It can be extremely difficult to deal with both the emotional trauma and the fears associated with how life will go on when your marriage is ending and you are facing a divorce. The procedural requirements, deadlines and forms lead to additional concerns and inevitably the question pops up “Do I need a divorce lawyer to file for a divorce?” and “What can a divorce lawyer do to help me?”
DO I NEED A DIVORCE LAWYER?
Most people find it exceptionally helpful to discuss their case with a qualified divorce lawyer to learn their legal options and how the divorce process actually works. Clients find that knowledge reduces anxiety and allows them to go on with their lives. A skilled divorce lawyer can also advise you on how to protect your rights and interests, especially if you do not agree with your spouse on how to resolve the issues presented by your divorce.
WHEN SHOULD YOU TALK TO A DIVORCE LAWYER?
You should consult your divorce lawyer in the following circumstances:
• Things are just not working out.
• Your spouse is having an affair.
• You want to get divorced.
• You think you want to get divorced but what to know what your options are.
• You have been served with divorce papers.
• Your spouse has moved out .
• Your spouse is talking to a divorce lawyer.
• You think your spouse wants a divorce and may be intentionally hiding or spending your marital assets.
• You have a long-term marriage.
• You have children.
WHY TALK TO A DIVORCE LAWYER?
Divorce is the process of terminating a partnership between two people. The nature of the legal representation you need will depend on the complexity and length of your partnership. It will also depend on the complexity of the marital estate. Cases involving businesses, real property interests or complex high-asset estates require the attention of a skilled divorce lawyer to adequately protect your interests.
The more complex your divorce, the greater the need for competent legal representation to preserve your rights and interests. The following factors should be considered in determining the complexity of your divorce: (1) Are there minor children involved? (2) Does the family home need to be sold? (3) Are there properties which need to be valued and apportioned; (4) Are there complex business entities that can hide the true nature and extent of your estate; (5) Has one party had sole control over the finances throughout the marriage?
Here, the focus should be on the assets and property held in the marital estate. The more property you and your spouse own, the more complex it will be to value and divide those assets. This can include savings, real estate, investments, retirements, business interests and so forth. Children require the need to resolve child custody issues and an appropriate parenting plan. The necessity of both spousal and child support dramatically increases the complexity of the divorce.
YOU NEED TO TRULY UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE AGREEING TO IN A DIVORCE
Many parties refuse to face the reality of the dissolution process. These parties often wish to resolve the matter quickly and make concessions which prove to be unfair over time. Often the “quickie” or the “cheap do-it-yourself” divorce results in a settlement agreement that the parties do not fully understand and leads to an ongoing litigation process rather than entering an agreement which the parties fully understood from the onset. Parties representing themselves are simply unfamiliar with the dissolution process and make mistakes which a skilled divorce attorney would clearly avoid. These mistakes result in expensive litigation that is required to iron-out and correct errors in the division of property, custody, parenting plans and support. If you agree to something in a divorce settlement, it can be extremely difficult and expensive to modify the divorce decree or the child custody arrangements that you are stuck with.
By retaining a skilled divorce attorney from the beginning, you can avoid entering into an agreement you don’t understand, that doesn’t work for you and your family and avoid the costs of endless litigation or attempting to modify a plan which was doomed to failure from the beginning. Many people fail to realize that once you give up custody of your children, it can be virtually impossible to regain it; others find that if you agree to a parenting plan which doesn’t adequately meet your needs or the best interests of the children, it can be extremely difficult to modify and will cost you and your family time that cannot be made up.
YOU MAY BE UNAWARE OF LEGAL ISSUES WHICH NEED TO BE RESOLVED
A skilled divorce lawyer can make sure that your divorce settlement addresses every issue pertinent to you and your family’s situation, both big and small. People who represent themselves nearly always overlook issues that must be resolved such as support, college costs, tax issues, division of retirement assets, parenting plan contingencies, the proper allocation of debts and other important concerns. A skilled divorce attorney will quickly identify issues pertinent to your case and ensure that your settlement is just and appropriate and addresses the needs of your family.
IS IT EVER SAFE TO DIVORCE WITHOUT HIRING A LAWYER?
The answer to this question is a qualified “yes.” If the parties are involved in a short-term relationship with no children and have little to no assets and agree on all the terms of the divorce, the risks of filing the divorce without legal representation are much lower, but still present. In this scenario, the better solution would be to hire an attorney to represent you in an uncontested divorce and properly prepare the papers necessary to complete the process.
In the majority of cases, divorces are not that simple. There are always special issues which require attention, special needs and concerns. Parties who have been married for a significant amount of time or “long-term” marriages should always retain competent representation to handle the divorce. Consulting with a qualified divorce lawyer can provide a wealth of information that the parties are unaware of and solutions to problems that had not even been considered. Proper representation can ensure that a divorce settlement will protect you now and well into the future, especially if your case involves real property or children.
CONTACT PAUL F. SHERMAN FOR EXPERT ADVISE ON YOUR DIVORCE
We know you have more questions and we have the answers. If you would like to learn more about divorce, child custody or any family law matter, call the Law Offices of Paul F. Sherman at (503) 223-8441 for legal advice, or Contact Us for a free consultation.