There is no doubt that the recent recession has hit Florida families hard. Families are seeing more stress, higher prices, fewer jobs and lower home values. For many families, this has meant stretching the budget to its limits and looking for ways to cut costs and save money. During the recession, couples have had conflicts and many have turned to divorce for a chance to get a fresh start.
However, recent data shows that many Florida couples are deciding not to hire divorce attorneys and are instead trying to go through the process alone. In Manatee and Sarasota counties, it is estimated that nearly 55 percent of all divorces have at least one side that does not have representation.
Instead, these people are often making agreements on their legal issues with their soon-to-be ex-spouse. Then, they are using standardized forms from the internet to complete the process.
This is not just the trend in Florida; attorneys from around the country are reporting higher numbers of cases where litigants are pro se. However, no exact numbers are known since data is not collected nationally. Experts warn that this practice could be damaging to Florida residents. Divorces are not only legally complex, they are emotionally draining. For some couples, it may be difficult to separate the emotional from the legal, which could hurt them in the long run.
Through a divorce, couples must make decisions on difficult issues such as property division and child custody. When a dispute arises on an important issue, if emotions cannot be put aside, then people can end up making poor decisions.
Furthermore, without representation, experts say that people may not be fully educated on their legal rights. In certain cases, divorcing spouses may not know what they are entitled to and what they should be fighting for throughout the divorce process.