What Are the Risks of Representing Yourself in a Divorce Case?

A wooden gavel resting against two hardcover books on a white background, symbolizing law and justice, pertinent to sessions concerning same-sex divorce in New York.

If you are facing a divorce, you are likely looking to hire an attorney or make the choice to represent yourself. However, it is important to consider the repercussions that may come from representing yourself. Consider the following factors when making the choice to either hire an attorney or go it alone.

Risks of Representing Yourself: Asset Division

There are many steps in a divorce that may require thorough analysis and number crunching. Consider the following steps that cannot be completed with any mistakes:

  • Running child support and alimony formulas
  • Determining tax ramifications
  • Dividing complex assets such as stock portfolios and retirement plans

To make matters more complex, if your spouse has hired an attorney and you are representing yourself, their attorney’s experience and training in asset division and divorce finances will give them an upper hand. You may lack the knowledge to properly evaluate an offer presented by the attorney. This could jeopardize your future and set you up for years of financial distress in the form of unfair support payments or missed asset opportunities.

Risks of Representing Yourself: Custody Disagreements

Attempting to resolve custody negotiations on your own may lead to the following mistakes:

  • Failing to recognize the meaning of sole legal custody: If your spouse’s attorney offers shared physical custody and sole legal custody for their client, you must understand that by agreeing to this offer, your spouse will receive sole legal custody, meaning you will not have a say in decisions related to your child’s medical care, religious upbringing, and schooling.
  • You may be opening yourself up to false accusations: You may not be equipped to defend yourself against false accusations if your spouse lies to the court about your character. Having an attorney in your corner will allow you to build a strong case to expose the dishonesty.
  • You may not be in the right mindset: It can be difficult to represent yourself and not let your emotions get in the way. Custody battles are some of the most personal and complex legal matters that many will ever have to face. Acting on your emotions in court may hurt your case. This is why it is important to have an attorney who is your advocate and your voice when matters get tough.

If you have any further questions about how a divorce lawyer can assist you in your upcoming proceedings, do not hesitate to contact our best Long Island divorce attorney.


Barrows Levy PLLC is a dedicated New York law firm focused on providing quality legal services to clients in New York City and Long Island. If you require a lawyer who has notable experience handling family and estate planning matters, we are available to help. Contact Barrows Levy PLLC to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys today. 

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