Do I Need a Divorce Lawyer?

If you have made the decision to end your marriage, or if your spouse has indicated that he or she wants to pursue a divorce, you undoubtedly have many questions and concerns. If you are like most people, high on the list of questions is whether or not you should retain a divorce lawyer. There are a number of factors to contemplate when considering the need for legal representation in a divorce case.

Legal Representation and an Uncontested Divorce

Divorces have the propensity for being some of the most hotly contested, emotionally charged legal actions in the U.S. justice system. With that noted, there are divorce cases that commence as uncontested causes of action.

In basic terms, an uncontested divorce is one in which the parties to the case, the married couple, reach agreement on the issues associated with the marriage dissolution. If that type of scenario exists, the parties to a divorce can pursue a marriage dissolution themselves in some instances.

An important reality about so-called uncontested divorces needs to be borne in mind. A marriage dissolution process that starts out uncontested may devolve quickly into something altogether different. In the proverbial blink of an eye, a generally agreeable divorcing couple can end up fighting madly and not watching out for their important individual legal interests.

Understanding the potential for devolution of a divorce case once thought to be uncontested, even friendly, there are certain situations in which the ending of a marriage should never been deemed uncomplicated by its very nature: 

  • Divorce cases involving children 
  • Divorce cases involving more than a minimal amount of property and/or debt 
  • Divorce cases in which a prenuptial agreement is in place 
  • Divorce cases in which on or both parties are struggling with some type of substance use disorder 
  • Divorce cases in which one or both parties have some type of mental health condition 

Availability of Standard Divorce Forms

Across the country, court systems make available standardized forms that can be used by parties in divorce cases. These standard divorce forms oftentimes are available directly from a court via its website.

There are also commercially available divorce forms, sold online and even in brick and mortar world stores. Caution must be taken with standard forms not obtained directly from the court where a particular divorce case is pursued. Each state has its own divorce laws, which impact the forms used in court. Additionally, individual courts have their own rules and regulations that impact the documents that can be used permissibly in these courts.

Document Review by a Divorce Lawyer

A common motivator for people to hope their divorce will be uncontested is so that they can avoid paying attorney fees. The reality is that a hotly contested divorce can result in growing attorney fees. Nonetheless, the negative consequences of proceeding with a divorce case without legal representation can prove more costly.

Even is a divorce proves to play out in a relatively amicable fashion, and the parties are able to reach an agreement between themselves, they are nonetheless wise to seek legal counsel to review a property settlement agreement and other documents associated with the case. Bear in mind that a particular attorney can only represent one party when it comes to reviewing divorce documents. Thus, the advisable course is for both spouses to seek a legal review of a property settlement agreement and other documents in an uncontested divorce case,

Benefits of Hiring a Divorce Lawyer

There exist a variety of key benefits to hiring a divorce lawyer, even when a case seems minimally contentious and relatively “easy” at first blush. These include, but are not limited to: 

  • Legal representation of the parties can lower the emotional level otherwise found in such a case 
  • Legal counsel better ensures that documents are prepared properly and court procedures are followed 
  • Spouse’s legal rights and interests are better protected with the aid of an experienced divorce lawyer 

In the final analysis, a relatively small percentage of divorces can go from start to finish in a truly uncontested, amicable manner. Many marriage dissolution cases are contentious from before the initial documents are filed with the court. Some divorce cases become complicated and emotionally charged as the matter progresses in court. Because of the risks associated with a seemingly uncontested divorce becoming anything but, parties to a divorce typically are wise to seek their own legal counsel.

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