Some couples feel confident that they can do their own divorce and do not need an attorney. If they are concerned about legal fees, they should at least consult with an attorney to review their proposed final settlement agreement before they file it with the court. It is very common for issues to arise and slow down the process for those who divorce without an attorney.
Examples of Problems with a Pro Se Divorce
Discovering they are not legally divorced.
In some cases, a person may have remarried only to discover they were never legally divorced in the first place. Now they are in a situation where they must annul the current marriage, divorce the first spouse, and then legally marry the second spouse again. This can be a problem if they have lost touch with the first spouse and do not know how to contact them.
If obtaining legal status is based on a person’s marriage, he or she must be legally divorced from the first marriage before proceeding to marry the current spouse. If they have lost touch with the first spouse, they must resort to notice by publication which takes some time, and this only complicates matters because the immigration process must come to a halt during the time all of this is straightened out.
After the divorce is final, discovering an asset that was not divided.
You may discover that you failed to divide an asset, most often a pension or retirement plan. It takes a special order to divide a retirement plan and if you did not obtain that special order when the divorce was originally finalized, the division of assets must be modified after the divorce is over. This can result in a major financial loss for one of the spouses.
You never know when a problem may surface. It may be years after you thought you were divorced. It can cost more in the long run to pay fees for rectifying the mistake than it would have cost to have an attorney do it right for you the first time.