For many spouses and parents who face divorce, the prospect of hiring an attorney to represent them seems like a waste of time and money, especially if they do not have endless resources.
While it is true that some divorces are much less complex than others, this is one of those areas where a clear understanding of the many state-specific laws at play in a California divorce is necessary.
Between the complexities of property division in a community property state and the potential of a custody battle over your children, there are simply too many ways to lose possessions or rights you deserve to keep. Unless you are personally a divorce attorney, you should carefully consider all your options before choosing to represent yourself in divorce.
California divorce and community property
Unlike most other states, California requires that spouses who get divorced divide all of their marital property equally. You typically cannot finalize your divorce unless you and your spouse reach a settlement where each of you takes exactly half of the assets and liabilities you jointly own.
The "equal division" requirement leaves much less negotiating room for either side, meaning that reaching a property division agreement that a court will accept is not as easy as it may seem, especially if you own only one or two significant assets.
In most cases, spouses who consider representing themselves simply want to keep costs low and keep the process simple. If you find yourself hoping to represent yourself for these reasons, you may want to consider using same-day divorce services. This serves those who want their marriage ended quickly, and who do not have complex assets or custody matters to resolve.
Custody issues are rarely simple
If you do not have children, representing yourself is unwise but if you have children, the stakes are much higher.
On top of this, custody disagreements have a way of bringing out surprising behavior in parents who feel threatened or who worry that their relationship with their child is in danger. Even if you don't expect this to affect you, failing to use high-quality legal resources and guidance during a custody negotiation is short-sighted. You have many parental rights to protect throughout the custody negotiation, and once you let them go, they are difficult to regain.
For your own protection, you should examine all your legal options before choosing to represent yourself during divorce. A strong, professionally built divorce strategy can help you focus on your own needs and the needs of your family while keeping your rights and priorities protected during this tough season.