Thinking About Representing Yourself In A Divorce? It’ll Cost You

Thinking About Representing Yourself In A Divorce? It’ll Cost You

Family litigation is both emotional and can also be quite costly. Those who have the resources to self-represent might want to think twice. The cost can quickly become exorbitant and cause trouble down the road for you. First, to understand all that is involved in a divorce in Alberta, there are three accepted grounds: separation, adultery, cruelty.

In the Divorce Act, separation is defined by you and your spouse living apart for one year. However, you can start the divorce action during the one-year period, but one year needs to elapse to file for divorce. Conversely, divorce can be filed immediately in adultery and cruelty cases.

Steps To Filing For a Divorce

  • Fill out a claim form
  • File and serve form - There’s a $260 fee for filing this form and needs to be served to spouse by mail or by person.
  • Awaiting a response - This step allows your spouse a certain amount of time to respond.
    • Within Alberta - 20 Days
    • In Another Province - One Month
    • Outside Canada - Two Months
  • Filing remaining forms - This step is dependent on your spouse’s response to the claim form. All additional forms need to be filled out and then reviewed by a justice of the court.
  • Receive Divorce Judgment - If your divorce is approved a justice of the court will sign your Divorce judgment form and mail it to you.
  • Wait 31 Days - Once the Divorce Judgment form has been signed your divorce is final, you can request a Certificate of Divorce, and you’ll be able to re-marry

All that looks pretty simple and straightforward, right? Although uncontested divorces are becoming more popular, there are quite a few instances where litigation is necessary, especially when children are involved and in order to protect our client’s assets. This is where having an experienced lawyer can save you money in the long run. By having an advocate with your best interests at heart, you stand a better chance to receive the items you’re asking for in divorce proceedings.

Beyond that, with the matter of property and support behind you there is still the matter of legal costs and who will pay them. What is important to remember is that just because you act for yourself, it doesn’t force the judge to become their advocate. Self-representing will not give you a tactical edge in the courtroom. That’s the job of lawyers. There are not two sets of rules in family law cases for those who have counsel and those who choose to self-represent.

Do yourself a favor and allow a professional with years of experience to help you through a difficult and challenging portion of your life. We understand that this is an emotionally heavy decision not only for your future, but your children’s as well. A common mistake people representing themselves make is believing that the judge will be fair and listen to them and they fail to understand that Court matters are adversarial in nature. Neither the judge, nor opposing counsel are your friend and when you are standing in front of the judge it is often too late to change your mind and it is very hard to undo a mistake that a client has made, which more oft than nought, could have been minimized or prevented in the first place.

There is a very old old old proverb: “A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client”. This proverb is based on the opinion that self-representation in court is likely to end badly.

Save yourself undue stress from divorce filing and proceeding so you can focus on moving forward in your life. For more information about how we can help you through a divorce, please contact Verhaeghe Law Office at 587-410-2500

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