Why Attorneys Shouldn’t Represent Themselves in Divorce Cases
We have all heard the old adage, “A man who represents himself has a fool for a client.” This pertains to attorneys as well as the average man on the street, including lawyers representing themselves in divorce proceedings.
Divorce is common in the U.S., and lawyers are not immune. In fact, divorce rates may be even higher in the legal profession due to the stress, long hours, taking a toll on a relationship and a marriage. Many lawyers prioritize their careers, which can put a strain on a marriage and life at home. For attorneys going through divorce, representing oneself can present unique challenges, even for those who specialize in divorce and family law.
Are There Any Pros of Representing Yourself in Court?
In theory, lawyers may see certain advantages to handling their own divorce cases, for example:
- Saving the legal fees they would pay another attorney
- Protecting their professional reputations in the legal community by not “airing their dirty laundry” among their colleagues
- Assuming their legal educations will have equipped them to handle divorce proceedings without too much difficulty
Nevertheless, attorneys may ultimately discover that the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages of representing oneself in a divorce.
What Are the Cons to Lawyers Representing Themselves in a Divorce?
If you are an attorney, in actual practice, it may be the wrong choice to represent yourself in a divorce for several reasons:
- Divorce and family law is a specialized legal area. Attorneys who practice in other areas may not be familiar with the family court system. Even if you practice in this area of law, it may be difficult to view your own case objectively when dealing with emotional family issues.
- A lawyer’s divorce can be particularly complicated. Several different factors can make proceedings more complex, including valuation of your practice, particularly if you are a partner in a firm; calculating your income, if your case load varies or you have clients who pay recurring fees over time; student loan debt; and whether your spouse worked while you attended school.
- You can better prepare in advance with an experienced divorce lawyer in your corner. Your divorce attorney can spot evidence your spouse’s attorney may attempt to use against you in divorce negotiations and prepare in advance for any attacks. Evidence used in divorce cases can come from social media, correspondence, transaction histories, and virtually every piece of traceable information.
- Attorneys must maintain professionalism in front of the court and their clients at all times. In divorce proceedings, when you represent yourself, you may be required to communicate, negotiate, and/or litigate with your spouse, which may involve cross-examination in open court. It could be difficult to always remain calm and professional in highly contested or emotional matters.
- Divorce is an emotional process that is stressful enough to begin with. Why take on the additional stress of dealing with unfamiliar laws, procedures, and court rules? Having experienced Chicago family law attorneys to represent you can help make the process smoother for you and your family.
- Divorce and family law attorneys trained in mediation, arbitration, and collaborative divorce can advocate and negotiate on your behalf to potentially avoid contentious and adversarial court proceedings.
Our Chicago divorce lawyers at Nottage and Ward, LLP have been focused exclusively on family law and divorce for more than 30 years. We have the experience and resources to help you deal with the challenges of ending your marriage and moving on with your life. We are experts at negotiating, litigating, and resolving complex financial and custody issues. If you are an attorney facing divorce, contact us at (312) 332-2915.
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Leslie has been the strongest representation I could ask for
Leslie has been the strongest representation I could ask for in a very complicated, emotional matter. She has continuously looked out for my best interest and the best interest of my son. She is always prompt in getting back to me and in keeping me well informed about my case.
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