If you are thinking about handling your divorce completely on your own before the Rhode Island Family Court, think again!
At first I saw a trend that I was in favor of. I saw more and more people filing their own divorces and representing themselves.
I have supported a person's right to do this because I know that many people don't have thousands of dollars to hire a lawyer to represent them. I can understand and appreciate the economics of the situation.
However, this trend has spiralled out of control from people representing themselves because they can't afford to hire an attorney to those with a strong income stream filing their own divorces without even getting legal advice from a lawyer because they don't want to pay any money at all to know their rights.
However, it is one thing to simply bypass hiring attorneys because you couldn't pay the retainer fee and hourly rate and completely another thing to avoid getting good solid legal advice at all even when you can afford it.
Am I offended for myself? Not at all. What worries me is that I see more and more people going through their divorces "on a wing and a prayer" without knowing their options and legal alternatives are.
In a divorce there are laws that apply to everyone and there are some laws that may just apply to you and your situation.
There are some instances in which you may only have one chance to do something in your divorce to protect yourself. If you don't say the right thing or do the right thing and miss that golden opportunity to appeal or file a Petition for Certiorari to the Rhode Island Supreme Court then. . . well . . let's not just say it . . . you're screwed!
People have criticized me for my "down to earth language" rather than using large words, legal ease or "proper" wording for an attorney. I certainly respect their right to have their opinion.
I grew up with hardworking parents and grandparents. They struggled to get where they were and it is perhaps only by sheer tenaciousness that I am a lawyer today. Yet I put my pants on one leg at a time just like secretaries, firemen, doctors, sanitation workers, etc... and I help those who come to me as affordably as I can. I don't sugarcoat things. I'm a proper gentleman but I tell things like they are. . . truthfully and realistically.
Can you do your divorce on your own? Yes, you can! Should you do it without good solid legal advice? Absolutely not!
What I'm seeing though is blowing my mind. I'm seeing people who make $150,000 per year avoid getting good solid legal advice to get through their divorce intelligently and in an informed manner at a cost of only $145 in some cases and only $650 in others.
If a layperson has handled their own divorce and told you that it is easy and you can do your own divorce then I'll be happy to show you a person who made at least 2 to 5 critical errors that are most likely going to come back to haunt them.
I'll be forthright. I don't like seeing this trend of people thinking divorce is simple and easy. People are believing that they can do it themselves as simple as connecting the dots by going to a website called LegalZoom or CompleteCase or any other website professing to have a complete solution for uncontested divorces.
There is NO one size fits all agreement or advice system. Every couple's lives, property, circumstances, children, and financial situation are ALWAYS different!
Without the advice of a live person, namely a real, experienced attorney licensed in the State of Rhode Island who knows about divorce and family law to listen AND hear what has gone on in YOUR life and properly advises you on all aspects of your divorce, including your rights, alternatives, and each actions consequences.
If you try to do this all yourself and let the court "lead" you through a few blanket questions, then you are playing with dynamite and 19 or so out of 20 times it is going to explode and blow your hand off! That is a fairly good analogy to use here.
There is perhaps nothing harder than to have someone come to me later and beg me to help them and tell them what they can do only to have me to go through all the facts and information and I have to tell them that they had their chance but they blew it and there is absolutely nothing that can be done legally for them now because they didn't act wisely when they went through their divorce and failed to get good solid legal advice.
It's your choice to go with this trend or not. As I've told my wife, it is our children's undeniable right to screw up their own lives because they didn't want to get solid legal advice so things are done right.
There is a reason that I chose to focus my law practice on Rhode Island divorce and family law as the one area of law I would practice despite the fact that there are easily hundreds of areas of law I could practice in. I could spend a lifetime practicing just divorce law in Rhode Island and still not know everything.
There is a reason lawyers exist. We exist because it isn't simple. Law is complex and always changing. While I advocate a person's right to represent themselves, it has been my hope that people would do so in an informed manner. That's not what I'm seeing though. I'm seeing haphazard people who just want to save a buck and it genuinely saddens me.
Our rights are precious in this country. Ignorance of their value does a disservice to the men and women who have given their lives to insure that we have these rights today.
Please make sure you are informed. It is worth it!
All my Best to All Who Go Before the Rhode Island Family Court,
I am Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall and I am "The Rhode Island Divorce Coach."