Google the term "DIY Divorce" and you will come up with literally tens of millions of results.
Clearly, it's something that is on the minds of many, and we can certainly understand that amid all of the emotional turmoil, the last thing you want to do is shell out more cash to cover legal fees.
However, our Birmingham divorce lawyers also know that going the DIY route, without the benefit of an attorney, is probably going to cost you more money – and more grief – in the end.
First, consider the sources of some of the DIY information that is available online. A television station out of Texas, KRISTV, recently took a closer look at a divorce paperwork preparation service advertising on Craigslist.com.
While such websites can be a great place to find a used couch, they are not at all ideal in terms of dispensing legal advice.
Services revealed preparatory paperwork for $35 in cases without children and $95 in cases with children. First of all, the company offering the service was unsurprisingly unregistered with the . A local office spokeswoman said this alone should make prospective consumers wary.
Then, the television station contacted the service directly, asking to speak to someone with the company. The business declined to make anyone available. This should be a huge red flag. Any business that is offering a quality product should have no problem publicly explaining that product in more detail in a way that would put consumers and the public at ease.
These services are all over the place. Even assuming that the paperwork is fairly thorough, it is undoubtedly boiler plate. When you go this route, you risk overlooking important information that your attorney might identify as helpful or harmful to your case. No two divorce cases are going to be the same, which is why this kind of "standard" paperwork puts you at a disadvantage – particularly if your spouse has an attorney.
Most judges will tell you that going to court without the benefit of an attorney, a process called Pro Se representation, can be incredibly detrimental to your case. Keep in mind that a judge can't dispense legal advice to you during the course of your case. The judge will rule on issues of procedure, but he or she legally won't be able to tell you if you're handling some aspect of your case improperly.
Where this can be especially dangerous is if you are going up against a spouse who has an attorney. You will be sparring with someone who not only understands the fundamentals of the family law system in Alabama, but who is likely a skilled orator who will know how to make you seem less than credible. He or she may even be able to block a fair amount of your side of the story. That could mean you will end up potentially losing out on a wide range of benefits, from certain property rights to support payments to custody and visitation arrangements.
If you are seeking a divorce in Birmingham, contact Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.
DIY Divorce: Why You Should Think Twice Before Divorcing Without A Lawyer, Aug. 14, 2013, Staff Report, Huffington Post