Things to Think about When Deciding between Hiring an Attorney or Going Alone in Pro Per.
Updated: Nov 28, 2022
This article is about things to consider when facing a divorce in Texas. Specifically, whether you should hire a lawyer (and if so, what to look for to find an effective lawyer for you,) or whether you should attempt to handle your own case.
The Benefits of Hiring an Attorney
Both the processes behind the court system and the laws themselves can be quite daunting and complex. In modern times, it's easy to pick up a wide variety of skills by, say, watching YouTube. To be an effective practitioner of the law, however, requires years of book learning coupled with hands-on experience. A good attorney not only knows the laws, but also knows how to communicate well with all parties, and how to push the right buttons to get things done effectively.
Another major benefit of hiring an attorney is that you can get an outside and neutral perspective about your situation. People embroiled in the heat of divorce are often not thinking clearly. In early stages, affected by years of dysfunction in toxic marriages, some people think if they give everything to their soon-to-be ex-spouse, this can somehow make things better between them. It won't! A good attorney will gently or not-so-gently help you understand this. One day, as the fog of emotion clears and you look back, you'll be very happy if you did find and hire an attorney like that.
On the opposite spectrum, there are those who like to take advantage of their spouse's known emotional weaknesses or soft-heartedness to get an outsized share of the community property or other benefits. If that type of person hires an attorney and you are the soft-hearted type, you should definitely hire an attorney too! If you are the type of person who likes to take advantage of others, though, you may not need an attorney if your soon-to-be ex doesn't have one. If they do hire an attorney, you likely won't be able to get away with a disproportionate amount. You should understand that and learn to be ok with it.
What To Look for When Hiring an Attorney
If you decide to hire an attorney, you should ideally get an effective advocate whose personality and values aligns with your own, and who will defend your interests when you are not in the mindset to defend them yourself. Litigation can often feel like war, so to be effective, Clients and attorneys should be a close-knit "battle-buddy" team. You need to look for somebody you would like to work with in both intense situations and potentially protracted discord.
Representing Yourself: Pro Per Litigation
As for the technical aspect of the law, while there are a lot of guides out there to help those from a technical perspective who want to go it alone (also known as "pro se" or "pro per" litigants,) going alone usually does not lead to a favorable outcome if you have any type of substantial assets, a full-time job, or something similar to lose. If your situation is simple, however, it might be a good option.
Most of the time, pro per litigants do not know how to communicate effectively with the court or opposing parties. They also often file meritless motions and can bog the court down with unnecessary or superfluous "evidence" and/or other filings. Some pro per litigants have even gathered reputations as "litigation terrorists" for being engaged in these types of tactics. If your goal is to engage in this type of behavior, an attorney will likely not be able to help you anyway, as we are constrained by a large host of rules and regulations.
But if you are facing this type of frivolous pro per litigant on the other side, there are strategies to deal with them. An attorney can help you with that. But be warned: it can be costly to fend off numerous and seemingly non-stop frivolous motions. Hopefully, you never find yourself in this type of situation.
If thinking about hiring an attorney, please give us a call at (512) 575-5816. We would be happy to get to know you, learn more about your situation, and provide advice on the way ahead. If both the attorney and the potential client feel they can work well together, we would be happy to help you successfully resolve your case.