We live in a do-it-yourself age.
In part, that’s because “personal empowerment” has become a mantra for our times. Nowadays, nobody wants to accept being bossed by experts, submit to authority, or be told “you can’t do that.” It hardly seems democratic.
Then, too, there’s the financial issue: not many people want to go to the expense of hiring an “expert” in any field for an outlandish hourly fee. Many people are confident they can get the job done reasonably well on their own.
It’s even that way for the law. Thanks to the proliferation of do-it-yourself handbooks, we now have a lot of people call—or even show up at—our office asking why they shouldn’t handle their own divorce.
Most of them are surprised when we tell them: “Sure you can. Go ahead, knock yourself out. Good luck!”
Yes, you can handle your own New Hanover County divorce
Since the 1970s, state governments have moved toward simplified, no-fault divorce proceedings in part because the public demanded easier access to the courts. Today, there are at least three reasons why you should handle your own divorce:
- You have the legal right. Any person has the right to represent his or her own interests in court without hiring an attorney. This is called pro se (Latin for “on your own behalf”) representation.
- You can save money…lots of money. If you can work cooperatively with your spouse to settle financial issues and custody arrangements, the court will permit you to craft the terms of your own divorce. That conserves money from the family’s assets that would otherwise go to pay lawyers.
- You have to live with the results, so you might as well have ownership of the whole process. You can decide on your own what will best serve your long-term needs, without the message being filtered through your attorney.
Should you handle your divorce on your own?
There are, of course, reasons why some people should choose to let people with special training take on the primary role of shepherding a divorce action through the courts. Offhand, we can think of two cases when you definitely would prefer to hire a Wilmington divorce law firm to deal with the courts:
- When the complexity of the case is overwhelming. The judge will not give any leeway to a person representing himself in court; if you handle your own divorce, you are expected to be just as fluent in legal terminology, courtroom procedure, and knowledge of the law as someone who has passed the North Carolina bar exam. Additionally, you will be expected to be familiar with all the financial specifics of your case with an accountant’s precision. If this seems like too much for you to handle, you need to hire a Wilmington family law attorney, at least on a limited basis to bring you up to speed.
- If your spouse has already hired an attorney. A cheap, cooperative, “no-lawyers” divorce works only as long as both sides follow the rules. If one side cheats by seeking legal advice… Well, there’s a proverb that covers this situation: “The side with a lawyer gets the goodies.” If your spouse hires an attorney, she may be getting legal advice that gives her an advantage against you in court. If that happens, you have to consider whether you need your own legal representation, too.
Speaks Law Firm: Your divorce resource in Wilmington NC
If you wish to represent yourself in your own divorce action, you have our respect. Most people have qualms about public speaking, so we recognize your courage in being willing to speak out in court.
At a minimum, though, you owe it to yourself and any dependents to consider whether self-representation is the best course for your financial future. A bad property division or alimony judgment is something you will have to live with for years. If you’re at all unsure about whether hiring a lawyer makes sense for you, call Speaks Law Firm toll-free at 877-593-4233 today. Let us hear your story, and we’ll give you our best advice—without obligation—as to whether you need a divorce attorney.