Are You in Need of a Divorce Lawyer? Is That Really What You Need?
We often receive questions regarding divorce. Our family law attorney Matthew C. Hines decided to address common divorce FAQs. It is quite common today to hear horror stories about the wars fought in divorce court. However, not all of them reach that level and many of them work out quite well for both parties. So what do you think makes the difference?
There are several factors that determine how messy a divorce will be. One is definitely the personalities of the two parties involved. Another is what all is at stake and how much will both parties lean on the court and their attorneys to resolve their issues. Generally, the less dependent you are on the courts and attorneys, the smoother things will go in the divorce. That leaves the question, how can you avoid the courts and the attorneys?
It Could be You Don’t Need a Divorce Attorney – Make Your Own Decisions
Making your own decisions concerning your divorce saves a lot of headaches and lots of money. According to the law, if you can work out your own issues with your spouse regarding things like children, child support, or property, then all you need to do is involve a neutral third party to mediate things. This could be a much better solution in the long run.
When you take this approach you have more control over the crucial issues you face in the divorce, rather than having these things decided by an attorney or judge. You also save yourself lots of time in court and plenty of money for an attorney and litigation fees. Another very important benefit to a third party mediator is how much easier it is on the children when things are worked out quickly and amicably between the parents.
If you can come to terms with your spouse on the most important issues then most usually you can simply ask the court and they will grant your divorce in writing. That is one of the more popular options today and it has received strong support from many states and court systems. It may depend on what state you are living in as to your exact options. In some states you don’t even have to show up in court, or hire yourself a divorce attorney; your divorce can be finalized if you can show it is uncontested.
Keeping the Tensions Low – Not Allowing Divorce Attorneys to Fan the Flames
The very nature of most divorces is volatile. Emotions tend to run high and the conflicts erupt on all sides. You might believe your attorney has your best interests at heart, but this is not always the case. Sadly, there are attorneys that are manipulative and seek their own best interests. Not only might you not get what you want from your divorce, but they can also fan those emotional flames into a wildfire.
If you choose to hire your own divorce attorney, make sure to carefully screen your options and get the right attorney to match your specific situation. For instance, if you want a divorce attorney but don’t want to spend a lot of time in court, make sure the attorney you hire is willing to work with on that basis upfront. Make sure to discuss every detail with your potential attorneys. Check their track records, see if they are the kind who usually settles their cases out of court, and if their record indicates they take every little detail down to the wire. Remember, attorneys have been legally bound and charged to represent you zealously, so make sure that’s the way it goes for you.
On the other hand, there are also other divorce lawyers who take their zeal too far and go totally overboard. They will turn trivial issues into battles to be fought. If your spouse happens to hire one of these types of attorneys, you might have to match that zeal with an attorney of the same type. The sad thing here is that these are the kind of things that turn divorces into ugly, nasty brawls. They can also drag out for very long periods of time. The best path to peace and harmony is a short and sweet ‘agreeable’ divorce. It’s give and take, compromise at its best.
When Couples Use Just One Divorce Lawyer
Usually when a couple is getting a divorce they don’t retain the same lawyers. That’s because of the numerous ethical rules attorneys have to obey in this type of legal practice. Joint representation is allowed under certain circumstances, such as:
- Both spouses agree on major issues.
- Both parties are confident about peacefully resolving all minor issues.
- When both of them have agreed to a joint representation and stated so in writing.
- When both parties simply want a lawyer to handle the necessary paperwork.
- Both of them understand the divorce lawyer is not able to represent both of them to the full extent during their divorce.
Joint representation usually works in the beginning stages of a divorce, however, once issues continue to develop things pop up that the two parties fundamentally disagree on. That’s when one party has to be transferred to another lawyer.
Another point is that, should the attorney learn of something during the case, that would prejudice him or make things unfair for one side or the other, he must transfer both of those clients to new attorneys.
The ‘Collaborative Practice’ Trend
This trend in divorce proceedings is growing. A collaborative practice is when all spouses and their attorneys agree there will be no litigation in this divorce and they will attempt to settle everything themselves.
In general what this means is that a collaborative practice lawyer only agrees to represent their client if the other party has also hired or agreed to hire, their own collaborative practice lawyer. Once both parties have obtained representation, then an agreement must be signed stating that should the parties for any reason, not be able to come to a settlement, then the divorce will be forced into litigation, and both parties must find new representation. An agreement like this takes away any financial incentives on the part of an attorney to prolong any discussions or push toward litigation.
When You Most Likely Need to Hire a Divorce Attorney
Sometimes it just makes good sense to hire a divorce attorney. It could be problems with spousal or child abuse, substance abuse, or a broad range of other problems that can pop up within a marriage. When this happens, hiring an attorney can be a good first move.
If you believe your spouse is attempting to lie about some of the major issues in your divorce or is simply acting out of vindictiveness with no sense of fair play, it may be in your best interest to hire yourself a divorce lawyer to help you through it and protect your rights and interests.
Anytime your spouse has hired an attorney and not included you, it’s a good time to go and find one of your own. This is truer when there are children involved or complex financial issues.
If you cannot afford an attorney of your own, you need to get in contact with the local aid office in the area in which you live, or the local bar association. Sometimes you can qualify to get free or discounted representation. If not, then you can still get some questions answered and be pointed in the right direction. If you’re lucky you can find someone to take your case ‘pro bono’.
Fear of Violence
A lot of spouses go through divorces where they are terrified of being violently attacked by their partner, or they fear it for their children. If you are in this position you should immediately take out a restraining order against your spouse and move your children to a safer place. If you make the mistake of moving the children without first getting a restraining order, your spouse can come at you with a claim of kidnapping.
Divorce mediation has risen in popularity over the past few years, and for good reason. Couples can go to mediators who have been trained to get at both sides of the problem and focus on the bare essentials, leading to a successful and amicable divorce. These attorneys get to work with both parties together at the same time. This cuts down significantly on the normal lack of communication.
If you feel like divorce is your only way out and need solid professional advice, call us at the Law Offices of Matthew C. Hines and get a FREE, no-obligation consultation. Call – (770) 941-0913 today!