Do I Need to Hire a Divorce Lawyer?
For many couples, divorce can feel like a whirlwind of tough decisions and endless roadblocks. From alimony to child custody, there are a lot of factors that must be determined when two people decide to end their marriage.
As you can imagine, wading through the details with a partner you no longer want to be with can throw a wrench in divorce proceedings. Securing reliable legal representation is a proactive way to limit unnecessary detours, maintain civility, and ensure the divorce is finalized as quickly as possible. After all, the majority of people are ready to get it over with.
It's no secret that divorces aren’t cheap, and some people question whether hiring a divorce attorney is worth it, especially if you and your spouse are on agreeable terms. Unfortunately, many fail to realize what they’re getting into when they decide on a “DIY divorce” or choose to represent themselves in court. Should you hire a divorce attorney? What will you risk by forgoing legal representation in a divorce?
Every couple is different, and your personal needs are dependent on the unique circumstances of your case. However, there are ways to know if hiring a divorce lawyer is the best route for you to take.
When Hiring a Divorce Attorney Is Essential
The unfortunate reality is that many couples enter divorce proceedings on hostile terms. This often leads to volatile emotions, reactionary behavior, and an ongoing struggle to coexist (let alone reach an agreement). In many cases, securing legal representation is unavoidable if you wish to achieve a favorable outcome in the courtroom.
Below are a few common scenarios in which retaining a divorce lawyer is undoubtedly in your best interests. Consider seeking legal counsel if:
Your Divorce Is Contested.
One of the more obvious reasons to hire a divorce attorney is in the event of a contested divorce. In this scenario, it’s always wise to seek the help of a skilled divorce attorney, as they can:
- Review your case to decide on the best plan of action. It’s important to work with a legal professional who has an in-depth understanding of family law, as they guide your steps to achieve your goals.
- Help you prepare for court. A good divorce lawyer will clarify expectations, assist you with paperwork, ensure you meet any deadlines, and elaborate on any murky details. Their guidance can give you peace of mind throughout each stage of the divorce proceedings.
- Keep your best interests at heart. Your attorney can and should advocate on your behalf to help achieve the outcome you deserve. Reliable representation is especially helpful during high-stress stages of the process, such as asset distribution and child custody arrangements.
- Communicate with your spouse’s attorney to achieve a fair outcome. Having a divorce attorney is an excellent way to save yourself from interacting with a hostile partner, and can help prevent the case from dragging on necessarily.
To be clear, an uncontested divorce doesn’t necessarily mean you should decline legal representation. Even a divorce that seems simple and straightforward early on can pose significant risks at any point during divorce proceedings. Securing reliable legal guidance will help you avoid making costly mistakes that will hurt you in the long run.
You Have Children with Your Spouse.
For many parents, one of the biggest stressors in a divorce is child custody. There is a lot to figure out when there are children involved in the separation, which often means high stakes for both parents.
A misstep on your part could have dire consequences for your little ones. Hiring a divorce lawyer could mean the difference between sole or joint custody, or whether you’re selected as the custodial (primary) or non-custodial parent. These decisions will establish which parent the child will live with after the divorce, as well as each parent’s visitation rights and child support payments. When it comes to protecting your family, safe is always better than sorry. Don’t gamble your life away by forgoing your right to legal representation.
You or Your Partner Own a Business or Other High-Value Assets.
Property and asset distribution are often complicated and stress-inducing stages of divorce. The distribution of property is dependent on whether you live in a community property state—in which all assets acquired during marriage are considered marital property—or an equitable distribution state, in which the division of property and assets is left to the judge to decide.
As an equitable distribution state, Florida law permits the court to have the final say in what is fair for you and your spouse. This may work in your favor…or not. Equitable distribution states often take outlying factors into account when distributing a couple’s assets, such as:
- Financial contributions
- Debt accrued by each spouse
- The duration of the marriage
- Acts of infidelity
- Future employability and earning power
Unlike community property states, in which distribution is roughly split between spouses, nothing is really off the table when assets are divided in an equitable distribution state. Anything can happen—it just depends on what the court deems most appropriate. For this reason, it’s wise to seek help from a divorce attorney who can advocate for you during the distribution process, as your financial fate may very well depend on it.
Do I Need a Lawyer if My Divorce Is Amicable?
There is a lot of negative buzz around divorce. Many couples struggle to reach an agreement, and the emotional toll can be overwhelming. Even couples ending on good terms aren’t immune to the stress of ending a marriage.
In the event that you and your spouse are ending your marriage on amicable terms, you may be wondering if you should hire a divorce attorney. While there is no simple answer, seeking the assistance of a qualified legal professional is never a bad idea.
Even if things are going smoothly between you and your spouse, there is always a chance that one or both of you are agreeing to arrangements that aren’t fully understand. Some couples overlook key details without even realizing it. There are complex hoops to jump through during a divorce, and the legal jargon alone is enough to confuse anyone lacking proficient legal experience. This is why it’s important to rely on a seasoned legal professional who understands the intricacies of family law.
An attorney’s experienced eye is better equipped to review documents, terms, and closely scrutinize the “fine print” of your agreement. A good divorce lawyer can also help if an initially amicable divorce turns ugly, or if your spouse attempts to “pull a fast one” on you (for example, attempting to conceal assets).
Even if you reach the conclusion that extensive legal assistance isn’t necessary for your situation, it’s wise to have a divorce attorney review the terms of your agreement first. A legal professional can give you a better idea of whether the terms will protect your best interests in the long run, and prevent you from reaping long-term consequences.
Going Solo Can Cost You More in the Long Run
Family law is very complex. While getting a divorce might appear black and white at first glance, there are many underlying layers and potential issues that can arise during divorce proceedings, all of which will have a direct impact on the rest of your life. One misstep can easily impact the rest of your life.
Failure to secure needed representation can cost you more money, time, and energy in the long run. Hiring a divorce attorney who knows their stuff could mean the difference between achieving the outcome you desire and losing what is rightfully yours. At the end of the day, it probably isn’t worth risking your home, children, reputation, or financial security just to cut corners.
How to Find the Right Divorce Attorney for You
There are many different factors when choosing the right person to represent you. Each family law attorney brings a unique set of strengths, skills, and techniques to the table.
It’s important to connect with a divorce lawyer who aligns well with your personality and personal goals, and will make your priorities their own. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you are considering legal counsel:
- Take time to interview potential divorce attorneys. You wouldn’t go out and buy a brand-new car without doing your research first. The only way to determine the best match is by having conversations, asking questions, and getting to know people.
- Be straightforward. Make a list of your questions beforehand. You might want to ask about the attorney’s typical approach to certain situations, such as how they respond to emotion or conflict in the courtroom, their preferred method of communication, or how often they update clients throughout the proceedings. What is their intake process like? What is their rate? Now is the time to ask.
- Take a look at any case results and/or client testimonials. Hear it from the horse’s mouth if possible. Visit the attorney’s profile. What does their background and experience tell you about their style? Is their approach aggressive and strong, or calm and compassionate? What do you need in an attorney-client relationship, and are they able or willing to accommodate that?
Meet Our Award-Winning Family Lawyers
At Beaulieu-Fawcett | Newell Law Group, P.A., we pride ourselves on finding answers to some of the most difficult and emotional problems life has to offer. As a faith-based family law firm, our team does everything in our power to guide your legal steps with compassion and resilience, no matter your situation.
No matter how simple or straightforward it seems, we understand that divorce is never easy. We’re here to stand strongly at your side, protect your rights, and fight to preserve your best interests. We are proud to uphold our exemplary reputation in our local community by providing exceptional, God-honoring legal representation in many aspects of family law, such as mediation, prelitigation planning, alimony, and other domestic law concerns.
Preparing for divorce? We’re here to guide your next steps. Call (561) 600-5711 to speak with a compassionate divorce attorney, or contact us online to schedule your free case assessment today.