This post is the fourth post in a series where we alert you to the pitfalls of the Do It Yourself divorce.
Pitfall #4 Letting your spouse hire the attorney.
You decided not to hire an attorney. Instead you will trust your spouse to hire the attorney to do the paperwork. After all, you know your spouse will be fair. Besides this will save a ton of money.
That attorney your spouse hired? He doesn’t represent you. Your spouse is the client and the attorney owes a loyalty only to your spouse. The attorney will work to get only what his client, your spouse, wants, not what you want. That attorney does not have a duty to explain to you the implications of your agreement with your spouse.
Example: You agree to do something without understanding the repercussions:
You and your spouse bought a home and there is a mortgage payment due every month. Your spouse files for divorce. You agree to make the house payment while the divorce is pending or until it is sold. The attorney writes the agreement up saying you make the house payment as spousal support. You think, no big deal, I agreed to make the house payment, and you sign the agreement. The court approves the agreement and makes it an order of the court. Do you see what happened there? If not, you needed an attorney. You just cost yourself some money in your property division.
Example: You don’t know your rights:
Your spouse’s attorney advises them to wait the separation period before filing for a divorce. You go along with this plan. You know you can’t get a divorce in Louisiana until you have lived separate and apart for 365 days if you have children. Its 180 days if you have no children. So you wait. In the meantime, your spouse starts galavanting around the world, spending his paycheck on himself, taking trips and generally living it up. You, on the other hand, are slaving to make ends meet. He gives you a bit of cash here and there to “help” with the kids. That’s only fair because he makes 3 times what you make.
As the separation time gets short, things start to go south quickly. He stops giving you any cash and jets off on a vacation. Its then that you make an appointment with an attorney. You find out that he should have been paying you a lot more, enough that you would not have struggled over the past 11 months. But, those months are gone, and he isn’t going to have to pay retroactive because you had nothing on file at the courthouse.
Avoid The Risk
Don’t risk a disaster. Instead, hire an experienced family law lawyer to protect your interests and make sure you know your rights. Shelley Goff at Goff and Goff Attorneys has been practicing family law for 28 years. Call us. We can help you navigate the process as smoothly as possible. 318-255-1760.