This morning, when I was in Court, I witnessed a hearing where a husband was attempting to get a default Judgment set aside. The wife obtained an Entry of Default over two years ago and a Default Judgment six months ago. The husband did not file a Response and was shocked to find out that the Default Judgment essentially fleeced him financially. He claimed that they were negotiating and that the Judgment took him by complete surprise.
As a society in general, we have become too "litigation phobic". In an extreme reaction to people filing lawsuits which many consider to be meritless, many of us are too quick to give up our rights. We want to "make nice" and not upset anyone. We want to work it out.
I understand all of that. But isn't it possible to work things out amicably while protecting your rights? Isn't it possible to file a Response to a Marital Dissolution case and then negotiate? How much negotiation leverage do you think the husband I cited above has? Answer: Nothing. Zip. Zero. Nada. Niente! If they don't agree, then Wife was free to seek her Default Judgment. This guy lost his house, has to pay an exorbitant amount of spousal support and $18,000.00 in attorneys' fees. Unreal for a Default Judgment. All because of the excuses are given namely that "we were trying to work it out" and "I was lied to by my wife and her attorney".
Do you see where this is going? A divorce case is a lawsuit. When your spouse files one, he/she is no longer your friend but your adversary. Protecting yourself means hiring an attorney to represent you. That means immediately when you are served, you go to his/her office and pay a retainer and let the attorney take care of things. It does not mean asking stupid questions on AVVO. It does not mean calling an attorney and asking advice on how to fill out a form. It means actually hiring one and letting the attorney do what he/she does best. Yes, we tend to be expensive, but that is because your problems are not cheap. If you think we are expensive, just see how expensive it can be if you do it yourself.