If your spouse chooses not to hire an attorney, there isn’t much that you can do, but there are a few things you should know:
1 – It will likely take longer. For example, simply writing documents, that might take our office an afternoon to do, might take days or weeks for a layman to complete. Expect everything to run right to the court’s deadlines.
2 – There will be mistakes to fix. The court will look at the different mistakes that have been submitted by your spouse and ask that they are corrected. This takes time as well.
3 – It can be more stressful. Without the cold, objective buffer of an attorney, negotiations that might have been handled much less emotionally can get heated. There is no way to avoid it, but your attorney will likely run interference for you, so you don’t need to worry too much.
4 – Court appearances can be more difficult. An attorney is paid to be concise and clear. Someone representing themselves, or pro se, can take a lot longer to get to the point. As unique as your divorce might seem to you, it’s likely fairly routine for the attorneys. If your spouse doesn’t have an attorney, you might see a lot more long diatribes that aren’t relevant to the proceedings at hand.
5 – You might hear from your spouse more. Very often, especially in a contentious divorce, the attorneys will tell you to stop talking to each other. While that rule can be hard to follow, especially when there are kids involved, it’s even worse when your spouse wants to try to negotiate with you directly. Don’t! Let them talk to your attorney.
6 – you might get strange requests that are outside of what you need to do. You might get asked for child support early or as one lump sum. You might get a call asking to give away this or that. Again, don’t. Call your attorney and get advice. Don’t let yourself get forced into a mess.
While there isn’t a lot that you can do if your spouse doesn’t hire an attorney, be prepared for things to change a bit.