Some divorces are long, drawn out processes involving painful lawsuits and expensive divorce lawyers. Other divorces are much smoother and can be resolved out of court, in a short time, and with minimal stress. The difference depends on the personalities of the spouses, the situation with children, the assets involved, as well as other factors.
When deciding do you need a divorce lawyer or not, there are some other important things to consider along the way. This post will help you analyze the nature of your divorce and make the right decision about whether you need a divorce lawyer to help with the process.
How amicable are the spouses?
The personality of each spouse is a major thing to consider when deciding if you need a divorce lawyer. You probably already have an idea of wether the spouses would prefer to end things peacefully and cooperatively, or whether you will be likely to fight it out.
If you are in disagreement about a settlement or custody arrangement for the children, it can be helpful to have a lawyer represent you and negotiate on your behalf. If you and your spouse both feel like you would like to get the divorce over with as smoothly as possible, and you can agree on all aspects of the divorce settlement on your own, you are less likely to need help from a divorce lawyer.
Does your spouse have a divorce lawyer?
Regardless of how contested the divorce is, if your spouse hired a lawyer, you should think about hiring one as well. If you don’t, you are putting yourself at a significant disadvantage and increasing the possibility of ending up with a settlement that is unfavorable for you.
A lawyer’s job is to zealously represent the interests of his/her client. A divorce lawyer will be familiar with the court process and can help advise you and answer any questions you may have. A divorce lawyer can also negotiate with your spouse’s lawyer on your behalf to ensure your interests are represented in the settlement. When one spouse has a lawyer and the other does not, it becomes an unequal playing field and you are more likely to end up with a bad result.
Is the relationship abusive?
Anytime either spouse or a child has been victim of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, it is advisable to hire a divorce lawyer. It is very difficult for someone who has been abused or who fears the other spouse to adequately negotiate a divorce.
A lawyer will be able to help the situation by negotiating on your behalf to make sure your interests are fully represented. Also, a lawyer will help ensure that the divorce will be handled in such a way that you and your children are protected from ongoing abuse in the future.
If you fear that your spouse will react violently during a divorce, you may want to request a temporary court order for child custody so you can get away from the abuse without fear and without being accused of kidnapping.
Are you facing financial hardship?
If you are in a difficult financial situation, getting involved in a nasty divorce proceeding is the last thing you need. The legal fees and court costs will pile up quickly, so unless you can afford it, you should do whatever possible to end your marriage amicably and avoid a lawsuit.
There may be legal aid clinics or lawyers willing to help you on a pro bono basis if you are financially unstable and you need legal help. Otherwise, you should consider some other alternatives to working with a divorce lawyer because it is not going to be cheap.
Divorce Lawyer Alternatives
If you’ve determined that a divorce lawyer is not right for you, there are some other options available to help you with the process.
You might want to work with a neutral third party mediator to help you and your spouse come to an agreement on the more hotly debated issues. There are also collaborative divorce practices these days where both parties hire lawyers but agree not to go to court and to work out an agreement peaceably.
You may not even really need a divorce lawyer if both spouses can agree about the division of money, children, and property. Most states make it fairly easy to file the divorce paperwork yourself.
If you do need a divorce lawyer, make sure you interview several of them in order to find the right fit. In some instances, divorce lawyers become overly aggressive and just add fuel to the fire by arguing too strongly for their client. In these cases, the lawsuit can end up being even more difficult and costly than either of the spouses wanted. So just be sure you find a good divorce lawyer that has your best interests in mind and understands your needs as well as your financial situation.
Before you make any decision regarding the question of do you need a divorce lawyer, you should also be sure you are fully aware of how the divorce process works. Here is some more helpful information about how to get a divorce step by step if you are interested.