If you have ever needed to file a lawsuit, or you just enjoy watching legal dramas on television, you may have heard the term “pro se” bandied about. This term refers to a party representing himself or herself, rather than hiring a licensed attorney to handle a legal conflict.
In Tennessee, recent changes to the law allow parties with children to file a divorce pro se, however there are still limitations on who can qualify, and because parties don’t understand these conditions, many are wasting their time only to discover they are required to hire an attorney, anyway. Things can go wrong because you don’t have the proper legal knowledge or experience needed to avoid making mistakes.
- Your case can be dismissed on a procedural technicality.
- Issues are not adjudicated, leaving open the potential for future litigation.
- The case drags out, costing you more than you save, due to taking time off from work to learn procedure, draft legal documents, and attend hearings that your attorney would otherwise be handling for you.
- If you do not have a full understanding of legal terminology – or its many alternate interpretations – you may wind up violating a court order.
You’ll certainly be left with a great story to tell in the future, but mistakes have serious, unintended consequences that you would much rather not learn from. You could be sentenced to confinement (in other words, jail), or pay a fine for contempt. You may be awarded less than your fair share of the marital estate if the judge believes, based on the information unintentionally withheld, that your spouse should receive more.
Judges are slightly more lenient on pro se parties, but “I didn’t know” eventually wears out its welcome, and you are putting yourself at a severe disadvantage if the other party has an attorney. Something as basic as being familiar with the types of relief available to you when you have been wronged, may provide your spouse with the upper hand in a situation that should have been quickly resolved, but is now spinning out of control.
Not having a Nashville divorce attorney to negotiate on your behalf means you and your soon-to-be-ex have to communicate with one another directly. No buffer of an attorney often means more contention than you may already have.
Some couples can pull off a friendly divorce effortlessly, but most couples divorce for emotional and financial reasons. Adultery, abuse, fraud, and even general incompatibility all have the potential to cause explosive interactions. Having an attorney on your side can help protect your best interests, and keep the process moving along smoothly and efficiently.
While self-representation may appear to save you money, it promises to prove more costly in the long run. Handling a case pro se can lead to expensive mistakes before even taking attorney’s fees into account when something goes so awry that you can’t fix it yourself. We invite you to reserve a consultation with the Nashville divorce lawyers at Miller Upshaw Family Law, PLLC through our contact page, or call our office at 615-391-4200. You owe it to yourself to be fully informed when dealing with divorce.