Getting divorced in Virginia can be a frustrating and expensive experience. Couples may spend thousands of dollars on the process of ending a marriage, and that’s before you even factor in ongoing expenses such as spousal support and alimony, as well as the obligation to divide the marital assets in half, thereby diminishing someone’s savings, home equity and retirement account in one fell swoop.

It’s natural and intelligent to consider the many ways in which you can reduce the cost of your divorce. Some people choose to forego hiring an attorney, which may seem like a way to save money at first. However, there are many pitfalls that can come from filing a divorce in Virginia without a lawyer.

Your ex could steamroll you, especially if they have an attorney and you don’t

In many couples, there is a power imbalance. One spouse has more authority or influence than the other, which can lead to resentment and difficulty in a relationship over time. That same issue can rear its ugly head during divorce proceedings.

If your spouse is forceful, prone to bullying or highly charismatic, they could potentially manipulate you or the courts in a way that will benefit them and hurt you in the long run. Especially if they have an attorney, you could wind up backed into a corner where you feel like you have no options.

Your lawyer will always work in your best interest, which means they will help you avoid one-sided agreements and may even be able to intercede when your spouse attempts to bully or manipulate you.

Future problems can arise when you file for divorce without advice

Whether you plan to litigate your divorce or hope to file an uncontested divorce, having a lawyer to review the terms that you set or that you’re advocating for can help you secure the best possible outcome. A lawyer will advise you of what terms and scenarios violate state law, as well as what outcome is most likely given the way that the courts currently operate in divorce situations.

If you don’t understand the complex way in which Virginia splits marital assets, for example, you won’t know what outcome to expect or how aggressively to advocate for yourself based on your current situation.

Your attorney can help you focus on the big picture instead of just your feelings

Emotions run high during a divorce. People can feel anger, sorrow or betrayal, all of which could influence how they respond in court and what they want as an outcome.  lawyer who understands the logistical reality of a divorce can help you focus on the big picture and on the ability to move on to a happier life instead of on winning tiny battles in order to assuage your feelings.

The sooner you start getting legal guidance and advice, the easier it will be to strategize and to push for a positive outcome in your pending divorce.