Divorce does not have to be messy. There are instances where both parties are committed to reaching a fair resolution on all issues that are readily apparent to them. That is fantastic, and will ultimately result in the whole process going much smoother. However, it is still a worthwhile endeavor to obtain an attorney to discuss the specifics and ensure you are making informed decisions. This is money well spent where emotions are high and it can be hard to think through the long-term effects of often rushed decisions made in an attempt to just be done.
Sometimes we get calls from distressed individuals after the fact who want to re-negotiate the terms of their divorce decree. These individuals often report they felt pressure to concede to the terms put in front of them or that they were too upset at the time to think clearly. Unfortunately, there is little, and sometimes nothing, that can be done at that point. Generally, terms such as the division of assets and debts, are not subject to change, absent agreement by both parties. There are certain things, like child custody, parenting time, child support, and spousal maintenance, that can (sometimes) be modified, but the standards for doing so are often high and not always attainable. While the likelihood of success in obtaining a change depends on your particular circumstances, re-opening or modifying a divorce decree is often much more expensive and stressful than hiring an attorney to assist you in the beginning.
Furthermore, when divorcing couples proceed unrepresented, things come up down the road that were not contemplated at the time. This is especially true when it comes to child custody and parenting time, and the result can be fighting things out in court later. It is far better, for your peace of mind and wallet, to obtain an attorney early on who can help spot potential issues before they arise.
So, while you are not required to be represented by counsel in your divorce, hiring an attorney to provide you advice and draft your agreement is still a worthwhile investment that ensures you are making fully-informed decisions that may save you thousands of dollars in litigation fees down the road.
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