What Do You Gain and Lose When You “Do It Yourself”?

During a recent conversation I had with a law enforcement officer, she told me about her divorce.  She and her husband went to a paralegal to assist with the paperwork and essentially “did it themselves”.  The process was fairly amicable, and she mentioned her ex is now a much better dad to their children because he has much more responsibility now that he has them 50% of the time.  He “stepped up”.

She also mentioned that she gave up a lot of the property because she “just wanted it over with”.  Although this was not the case here, I often hear about one party giving up on property or support issues out of guilt, whether due to infidelity or lack of emotional availability because of work or other issues.  These issues come up in my cases, too, although I counsel my clients to first find out what you’re giving up, and only then do we discuss what to do about it.

It should be obvious that couples who go through the divorce process without the benefit of counsel to help them determine how California family law applies to their case do so at the peril of their financial futures.  Retaining an attorney should make things better, not worse, and doing so does not mean you and your spouse have to fight.  Just because you hire an attorney doesn’t mean you lose control of the process.  More on this in a future blog post.