No question, divorce is expensive. The high cost of divorce has led many into thinking they can represent themselves and save some money. The old saying that ‘the attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client’ was learned from years of bitter experience as a case from Canada shows.
A Canadian Do It Herself-er
The Financial Post contains a story about one woman who found out there are no free lunches.
For anyone who wants to protect their rights and maximize their results, the decision to forgo a lawyer and represent themselves will be much costlier in the end.
For example, one Canada divorce ended after a 10-day trial in which a family judge made a final order for alimony and child support, property division, and ultimately ordering the self-represented Wife to pay her husband over $150,000 in attorneys’ fees!
The trial was “more like a sentence than a sojourn.” The trial’s unnecessary length and complications were, according to the judge, attributable to the wife’s conduct and her decision to represent herself.
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With the issues of property and support behind them, the Canadian couple still had one more fight to fight: who would pay the legal costs?
The wife’s decision to represent herself caused the husband to unnecessarily incur substantial legal fees. The wife was ordered to immediately pay the husband costs of $150,000.
In a warning to those who choose to represent themselves to save some money the judge noted:
“it is time that we recognize that there are some persons who can readily afford legal counsel but simply choose to act for themselves because they think that it will provide them a tactical edge in the courtroom.
The Canadian wife’s strategic decision to represent herself caused her to have to pay $150,000. The emotional toll of litigation lasting 17 years is immeasurable.
Had she hired a lawyer, it is possible that the emotional and financial costs of the resolution of the separation could have been reduced significantly. Of course, such a result is now only conjectural.
The Canadian Financial Post article is here.