Why using internet resources for a pro se divorce isn’t a great idea

The internet has made it easier than ever before for people to learn about various matters of concern. What would have once required a trip to the library or sit-down sessions with professionals can now be achieved from the privacy of one’s favorite armchair.

Unfortunately, ease of access to information online sometimes gives people a false sense of security. For example, people sometimes assume that they can do their own research and then represent themselves during divorce proceedings. There are many risks that people assume when they decide to do their own online research and file for divorce without professional support.

Their spouse may secure a lawyer

One of the most pressing concerns for an individual representing themselves in divorce is the possibility that their spouse won’t do the same thing. A layperson trying to argue against a lawyer may quickly find themselves outmaneuvered in negotiations or family court.

They could make mistakes with paperwork

It is very easy to make mistakes when executing documents or submitting them to the court without the assistance of someone trained in such matters. Small oversights and misunderstandings about paperwork requirements and state law could lead to people making very major mistakes. Someone unfamiliar with their rights under the law could agree to a settlement that does them a real disservice.

Also, parties who chose to use forms from the internet for drafting their own documents will not know the specific requirements of the county in which they file for the drafting and time lines for filing those documents. They may miss critical deadlines, or submit paperwork that will be rejected by the court. It is very dangerous to sign an internet form Property Settlement Agreement without the benefit of review by a lawyer. Sometimes unknown pensions or other major marital assets are missed that are available for distribution, and can never be recovered once the agreement is signed. Other times, people trade retirement accounts for home value, again without knowledge the values of retirement accounts are subject to income tax, and only the equity in a home is relevant for consideration unless the specific county recognized imputed sales costs. Best to engage a lawyer to manage the discovery and the calculations of value for all of the marital assets and address them fairly.

The degree of conflict could be hard to manage

Especially when married couples have children together, emotions can easily complicate divorce proceedings. Those attempting to negotiate custody arrangements are more prone than others to make mistakes when attempting to establish a parenting plan.

Parents may let their intense emotions and unrealistic expectations set them up for major challenges during the divorce process. Those who bring in a lawyer have someone to advocate for them so that emotions don’t determine the outcome of the process.

A lawyer understands the rules that govern property division and parenting matters during a Pennsylvania divorce. They can guide their client while settling key issues and can help them set realistic expectations. They can also help eliminate unnecessary conflicts coming from unachievable divorce goals. Someone who retains a lawyer who understands their needs can minimize the unnecessary conflict and potential for major mistakes during divorce negotiations. For all these reasons and more, seeking professional support during Pennsylvania divorce proceedings can be a smart decision.