A divorce attorney is essentially an advocate who ensures you get proper representation throughout the entire process of ending a marriage. Whether you and your ex-partner are fighting over certain aspects of your dissolution or you are both doing your best to part amicably, it never hurts to have a professional on your side.
Advice Before a Divorce
If you are considering a separation from your spouse, contacting an attorney about your rights, beforehand is advisable. A professional lawyer can offer advice on how to proceed with a divorce, if you end up deciding to pursue one. These consultations can be done in the attorney’s office, at your convenience to ensure total privacy. If you are concerned about your spouse finding out, discuss your concerns when setting up the appointment. Arrange a meeting during a time you are expected to be away from your home or job to not raise any red flags with your partner. If there are safety concerns, try to have a trusted friend or loved one with you during your first appointment.
If you are already separated from your spouse and have questions on how to make it a legal separation or file for a complete divorce, contact a divorce attorney in your area to learn about divorce laws in your area. If you and your ex live in separate counties, find out if it is better to file in your jurisdiction of the county your ex lives in. Be prepared to answer some probing questions, especially if you live in a state where “at-fault” divorces still exist. Even “no-fault” divorce states still ask you to reveal the reasons behind the breakdown of your marriage, such as extra marital affairs, abuse or abandonment.
Filling Out Forms
Even if you are planning on filing for divorce on your own, filling out the legal forms can sometimes become a daunting prospect. Most states require you to accurately list all of the assets acquired during your marriage, such as real estate property, vehicles, bank accounts, investment portfolios and any other items of value. If you and your ex have agreed on how to split these assets, many judges still want records of how they were divided to ensure fairness and to have a legal record in case of either of you changing your mind in the future. If you have children, you need to fill out child custody and visitation forms, as well as child support worksheets. Some jurisdictions may require you take a co-parenting class before the marriage dissolution agreement is finalized.
Finding Possible Conflicts
A divorce attorney can find possible conflicts in the forms you fill out, especially when it comes to a fair dividing of the marital property. Before you sign anything presented by your ex, talk to a professional to ensure you understand all of the ramifications of doing so. This does not mean you cannot have an amicable breakup. Humans make mistakes and one wrong box checked can mean a world of difference in what you are agreeing to. Getting advice from a competent professional ensures you and your ex know exactly what you are asking for in the divorce.
If you and your ex are not in agreement as to the cause of the divorce or the division of assets, a lawyer will gather evidence to prove your case in court. For example, if your ex strayed during the marriage, and a prenuptial agreement explicitly says your ex will receive nothing in this case, an attorney will gather evidence to prove the affair happened. If you are being falsely accused of an affair, an attorney will gather evidence to prove you did nothing wrong. It is extremely important you are completely upfront about your circumstances with your lawyer, as he or she cannot successfully represent you without all of the facts of the case.
Speaking to Witnesses
During a trying time, it is hard to talk to mutual family and friends about a case involving someone they care about. If you are not agreeing on the terms of the divorce with your ex or there are extenuating circumstances, such as affairs or abuse, leaving it the hands of a professional to deal with will help reduce your stress. A lawyer will contact and interview witnesses, including those who are close to you, as well as acquaintances, coworkers and law professionals, if needed. He or she will also issue subpoenas to those who would otherwise be unwilling to testify and can prove your case.
Dealing with the Opposing Attorney
It is never advisable to listen to the advice of your ex’s divorce attorney. After all, he or she was hired to represent your ex. Always consult a separate lawyer, before you sign any forms or agree on a settlement. It is hard, sometimes, to fully realize the consequences of agreeing to certain terms, just to end the fighting and get the process over with. You may lose out on the money you have worked hard to save together. You deserve your fair share of the assets. If children are involved, it is even more imperative you consult an expert on custody laws, as well as visitation rights and child support statues. Have all communication go through your attorney to ensure you are not coerced into anything that is not in your best interest.
Support Throughout the Proceedings
No matter how amicable a divorce is, it is hard to wade through all of the legalities on your own. Hire someone trustworthy who will do everything it takes to ensure you are protected in the final dissolution of marriage that is filed with the courts. It is not just about the paperwork, however, as a good lawyer can also put you in touch with other professionals who can help you heal during and after the proceedings. This includes therapists for any mental or emotional health issues on either side, child advocates to look out for your kids’ best interests and doctors, if needed, for any accusations of abuse or other physical issues.
You do not have to face this new chapter of your life alone. If you are going through a breakdown of your marriage, contact a divorce attorney today to take some of the weight off of your shoulders.
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