I don’t think it’s a good idea, especially if there are children involved. Because they don’t really understand the law, they don’t understand what they’re negotiating for or against. And people do get a misconception of what the law is. I people who come for consultations that have read things online, and sometimes they’re not very accurate and they don’t apply to their particular situation, but they don’t realize that. If they don’t have the money for a complete divorce, they should at least have a consultation so that they understand what’s involved before deciding that they want to be self-represented.
I encourage mediation. That’s a process in which the parties are self-represented, and then they literally just go to the lawyer at the end to review it to make sure it’s fair. And I think that would be a good alternative if a person doesn’t feel that they can afford an attorney throughout the process.
Judith S. Charny has been practicing law in South Jersey since 1984 and established her own practice in 1999. Ms. Charny concentrates in divorce and family law, including collaborative law and divorce mediation.