It’s not common, but I have gone through some divorce cases where the other side, for whatever reason, elects not to hire an attorney to represent them.
Generally I handle these cases the same way, although instead of communicating with the other side’s attorney, I communicate directly with the other side.
Why This is More Challenging
Typically, people expect that these cases would be easier for me to handle as an attorney, but they’re actually much more difficult. Usually one of three things happens:
1. The other side doesn’t know the law. And because they’re distrustful of you (their husband or wife), they don’t believe you when you tell them how the law works. This can slow down the process tremendously.
2. They don’t have a good feel for how things generally go. There most definitely is a flow and process to a divorce, starting with how meetings with attorneys generally go, to attending mediation, to going to trial.
When the other side doesn’t understand this flow, they’ll make unrealistic requests. In a recent case, one side wanted to pay less than the general guidelines for child support. His reasoning was that he was allowing his former spouse to keep her married name and in his mind, that allowance had a financial value.
In reality, he had no right to take her married name away from her, but since he didn’t understand how the law works, we had to fight about it until he finally hired an attorney who straightened things out.
3. They don’t follow the rules. When the other party doesn’t follow the rules, it slows things down, makes them more complicated, and ultimately more expensive (when they finally do realize they need to hire an attorney, three months later).
What the Outcome Might Look Like
So, generally speaking, when the other side doesn’t have legal representation the case becomes more complicated. It may take longer and you may find yourself arguing about things that an attorney would breeze through because they know the law.
To put one final thought to rest: when I represent a client whose spouse doesn’t have an attorney, people generally assume that I’m glad about that because I’ll be able to get a great deal for my client. That’s not really true because the Court reviews all agreements before finalizing divorce cases to make sure they’re fair. This means that it’s in everyone’s best interest for me to create an agreement that feels fair.
If you’re considering a legal separation or divorce, call us at 303-449-1873 to set up a free consultation.