One of the most stressful events a person can go through in their lifetime is divorce. This is true even if you and your spouse agree that it is necessary and also agree, more or less, on what the terms should be. For example, you agree on the division of marital assets, how to handle custody of minor children, child support, and even spousal support. This would naturally be the best-case scenario in an otherwise difficult process. Notwithstanding the seemingly good terms, it is nonetheless in your best interest to have a divorce attorney.
Even in an uncontested divorce, there are a host of legal issues at play. Your attorney will know the Pennsylvania state laws, understand the legal paperwork, and give you the confidence you need that your best interests are being met.
Reason #1: Divorce Lawyers Will Get Your Divorce Case And Settlement Agreement Done Correctly.
Divorce lawyers will make sure that your divorce case is handled correctly from start to finish. They can help you negotiate a fair settlement agreement with your spouse, and they can also represent you in court if necessary. In addition, divorce lawyers can provide you with valuable advice and guidance throughout the entire divorce process.
From the outset, your divorce lawyer will have the experience to ensure you and your money are protected. For example, your lawyer can:
- Prevent the dissipation of marital funds
- Advise on property division
- Help determine the resolution of the marital residence
- Protect assets
- Protect claims for alimony
- Negotiate on your behalf with your spouse’s attorney
There are very limited circumstances where a person can or should file for divorce and do so and not need a lawyer. Generally speaking, handling one’s own divorce is never a good idea. It may seem like a way to save money, but in the end, the ultimate costs could be extremely high.
A spouse must remember that no matter how good terms may be upon making the decision to dissolve the marriage, the process is adversarial in nature. Your spouse, their attorney, and the judge are not on your side. The only person there to protect you is your experienced divorce attorney.
Reason #2: An Experienced Family Lawyer Will Save You Money, Time, And Frustration.
A marital separation and ultimate divorce from your spouse is emotional. It can also be an expensive proposition if you do not hire a lawyer who can protect your interests and rights. Once you have retained a family law attorney you will be on the right path.
One option to reduce costs and arrive at a suitable divorce agreement is to bring a mediator into the process. A mediator is a neutral third party. They do not represent you or your spouse. Their only involvement is to help the spouses arrive at a marital settlement agreement.
The decision to use a mediator will be made with the advice of your attorney. There are certain situations where it makes sense:
- Cost savings where a trial can be avoided but the parties need help arriving at a settlement.
- Where child custody is an issue, but the spouses want to spare the minor children a battle in court and want to demonstrate to the children that they can resolve disputes amicably.
- Where there are some issues of marital property or marital assets division that need a third party to help resolve.
While you and your spouse will each have your own attorney, the mediator is going to be a person who has problem-solving skills, such as a marriage counselor and psychologist. The mediator may be an attorney but their goal is to help resolve differences and arrive at a fair settlement.
Mediation is a streamlined process. Once you and your spouse agree to mediation, the mediator will determine what issues are to be resolved, will collect relevant information such as financial records, if the dispute is over marital assets, and then they meet with the parties. The meetings may be with all of you together (in a neutral location) or one-on-one so the mediator can hear you out.
If successful, a settlement agreement can be filed with the court, and further legal action and costs avoided. In most cases, the mediation will not be binding and if the process does not arrive at a conclusion, you always have the right to proceed in court.
Reason #3: A Divorce Attorney Can Explain Your Rights Regarding Marital Property, Spousal Support, Child Custody, And Other Financial Issues.
Regardless of whether your divorce is a fault divorce or not, there will be many issues that have to be resolved before a divorce can be finalized. Your divorce lawyer, such as the ones at Grace Legal, have years of experience with the process and Pennsylvania law. While you may see the issues as cut and dry, that is not always the case. In addition, you may think you know your spouse, but when the divorce process has begun, facts about your spouse may arise which could have a great impact on how you arrive at a settlement.
Your lawyer is going to examine the facts of your case and make recommendations to you regardless of how amicable you and your spouse may be. They will examine:
- Marital assets
- Real property
- Children and child custody
- Spousal support
- Child Support
- Retirement accounts
- Hidden assets
- Legal fees
These are only some of the issues that must be addressed. Your lawyer represents your best interests and has an obligation to protect you. You may have rights you never considered and before you decide on any final agreement you should have all the facts.
Reason #4: An Experienced Family Law Attorney Can Assist In Uncontested And Collaborative Divorce Proceedings.
An uncontested divorce is one where both you and your spouse agree that your marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Under Pennsylvania law, this means that you and your spouse may request a divorce decree as soon as 90 days after the divorce complaint is filed and served on the other spouse. Although you are consenting to the divorce, all the financial and child custody issues must still be resolved.
The benefit of uncontested divorce is that it saves time, money, and stress on any minor children. However, if you feel you have been pressured into an uncontested divorce, it is essential to communicate this to your attorney. This might not be the best route for you and your case.
Another method of arriving at an amicable divorce is through what is called a “collaborative divorce.” There is litigation and there is mediation and then there is this process. This process is less expensive, and less stressful than court and private.
Your attorney will be involved in the collaborative divorce process. Once you and your spouse agree to this method, you and your attorney will meet with your spouse and their attorney to negotiate a settlement of the financial and child custody issues. If an agreement is reached, it is signed by the parties. If not, you may be advised to try mediation or proceed to court.
Questions To Ask Yourself: When Should You Hire A Divorce Lawyer?
No matter how amicable you and your spouse may be when deciding it is time to dissolve your marriage, you are best served to retain an attorney. You may think you have covered all the issues to be resolved but you might be surprised by what an experienced divorce lawyer will suggest. That is not to say a lawyer wants you to fight with your spouse. It simply means your attorneys want to protect you, your assets, and the rights you have with regard to your children.
You have decided that it is time to divorce your spouse. Your spouse agrees. Now it is time to ask yourself some hard questions:
- How do we divide our assets from bank accounts to retirement accounts to art on the walls?
- Who gets the house?
- Does one of us have to pay the other party alimony?
- Who gets legal and physical custody of the children?
- What about visitation rights?
- Who pays the legal fees?
- What type of divorce proceeding do we want?
These are some of the questions to ask yourself at the outset and while you think you may know the answers, it is advisable not to agree to anything without first consulting with an attorney.
Grace Legal Can Help
The family and divorce lawyers at Grace Legal Offices have years of experience helping people through the emotional and difficult process of divorce. If you and your spouse come to the process on good terms, that’s great. However, to be sure you are protected from start to finish, don’t try to go through it alone.
If you are planning on dissolving your marriage, don’t wait to have a consultation with one of Grace Legal’s experienced lawyers. It’s an investment in your future. A Grace lawyer will provide you with honest, complete, and compassionate advice. And it will always be with Grace.