Jan 12

Do I Need a Lawyer if I’m Getting a Divorce?

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At first glance, getting a divorce may not seem that complicated. At the core, you need to file some paperwork, file some more paperwork, and maybe make an appearance in court. If you and your spouse agree on the terms, you may wonder if you even need a divorce lawyer. Unfortunately, divorce is more complicated than it seems on the surface, even under the best of circumstances. If you and your spouse don’t agree on any point of the divorce, it gets more difficult.

Lisa and Brad were married for 15 years, and had two children. Things were going well until Brad started his own business, which failed. This, combined with a failing economy brought down the house of cards and they lost everything. The stress of trying to save what they worked so hard to attain was too much. They decided to divorce. It was not a contested divorce, and they both just wanted to get it over with. They decided that because they had lost everything, there were no assets to divide, and child support and alimony was too much of a burden. They agreed to address the money issues at a later date when both got back on their feet financially.

Because Brad made a lot more money than Lisa, he recovered quickly while Lisa did not. Lisa held on to her part of the bargain and struggled to find her way back. Brad was enjoying a new house and creating a new life for himself. They did not use a lawyer for their divorce, there was no structure in place to help Lisa. She ended up with nothing to show for her 15 years of marriage.

Do you need a lawyer if you’re getting a divorce? The answer is “Yes,” and here’s why:

Is your divorce contested? If your divorce is contested, you must have a lawyer. You cannot navigate a contested divorce without a lawyer and expect to come out with a reasonable outcome. If your spouse has a lawyer, and you don’t, your spouse has a distinctive advantage. You need legal representation to negotiate with your spouse and file appropriate legal motions to ensure you don’t lose motions on technicalities. Even in an uncontested divorce, you need help considering the legal ramifications of your decisions, and you’ll want someone on your side to negotiate with your spouse as you work toward mutually agreeable divorce settlement terms.

Protect your interests. Divorce is an emotional experience. Even if the decision to divorce is mutual and amicable, you and your spouse may disagree on the terms of the divorce. Don’t give in to your spouse’s demands because you feel guilty, want to speed up the divorce, or are having a momentary feeling of good will toward your spouse. You need an objective set of eyes to consider the long-term repercussions of every aspect of your divorce settlement, someone whose decision-making isn’t clouded by the tumultuous emotions of divorce.

Navigate the process. Any legal proceeding can feel complicated or confusing to someone who isn’t intimately familiar with the process and law, and divorce is no different. A divorce lawyer helps you navigate the maze of petitions, serves the paperwork, responds to the other party – all the myriad details that have legal significance. With a good divorce lawyer, you can move efficiently and smoothly through the process. If you’re fumbling around on your own, you may make errors in paperwork or otherwise compromise the legal process. At best, these errors can delay your divorce. Worse, though, it can cost you fees or compromise your divorce settlement.

A good divorce lawyer helps you navigate all aspects of your divorce:

Custody. Even if you and your spouse agree on custody, work with a good family law attorney to frame the details appropriately. Otherwise, you may find yourself giving up rights because you didn’t know the proper legal terms to use. If you and your spouse have different thoughts on custody and visitation, it’s critical to have a good lawyer on your side. Custody has child support ramifications, so the two details should be considered together.

Alimony. You or your spouse may be entitled to alimony, and a good divorce lawyer helps you determine eligibility and make an argument for a fair amount. Failing to pay alimony has important legal repercussions, so it’s critical to understand your responsibilities when alimony is on the table.

Dividing property. A good divorce lawyer simplifies the process of dividing property. Having a third party negotiate on your behalf takes emotion out of the dispute and helps ensure that the property is divided equitably.

Uncomplicate a professional divorce. If you or your spouse is a professional, your divorce may be more complicated. Business interests, stocks, retirement accounts, and other assets related to a professional career and lifestyle come into play. Dividing these assets can be complex, so it’s critical to have a good divorce lawyer involved.

Ultimately, even in the best of circumstances, a lawyer provides an impartial outside perspective to ensure you’re interests are protected. A lawyer also guides you efficiently through the process, speeding things up and making it easier to get on with your life. In the event of a dispute, a good divorce lawyer is an invaluable asset to have on your side.

What To Do Next:
Experiencing a family law issue can be overwhelming and stressful. Knowledgeable family attorneys do much more than represent clients, they understand how choices made in the legal process can drastically affect life afterwards.

Sandra F. Banks offers clients a No Hassle Family Law Strategy Session to make sure every client gets guidance on how to achieve a stable, secure and happy future.

What’s more, if I’m not the right attorney for the case, you have my commitment that I’ll point you in the right direction. Just call my office at 510-336-2369 to schedule.

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