Representing Yourself in a Missouri Divorce (Part 2 of 4)

By January 26, 2012Divorce
By Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal, P.C. of Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal, P.C. posted in Divorce on Thursday, January 26, 2012.

By Ryan L. Munro

After we received a comment to one of our blogs regarding self-representation in a divorce case, it seemed necessary not just to address the possibility of representing yourself, but also the wisdom of doing so.  Please follow the links at the bottom of this post to review the whole article.

While you are not required to hire an attorney to obtain a divorce in Missouri, the question of whether the suggestion posted in the comment was good advice should not be answered with a simple Yes or No.  Here are just a few reasons why: (1) “Competently researching the law” is not always that simple; (2) “Filling in the blanks correctly” is not always that easy; and (3) there is a reason for the old adage: He who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.

In this part of this 4 part series I will discuss “”Competently researching the law” is not always that simple.”  In fact, I have found that one of the more unrealistic expectations people have regarding the “law” is that there is always a clear answer out there  . . .  somewhere.  Sadly, it is often the case that the facts of one person’s divorce are unique and that there is not any “law” covering the exact situation.  The “law” may tell you what documents to file, what minimal information needs to be put in the documents, and when to file; but it cannot and does not try to fit every scenario. The “law” may provide general guidelines to your factual situation, but not an exact answer to how the “law” will respond to your factual situation.  An attorney with experience in family law can help a client shape their goals and expectations realistically to fit their specific circumstances and maximize the potential outcome based on a variety of factors.  Often this means explaining to a person how their situation is unique and how it differs from other cases. Always it means that there are no guaranties and no perfectly predictable outcomes.  A lawyer is better trained to both competently research the law and then interpret the results of that research.

In part 3 we will take a look at why “Filling in the blanks correctly” on the form documents supplied by the courts is not always as easy as checking a box or filling in a blank.  In Part 4 we will discuss what wisdom can be gleaned from the old adage: He who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.  Please follow the links below to review each part of the article.

Links :      The Original Comment

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4


Ryan L. Munro

Ryan L. Munro

A member of the Firm's Family Law Group, attorney Ryan Munro is a certified guardian ad litem and handles cases involving division of property, spousal support, paternity, and child custody. He is also a member of the Family Law Section of the American Bar Association, the Missouri Bar, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, and the St. Louis County Bar Association.

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