The process of getting divorced is very expensive. Not only do you have to split your possessions and savings, but you also have to pay out-of-pocket for many of your costs. The average individual spends about $15,000 on their divorce just in expenses.

A significant portion of those costs will be court fees and what that person pays to their attorney. Some people choose to file a “pro se” divorce where they represent themselves as a way to keep their divorce more affordable.

Forgoing an attorney can seem like a basic move to save some money, but there’s a reason that people hire attorneys when dissolving their marriages. Going without a lawyer is a decision that is often a mistake that can be more expensive than hiring an experienced family law attorney early in the divorce process.

If your spouse has an attorney, you’re at a disadvantage

Even if you have a legal background yourself, it can be difficult to think clearly and properly represent yourself when your emotions are intense. If you don’t have legal experience, you don’t have the knowledge of both the law and state legal precedent to sufficiently represent yourself in a contentious divorce.

Not only could you make mistakes about how you represent yourself and what you request, but you could also give in to your emotions when in court, which could make you look bad and affect issues like custody. You could wind up steamrolled with an outcome that favors your spouse disproportionately.

 You could make mistakes in court or with paperwork

If both you and your spouse agree that neither of you will use an attorney, that might seem like a good compromise. You could work together for an uncontested pro se filing. However, trying to settle your divorce on your own with an uncontested filing without an attorney can lead to mistakes.

If you set terms that violate state law, like one spouse waiving the right to child support, the courts might throw out any agreement you make and make decisions on your behalf. You could also improperly file paperwork in a way that could set back your divorce process by weeks or even months.

Attorneys cost money in part because they have education and experience that is valuable to their clients. Talking with an attorney before you even decide to file is often the best way to protect yourself when you know you want a divorce.