Monday, April 5, 2010

Do I Need To Get An Attorney For My Divorce?

Lately I have been doing a lot of consultations simply providing people with preliminary information and advice, however I have also been helping people fix some of the problems that were created in their initial divorce. Sometimes the problems are created by lack of legal counsel in the initial divorce proceeding. Often times people ask me whether they actually need to have an attorney represent them in their divorce, and the simple answer is that you never really "need" an attorney and there are some cases which simply don't warrant the cost. If you are asking yourself whether or not you need an attorney here are five simple things to ask yourself before you go ahead with the divorce proceedings on your own:

1. Do I understand all the forms that I need to file in order to proceed without an attorney.
2. Do my spouse and I have children?
3. Do my spouse and I have large assets, pensions, 401(K)s and/or liabilities that need to be divided?
4. Are my spouse and I going to be fighting over any aspects of our divorce that may require Court intervention and guidance?
5. Do I have questions about whether I am agreeing to do something that I'm not legally obligated to do or waiving something that I may be legally entitled to?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, it is in your best interests to at the very least consult with an attorney. Sometimes you end up spending a lot more money on attorneys' fees and costs trying to fix something that happened in the initial divorce proceeding than paying for the attorney to start off with. I often times send people off with divorce forms if I feel that they don't need the assistance of an attorney and the following are common characteristics of a person who does not need an attorney to assist them in a divorce:

1. The parties have no children or large assets that need to be divided and/or have already divided all of their assets and liabilities;
2. The person understands all of the divorce documents and is perfectly capable of filing them out without the assistance of an attorney;
3. The person and their spouse are in no hurry and have no specific time line that they are looking for to finalize their divorce;
4. The money that it would take to hire an attorney is more than the value of the assets or debts the parties are fighting over; and
5. Alimony and child support is not at issue.

In a case as stated above, I send these people on their way and tell them that they don't need my assistance. Having an attorney is not always necessary but may be nice to have to insure that everything is done legally and properly.


Anonymous said...

My daughter will be going through the process fairly soon. She has consulted an attorney (may be you) as she resides fairly close to where you are.

He soon-to-be-ex has kept her totally in the dark about his assets and income. But my guess is that they are substantial.

Will the attorney do a complete search of the financial status to arrive at a proper claim for distribution of assets and his income?

Nicola said...

Getting an attorney is a case to case basis, as what stated above a couple may or may not have an attorney. But if you want to settle everything legally, attorney is indeed important. Attorney has the knowledge of everything with regards to law and what are the necessary action to take when having a divorce.

Division and distribution of assets, income and as to where child custody goes to must be settled first before the final decision to your divorce.