Authored By: Christopher Pearsall, RI Divorce Attorney
a.k.a. " The Rhode Island Divorce Coach ℠ "
Are you thinking about representing yourself in your own Rhode Island Divorce because your divorce seems so simple or you just don't want to spend the money to hire a lawyer? If so, you may want to reconsider. There are literally thousands of simple mistakes that you can make that can cost you much more than either hiring a lawyer.
Gertrude's Simple Mistake
Gertrude and Joseph were getting divorced. They separated all the property they purchased during their marriage and Joseph agreed that Gertrude could keep the house. Gertrude and Joseph were both on the deed. Joseph moved to Arizona and told Gertrude she could have the house and he wasn't coming back for the divorce hearing. Gertrude went to the divorce hearing and told the judge they had divided everything and that they were each keeping what they had. So that is what the judge ordered. Gertrude was happy until she tried to sell the house for a good profit. Gertrude discovered that she had made a mistake at court and in the way she drafted the documents for the judge to sign. Gertrude broke down and cried when she went to a lawyer and learned that Joseph was still an owner of the house and that she either had to buy out Joseph's interest in the house or get a deed from Joseph transferring his interest in the property to her.
When Gertrude met with the lawyer she discovered that all it would have taken was getting Joseph to sign a deed before he left for Arizona or ask the judge to award her the property at the time of the divorce using the specific words the law requires and then give an explanation to the judge that was acceptable to him or her as to why she was asking to be awarded the house.
At that point it was too late for Gertrude to fix. What would have been a simple thing to do at or before the time of the divorce hearing was now a much bigger issue to fix. Unfortunately, it cost Gertrude thousands of dollars in attorney's fees to fix her mistake when either representation or a coaching session would have avoided the mistake for much less.
It's too easy to make a simple mistake. Even lawyers can mistakes and we are subjected to years of training. So imagine how easy it is to make a mistake when you aren't trained in the law and you don't practice it every day.
If there is anything significant at all in your divorce that you want to keep or that you must get right such as a car, house, trust fund, retirement, child placement, visitation, child support, medical coverage, etc... then it is too easy to botch things up. How do I know? Because before I was a lawyer or knew anything about divorce and family law I sat right where many people like Gertude (and perhaps you...) might be sitting right now and I botched things up. Later I was kicking myself and I paid a price greater than a few thousand dollars. I lost seeing my children.
Make sure you don't victimize yourself by avoiding a good family law lawyer for the sake of a few dollars. Trust me... it isn't worth it. Is it a pain to get divorced? Absolutely. Can it cost you money you would rather not spend? Most certainly. Is it worth it do go through the aggravation of getting a lawyer and spending the money to get things right? DEFINITELY!
Take the time and money needed to get it done right. Some things just can't be fixed if you botch them up.