Hiring a divorce lawyer is not required by law when a married couple decides to divorce or file a legal separation. However, doing so is highly recommended because an experienced and knowledgeable attorney can help to simplify the divorce process. Self-representation in divorce proceedings is not wise; emotions can run high and the stress dividing a merged life into two separate ones can be overwhelming. A person does not receive special treatment by the court. He or she is expected to know the law related to the divorce case in that state. Additionally, the person representing himself can be taken advantage of by the attorney for the opposing side.
Being relieved from the stress of a divorce case is one upside. Having access to divorce legal help is another. A divorce lawyer can answer the many questions that can arise about the legal process. Not all divorces end with filing paperwork. Negotiations about child support, child custody, division of property and spousal support must be settled - in some cases even after the divorce is granted. Child custody is generally decided by the judge in the case; however, if both parties can reach an agreement in the best interest of the child, the judge can validate that decision. The amount of child support paid to the custodial parent can be another contentious issue requiring the guidance of a good attorney.
An attorney can also handle a legal separation, usually the answer for a couple who cannot reach an amicable agreement. This type of legal intervention allows the court to assign fault between both partners. The couple is still legally married, but has chosen to live separately. Decisions are made solely by the court regarding property, custody and financial holdings. The court makes decisions that can possibly be used if an absolute divorce is pursued at a later date. The difference that divorce legal help can make should not be underestimated, considering the unpredictability of how a judge might interpret what is best.
Reasons to Hire a Divorce Lawyer
There are many reasons why someone should hire a lawyer before filing for divorce. A divorce attorney stays abreast of the changes in the law that could affect the outcome of a divorce. This knowledge is unmatched when filing paperwork correctly. The lawyer can help through the mediation or arbitration process if this becomes necessary to divide the assets accumulated during the marriage.
What to Look for in an Attorney
Anyone who is facing a divorce should consider a few things before hiring an attorney. Talking to several before making a decision is a good idea. This will help to gather information about the attorney's years of experience in handling divorce cases. This includes the number of cases he or she has represented, and how many were won. There should be a clear understanding of the fee structure. Additionally, personal preferences should not be overlooked. A divorce can be an emotionally trying time. However, being comfortable with legal representation can help to ease the tension when you know the attorney is fighting for you.