If you are contemplating divorce or your spouse recently dropped the “D Bomb,” you may be on the fence debating whether you should hire an attorney or if you should represent yourself. Divorce lawyers may be costly, but without one, you may find yourself facing costly repercussions.
Handling your legal affairs correctly has important ramifications as you go through the divorce process and the rest of your brand new life. It also affects your children. Their emotional and financial well-being are at stake, and you must protect them above all costs.
It is no secret that people love to hate divorce lawyers, and you may wonder, “do I really need one?”
The short answer is yes, unless you are willing to navigate the legal minefield blindly and endanger your welfare. At the very least, you should consult with a lawyer to understand your rights and the options available in your specific situation.
Here’s Why Divorce Lawyers are Crucial During the Divorce Process
1.There’s a Lot at Stake
There’s a lot on the line in the divorce process, and you don’t want to cheat yourself or your kids of what’s rightfully yours.
Divorce goes way beyond terminating the marriage. Your divorce process will determine your current and future financial situation. You and your spouse will have to decide how to divide your assets and your debts to maintain two households with the same money that currently supports one. You may need financial support while you get yourself back on your feet. You may even have to help your spouse if you are the main breadwinner.
You will also have to make important decisions regarding your children’s welfare: who has custody — legal and residential — and how the children will divide their time between the two of you. This means the school year, holidays, and vacations.
Child support will be a big issue, too, and you need to make sure your children will receive proper support until they reach the age of majority. And that includes their college education!
How you go about this process will determine your quality of life, and you must handle it with care. That’s why you need to understand your rights, exercise them responsibly, and pick the right lawyer to help you navigate the legal maze. You and your spouse need to work through your differences, roll up your sleeves, and collaborate to end your relationship as amicably as possible to reach a solution that makes sense.
2. A Solution-Oriented Divorce Lawyer Can Help You Avoid Costly Legal Battles
I have a surprise for you. Contrary to what you might have heard, there are no winners in a legal battle. Legal battles are costly, both in financial and human terms. Legal fees quickly add up, and the money you need to get your life back on track or send your kids to college can easily go to paying the divorce lawyers.
The human cost is even higher. A drawn-out battle will rob you of your peace of mind and will hold you hostage from moving on and rebuilding your life. Avoid the legal battle if you can, and work with solution-oriented professionals who will advance your best interests so that you and your spouse can reach a workable solution.
Nobody outside your marriage understands your situation better than you do. Avoid putting life-altering decisions in the hands of a judge who does not know you or your children.
3. Your Divorce Lawyer Can Help You Understand Your Rights
To achieve the best outcome in a divorce proceeding, you must understand your rights.
Knowing your rights will help you avoid mistakes that could hurt your position, such as abandoning your home. It can also dispel fears that are holding you back, such as the fear of losing your kids in a custody battle. And just as importantly, you don’t want to walk away from what’s lawfully yours.
Remember that the laws are different in every state and country, and that these laws will apply to the unique circumstances of your case. Learn about the laws in your jurisdiction and how they affect you.
What If You Can’t Afford a Divorce Lawyer?
If money is a problem, you can start by reaching out to your local law school or non-profit legal services organizations. If they do not offer services at low cost, or if you don’t qualify for their services, they can point you in the right direction so that you can investigate your options.
Some provide downloadable brochures on their websites explaining your rights and how the divorce process works in your area. Some divorce lawyers offer free initial consultations so you can decide whether they are right for you; some offer sliding-scale fees based on your incomes; and some top law firms take on a certain number of pro bono cases (meaning for free or at greatly reduced rates) a year to deserving individuals.
You can also stop by your local courthouse and grab reliable information.
Get the Ball Rolling: Schedule a Consultation ASAP
Schedule a consultation with a divorce lawyer to better understand your individual case, what to expect, and how to get the ball rolling.
You can get through this.
Making the right choices early on will help you survive through this ordeal and beyond.
This blog post has been edited and excerpted with permission from Relationship Solutions: Effective Strategies to Heal Your Heart and Create the Happiness You Deserve (Coventina House 2020) by Sonia Frontera.