Divorce can be a costly endeavor. Know your rights.
Updated: Wednesday, 30 Jan 2013, 9:24 AM EST
Published : Thursday, 31 Jan 2013, 4:00 AM EST
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOTV) - When divorcing couples decide to represent themselves in court without a lawyer it is called a pro se divorce.
Pro se divorces work best if it is uncontested (both parties are in agreement on division of assets), does not involve any children, the marriage is of a short duration, both spouses are employed and able to support themselves and there is not much property. Online software is often used to prepare documents and forms for filing with the court. No lawyers are involved, no legal advice is given and the cost is minimal.
If both parties are in agreement, it may seem like a good idea to do the work yourselves, without attorneys, but is it? The danger lies in lack of knowledge of the divorce laws and your legal rights to property and support. It is usually the husband who wishes to proceed with a pro se divorce to "keep costs down" when the motivation may actually be to preserve his assets. Entering into a pro se divorce is akin to buying a teeth whitening system instead of going to the dentist. However, if you have cavities or need any other work done would you do it yourself or call your dentist? Family law attorneys are professionals and experts in their field. Their expertise protects your interests and significantly reduces the likelihood that you will have to return to court later to renegotiate a support agreement that is livable. A divorce that is poorly done can end up with a final cost that far outweighs the savings of a pro se divorce.
If you are thinking of representing yourself in a divorce, at the very least, see a lawyer to find out what your basic rights are and have them review your settlement before submitting it to the court.
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