With the increase of numerous glaring ads promoting pro se forms and “do-it-yourself” divorce kits, the first question many potential clients contact family law firms and ask is whether they should represent themselves or hire a lawyer for their divorce case.
Although we are in an age of advanced technology and unprecedented access to legal information, the old adage of “a man who represents himself has a fool for a lawyer” still rings true in most cases, even in today’s times. This is due to the fact that on line forms and “do-it-yourself” kits are not meant to be substituted for legal advice and, in most cases, are not appropriate for one’s particular circumstances. The more complex a divorce is, especially if it involves property, debt, assets, and children, these on line forms or “do-it-yourself” kits fail to adequately address the legal issues and concerns that arise in these type of cases.
NOT CHOOSING TO SEEK LEGAL COUNSEL DURING THE DIVORCE PROCESS CAN HAVE GRAVE CONSEQUENCES
Many potential clients incorrectly assume that if they use these forms or kits that the court clerk, mediator, and/or the judge will walk them through the divorce, look out for their best interest and/or otherwise provide them with legal assistance. In fact, court staff are prohibited from giving legal advice pursuant to Georgia law. Further, a mediator’s role is to assist with dispute resolution and not to advocate for either party’s interests and/or either party. For example, once parties execute a settlement agreement, a judge is not going to review it to ensure fairness to one or both parties.
One example of an oversight that occurs quite often when a party does not have representation during a divorce is when one spouse agrees to sign a quit-claim deed transferring his/her interest in the marital property to the other spouse and, in turn, the other spouse agrees to refinance the jointly held mortgage in the future. The spouse promptly executes the quit-claim deed, but the other spouse is subsequently unable to or fails to refinance the jointly held mortgage. In this unfortunate example, the spouse who transferred his/ her interest in the property is left with little to no recourse for being held jointly liable for a mortgage on a property in which he/she no longer has an ownership interest. Had the spouse who executed the quitclaim deed and transferred his/her interest had the representation of an attorney, his/her counsel could have successfully advocated that his/her interest in the marital property not be transferred until effectuation of the refinance, or that the property be sold and the proceeds split should the other spouse be unable to refinance in the future. Experienced family law attorneys can not only guide potential clients through the divorce process itself, but they are able to help clients avoid future post-divorce pitfalls. Having an attorney during the divorce process is a worthy, invaluable investment with will protect a potential client’s interest for many years to come. Contact an experienced an Atlanta and Douglasville Divorce Attorney for a consultation.