Can I Handle A Divorce Or Hire A Divorce Lawyer?
Divorce is a complicated legal issue, and people often find it challenging to navigate it. Contrary to what you’ve heard, handling a divorce without a lawyer can be quite tricky. The situation is slightly manageable when it is about uncontested divorce, where spouses amicably agree on most of the issues — finances, asset division, child custody, alimony support, etc. However, even in an uncontested divorce, you will still need an uncontested divorce lawyer to draft a divorce petition to obtain a summary dissolution order from the court. In a contested divorce; hiring a contested divorce lawyeris a pre-requisite to enhance your chances for a successful divorce settlement. That said, there are some factors you can consider to analyze your position on whether you can handle your divorce or whether hiring a divorce attorney is unavoidable. It can be done through divorce consultation. Some of these factors are;
- Is mediation possible? Mediation is a process through which the spouses try to reconcile. Usually, mediation happens with the help of a family, friends, or divorce attorney.
- Litigant in person is an option. If you are 100% confident that you possess sufficient legal knowledge to be a litigant in person before the court, you can pursue your case.
- You don’t have funds to hire a lawyer or financially dependent spouse in the relationship.
If your spouse has already hired a divorce attorney, you should start interviewing experienced divorce attorneys too. This process takes time since you require to consider many factors before hiring the right lawyer for divorce. Unless you are 100% confident that you can tackle the State laws and have more than an adequate understanding of family law, you should never postpone a meeting with a lawyer for a divorce. The flux of information can be baffling for you, and it takes time to be familiar with the jargon of divorce filing. You need to collect, arrange and modify many important documents, like,
- Real estate property documents
- Joint bank account details
- Personal bank account information
- Mortgage, lease, or rent deeds
- Credit card account details
- Savings documents
- Investments, price bonds, shares details
- Proof of income, alternate sources of income
- Tax documents
- Medical bills and receipts
- Documents of vehicles etc.
- Personal debts details or relevant documents
- Any other document which is relevant to your case
Do You and Your Spouse Agree on child support/custody?
For minors under the legal age of 18 years, the children must remain with their parents. Custody can be of two types — physical custody and legal custody. In both types of custody, the custodial parent(s) have a right to make decisions about their children. Children live with the parent who gets the physical custody, whereas, the parent(s) with legal custody has the power to make decisions that are paramount in the lifeof their children — education, health, wellbeing, etc. If there is an understanding between you and your spouse about child custody and child support, it is better to communicate the termsof your agreement to your lawyer for a divorce. Your divorce lawyer can incorporate those terms in the divorce petition. If, however, there is a disagreement between you and your spouse on this matter the issue is settled by the judge in the court. The court formulates a temporary meeting schedule for both parents until the child custody and support matter is before the judge for a final decision.
Alimony is the spousal maintenance allowance given to the financially dependent spouse in the marriage. It can be temporary or permanent. The conditions vary for both types of alimony support in different cases and generally depend on two factors — the spouses' financial position and the marriage period. Consult an alimony attorney to get a better understanding of your position. Often, when a financially dependent spouse files for a divorce, they lack sufficient funds to meet the necessities of life — food, home, clothing, etc. due to being a low-income or unemployed spouse. In such a case, the court sets up temporary spousal maintenance while the matter is before the judge, and it expires when the court reaches a decision. Permanent alimony support is awarded in long-term marriages, and the judge considers where one spouse has sacrificed their career for the family and they haven’t been able to earn, they’re entitled to a portion of their spouse’s monetary support permanently.
The financial aspect of divorce — division of matrimonial assets needs careful consideration. Spouses with joint bank accounts and saving accounts are entitled to the money according to their income source and their monetary contribution. Loans and debt liabilities are accessed based on consent. If both spouses incurred out a loan with mutual consent, they will share the debt liabilities. However, if one of the spouses has fraudulently incurred debt against the best interest of the family, and used that money in extravagance and in maintaining extramarital affairs. In that case, they are liable to the debt to their extent. It does not apply to the other spouse.
Division of mortgage, business investments, shares, and other financial aspects are analyzed by the judge in a contested divorce, and the laws dealing with them vary for each State. However, the court always considers general provisions of family law while dividing financial assets between spouses. Consultation with your contested divorce attorney can help you weigh what you'll have after the divorce.
In a nutshell, the question of whether you can handle your case depends on the complexity level of your case. If you are no children and have no major financial assets and liabilities, you can handle your case without an attorney, but you will still need the services of a divorce lawyer to draft a divorce petition. Ideally, having a divorce attorney gives you an extra edge over your spouse and saves you from the hectic procedure and potential consequences that can be avoided by hiring a divorce attorney.