In an attempt to save money during a South Carolina divorce or separation, it might cross your mind to try to represent yourself. Many people assume acting as your own lawyer (known as “pro se” representation) is a good way to save big bucks. However, while it may save some expense on the front end by not paying legal fees, if you are considering representing yourself in a divorce case, you should certainly consider the costs associated with acting as your own attorney.
Don't understand the law
The first downside to representing yourself in a South Carolina divorce or separation is the fact that most people don't understand the law that impacts virtually every aspect of their case. Things like filing requirements, deadlines, court rules and procedures – all things that take years to really understand and master and that can be difficult or impossible for those without experience to fully understand. This lack of experience can not only be frustrating, but very costly, in that it can result in missed opportunities or inadvertent waivers of important rights.
Another problem for those representing themselves is the fact that it can be difficult to separate your role as a legal representative from your position as a party to the divorce. One of the biggest advantages of hiring a lawyer is knowing that the advice you are receiving is coming from a third party with no personal stake in the outcome. Rather than having advice clouded by hurt feelings or anger, the legal advice of a skilled South Carolina family law attorney is instead based on legal understanding and experience.
The devil is in the details
One of the most common problems encountered by those who attempt to go it alone in Family Court is that problems begin to crop up – sometimes right away, but often months or years later. While it might seem easy to slap together a settlement agreement, only rarely do these “rush jobs” address all of the important issues that truly need to be covered. Without years of experience handling such matters, pro se clients unfortunately don't know what things to watch out for and which issues could grow to become major problems down the road.
Though representing yourself might sound like a great way to cut corners and save money, the fact is that it could end up costing you far more than you ever imagined. The saddest part is that when (not if) problems arise down the road, some can be cleaned up, but others cannot. Think twice before representing yourself in a divorce case and putting yourself into that situation – consider hiring an experienced family law attorney and doing things right from the beginning.