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What Can Go Wrong If You Represent Yourself In A Divorce?


Divorce makes everyone’s financial situation worse, at least in the short term.  You might think that, between moving out of your house and your ex-spouse taking their share of the marital property, you will not have any money left to hire a divorce lawyer.  This line of thinking is penny wise and pound foolish, however.  While the courts endeavor to make divorce accessible to everyone, whether they can afford to hire lawyers or not, if you do not hire a divorce attorney, you run the risk of making many costly mistakes that a professional lawyer would be able to avoid.  Even if you are not wealthy, a Boca Raton divorce lawyer can help you emerge from your divorce without taking a major financial hit.

So Many Documents, So Little Evidence

Eric and Kim divorced in 1996, before courts started keeping electronic copies of divorce case documents.  Because, by the time Eric appealed aspects of the divorce, the court only had a copy of the final divorce judgment, what happened during their original divorce case is anyone’s guess.  It appears that they reached an agreement about the terms of their divorce through mediation and that Eric agreed to pay Kim $200 per month in rehabilitative alimony for several months, followed by $500 per month in permanent alimony; the amount was apparently meant to be non-modifiable. Rehabilitative alimony is payment by the wealthier spouse to fund the less wealthy spouse’s job training to facilitate the latter’s reentry into the workforce.  Permanent alimony is an option in the case of couples who were married for 17 years or more and where one spouse has a much higher earning capacity than the other.

The arrangement worked well for more than a decade.  Both former spouses continued working, and although neither of them remarried, they each entered a new long-term relationship.  During the economic downturn of 2008, Eric lost his job, and his new job paid substantially less.  Meanwhile, Kim’s income increased from $7.00 per hour in 1996 to $17.00 per hour in 2011.  Eric asked the court to modify the amount of his alimony obligation, and in this legal action, Eric and Kim both represented themselves.  The general magistrate reached a decision based on inferences, since many of the relevant documents were unavailable.  The magistrate determined that Eric was able to continue paying $500 per month since he received financial support from his girlfriend.  They also determined that the parties had anticipated the increase in Kim’s income, since their original divorce agreement had included rehabilitative alimony followed by permanent alimony.  In other words, none of the changes that had taken place since the divorce warranted a modification of the alimony amount.

Contact Us Today for Help

A divorce lawyer can help you modify the amount of alimony you must pay, even if the original intent was for the permanent alimony amount to be non-modifiable.  Contact Schwartz | White for a consultation.



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