When representing yourself, beware of the soon to be ex-spouse's promises and going through a divorce. It is not uncommon for "friendly" soon to be ex-spouses to make representations to ensure a low conflict divorce when, in fact, their motives are not genuine. For example, to expedite the divorce process for whatever reason (i.e. to be with a new partner), a spouse may tell the other not to file a response with the excuse that it will save fees or/or time. That spouse will assure the other that they will submit a default decree asking for an equal division of property and debts, joint legal decision making of the minor children, and an accurate child support calculation. After the default hearing, to which the non-responding spouse is not entitled to notice, the non-responding spouse receives a copy of the divorce decree, they are often surprised that 1) the property and debt distribution is unfair; 2) the child custody orders are completely one sided and rob them of their parental rights; and 3) the child support order is based on inaccurate and/or falsified income information. At that point it is often too late for an inexpensive and time effective resolution to the issue. The Courts are generally non sympathetic and non responsive to claims of spouses' alleged false promises citing the fact that notice was given and the non-responding party and, thus, you as a party representing yourself, chose to stick your head in the sand. Trying to "undo" a court order is far more difficult and costly than appearing and negotiating a fair and informed settlement - all which can be done when you have "friendly" soon to be ex-spouses. Contact an attorney at Lasiter & Jackson, PLLC to discuss your options for a low conflict divorce and mediation.
The Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer Even Lindsay Lohan had a great lawyer and did jail time. Imagine if you did not know what facts the judge wanted to hear and made him or her angry because you decided to dictate what you thought they should know. Or, rather, what if you went to trial and the judge asked you to approach to give an offer of proof? Do you know what that is? Do you know that in Arizona, if you are representing yourself, you are held to the same standard as lawyers? Well, they are and the judge's do not accept the excuse "I'm sorry your honor. I'm doing the best I can. I'm not a lawyer." For the most part, there is no sympathy. Yes, you are expected to know what Rule 49 disclosure is and the deadline for same. You are expected to know how to draft a Joint Pretrial Statement. Can you do Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law? Do you want the judge to look at certain documents but you failed to provide them to the other side. Do you know, the judge will likely not look at them because they were not previously provided to the other side 30 days before trial? These are just some of the basics you need to accurately do to protect your interests.