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Why a do-it-yourself divorce may not be in your best interest

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by Sam M. “Trey” Yates, III

If you are considering divorce, you may be thinking about trying a do-it-yourself approach using a website, book(s), and/or court-provided documents. Maybe you are hoping to save money, time, or heartache by simply getting it done. These are good intentions, but as the saying goes: “The road to failure is paved with good intentions.”

Here are some reasons why we believe hiring an experienced, board-certified family law attorney for your divorce is a better choice for most couples.

Avoid mistakes

Divorce is technically a lawsuit, and the legal system is complicated. In Texas, for example, divorce law can be found in the Texas Family Code, The Texas Constitution, Texas Rules of civil procedure, Texas Rules of Evidence, Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code, Penal Code, and/or texas Business Organizations Code.

You do not know what you do not know. The average couple, no matter how educated and experienced they may be in other professions, likely does not know enough about divorce law and divorce finances to effectively represent themselves. Something as simple as omitting credit card debt or underestimating or overestimating the value of a major asset can cause significant financial harm to yourself or your family for many years to come. In addition, such mistakes can require costly future legal proceedings to correct. Recent changes in either divorce law or court proceedings due to COVID could complicate the situation further for you if you are unable to learn about these changes in time. Hiring an experienced family law attorney can save you money and headaches in the long run.

Reduce stress

Divorce is an extremely stressful time for every couple and family. The typical volume of paperwork generated by one divorce case is daunting in and of itself. Working with a seasoned legal team who does the heavy lifting can alleviate a great deal of anxiety. Of course, you will still be responsible for providing your team with documents and information, and for staying involved in your case along the way. Nevertheless, having a good legal team on your side can take a huge load off your mind by making certain all the information is gathered and accounted for, your rights are represented, and all appropriate documentation is completed and filed in a timely manner. Your legal team also can keep you informed of any delays or schedule changes caused by the need to adhere to public health regulations and assist you in navigating this changing landscape. You have enough on your plate without the added stress of trying to learn divorce law in the middle of your own divorce.

Receive what you deserve

Each divorce situation is unique. Having a certified, seasoned family law attorney on your side is priceless. You may believe you know how a settlement division is likely to turn out, but you also could be factually incorrect based on any number of factors, some of which may be out of your control. For example, the judge who has been assigned your divorce case could impact its outcome. A good divorce lawyer will have some insights to offer on this aspect of your case that could only be attained through demonstrated experience with divorce, both inside and outside the courtroom. With divorce lawyer’s help, you can feel confident that your rights will be defended and you will receive fair treatment in court.

Complete the right documents accurately

Inexperience in creating legal divorce documents may result in grave errors, unclear language that confuses the court, or an unintended and unwanted outcome. This could result in a divorce decree that is difficult or impossible for the court to enforce. You or your spouse may also miss one or more very important documents, creating an expensive oversight.

For example, if you and your spouse are dividing retirement accounts, this can get complicated and costly. If dividing a 401(k) or pension account, you will need a document called a qualified domestic Relations Order, or QDRO. This legal document, along with your settlement agreement, should protect you. Mistakenly forgetting to submit a QDRO could trigger unnecessary taxes or penalties.

Avoid delays

Do-it-yourselfers can find themselves recreating the wheel, redoing forms and correcting missteps along the way that result in delaying the court’s ruling, and possibly delaying the date the divorce is finalized. With a trusted divorce attorney’s assistance, you generally stand a better chance of moving through the divorce process at a steady pace. These experts know which forms to complete when to submit them, and what information and documentation the court requires to do its job. It is far more efficient to hire a skilled professional than to tackle the challenge alone. The results will speak for themselves.

Sam M. “Trey” Yates, III is a Houston-based Board Certified Family Law Attorney and creator of the guide to Good Divorce℠ seminars for women. If you have questions about your Texas divorce, please contact The Law Office of Sam M. “Trey” Yates, III, P.C. for a consultation. If you’d like more information about Trey Yates’ 2021 The Guide to Good Divorce℠ seminars, please or call 713.742.6606.