Can’t Afford To Pay A Divorce Lawyer? Why You Can’t Afford Not To Pay!
I often speak with people who are seeking divorce from their spouse, and after asking me a number of procedural questions regarding the mechanics of filing for divorce, they eventually disclose that they cannot afford an attorney, and are interested in filing for divorce on their own, what is referred to in the field as a “pro se” divorce. Inevitably, these are the same people who believe they have what is commonly referred to as a “simple divorce”, and believe they can handle the suit themselves. When you take a look around todays social landscape, it is not hard to see why people feel empowered to believe they can file suit on their own. The internet, with Legal Zoom and similar companies offering support for individuals seeking to resolve legal issues on a limited budget, appears to offer cheap alternative to those in need of help who believe, naively, that all they need is a few documents and general guidance.
Our overall economy, although vibrant and growing by all accounts, has seen over the last three to four decades the evisceration of the middle class, and blue-collar work shipped overseas, leaving most people with very little disposable income for things like an attorney’s retainer fee. Let’s get something straight from the beginning. “Simple Divorce” does exist, albeit a true rarity. If you or your spouse have any personal property, whether that is a house, cars, retirement, cash, or even possessions you brought into the marriage, we are not dealing with a “simple divorce”. If there are any children born of the marriage, we are not dealing with a “simple divorce” Both categories encompass most, if not all, marriages that I have encountered in my career as a divorce lawyer. Another problem I have seen is with the duration of the process when people file pro se.
I get several calls a year from people wanting me to finalize their divorce due to the fact that it has taken them many months to finalize their divorce, and now want to speed up the process. Almost no one is aware prior to deciding to file divorce on their own, that in Bexar County, the county staff attorney must review all pro se final decree orders submitted to the Court for signature, or that there is a massive waiting list to have a pro se divorce trial on the merits. Having legal representation in your divorce can help to avoid any unnecessary docket restrictions/delays, and in cases not requiring active litigation, can result in a divorce being finalized shortly after the expiration of the statutory 60 day waiting period. Lastly, the most troublesome issue I encounter regarding pro se litigants is poorly drafted orders. Invariably I come across orders every year where the parties were pro se, and drafted their final decrees themselves, but due to their lack of knowledge and training, have post divorce issues regarding enforcement of their orders because they were not properly drafted and entered.
This is a real problem that ends up an unnecessary expense because they will need to pay a lawyer to go back and correct the documents, which could have been avoided entirely had they secured the services of an attorney from the outset. I’ll be frank, legal representation is not free, it is a valuable service, one requiring years of training and significant financial investment. Here’s the truth though, attorneys are human beings just like you. Who are my brothers? Who are my sisters? San Antonio, Bexar County, South Texas, every man woman and child. We are here to serve, that is our job. Here is my advice if you identify as someone in need of legal representation. First, sit down with an attorney, and I mean face to face unless impossible, and discuss your legal situation, and if you get a strong feeling of trust and honesty from that lawyer, then discuss your financial situation with them. I, like many of my brethren in San Antonio and South Texas, who practice family law are solo practitioners. Never settle for anything less than meeting an attorney in person, and don’t be afraid to negotiate payment arrangements with a family lawyer you feel will have your best interest at heart going forward.
Hiring an attorney will involve sacrifice, but for maybe the very few of us with financial wealth, but just like any other necessary financial obligation we all maintain, it can be made affordable, and a realistic payment plan can be negotiated, and if maintained faithfully, your legal issues can and will be sorted out and resolved. If you are in need of honest and trustworthy advice, call me know at (210) 524-7798. The consultation is free. I will sit down with you, in person, and discuss your situation. Allow me to help you in your time of need, to be your light in the wilderness.