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Common Client Mistakes Detrimental to the Favorable Resolution of a Divorce Case

Interviewer: What are some of the mistakes you see people inadvertently make that hurts their ability to have a successful divorce? What puts them in a bad position?

Michael Anderson: A lot of times one of the parties just wants to be nice to the other party, they feel bad – maybe they have some type of guilt or shame. And so they say, ‘oh I’m going to walk away’, ‘he can have everything’ or ‘she can have everything’. And that’s never a good thing to do. It’s always good to divide things up; to speak with an attorney before you just give up on everything. A lot of people walk away from retirement accounts or insurance policies, simply because they don’t realize they’re entitled to receive half or a portion of them. Things like that. It’s always good to meet with an attorney, or you could be walking away from substantial assets.

Following Advice From Laymen is Apt To Be Detrimental to a Favorable Resolution

Interviewer: Any other mistakes people make that mess up their situation?

Michael Anderson: Moving too fast or listening to friends or neighbors, church members, things like that. They aren’t attorneys; they give bad legal advice. So sometimes it’s somebody who felt like they got screwed in their divorce so they’re going to tell you everything that you should do so you don’t get screwed in yours. And often times that’s not a good thing to follow that type of advice.

The Places Offering Cheap or Uncontested Divorce Are Mostly Hustlers Looking To Scam People

Interviewer: You have places where somebody’s advertised, ‘divorce is only $599’ – side-of-the-road type places. What’s wrong with those places if anything?

Michael Anderson: The places that offer the really cheap or uncontested divorce things – what they are is they’re basically paper-preparers; they’re not attorneys most of the time. And what they’re trying to do is just make a quick buck off of you. They’ll prepare the paperwork and often times when I’ve seen the paperwork it’s outdated, it’s old forms, or it’s forms from a different state that aren’t even applicable in Utah. It’s not good practice to do that. They can’t give legal advice if they’re not attorneys, and then even if they are attorneys, they’re trying to get the case done very quickly which means if you don’t have somebody representing you – an attorney can’t represent both the husband and the wife in a divorce case. So he can represent one or the other; he can’t represent both of you. SO if both of them are being counseled by the same person, there’s a problem – there’s an inherent conflict of interest. So you really need to have your own attorney, at least to view the papers if you’re going to do it on your own. But I would recommend that you just have it done once, done right, and that way you don’t have to go back and fix it later.

Self-Representation in a Divorce Proceeding in the State of Utah

Interviewer: What about trying to do it yourself versus hiring an attorney? Is it foolish to just try to accomplish a divorce yourself?

Michael Anderson: I think it’s okay if both parties are okay with what they actually want to get done. You know the forms, you can get online; you can do it yourself or go to the courthouse and buy a packet and do it yourself. The problem with doing it yourself is most of the time people don’t know everything that they’re looking for. They don’t realize what  a judge would do in their specific case and because everything is case-specific, they could be leaving something on the table or not accurately drafting a document. So they’re going to have problems with visitation later because it’ not properly drafter, or they’re going to have problems with the division of property because something wasn’t outlined correctly. And the worst thing that can happen is for you to realize that you gave all of the equity in your house to your former spouse, because you didn’t have your documents reviewed. Or something along that line. And it’s just better to prepare and prevent than to repair it and fix it later.

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