Originally posted on https://morse-firm.com/get-what-youre-due-why-hiring-a-divorce-attorney-is-worth-it/
Have you and your spouse decided to end your marriage? Are you wondering what the next steps are and whether you need a lawyer? The short answer is: yes. Don’t try to navigate the divorce process alone.
Maybe you and your spouse agree on “everything” (or so you think). Maybe you don’t have a lot of assets to divide or have an agreement as to who gets what if the marriage dissolves and think you and your spouse can handle it on your own and you’d rather not spend the money on a divorce attorney.
If this sounds like your situation, and you’re reluctant to hire a divorce attorney, keep reading. You should make the decision with all of the knowledge and information. Even if the divorce is amicable (so far) and seems like it will be quick and easy, you should still hire an attorney to represent your interests and ensure the order are enforceable.
Here are 9 reasons why hiring a divorce attorney is worth it.
1. They Determine if Your Agreement is Fair
Perhaps you and your soon to be former husband or wife think that you have an agreement that fairly divides your assets and debts between the two of you. An experienced attorney can evaluate this agreement and let you know if it truly is fair for both of you.
While you may think that you are getting a fair deal, a divorce attorney can take a critical eye to the agreement, think towards the future, and identify any hidden inequities that put you spouse at an advantage. Remember that their job is to get the best deal for you and create a solid divorce agreement that will stand up in court.
Even if you’re the party that will benefit more, you still may want to consider rewriting the agreement, as an unfair agreement could be contested in the future if it was grossly unfair to one spouse. If your spouse decides they didn’t get a fair deal, they may be able to go back to court to attempt to reopen the agreement. This will cost time and money, of course.
2. Even If You Agree, You Need a Lawyer to Draft the Agreement
Even if you agree on everything (or most things) and can come to a fair agreement on your own, you’ll still need a divorce attorney to draft an agreement that will be accepted by the court.
If you do not have legal experience and try to do this on your own, the court may not fully understand your agreement, resulting in a divorce decree that does not accurately state what you and your spouse want. The court can also reject your agreement entirely if it does not follow the law.
When an attorney drafts the agreement, you can rest assured that the decree will state exactly what you and your spouse want. An attorney also will make sure that the language is clear and enforceable.
3. They Will File the Appropriate Paperwork
In addition to drafting the agreement, your attorney will also fire any necessary paperwork and motions as part of the divorce process. If you attempt this on your own, you run the risk of your case getting dismissed if you don’t file the appropriate paperwork at the right time or you file it incorrectly.
While you could attempt this on your own, as most states provide the documents to their citizens free of charge, it is still difficult if you do not have legal expertise. These documents also represent the bare minimum of requirements, and often fail to address everything necessary for your unique family. The last thing you want is for your case to get thrown out due to procedural issues. This puts you right back at square one.
4. They Reduce Stress and Can Provide Emotional Support
Divorce is a stressful time. Your marriage is ending, you have to divide up your assets, you might have to move, and you could be suddenly sharing custody of your child. The last thing you need is the added stress of managing the divorce process in court yourself.
While a divorce attorney can’t replace a good therapist, they can reduce your stress level and provide emotional support to you. Remember that they are experts and deal with people seeking divorces every day. They know the process inside and out and can provide support when it all gets to be too much to handle.
5. They Can Help Avoid Delays
Divorce can take a long time. It varies by state, but in Florida, it could take as little as a few months to as long as a few years. A divorce taking that long is the exception, rather than the rule, and those cases typically are very acrimonious, contested, and have significant assets that need to be divided.
You likely want the divorce to be finalized as quickly as possible. This is where an attorney comes in. They will prepare the documents and file them for you, avoiding unnecessary delays.
Because they know the ins and outs of divorce law, documents prepared and filed by an attorney will be complete and error-free, keeping the process moving along as fast as the courts will allow.
6. They Know the Law
Every state has its own divorce laws, and your divorce attorney should understand the intricacies of divorce in your particular state. Not only do they understand the laws surrounding the division of assets, but also spousal support and child custody.
They can also use their professional experience and relationships with local judges, other divorce attorneys, and court personnel to give you a better idea of how your case will proceed through the courts.
7. You Have Children
Custody (or parental responsibilities) can be one of the most contested and contentious issues in a divorce. An attorney can help you navigate this process and ensure you keep your rights to your child. They will help you decide what’s in the best interest of your child and help you prepare a case to fight for custody and time-sharing if that’s the best option.
A good family law attorney will remain objective and help you to fight for what’s best for your child or children.
8. They Guide Your Decisions
It’s often hard to approach a divorce with a clear and level head. Emotions may cloud your decisions and lead you to make rash decisions. This is where a divorce attorney comes in. They are a neutral third party, not swayed by emotion, and can guide you in your decision making.
9. You Don’t Actually Agree on Everything
Just because you and your spouse think you agree on everything doesn’t mean that’s always the case. Chances are, there are things that you haven’t thought of, such as a life insurance policy to cover child support obligations if one of them passed away. Or who will pay for things like extracurricular activities for their children, healthcare premiums, or doctor office copays?
Perhaps you and your spouse agree on the big things, like the house, bank accounts, investments, cars, and other properties, but, likely, you haven’t thought of everything, which is understandable. A professional will have thought of all of these other things and can walk you through them.
What to Look for in a Divorce Attorney
Now that you understand why it’s so necessary to hire a divorce attorney, you might be wondering what you should be looking for.
Before hiring someone, do your research. Talk to friends and family members and ask them for referrals. Read online reviews to see what others have said and speak to the lawyer in person to see if you can work well together.
A few other things to look for include:
- an attorney who will be honest about what you may get out of the divorce
- an attorney who can give personal attention (versus a large firm with many clients)
- clear and effective communication
- resources and support staff to prepare your case promptly
- skill and experience with divorce cases
- timely responses to your questions
You may also wish to check with your state’s bar association to see if your attorney has ever been punished or had their license suspended for any reason.
The Bottom Line
Divorce is a stressful and emotional process that can drag on for far longer than you would like. Take steps to reduce that stress by hiring a divorce attorney. There’s not a lot you can control, but by hiring an attorney, you can control who is advocating for you and ensuring that you come out of the process with a fair outcome.
Our firm can handle all aspects of the divorce process for you, from alimony to child custody and support to child visitation arrangements. Contact us today to learn about what our firm can do to support you.