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DIY Divorce vs Hiring a Lawyer


Wood letters of DIY and definition on wood background

If we were to share one piece of advice after our many years in the field of family law, it would be this: never underestimate the legal complexities of separation. It is not unusual for parties to think it’s all black and white, only to find themselves knee-deep in a whirlwind of legal lingo and courtroom formalities, facing uncertainty and delays. So let us pull back the curtain and delve into the realities of DIY Divorce.


DIY Divorce is Great, Isn’t It?


DIY divorce, or 'Do-It-Yourself' divorce, sounds like a magic solution to dodge legal costs. It's taking the wheel yourself, navigating the road of Family Law on your own. But most people navigate this road with only the most basic of roadmaps at their disposal.


The idea of avoiding hefty lawyer fees can be a tempting proposition. Plus, some might argue there's more autonomy and perhaps a quicker wrap-up of proceedings, in theory at least.


In practice, however, family law proceedings can be a battlefield, and going in unprepared can leave you in a sticky situation.


Firstly, get ready for a whirlwind of jargon that'd give the Oxford Dictionary a run for its money. Missteps in interpretation can mean a world of difference and not in a good way. We have seen firsthand how unrepresented litigants wrongfully assumed that “Equal Shared Parental Responsibility” means “Equal Custody”, confused “Child Support” with “Spousal Maintenance” and even misunderstood the simplest of requirements for filing certain documents resulting in their matter being completely dismissed.


The Family Law road is lined with paperwork, procedures, and meticulous steps to follow. One wrong turn and you might find your case stuck in the mud or tossed out altogether.


Secondly, representing yourself often also means dealing with your ex directly, a scenario that often muddies the water, prolongs disputes, and can have you on an emotional rollercoaster. You're also going to be burning the midnight oil, learning to translate legal lingo, poring over court procedures, and trying to avoid the countless pitfalls along the way. That time and emotional investment isn't something to shrug off. This would be time away from your job, your kids, and let's not forget, crucial self-care during such a difficult period. Do carefully consider the time sacrifice and emotional toll related to your family law matter, if you intend to go at it alone. This could be years of your life you will not get back, all to achieve a sub-par and unsatisfactory result at Court. It’s simply not worth it.


Thirdly, you may find that certain scenarios will require you to engage a family lawyer at the end of the day. Yes, sometimes you actually have to get a lawyer, whether you like it or not. Complex Applications for Consent Orders often require both parties to be represented by a lawyer, not to mention that Financial Agreements require both parties to obtain independent legal advice. A judge may also request that you obtain independent legal advice at various stages of your legal proceedings to avoid a complete disaster for your case.


At first glance, a DIY divorce may seem like a way to keep your hard-earned cash from lining the pockets of a lawyer. But what you think you're saving in dollars can come back tenfold in unexpected ways.


We're all human and we all make mistakes, but in the Family Law context a simple misunderstanding or a missed deadline can have lifelong consequences. In the end, the 'cost-saving' DIY path might actually leave you shelling out more than you bargained for, when you are left with no option but to hire an experienced counsel to salvage a losing battle.


Early Professional Help is an Investment, Not an Expense

Now, we are not just tooting our own horn here, but there's a lot to be said about the benefits a professional family lawyer can bring to the table, particularly early on in your matter. When you hire a good family lawyer, it should be viewed not as an inconvenient expense, but rather a shrewd investment into your future.


Seasoned family lawyers, like the ones at Surge Legal, have lived and breathed this stuff. We can break down the jargon, stand up for your rights, and steer your matter into the right direction from the outset.


When emotions run high in complex family law disputes, an experienced lawyer provides an objective and level-headed viewpoint. This is crucial for parties to be able to make decisions rooted in fact, not just feelings. Having a lawyer in your corner also means having someone to lead the way, ensuring you're meeting deadlines and crossing all your T's and dotting your I's.


Don’t get us wrong - every family law matter is its own unique beast. For some, a DIY divorce could be a viable option, particularly when things are amicable and uncomplicated (i.e. - you may not need a lawyer to do a joint divorce application or to divide $10,000 in cash). But more often than not, the Family Law maze calls for a helping hand as soon as possible.


Keep in mind, the choices you make will have lasting impacts, not just on you, but potentially your children as well. Don't make snap decisions, consider all the angles, and when in doubt, reach out.


Don't hesitate to drop us a line if you're considering divorce and need help getting your bearings. Contact us on 02 8722 5021 for a free consultation.

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