come to me for help with your divorce, you should go to another lawyer. Good luck!