Wail Sarieh
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The Risks of a Pro Se Divorce

Divorce

These days, most consumers are about DIY. You can find most of the information you need online, and there are plenty of websites out there that claim to help you through whatever it is you’re trying to achieve. While this is fine for some things, doing your own divorce should never be a consideration. Do-it-yourself divorces may sound enticing, but they are riddled with risks – and could result in serious errors or even an unfair settlement.

What is a Pro Se Divorce?

Pro se is a legal term that basically means DIY. If you are representing yourself, you are a pro se divorcee. While it is true that many people choose to represent themselves during a divorce, this is done out of financial concerns rather than an educated decision. Those who opt for a pro se divorce often do so because they feel that they will save more on legal fees and attorneys costs if they just do the work themselves. The savings are true upfront, but in the long run, you could actually cost yourself more. Pro se divorces are extremely risky, and you could end up paying a lot more in the end than you would by paying an experienced California family law attorney upfront.

The Courts Will Not Give You Any Breaks

Just because you are representing yourself does not mean that the judge will give you any slack. If you miss deadlines, file the wrong papers, or make errors in your case, you will be given no relief. Even simple divorces will require technical and legal knowledge that takes years of training and experience to gain. Pro se litigants do not get treated differently than attorneys, and they are required to follow the rules and procedures that attorneys must follow when representing their clients. This means that if you choose to represent yourself, you will need to be familiar with all statutes, technicalities, and rules that apply to your case. Furthermore, you cannot expect the family court judge to provide you with any guidance or advice; instead, he or she must remain impartial.

The Risks of a Pro Se Divorce

While you may be motivated by the savings to do a pro se divorce, here are just a few risks that you will want to consider first:

  • You may put yourself at an extreme disadvantage – especially if your spouse has hired an attorney.
  • Some assets, such as retirement accounts and stock options, are complex and will require knowledge about how these are divided in California.
  • Failure to divide assets properly could mean that one spouse is shorted from his or her proper division; once the divorce is finalized, it is difficult to modify these errors.
  • You could pay for an online DIY divorce kit for several hundred dollars – but these are generic and do not focus on the actual statutes of California.
  • You do not have a legal representative to turn to for advice. If you hire an attorney further into your pro se divorce, it could cost even more – because that attorney will have to catch up, as well as correct errors that you may have made.

Get Legal Representation

If you are considering divorce, do not opt for a pro se divorce. Instead, save yourself the hassles and costs of DIY divorces and contact an Orange County family law attorney. Contact Sarieh Law Offices, ALC today to explore your options for your divorce and see how affordable and efficient a professional can be. Call for a free 30-minute consultation at 714-542-6200, or fill out our online contact form with your legal questions.

Wail Sarieh
By Wail Sarieh