Do I Need an Attorney for my Divorce?

Going through a divorce is a stressful process for any individual but adding the thought of hiring an attorney to go through that process makes that stress even more substantial.

Many times, parties can finalize a divorce without the assistance of an attorney, but many circumstances almost always require hiring attorney.

Uncontested Divorce

If parties are splitting somewhat amicably and are in agreement on all issues, they often believe they can handle the divorce case without the assistance of an attorney.

Many individuals will even consider preparing the forms needed to file for divorce on their own from online forms. While this can be successful, if the forms are not properly prepared, this can hold up the divorce proceedings and cause confusion of shared versus separate assets, as well as how the property shall be split.

The courts will never prevent parties from handling their cases pro se or without the assistance of an attorney. However, the individual is still held to the same standard as an attorney when it comes to documents filed and evidence submitted.

The court cannot provide legal advice in terms of helping correct any documents submitted. If something is improper in form or in content as required by statute, the court may deny the requests made by one or both of the parties. It will only result in delaying the proceedings and can create ultimately costly issues that may not otherwise arise.

In many uncontested proceedings, the parties choose to use an attorney to mediate the matter. This attorney will not represent them necessarily but will help go between the parties to work out an agreement on any minor issues.

At least one party should be represented, so as they can be guided through the complex process and make sure all requirements are met and documents drafted properly and completely, as well as all necessary forms filed.

One Party Represented

If one party has an attorney and the other does not, this arrangement may put the unrepresented spouse at a disadvantage.

Attorneys are trained to negotiate with other attorneys, as well as unrepresented litigants. However, the attorney has an understanding of the law and experience that the other person simply does not have.

This can put that unrepresented person in a situation where he or she may not be aware of what rights that party has. He or she may not feel comfortable negotiating with an attorney on the other side. In these situations, it is almost always recommended that both parties be represented by legal counsel.

Minor Children Involved

An attorney is almost always needed when minor children are involved in a case. The parties will need to develop a parenting plan and parenting schedule that complies with the law. The parties will also have to make decisions as to who will be making the major decisions for the children (often referred to as legal custody) and where the children will be living (often referred to ask physical custody).

The parties can often come to an agreement on these issues, and an agreement is always recommended in lieu of a lengthy court battle. However, it is important that this plan is drafted properly. Many factors that go into a judgment including child custody go unarticulated if an attorney is not involved in the drafting of the judgment.

While the parties may be getting along when the agreement is drawn up, this situation may not always be the case later on down the road. Co-parenting can be extremely difficult. All it takes is for one issue where the parties disagree for that agreement to fall apart. It is important that both parties truly understand what they are entering into when preparing this type of agreement.

Legal counsel is always recommended to protect their rights. Not only will both parties understand what they are signing, but the agreement will hold up in court if one party decides to back out or change the agreement terms later.

Property Division

If the parties are going through a divorce, the assets and debts of the marriages will also need to be divided.

Many parties believe that because they do not have much property between them that they do not need an attorney to handle the case. However, even if the parties only own a home, it is important that the division of property is handled according to the constraints of the law.

A home is easily one of the biggest assets between the parties. It is important that the parties discuss who will live in the home during the pendency of the case and who will receive the home after everything is finalized. If the parties agree to sell the home and divided up the proceeds, this process needs to also be handled properly or the parties agreement may not be executed per their understanding.

If one party wants to keep the home after the divorce, it is important that the divorce judgment is written correctly and that the parties sign the needed documentation. This is important to ensure that the other spouse is not held responsible for the mortgage or any other legal responsibility associated with the home.

Other important assets can be complicated, especially retirement accounts. If one party has a large retirement account and agrees to give the other party some amount from his or her retirement account, the paperwork to ensure this transfer takes place can be very complicated. This paperwork is complicated, and it can be nearly impossible for a pro se litigant to know how to properly prepare and submit this documentation. Not having this knowledge can prevent the division of assets from happening per the agreement or court order.

Contact The Voss Law Office Today!

If you are going through a difficult divorce proceeding and are unsure of whether you need an attorney, contact us today to discuss the best options for your case. Consultations are always free! Call us today at 323-333-4481.