Do you need a lawyer if you’re getting a divorce?
When it comes to taking the first step, most people immediately think “I can’t afford to get divorced. How am I going to pay for it all?” What I learned rather quickly is that no one can ever afford to get divorced. It’s not something one budgets for (unless you have the foresight to purchase divorce insurance, and yes, that’s a thing). But even though no one can really afford to get divorced, about 50% of the population still gets divorced, and we know the attorneys aren’t doing this work pro bono.
Truth be told, you can’t worry about how you’re going to pay for all of it, without really knowing what “all of it” really means in the first place. That’s too much unnecessary thinking at one time. You’ll figure it out as you go. You don’t need all the answers yet. To this day, I don’t know exactly how I did it, but I did, and like so many other things I “overthought,” it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.
Here Are Some Things to Think About When Deciding if You Need a Lawyer
The Steps, One by One
Do your research, ask around, and interview the right attorney for the job. Consultation appointments are usually complimentary, so take your time and find the right fit. Read reviews, talk to friends and colleagues you trust, and shop around. Make an appointment for a consultation. Go and take notes. You’ll know when you’ve found the right person, so trust your instincts.
And when you decide that you need a lawyer, pay the retainer. The retainer is a lump sum the attorney requests up front in order to cover the initial expenses. A retainer is negotiable and fully refundable. Retainers vary based on individual lawyers, cities, counties, and often states. So definitely shop around, ask what the retainer covers, and how it is reimbursed if need be. Don’t’ be afraid to ask questions, express concerns, and share disapproval. Remember that person works for you, gets paid by you, and wouldn’t have a job if it wasn’t for you. Remember they’re in a business to make money, so be mindful and wise.
I learned early in the process that attorneys often have their hands full with other clients so your divorce may not be at the forefront of their mind 24/7. As shocked as I was, my attorney didn’t always have my file in front of her. So, if you need answers fast, continue to do your own research.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
If something doesn’t seem right, or if you’re confused about the process, don’t be afraid to bring it up. Call their office, send an email or a text, and don’t be afraid that you’re bothering them. You’d be surprised by the clients that walk through each attorney’s door and the level of “care” some people require. Attorneys are used to being “bothered.” Plus, they’re skin is pretty thick.
Above and beyond all, trust that you’re making the right decision. It’s the right move in the direction you want to go, so even though you’re afraid, you’re going to be okay. It’s going to be okay. It’s this person’s job to look out for you. I remember one of the most poignant things my attorney said to me as I was leaving my initial consultation, “Just take care of your son. I’ll take care of you.” That is just what I needed to hear. I was so tired. Tired of arguing, tired of crying, tired of being confused, and just tired of being tired. I really needed someone to take care of me. Actually, I think I needed a wife. But in this situation my attorney was the next best thing, and I slept like a baby that night.