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The fun of representing yourself in divorce

We All Need A Champion

The old joke among lawyers regarding a lawyer acting as his or her own lawyer in a matter, is that that lawyer has a fool for a client.

This isn't always true.  I mean as to representing yourself.  It might help if you were a lawyer also, but non-lawyers can represent themselves and successfully.

HOWEVER --  the code to that riddle is that the matter had better be pretty straight-forward.

In the divorce world that means that it is an "uncontested" divorce.  The parties are maybe not in full agreement but they are not fighting tooth and nail, or should I say claws out?

Which is better not to happen in any divorce, to be honest, but it sometimes describes the situation, at least in the opening weeks, months of the experience.

Animosities often die down over time, particularly when minor children are involved and the parents really and truly have to work together, like it or not.

But back to representing yourself.

The trick is can you deal with the Court?  Can you clearly write and submit a judgment of divorce?  Do either of you have a pension or retirement fund that needs to be dealt with?  Do you know what a "QDRO" is?

How are your real estate skills?  Do you prepare deeds normally?

Maybe the biggest question is how would a negotiation go with his  -- or her  -- lawyer???

I often get a chance to find out how I might do working directly with his or her spouse unrepresented.  I actually can do it but it's probably because I've been at this job for 39 years now?  But can you?  With them?

What often happens when there is no counsel in the picture for either spouse is a very strong effort to strike agreements and potentially put them in writing but leaving out details or with ambiguities that later rise to cause discord.

This is the concern, notwithstanding difficulties the parties likely face not really knowing the Michigan law that would govern what really ought to be the outcome.

This means one party might not wind up well.  It also can mean the Court doesn't approve the resolution or at least has questions that require answers.  Addressing the Court is not usually what I have seen clients enjoy doing.  Especially without any necessary preparation.  It is often daunting enough for persons attending a Court session to be in the Courtroom, let alone field a Judge's question that suggests disfavor.

None of this is to say it is absolutely impossible or completely uncomfortable for parties to proceed without counsel.  It is to say, however, that it would be best, in such a circumstance, that there were NO children, not much to divide (indeed even better if the marriage was of a VERY short duration and the parties by habit or predisposition, typically kept finances separate).  It is just true that in the matter of achieving a property settlement, the internal family "accounting" often isn't so neat and tidy, nor even that the couple remembers how something was handled financially.  That recollection also can tend to be favored or advocated by one side, which creates a tension, to say the least, that isn't managed quite as easily as if there were a professional or professionals that do this stuff daily to help ease that conversation.

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