I was recently asked by a client whether they should prepare their own Divorce Application or whether they should pay for legal representation. I was asked, "Divorce is simple - right?"
Whilst a person can act on their own behalf without legal representation in family law matters, care needs to be taken. And whilst an Application for Divorce is a standalone application and is not linked to property settlement or parenting proceedings, an Application for Divorce is not without its own complexities.
Acting for yourself requires a certain level of understanding of the law and the Court's practices and procedures.
An application that is not properly drafted or does not address all the aspects required under the law, is likely to meet resistance when the matter is heard in Court.
Furthermore, periods of reconciliation after an initial separation need to be dealt with properly. Periods of living under the one roof although on a separate and apart basis need to be addressed, as may witness statements be required. There are also issues in effecting proper service of the application on your spouse. Failing to comply with the rules for personal service can see the application being rejected.
As lawyers appear in court on a regular basis, they know what the court expects, and also are aware of the requirements set by the Family Law Act and Rules and are best placed to draft an application to ensure that the divorce is granted at the first hearing.
Often parties representing themselves can run into any number of difficulties in meeting the requirements and expectations that a court has for an Application for Divorce and can result in the Divorce Order not being made. Failing to comply with the necessary requirements can lead to the Application for Divorce being dismissed, or multiple adjournments and repeated court appearances to rectify mistakes.
If you are thinking of filing an Application for Divorce speak to a lawyer and obtain advice before proceeding. Obtaining legal advice and representation can make the difference between the Application for Divorce being granted or rejected by the court.
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The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.