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The pitfalls of representing yourself pro se in a divorce

Financial issues can quickly lead a couple from a happy union to a potential divorce scenario. Unfortunately, divorce itself can add to that financial strain, as ending a marriage is often more expensive than starting one.

While weddings can cost an arm and a leg, you can get married at a courthouse for little more than the cost of a marriage license and perhaps a tip for the person who performs it. Divorce, on the other hand, is not something you want to necessarily do yourself. Inevitably, there are those who will attempt to file divorce on their own behalf. While doing so may feel like a money-saving move, filing divorce pro se can be a major mistake.

Chances are good that you don't really know Texas law

Even if you have spent the last few weeks reading every article you could find online or devouring actual legal texts, you have no experience with the courts and likely minimal experience with divorce.

You will probably have a lot of beliefs about what divorce involves, although not all of those beliefs may come from reality. Exaggerated stories from family and friends combined with dramatic tales in the media can leave people expecting something completely different from the reality of modern divorce.

The truth is that even in the most dramatic of situations, such as infidelity, the courts will not consider those issues when splitting up your assets or dividing the custody of your children.

The issues from your marriage will affect your divorce, too

Are you leaving your ex because they got you into massive debt or because they were a bully? Those problems aren't going to suddenly disappear just because you file for divorce. If you had trouble dealing with your spouse's controlling behavior in marriage, you likely won't be better at dealing with it during divorce proceedings.

Your ex could potentially bully you into accepting a mediation deal that is unfairly skewed in their favor. If you and your ex don't relate in a healthy manner, there is no way for you to safely represent yourself without risking them unfairly influencing the outcome.

You won't remain impartial on issues that affect your family

Strong emotions don't always help us make good decisions. You will likely have a flood of powerful, negative emotions as you proceed through your divorce. That can mean failing to make rational decisions at some points. Having an attorney represent you means that there will always be someone with a clear head there to remind you to focus on the bigger picture and not on your feelings.

Although filing a pro se divorce may seem like a quick fix, it could leave you vulnerable to a host of mistakes and escalating costs. Not only could you lose out on assets or benefits that you might deserve, but you could wind up paying lot of money for protracted court proceedings because neither you nor your ex really understand the process.

Sitting down with an attorney can help you figure out realistic outcomes for your divorce and the best ways for you to potentially achieve them.

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