Family & Relationships Marriage & Divorce

Is a Divorce Lawyer Really Necessary?

While most people consider a divorce lawyer as a necessity when a divorce is imminent, there are some people who look at it as an unnecessary expense. After all, the courthouse has do-it-yourself divorce kits that a petitioner can purchase that are substantially less expensive than the cost of a divorce lawyer. The key question is whether you have the capability of handling your own divorce, and in that case there are several factors you must keep in mind before you decide whether you can afford to forgo the expertise of a lawyer.

For those who have no property or children and have been married less than five years a do-it-yourself divorce kit will probably work well. The process is quite simple with very little opportunity for complications. However, for those couples that own real estate and/or have children there are good reasons to enlist the services of a divorce lawyer. Unless you are involved in the legal field it is unlikely you will have the expertise and knowledge to understand the legal ramifications of your actions.

There are many things a lawyer can do for you that you cannot accomplish unless you are in the legal field or have a great deal of legal expertise. Some of the things that are best left in the hands of divorce lawyers include but are not limited to the following:
  • Filing the divorce petition
  • Representing you in court
  • Negotiating with your spouse's lawyer on your behalf
  • Filing the ancillaries

Alimony or spousal support

Child support

Child custody and visitation

Distribution of assets

Assignment of debts

Individual obligations upon dissolution of the marriage

Hiring a lawyer is a very expensive venture, but it is one that will help you receive the most fair and equitable divorce settlement. When you attempt to represent yourself there is the risk that you do not know everything to which you might be entitled. Even in cases where couples agree to a 50/50 split there may be reasons why the court may decide to approve a higher percentage to the wife. Some of those reasons might be:
  • Her earning capacity compared to the husband
  • Additional expenses she may incur because of the divorce (for example, she may need to work extra hours to pay the bills thus incurring additional expenses for child care)
  • The wife who has always stayed home to take care of the home and children may need to return to school in order to increase her opportunities for good paying employment. At minimum she will need to seek employment outside of the home.
  • If the divorce is the result of a specific action on the part of either party the judge may award a higher settlement to the part that was wronged.

Do not always rely on any agreement you and your spouse may have made. In many cases the couple is in a hurry to get things over and go on with their lives, so many things are done without a great deal of thought. Let the legal system guide you into making the decision that is right for you and your spouse.

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