If you know that you and your spouse are looking to have an amicable divorce, know how lucky you are to be in that position, especially if you have children. One of the most important relationships you’ll need to maintain after your divorce, if you have children with your spouse, is that new co-parenting relationship with the person you’ve just divorced. If you can get through your divorce on the same page about your settlement, you’ll be that much further along in your co-parenting relationship.
But you might be wondering, even if you want to divorce amicably, if you need a lawyer to help with the divorce. You might even wonder if the presence of a lawyer will create issues in your divorce. It might be tempting to represent yourselves in your divorce, especially if it feels like you and your spouse are getting along well enough to work things out on your own. But I would say that even if it’s an amicable divorce, it’s a much better idea for you to have a lawyer than to not have a lawyer.
First of all, people who try to finalize a divorce on their own are probably using forms they got online and trying to file via a court system they’re unfamiliar with using. That can lead to mistakes, which you might need a lawyer to fix. Another potential issue is the documents available to you online are general rather than being specifically tailored to each particular case.
Having an experienced family lawyer by your side in the divorce process means that you’ll have someone making sure that everything is done right and that everything is done with an eye toward what you and your children specifically need. If you don’t have children, it is still important to have a lawyer involved to review the division of assets and splitting of liabilities.
Something that might look like a perfectly fine divorce settlement might actually not be the best divorce settlement for you, and might deprive you of something you’re entitled to. For example, if you’re eligible for spousal support, and you’re using a more generic divorce settlement that doesn’t award that to you, you could be missing out on money you could use to make a better post-divorce life for you and your spouse. Additionally, there might be benefits available to your spouse during retirement that you might have a right to, and you want an attorney fighting for those rights.
The other thing I’d caution people about, when they’re trying to go it alone with an amicable divorce, is that things often change when you start talking about children and property or when emotions enter into the picture. For example, the divorce might be amicable up to a certain point, then one party changes his/her perspective when the divorce gets more real. You could suddenly find that what you think will be an amicable divorce actually becomes more contentious, and an issue emerges where one hadn’t before.
At that point, you’ll want to have an advocate on your side to help you take the next steps. If you have to move from a non-litigious divorce to a litigious divorce, an experienced family lawyer can help you do that. Additionally, there might be a couple of issues that the attorneys can work out that the parties were unable to settle on their own.
And even if you can keep it amicable, having a lawyer on either side to draft the documents and fight for your rights, and get your Final Decree buttoned up and to the judge is worth the investment. If you’re just utilizing a family lawyer to make sure you did what you set out to do correctly, it’s worth the investment.
While it’s impossible to forecast whether you will need a modification to your decree down the line, an experienced family lawyer — like the ones at the Law Office of Lisa A. Vance — can at least make sure you haven’t inadvertently laid the foundation in the decree you sign now for one that you’ll have to modify later.