Even if we love and care about another person, relationships don’t always work out. They end for a variety of reasons. The question of when, and even if to hire a divorce lawyer is one you may need to ask yourself.
As problems in your marriage mount, you may consider whether or not divorce is even the best choice. The question of dissolving a marriage is ultimately an intense, difficult, and incredibly personal choice that throws your entire world into upheaval.
During a time that may be full of emotional turmoil, where you may not always think clearly, having a skilled professional to guide you through the process can be a huge benefit.
This may not be a comprehensive list, but ask yourself these questions before hiring a divorce lawyer.
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Do You Need A Divorce Lawyer?
By the time you get to this stage, you’ve probably asked things like why you’re staying married or if you can possibly salvage your relationship. These are important topics to be sure. However, they’re also relatively unrelated to whether or not you should hire a divorce lawyer.
At this point, you’ve likely made the decision to dissolve your marriage. It’s more a matter of when and how than if. The next step is to figure out if you need representation in the coming split.
With the proliferation of do-it-yourself divorce websites, online tools, and similar resources, you don’t necessarily need an attorney to end your marriage.
In many ways, the process can be relatively simple and straightforward.
You download the forms, fill them out, file them for a fee, and get a divorce.
At the same time, it also often becomes incredibly complex.
- Children and custody disputes involved commonly lead to issues.
- If you and your spouse have a great deal of shared property to divide, like homes, cars, or debts, that often creates friction.
- Age, health, future earning potential, the length of the marriage, and other issues also factor into your divorce settlement.
The more to argue over, and the more you and your spouse disagree about how to proceed, the more tangled things become.
The more complicated the situation, the more likely you are to benefit from hiring a divorce lawyer to protect your rights and interests. An experienced attorney shepherds you through the process. They also provide peace of mind during stressful times.
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The Benefits Of Hiring A Divorce Lawyer
It’s possible to handle the details of a split yourself. This fits best in shorter marriages, ones with no children, and little in the way of shared property to distribute. As already indicated, the more intertwined the lives of you and your spouse, and the more contentious things become. This increases the likelihood you need the guidance of a divorce lawyer.
If your spouse enlists an attorney, strongly consider finding representation of your own. If for no other reason than this puts you on even footing. Beyond that, the presence of a divorce lawyer proves useful in a number of additional areas.
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Division Of Property
The more property you and your spouse own together, the more assets you have to divide. Thus, the more complicated the process.
Washington is a community property state. Under these statutes, all assets acquired during a marriage, even those held in one individual’s name, legally belong to both parties. In the case of divorce, this means the court divides everything between you and your spouse in an equitable fashion.
This doesn’t mean all the property will be split evenly, but assets will be distributed so each party comes out on relatively even footing.
It is possible for you and your soon-to-be-ex to work together to come to terms. But if this becomes contentious, a lawyer or mediator helps you reach a fair agreement for everyone.
Related Reading: How Are Assets, Property, and Debt Divided in Washington State?
Child custody issues frequently cause problems in divorce. You and your spouse must resolve these issues. Again, it’s possible to come to an arrangement without outside help, but when kids come into play, things often get heated and messy.
Enlisting the services of a divorce lawyer experienced in these cases can be a huge benefit. They help calm down tense situations. Also, a professional can fight to ensure your rights as a parent. If you hope to protect your guardianship, custody claim, visitation, and more, you may be best served by hiring a veteran attorney.
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- Child Support: If your divorce involves kids, child support comes into play. These payments provide for the continuing care of minor children. They cover the costs of food, clothing, shelter, education, and other necessities. In general, the party with the most overnights receives payments from the other. However, they can still be present in cases of 50/50 shared custody.
- Spousal Support: Though not awarded in every case, the court often orders spousal support to help your former partner meet financial needs in the wake of divorce. The amount of these payments is based on what is fair and equitable in a given situation. The amount often accounts for the age and health of both spouses, the length of the marriage, and future earning potential, among other factors. Spousal support may be awarded for a limited time or it can continue indefinitely.
Related Reading: Calculate Your Own Child Support Responsibility
Understanding Your Divorce Settlement
While the DIY methods result in a quicker, cheaper divorce, they often also lead to issues down the road.
Custody arrangements, parenting plans, and settlements become complicated. If you handle them yourself, unless you have a legal background, it’s all too easy to sign something you don’t fully understand.
These things can be difficult, not to mention expensive, to modify after the fact. And that will likely require professional legal help. Hiring a divorce lawyer upfront often heads off potential calamity in the future and ensures that you don’t get blindsided by issues you weren’t aware of.
Ending a marriage can be a complicated process. As in most legal cases, you will likely be best served by hiring a divorce lawyer, even if your situation appears relatively straightforward. Things get tangled in short order and an experienced attorney helps you understand what you’re agreeing to, explains your rights, and shows you how to achieve an optimal result.
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