Do I need an attorney to represent me or can I represent myself?
Child Custody Lawyer
The benefit of having an attorney is he/she is there to protect you and ensure that your settlement agreement is abided by before, during, and after your divorce. A settlement agreement is generally construed by courts via general contract law principles. My concern for you is about what will happen if the opposing party breaches the agreement at any stage in the proceeding. If a breach occurs before a hearing on the divorce, you could inadvertently place yourself in a position whereby you become estopped from complaining about it based upon your behavior. The divorce hearing stage is critical -- if you are not very careful, your judgment of absolute divorce may not accurately reflect the agreement reached in your settlement agreement, eg., the child support amount might be higher or lower, depending upon the child support guidelines worksheet, and you could end up paying or receiving more than you agreed upon. I have seen this happen. Once the judgment of absolute divorce is entered, it is difficult to go back to correct/amend it. Finally, if a breach of the agreement occurs after a hearing on the merits, you could be compromised in your ability to bring the matter back before the court, depending upon what happens in the hearing on the merits. So, if you are determined to proceed pro se (without an attorney), it is very important that your separation agreement be strictly followed, and that it be incorporated, but not merged, into the judgment of absolute divorce. Bring a copy of it with you to your divorce hearing, and be sure that the master/judge knows about it.
You are required to put on testimony as to the grounds for your divorce at the hearing on the merits. This means you should be prepared to have someone testify for you to establish the grounds. If you are divorcing because of a one year mutual and voluntary separation, you should bring someone with you to the hearing who knows you well enough to state that you were married, that you separated on the date alleged, you have lived separate and apart, without sex or sleeping under the same roof, for the time alleged, and that there is no reasonable hope or expectation that you will reconcile. A close friend or family member will be fine for this purpose. I hope this helps. Good luck!
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