Why You Should Retain an Attorney in Your Divorce?

17713-iStock_000018521162XSmallThere is no requirement that a party in a divorce hire a lawyer.   The internet, my website, included, is full of legal information and forms.   So, armed with plethora of online information, more and more people are attempting to save money and do the “do it yourself divorce.”   Is that a mistake? I think so.

The old adage is true; "He who represents himself has a fool for a client."    This is particularly true in the case of divorce.

Good lawyers do a lot more than just fill in forms.   I, for instance, start with the mindset that not only do I want to resolve the immediate problem, I want to prevent future issues.   A well-crafted settlement agreement is long because it not only solves the issue at hand, but possible or likely “if this happens, then. .  .” scenarios. One common example of this type of planning is addressing what happens when one parent, at the last moment, cannot exercise their parenting time and the other, as a result, incurs a child care expense.

Lawyers bring added value to the process.   By having handled many prior cases, we bring practical know how and experience to the table.  Because we have seen it before and your case is not our first, we can often use our perspective to finesse a workable solution to a problem.

Moreover, we help avoid some unanticipated consequences of a contemplated settlement.   For example, the failure to tax impact some aspect of the settlement, could completely derail it and render the settlement economically unfeasible.

Lastly, we bring perspective. Since we are not enmeshed in the case, we can see the forest through the trees.   From our experience, we understand the range of possible outcomes and can formulate reasoned, unemotional legal arguments to advance your case.   On the other hand, we can counsel you against seeking the unobtainable or impractical.

Though retaining an attorney has a cost, the cost of not retaining one could be much higher.



27 Responses

  1. Hi Daniel, While I agree that is almost always better to have an attorney prepare the legal documents needed for a divorce, it does not have to involve two attorneys. If a couple can reach an agreement that resolves all of their issues in a way that works for both of them there is no reason why one attorney can't prepare the legal documents that are needed to impliment that agreement.
  2. My comments mostly address contested cases. I believe all settlement agreements should be reviewed by an attorney. Even in the case of an uncontested divorce, a party cannot err by merely having the papers reviewed by another attorney.
  3. I agree wholeheartedly. Obviously, proceeding with a contested divorce without representation can lead to dire consequences. But even in cases where it seems the parties will simply be signing a "straightforward" separation agreement leading to an uncontested divorce, both parties would be well-advised to at least review the agreement and divorce pleadings with an attorney. The worst type of ignorance is where you "don't know what you don't know," and that will often be the case with non-lawyers reviewing those types of documents.
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