Not all divorces are created equal, especially when there are issues of child custody or child support involved. Perhaps you’ve been perusing the Internet, thinking a “do-it-yourself” divorce is a good idea. Here in Florida, a do-it-yourself divorce can cost you a lot more than the filing fees listed on your court forms, especially if you have children to care for. Here are three reasons why divorcing parents should never go to divorce court without a Tampa divorce lawyer:
- Lack of a voice: Without a lawyer who has a firm understanding of how the law works, you may find yourself in a very brief divorce hearing, during which you never have an opportunity to bring your concerns to the attention of the judge, who probably has 50 more couples just like you waiting outside his chambers. A good lawyer will make sure your case gets the attention it deserves – especially in front of the judge.
- Misunderstanding of court expectations: Without a lawyer, you would be far from the first person filing for divorce who finds himself in contempt of court. In one case, a divorcing father believed that divorce hearings were optional, and simply failed to report to court. After the judge rescheduled his hearing five times, the man was finally declared in contempt of court. This did not help his weak petition to obtain joint custody from a judge who believed the father didn’t value his children enough to bother showing up for the hearing.
- DCF doesn’t care about you: Yes, you read that right. If you’re counting on the state’s child support enforcement lawyer to ensure that you get the money that you need to care for your child in the divorce, you’re making a serious mistake. You are NOT their client. They have 2 interests to pursue – the interests of the child, and the interests of the state. If you’re lucky, your interests might coincide with these, but don’t count on it. In one recent case, a Florida custodial parent was shocked to learn that the DCF attorney would be representing the out-of-state, non-custodial parent in a child support modification hearing to reduce the amount of support being paid. Had the custodial parent already developed a relationship with a Tampa Divorce Lawyer who was familiar with this case, that modification hearing might have ended very differently.
Ultimately, only you can decide whether or not you need a lawyer to represent your interests for all of the outcomes of your divorce – from division of property and assets to child custody and child support. But if you’re ready to consider protecting yourself and your children from the pitfalls of a do-it-yourself divorce, contact us. We’d be glad to help.