Increasingly, divorcing couples seem inclined to take a “Do It Yourself” approach to divorce. Kitchen table negotiations between spouses. Drafting their own agreements. Representing themselves in court.
Self-determination definitely contributes to a successful and lasting agreement. People who choose their own outcome are likely to be more satisfied with the results. And, the more work done by spouses, the more money saved for the family and the future.
This DIY approach, however, overlooks the fact that clients can customize their cases – and so the involvement and expense of an attorney – to suit their individual needs and wishes. Involving an attorney brings knowledge and experience to the divorce process that the internet, downloadable forms, and DIY ingenuity lack.
Relying on the internet and downloadable forms is only as good as the search terms used and sites reviewed, with no certainty that the information gained applies to Maryland law or is enforceable in Maryland.
Customizing the case means defining the scope of the attorney’s services for you, whether in a settlement or contested litigation.
In the settlement context, the client and attorney should consider whether the representation is limited to advice only? Advice and drafting? Negotiation and mediation as well? Attending court-ordered mediation? All aspects of settlement, but excluding any litigation?
In litigation, the scope of representation can be defined to include all aspects of the litigation, including any appeal. Or, excluding an appeal but all other litigation. Or, only certain parts of the litigation – such as at a particular hearing or trial…or for drafting court documents but not attending court.
Customizing your case starts with consulting an attorney to gather information, identify options, and then decide the best way forward. Ask about limited scope representation if you lean toward DIY’ing your divorce. Explore settlement versus litigation. And, ask what work you can do to keep costs down.
Customize your case with the input of an attorney. Far more effective if done at the start, than after the trial ends or agreement is signed…and may be too late to protect you, your family, and your future.