No matter how you frame it, divorce is never pleasant. What it doesn’t have to be, though, is messy. Each situation and set of individuals involved is unique, so there is no one best way to settle a divorce. If you and your soon to be former spouse agree on many matters and are fairly amicable, you may not need a divorce attorney at all.
All too often, though, the presence of divorce attorneys is all too necessary. There are several reasons to bring in a divorce attorney, but perhaps the biggest one is to take advantage of the expertise they bring to the table, so you can ensure you get exactly what you want out of your divorce.
Keep reading to learn why you may or may not need a divorce attorney, and how to go about finding one.
You Might Not Need a Divorce Attorney If…
You And Your Spouse Can Make Decisions Yourselves
If you and your spouse are clear on what each other exactly want out of the divorce and are in agreement on what is reasonable, you may not have to involve lawyers at all. This is especially ideal for a married couple that has only been married for a few years and doesn’t have any complicated assets or child custody issues to settle.
If you figure out what you both want and are able to come to an agreement, in some states you may not even have to show up in court, or at least show up minimally. This is called a “summary” divorce, or dissolution.
Even if you do plan on getting divorce attorneys involved, having a solid idea of what you want out of the divorce can do a lot to streamline the process and make it easier all around.
You Have Minimal Assets/Other Complications
As mentioned above, divorces are much simpler and easier to settle when there aren’t any major assets or other complications that affect either party. For example, if you and your spouse have been married for less than five years and you make roughly equal incomes and don’t own any major holdings, determining the parameters of a divorce can be relatively simple.
This also applies to the presence (or lack thereof) of children. A divorce without any children will be easier to settle. If both parents live in the area and are able to mutually agree on 50/50 custody or a similar agreement, however, this can also be resolved simply.
You Want To Streamline The Process
Using divorce lawyers and engaging in the court system can lead to a long and drawn out process, when you may just want it over and done with. So, if you’re able to meet all the conditions above and just want to do it, you may want to leave the lawyers out of it.
Why You Should Hire A Divorce Attorney
Unfortunately, more often than not, you will probably need to look into divorce attorneys for any one of a variety of reasons. Listed below are some of the biggest ones.
You Need Legal Advice And Expertise
Even if you think you have everything figured out like in the circumstances listed above, it’s still a good idea to at least consult a divorce attorney. Getting a divorce is often a stressful and emotionally tumultuous period, so you probably won’t be at your best when making decisions and reviewing everything you want out of a settlement. You need the right expertise and insight during this time.
State laws can also be a bit tricky to navigate, and the courtroom even more so. Divorce attorneys can lend you their years of experience and knowledge to make sure that you represent yourself and your needs from the settlement correctly. They will help ensure that when a ruling is made everything is properly accounted for.
Custody Battles Are Involved
When it comes to a divorce, children necessarily complicate things. If you are splitting from your partner is as amicable fashion as possible, you may be able to come to a custody agreement together without outside help. It is often necessary and wise, however, to get an official agreement in writing that accounts for aspects of custody you might not initially think of, such as vacation time and holidays.
Apart from general custody negotiations, if things go south you might find yourself in the middle of a custody battle while getting your divorce. If this is the case, the legal expertise of a lawyer is imperative to reaching a custody agreement that you approve of.
Custody battles can get pretty messy and put an emotional strain on the child, so you want to be as professional and calm about the matter as possible. Using your divorce attorneys as third-party negotiators can help mitigate tension and stress.
You Can’t Come To An Agreement And There Are Large Holdings/Assets
Of course, if you and your spouse can’t come to an agreement, it’s time to bring in the divorce lawyers. Be careful, though. While lawyers can bring in a level of professionalism to the situation, they also run the risks of stoking the flames of any disagreements in their representation.
If either party has large holdings or assets, jointly held or separate, it is wise to consult with lawyers. Dealing with money is always tricky business, and you want to make sure that the deal you reach is a fair one and that you aren’t being taken advantage of or duped in any way.
If spouse support is deemed in any way necessary, a divorce lawyer should also be consulted to ensure that this is properly handled.
If The Other Party Has Hired A Divorce Attorney
If your soon to be former spouse has hired a divorce attorney, without a doubt you should, too. They obviously think that working with an attorney and getting legal advice is necessary, so there’s no reason to let them gain an edge over you. Even out the playing field by seeking out legal advice yourself, and gain the appropriate legal representation.
If your lawyers are both collaborative lawyers, you can still come to a divorce settlement rather quickly and easily, with minimal time in court.
If There Is Abuse
If there is any form of abuse involved, whether it be spousal, child, or substance, you should definitely seek the aid of a divorce attorney. They will ensure that your case is represented fairly to the judge, and they may use the other party’s failings to justify custody and financial dealings in your favor.
Things To Consider When Selecting A Divorce Attorney
If you do determine that getting a divorce lawyer is the best course of action, there are several factors that you should consider. Listed below are some steps to consider when looking for divorce attorneys. For a more comprehensive list of considerations, check out this article on the Huffington Post.
Investigate And Interview Several Candidates
Your divorce attorney will be representing you in a very sensitive circumstance, so you want someone who will do you and your interests justice. Don’t just go with the first lawyer you come across on a quick Google search—thoroughly investigate and meet several candidates before making a selection.
You want someone who has a proven track record of being successful with their job, will work within your price range, and who you personally are comfortable and can get along with.
If you can’t afford a divorce attorney, consider going to the local office for legal aid. You may be able to receive legal aid for a reduced price, or at least get some advice.
Things To We Wary Of
Just because a lawyer may seem clean on paper doesn’t mean you want them representing you. There are a few red flags that you should be wary of when choosing a divorce attorney.
The first is name-dropping. If a lawyer is over-eager to let you know of their success with some big-name clients, they’re likely just trying to suck you in and may even be lying.
Another is disclosing details of other cases to prove their own value. One of the basic principals of any lawyer is attorney-client confidentiality. If they’re willing to divulge information about other clients to you, what’s to keep them from talking about you to others?
Be Clear With What You Want
Be sure to be very clear with what you want out of the divorce. Make sure to list what things are non-negotiable, and what you can compromise on. You want a lawyer who will defend your interests and do a great job of representing you, but this shouldn’t come at the cost of causing further stress and taking an emotional toll.
Some lawyers are hungry to win every last battle in the courtroom, when in reality their clients would be content to concede a little bit. So, be clear with your lawyer from the very start, and choose someone who shows that they will listen to you and take your input seriously.