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Do I Need a Lawyer for a Divorce?

It ultimately depends on the needs and circumstances of the couple

Ending a marriage is never easy. Whether it's your decision, your spouse's, or one you've arrived at together, there will be legal and financial matters to address during the divorce process. These matters can be further compounded when spousal support or custody of minor children is at issue.

It's best to have a family law attorney in place before divorce proceedings become too complicated. A contested divorce case can wreak havoc on your emotions and bank account. Depending on your circumstances, a competent divorce lawyer can be essential in ending your marriage on your terms. This article will look at circumstances where it would be best to have the expertise of a divorce attorney on hand.

What Are the Circumstances of Your Divorce?

When considering whether you need a divorce lawyer, you must consider how you want to get divorced.

Every state allows what are referred to as "no-fault divorces." In a no-fault divorce, the parties can speak to "irreconcilable differences" in the marriage, fill out the appropriate forms, and dissolve their marriage quickly and efficiently. Many states still allow fault-based divorces, where spouses can accuse the other of misconduct such as adultery or drug use.

Methods To Ending Your Marriage

You and your spouse have options in ending your marriage. You have the choice of representing yourself or employing an attorney. You also can choose how you and your spouse want to resolve your issues. If your relationship with your spouse is amicable and you want to avoid a family court setting, divorce mediation is an option. In mediation, the parties can use attorneys or represent themselves in a process moderated by a neutral third party that helps bring both sides to a settlement agreement.

If the divorce is contentious or may become contentious in the future, it would be best to speak with an attorney.

Situations Where You Should Consider an Attorney

Here are circumstances where it would be best to seek the legal advice of an experienced divorce lawyer:

  • There are domestic violence issues in the home. If the situation with your spouse has become violent, it would be best to leave immediately and contact law enforcement and an attorney. In addition to advising you on your divorce, an attorney can also help you obtain a restraining order against the offending partner.
  • There is disagreement regarding parenting time, child custody, or child support. Child custody disputes can be highly contentious and involve complex areas of law. Attorneys with experience in this sensitive area can help you enforce your parental rights as you negotiate the terms of your divorce.
  • There is disagreement regarding alimony. Spousal support is another area where divorcing spouses often don't agree. If there is a dispute over alimony, you will likely need a lawyer's assistance.
  • There is disagreement regarding the division of property. In a contested divorce, there is sometimes disagreement over what is marital property versus individual property. A lawyer can advise you on which assets belong solely to you, your partner, or must be divided in the divorce agreement.
  • Your spouse has met with or hired an attorney. If your spouse is speaking with attorneys, it could indicate a difficult divorce ahead. Consider setting up your own initial consultations where you can survey your options, so you aren't caught off-guard.

How To Find a Divorce Lawyer

Finding an experienced divorce lawyer can be very easy or very difficult, depending on your area. That's because, like most legal professionals, divorce lawyers tend to work in highly populated areas. No matter how many divorce attorneys are in your area, consider the following methods for narrowing your search:

Referrals

Divorcing spouses often encounter a barrage of advice from friends and family members. Hear them out, especially those who have gone through their own splits in the past. Their experiences and networking possibilities can be invaluable as you embark on your own search for legal services.

Referrals can be a great way to narrow your search for an attorney. But they can be disorienting when you receive so many in such a short amount of time. Make sure whichever attorney is referred to you has a proven track record with similar types of cases to yours. 

Local Bar Associations

Another great way to find divorce attorneys is through state and county bar associations. With this method, you can perform a quick internet search for state bar associations. Often, these websites include databases of local attorneys from which you can begin setting up free consultations.

Legal Aid

Attorney's fees can build up over time. If you've decided to represent yourself in your divorce, legal aid can be of assistance. While legal aid lawyers may not be able to take your case, they can assist you with essential facets of your case, such as paperwork and filing fees. If money is an issue, consider visiting your local legal aid office for assistance.

Third-Party Services

Searching for attorneys is time-consuming and stressful—especially if you're facing the end of your marriage. Those wanting to forgo the hassle and find a dedicated lawyer – with years of experience – turn to third-party databases like Super Lawyers. Consider using Super Lawyers to drill down your search and get in contact with the right lawyer for you today.

To help you get started in your search for an experienced divorce lawyer, follow this link to the Super Lawyers directory and use the search box to find a lawyer based on your legal issue or location.

Questions For a Divorce Attorney

Speaking to a divorce lawyer for the first time can often be intimidating, especially because the legal process tends to be so. Before sitting down with an attorney, consider which questions you'd like to ask them and what answers your ideal attorney might provide. Here are a few examples to help get you started:

  • Am I entitled to spousal support or alimony?
  • Can I get a restraining order against my spouse if they are a danger to me?
  • How are marital assets divided in the divorce process?
  • Do I still have to make mortgage payments if I am not listed on the title?
  • What constitutes community property and separate property?

Searching For the Right Divorce Attorney

If you're contemplating divorce proceedings, consider sitting down with an experienced divorce attorney as soon as possible. A complicated and emotionally taxing process can be made easier with the benefit of a lawyer by your side. A family law attorney from an accomplished law firm can provide essential legal advice on marital assets, child custody, and restraining orders, all while guiding you through the nuances of divorce court.

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