Representing yourself/ Unfair judgment

I see do it yourself divorce kits and people rushing to “get it over with”. Beware… take your time and at least think about consulting with an attorney 1st! It can be done … but it can turn into a mess.
My ex and I were married 9 years and lived together 7 years prior. She left after having an affair, which she denied and later got caught. Left me with 2 of our children, a home (upside down mortgage, needs repairs), 2 timeshares (went into foreclosure), $10,000 in credit card debt, broken vehicle, needing surgery and wiped out our savings. Later wife blocks me from mortgage, cannot even make a payment, name not on mortgage. As a result home goes into foreclosure.
After leaving she spent $20,000 in credit cards in 8 months, wiped out her stock and spent her retirement. I won our custody case, having full custody of our boys, with her getting visitation every other weekend. I thought things were going to be ok.
Then just before our hearing for ED… my attorney has open heart surgery in May. In June I go to emergency room after passing out. Have had a constant headache and several migranes since then. My ex notifies me in July that my attorney has dropped out of my case. In Sept I consult with another local attorney and 2 from a prepaid legal service. I didn’t trust the local attorney, had a funny feeling. He told me Judge cannot make me pay for loan in wife’s name, says he cannot make me pay her bills if I am not on the loan. Prepaid and over the phone didn’t seem like such a good Idea. Wife and I start talking about settling. Then I get a notice to go to court in 2 weeks… No lawyer, no money for one, constant headaches (4 months now) and just wanting to get it over with.
Now with 1 week left for court Ex stops settlement talks, and won’t answer phone. I go to court in Oct with no representation. Thought I just want it over with… Remember the attorney told me I cannot be forced to take the house, cannot be forced to pay for her loan? I was tired of the headaches and stress. Too many bills. Just thought get it over with. Not a good idea.
Day of court… Judge is pushy, I turn to pick up my papers and he is repeatedly telling me to hurry up. I get flustered… Pass on presenting a witness… thought I could go after opposing attorney, WRONG. During case I go to pour a cup of water and cannot see cup (vision blurred). Pour water all over table. Lights seem bright, everything seems like I am in a tunnel. Case doesn’t go well.
Judge awards me to pay my ex 1/2 my retirement, while she keeps hers (both had similar values). She gets to keep her stock. She gets to keep her belongings. I get to keep some of mine. She gave away her car for $500 (value of $2200) and court notes $500 to her side of distribution. I get to keep the truck (needs 3500 in repairs) and gets credited to my 1/2 with a $4900 tax value. I also get to pay her $11000 for difference in value of home after court agrees with her value of $97000 (local tax value from 3 years ago on double wide). I have a market analysis and appraisal saying it is worth $61000. Judge never even heard my financial, so how did he decide I can make this payment on $11/ hr.
So I get 1/2 of my stuff, a broken truck, home in repair, 1/2 retirement and payments of $500/ month to Ex, all on $11/ hour and supporting 2 teenage boys.
Meanwhile wife gets to go out to eat and hang in bars till close, blow my retirement since hers is gone. Enjoy $500/ month (from me)while sitting home after leaving her job to avoid child support. Drive around in choice of a Jeep, Lexus, or Mustang while I drive this beat up old truck hoping the transmission (been slipping 4 months) doesn’t fail this week and the brakes stop me at the next light. Worrying who will take care of my kids when I am found in contempt of court after not being able to make that loan payment or judgment payment.
So, Please learn from my mistakes… settle if you can, and do so early. If not, hire a good attorney. If you do it yourself, consult with an attorney before signing.
If you do make this mistake, learn your options for appeal before it is too late.