On an almost daily basis, we get calls from people who have decided to
handle their own divorce, paternity, modification or contempt issue without
an attorney, only to find out that they cannot handle it, either physically,
emotionally or both.
Usually people represent themselves because they either cannot afford an
attorney or they do not want to spend the money. However, hiring an attorney
now, versus later, will cost you less in the long run, as hiring an attorney
in the middle of a case causes the attorney to have to, in addition to
representing you in your matter, review the entire file and fix what has
gone wrong throughout the case.
Florida law requires certain things to be done in divorce, paternity and
other family law matters, such as the filing of financial affidavits,
mandatory disclosure compliance, etc. There are also deadlines that must
be adhered to. Most people think that they can file their own pleadings
and handle the case, but don't realize that there are all sorts of
requirements and rules that must be complied with, that are not spelled
out for the common lay person, some of which the noncompliance of can
be grounds for sanctions and/or attorneys fees awards ordered against
you. Additionally, if you handle your own case and the judge enters orders
that you are not happy with, the newly hired attorney must go back and
try to vacate the order or appeal it, if you haven't missed the deadlines.
Appeals and motions to vacate can be very costly.
If you decide not to hire an attorney, and you lose the right to see your
children, is it worth it? If you decide not to hire an attorney, and you
lost your right to alimony, is it worth it?
It makes sense that you should not attempt to handle your own case, if
you do not have the learned skills to do so. The consequences are too
costly and too great.
The bottom line is that not hiring an attorney will cost you sooner or
later. Better to find the money to hire a qualified, experienced South
Florida divorce attorney now than learn later that not doing so cost you dearly.