The way your case goes will depend largely on the
lawyer that you hire to represent you, so before running out and
hiring the first divorce lawyer you come across online, see on a
billboard, find in the yellow pages, or even one that you were referred
to by a friend, it is important to know what hiring a lawyer means.
Divorce law is a highly specialized area of law. There are many
technicalities and very specific rules and deadlines that must be
followed. The law governing many aspects of it, such as asset division,
is deep and nuanced. Hiring the wrong lawyer can prove to be costly, in
terms of attorney’s fees as well as the value of the settlement or
judgment you’ll ultimately receive.
In Part II of this guide you will discover useful information for anyone
that is considering a getting divorced, or who has already made the
decision, but has not yet determined which, if any, lawyer they want to
Do I Even Need A Lawyer?
This is naturally the first question you should be asking – and I’ll give
you the typical lawyer answer, “It depends.” You may, or you may not.
It is going to depends on your unique circumstances, as well as how
comfortable you feel with uncertainty and doubt.
Factors you should be considering are:
– Assets/Debts – Do you and your spouse have significant assets
(stocks, bonds, pensions, 401ks, investment properties, etc.) to
divide up? Significant debts? (credit cards, store credit, medical
bills, mortgages, etc.)
– Children – Will custody be an issue? Do you know how to
calculate child support?
– Home – Do you own or rent? Did the house belong to you or your
spouse before the marriage, or was it purchased jointly?
– Length of Marriage – How long have you been married? Will you
be seeking alimony? Will your spouse? Length of marriage can
also impact your right to a spouse’s retirement benefits.
– Finances – Divorce lawyers are not inexpensive, can you afford to
hire an attorney?
– Fault – Do you or your spouse have a provable claim of fault?
Adultery? Cruelty? Habitual Use of Alcohol or Drugs?
– Agreement – Have you and your spouse already discussed
divorce? Can you agree to all of the terms, i.e. division of
property/debt, child custody, child support?
These are but a few of the things you should consider before you hire a
divorce attorney. In most cases the decision should be fairly easy.