Pro Se Divorce: Why Bother With An Attorney?
Robert R. Gray, Senior Paralegal and Office Administrator
"Divorce attorneys are expensive ... I bet I could save LOTS of money if I did my own divorce ... after all, my wife and I are on friendly terms. Of course, I would have a paralegal check out the paperwork, but at a fraction of the cost."
Just writing this brings up bad memories. That was me 15 years ago ... a pretty smart guy, Project Manager for a manufacturing company, college degreed and pretty competent with documents, etc. I saved at least $3000.00 by not hiring a lawyer! So far, so good.
Three years after the divorce, two of my children graduated from high school. They had stayed with me so they could get through school. Their mother moved out of state when we were divorced. It was OK, I didn't need her to pay child support for those kids that stayed with me! The day I recieved the notice that my wages were being garnished for $16,000.00 of back child support ... well ... that got my attention. I'll never forget the three little words my ex-wife said to me when I called her to ask why I was being charged child support for the children that had resided with me the past three years. Those three words ... "READ THE PAPERS"!
You guessed it ... somehow, some way, the Final Decree showed she had the children! Of course, I wasn't worried, all I would have to do is call the court and let them know of the mistake. Funny, they said the same three words ... "Read The Paper"!
After I experienced my own case I became interested in the law and went on to get my degree in Legal Studies. Now, I'm a Senior Paralegal and Office Manager for The Gasper Law Group, one of the top divorce firms in Colorado Springs. How I wish I knew then, what I know now ... but haven't we all said that a time or two? All I have to say to folks who are thinking about a do-it-yourself divorce is "DON'T". There is too much on the line, the complications involved in the paperwork are simply too much for the "untrained" in that area, your rights are too important, and your piece of mind that it was done right is PRICELESS! I consider myself to be a pretty smart guy and what I learned through the process was ... "the worst lawyer in the world would have been better than my trying it myself"!
Oh ... I guess you'd like to know how it all ended with my matter? Well, I finally hired an attorney to deal with the mistake. That attorney cost me just over $7000.00! However, I didn't have to pay the $16,000.00 so ... do the math ... saved $9000.00. Then again, could have gotten the divorce done right in the first place for around $3000.00 ... so ... lost $4000.00 in that exchange. Oh... and that doesn't even figure in the stress I went through in dealing with the situation ... that was VERY expensive! Fortunately, I had an attorney who was able to pursuade the judge to sign a "Nunc Pro Tunc" order and finally my life was back on track.
I know what you are asking ... what's a "Nunc Pro Tunc" order? Well ... you can certainly look it up yourself. However, on second thought, HIRE AN ATTORNEY!