Jan L. Warner & Jan Collins
Question: I have read lately that more and more people are "going it alone" in family courts because the attorney fees are so high. Why can't my husband and I do our divorce without having to swim with the sharks?
Answer: The mystique of the professions, including law and medicine, is disappearing as more and more Americans demand to be informed of their options and included in the decision-making process.
"Informed consent" - the requirement that physicians first apprise the patient of all treatment options and alternatives and then help the patient make the best decision - is fast being transported to the practice of law. And rightfully so.
People hire lawyers for two main reasons: expertise in legal procedures and familiarity with the local courts and personnel. Clients should want to be involved because it's their future everyone is talking about -- the client ultimately bears the risk of the actions of the attorney as reflected in the results of the case. At the same time, lawyers should want their clients to be informed and should find cost-effective ways to provide clients the basics without charging upwards of $300 per hour.
Although you and your husband are free to set yourselves adrift in the ocean of misery known as "family court" without help, we believe that you will find much more dangerous creatures out there than the "sharks." Your best bet, in our opinion, is to learn your options and enter into a relationship with a professional who is in touch with your needs.