While the dissolution of a marriage is usually the last resort for most couples, the manner in which they part ways can differ greatly. For some, it is a bitter and acrimonious affair that can only be resolved through court intervention. However, for many others, the decision to separate is amicable and there is agreement on all major issues related to the divorce.
If you are considering whether or not to hire a divorce lawyer the answer will largely depend on the specifics of your situation. Many law divorce lawyers such as Carlsbad Divorce Attorney offer a free consultation where you can discuss your case at no cost. This can help you determine whether or not to hire legal assistance at any point throughout your divorce. There are also a number of factors that can influence your decision to hire a divorce lawyer, as this article has outlined below.
Do You Have Marital Assets?
If you and your spouse have joint assets such as bank accounts, property or cars these will have to be divided between you. Most U.S. state courts usually do this through ‘equitable division’, meaning the assets and debts you share will be divided in such a way that is deemed fair. This does not necessarily lead to a 50/50 split.
When determining fairness in each case, a judge will consider things such as the contribution of one spouse to the other’s education or career, and whether they gave up their career to look after their children. They will also consider the tax consequences of dividing assets, as well as the age, health and financial circumstances of both spouses.
Generally, the more shared assets you have accumulated over your marriage, the more complicated the division of these assets becomes. A divorce lawyer is advisable in such circumstances, as they can help resolve potential conflicts that may arise during the process, as well as guide you on which assets will serve your interests in the long-term and which may not.
Do You Have Minor Children?
Child custody battles are often the most contentious areas of many divorce proceedings. Enlisting the help of a divorce lawyer can be beneficial if you and your spouse have children and have not reached an agreement on parenting arrangements. They can advise you of your rights as a parent, and help you work out a parenting plan and visitation schedule, as well as support you on issues such as child support.
Along with physical custody of your children you will need to decide how decisions will be made on matters concerning their education, health and welfare going forward. Will child support need to be paid by one of you, and if so, how much will this be and how often will it be paid?
If you and your spouse are willing to work together on all matters concerning your children, you may not need a court to decide these issues for you. It is still advisable to have a divorce lawyer review the terms of the agreement you have reached with your ex-partner. This will ensure your rights are being safeguarded and any roadblocks which may arise in the future can be resolved.
Is Your Spouse Represented?
It is in your best interests to hire a divorce lawyer if your spouse has legal representation. The laws relating to divorce and family law can be complicated and will vary from state to state. An experienced divorce attorney can help you understand your rights and responsibilities and ensure you are getting the best outcome possible from your divorce.
Without this representation, you will be at a serious disadvantage, and may agree to terms that you do not fully understand or that will have unintended consequences later down the line. It is important to understand that agreeing to a deal that leaves you in a less favorable position compared to your spouse will be very difficult to change once a judge has signed your agreement. You will be bound by those terms and it is only in very limited circumstances that the terms of a finalized divorce agreement can be undone.
To ensure a level playing field, it is advisable to hire a divorce lawyer to help you understand the terms you are agreeing to and at minimum, to review your proposed divorce agreement before you sign it.
It is important to note that a divorce lawyer does not need to be enlisted throughout the entirety of your divorce. Even in the most agreeable cases, it is always a good idea to have a legal expert review the terms of your agreement and ensure your rights are protected and there are no potential risks in the future. Some of the areas a divorce lawyer also can help you include:
- Filing your divorce papers for you
- Attending mediation or hearings with you
- Drafting your divorce agreement
- Reviewing the terms of your divorce agreement
These are some of the factors to consider when deciding whether to hire a divorce lawyer and if so, at what stage in your proceedings.