Going to court on your own for your legal separation, divorce, or any other family law matter may seem like your only option, but in reality, you have other choices. It’s very likely you will want to avoid going to court alone because of the three major reasons below.
Navigating the Court System Is Tough
Many people find themselves at an initial consultation with a family law attorney after they have already explored or tried to file a complaint for divorce or legal separation on their own. It is actually very difficult to get around the court system without having an experienced attorney helping you. There are several court rules you must follow at every stage of the process, and the court clerks are not allowed to give you any legal advice. In many cases, this means they will give you the paperwork necessary to do whatever you are asking about, but they cannot help you fill out or understand those forms.
This can lead to your motions or court requests being denied because of rules you didn’t know about, such as failing to attach a previous court order that you need to ask the court to enforce. In that scenario, you would have to file that motion again, wasting your money and time.
It Could Increase Your Legal Fees
Once a complaint for divorce is filed, the spouses involved are now on the court schedule and have to comply with any deadlines to keep the case on track. This can result in additional legal fees to ensure you are on top of all of those dates and meeting those paperwork requirements.
If you can’t settle your case, for example, you may have to attend settlement conferences that will require a court appearance that will take up your whole day, and, by extension, your attorney’s day. This can become very expensive, especially if there are multiple dates involved.
One alternative to this would be to have your attorney arrange a conference with you, your spouse, and the other attorney. You could also try mediation before filing the complaint, which may allow you to settle your case before having to go to court. During mediation, you, your spouse, and your respective attorneys work with a third party to help settle your family law issues on your own. Both of these approaches can save you money in legal fees because you are cutting out some of the court deadlines and appearances that may be required otherwise in your case.
You Will Lose Control Over Decisions
Many family law matters, including divorce and custody, impact the lives of everyone involved for years to come. While you may be understandably upset with or hurt by your spouse, it is important to remember that the best interests of your family are involved in these cases, too. If you can handle things outside of court, you will have the chance to have a say in these major decisions that will impact your life. Should the matters be resolved in court, those life-changing decisions will instead be made by a judge who does not know you or your family.
A family law attorney can review your case and advise you on all your options, including all of the out-of-court approaches that could work in your case. They will also be there to assist you in whichever course of action you ultimately decide to take. Before you choose to throw yourself onto the mercy of the court system and hope for the best, seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney about your current situation.