The Texas Supreme Court recently approved forms that will allow litigants to handle their cases on a pro se basis without the aid of an attorney. This set of forms, called Divorce Set One, are designed for those who are going through uncontested divorces and do not have property to divide or children.
Although the court may have had good intentions, many legal experts believe that over the long run the change could harm those seeking a divorce. For example, the use of these forms may lead to unfair and legally unsound divisions of property because employment benefits – such as pensions and profit-sharing plans – are considered exempt on the forms, although they may actually represent a large part of a couple’s estate. In addition, members of the Texas State Bar note that those without legal training are likely to make serious mistakes when filling out the forms, which can negatively affect the outcome of their case.
The Problem With Pro Se
Since the economic downturn, many ex-couples seeking a divorce have been representing themselves instead of consulting a Texas divorce lawyer to represent their interests. In fact, in 2011 alone, 20 percent of family law cases around the state were filed pro se.
Although this may seem like a good alternative to hiring an attorney, experts say that not getting professional representation in an attempt to save money is actually penny wise and pound foolish. The following are some of the benefits of seeking representation.
Getting the settlement you deserve. The money that you save from filing your divorce case on your own may pale in comparison to the money you lose when you do not get the settlement that you deserve. An experienced Texas divorce attorney can explain what reasonable settlements look like and make sure you get a fair deal.
Avoiding conflict. Emotions can run high during a divorce and that can cloud your judgment. An attorney is able to look at the case in an objective manner, while fighting for your rights. This can actually reduce the amount of conflict that you have with your ex during the divorce.
Understanding the law. Pro se litigants may be able to fill out the forms for their case, but they do not have knowledge of the underlying laws that those forms represent. Family law attorneys have an intimate knowledge of legal concepts and keep abreast of changes in the law that can affect a divorce case.
These are just some of the reasons why not to do a divorce yourself. Mistakes made in agreeing too much just to get out of a marriage could have long-term effects. Losing a portion of retirement assets, for example, might mean you do not have the funds to retire when you planned.
Get Help With Your Divorce
Divorce is a complicated process and a mistake can jeopardize your financial future. If you need help with a divorce matter, contact an experienced family law attorney who will advocate for your interests and ensure that you get the best outcome in your divorce settlement.