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Monday, May 3, 2010

Can I Get a Divorce Without An Attorney?

Of course! The American legal system is set up so those who either do not want or cannot afford an attorney can access the Courts without one. But therein lies the point: a client does not hire an attorney for access, they hire one for information and expertise.

At different times in the process of a Dissolution (commonly called Divorce) there are different approaches that best serve the purpose. In Discovery, a client is best served by a precise and all-encompassing approach to both language and the other party. In settlement negotiations, or in the event of a trial, one might need to flip the switch daily between a pleasant give and take designed to ultimately please both parties and a tough stance on the one issue where you refuse to budge. For two people whose relationship has already come to the edge of Divorce, this can be impossible. Hurt, anger, and resentment often cloud the issues so communications completely down. An attorney can act as a buffer between two lightning rods, while still only being an advocate for one.

Lastly, there are the problems associated with acting as your own counsel. A Dissolution requires hours of time and effort- even for attorneys who do this on a regular basis. Do you have an extra 10-20 hours a week to devote to reading court rules, deciphering case law, and writing documents to be filed? A Pro Se
Dissolution can take valuable time away from your job, children, and life at a juncture when you cannot afford to seem distracted.

Another problem with activing as your own counsel is incompleteness of documents. At Legacy Northwest, we have seen Dissolution Decrees drafted by the parties that failed to deal with numerous vital issues, even including those failing to deal with contingencies for the family home. This can result in two people ending up officially divorced, still jointly owning the family home where one party still lives. Years down the line the parties will have to deal with each other one more time in order to sell, refinances, or quit claim that property.

At Legacy Northwest, we understand why people divorce. We want you to get your fair share of the assets, and your fair share of time with your children- and get out. There is no reason a Dissolution should drag on forever.