While it may seem obvious that you should hire a family law attorney in a divorce, some people think that the cost of the fees are too high. So, instead, they try to do it themselves. In truth, working with a good family law attorney will help make the divorce process go much more smoothly. Here are five points to consider when trying to decide whether to work with a family law attorney in a divorce.
- Years of Experience at Your Service. A family law attorney will have knowledge that you can’t obtain on your own. Having seen other, similar situations arise in other cases, an attorney will be able to recognize points of compromise, red flags and other critical issues that present in the course of a divorce. The experience of a good attorney means that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel in a process that will already be a challenge. This experience comes at a price, but the alternative is trying to go it alone – or worse, go up against the attorney hired by your spouse.
- Getting it Right From the Start. Even before the divorce process begins there are steps that can be taken to minimize the cost in time, money, and emotional and mental energy. Consulting with a family law attorney early can help identify how you can proceed to protect yourself, your children and your assets. For example, there are some assets that are not part of the martial estate. A family law attorney will help you find ways to keep a bright line around those assets so that they don’t get swept into the assets being divided in the divorce.
- It’s Not Just What They Know; It’s Who. Attorneys work with a trusted network of other advisors, and these referrals can be invaluable if they are leveraged in time. Financial issues like tax, insurance and asset valuation often require experts, and your attorney will know these experts and have the experience with them to make a knowledgeable, appropriate referral. Attorneys also know therapists or other mental health professionals who can be invaluable to you and your children in processing the divorce. There are other specialized professionals, such as custody evaluators, parenting coordinators, and mediators that family law attorneys know and can recommend to help bridge impasses.
- Court is Quirky. No matter how amicable the divorce, at some point, a court of law has to review and approve the settlement in order to make a divorce final. Courts have specific rules about every aspect of a divorce – from the statutes that must be satisfied in an Order presented to a Judge, to the specific laws about what is or is not allowed when dividing the marital estate, making decisions about custody and child support, and other aspects of divorce. Apart from these rules, every divorce decree has to be signed by a Judge, and each court has their own local procedures and preferences about how things should be done. When a case is contested, even if it doesn’t go to trial, there may be times when arguments need to be presented to a judge. Knowing how to properly file a pleading, what to say, how to dress, and how to behave in court is part of your attorney’s job. Knowing what arguments will work, and knowing when to make them can make an enormous difference in the outcome of a contested divorce.
- DIY Can Cost You. When going through a divorce, the cost of the attorneys can be daunting. But a trained professional will be helping you to protect your interests. Without knowledgeable counsel, you could give up on critical rights because you aren’t aware that they exist. Far too frequently, family law attorneys meet with individuals who come in after having signed an agreement that they drafted with their spouse without having an attorney review it first. Often, the individual will ask if they are getting a “fair share” and often, the answer is no. If nothing else, at a minimum, consult a family law attorney before signing any agreement so the attorney can review and advise you of the rights you may be giving up, before you do something that is irreversible.
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