Many people believe that an attorney in a divorce is irrelevant. For many people, the cost of hiring an attorney is too high. They may believe that an attorney's goal is to muddle the water to increase fees. Some feel like attorneys as a whole are untrustworthy. Others believe that it is easy to learn about the legal process on their own.
The main reason an attorney is critical in any legal action is because the legal field is complicated. In California, an attorney practicing family law may consult statutes from the family law code, the civil code, the evidence code, the probate code, the United States Constitution, the California Constitution, and the criminal code. Every aspect of the litigation consists of rules and statutes. Rules also govern the types of questions asked, what types of answers are privileged, the form of the question, etc. An attorney understands the nuances of the law and knows where to find answers for complicated scenarios. In fact, law students spend several years intensely studying law only to learn that they have scratched the surface of the legal field.
A good attorney will explain the law, analyze the facts, and summarize the conclusion. The decision to move forward with litigation is the client's decision. If the client feels too pressured, the client should move on to a different attorney with whom he or she feels more comfortable. The attorney's role is to advise the spouse not force the spouse into more litigation.
It is difficult to know the main mistake that self-represented spouse's make but several people who have represented themselves in their first marriage have visited an attorney surprised to learn they are still married to their first spouse which makes their current marriage void.
If you would like to represent yourself in a divorce action, visit an attorney before you start on the process. Make sure that during the meeting you take an honest note of things that you misunderstood about the law and rethink the decision to represent yourself.