If you’re facing divorce, it’s only natural to have a lot on your mind. Just make sure one of those things is hiring a lawyer. Some people think they can do it all on their own and that the process can’t be that difficult, but if you just talk to a few people who have already gone through divorce, you’ll likely think differently. Here are a few reasons that it’s wise to hire an attorney, along with some tips on finding the right one.
Divorce can be an emotional time for both parties, even if you initiated it or it’s simply been a long time coming. This is one reason representing yourself is a bad idea, as it’s unlikely you’ll keep a clear enough head to deal with the legal aspects of the divorce. You need a professional on your side who will objectively advise you, especially when it comes to matters involving your children. After all, you don’t want to make mistakes in the process that result in you getting less time with them, as you’ll surely regret not hiring a lawyer if you don’t get the outcome you want. As we say, it may be difficult to un-ring the bell. Put another way, it may be difficult for any attorney to correct mistakes that are made in court. It is always better to do it right the first time.
Divorce is not usually a simple process, especially if you’re dealing with spousal support, child support, child custody, taxes, pensions and other potential issues. Here are a few examples of some legal facts you might not know, just to show how complex the typical divorce can be:
If these facts surprise you, the reason to hire a lawyer should be clear. Without one, you risk not getting the results you deserve simply because you don’t know all the legal rules that guide the typical divorce.
Not all divorce advice should be treated equally. People mean well and believe that offering you advice on how to navigate your divorce is a way to support you. But you need to be careful and remember that not all advice is created equal. Your attorney is the best source for advice for legal issues in the same way your accountant is the best source of advice for tax issues. In the same way you’d ask your realtor to tell you the value of your marital residence, your lawyer is the best professional to speculate on how many years of alimony the judge may award you.
Also considered in this category is the problem with unrealistic expectations. Many clients have received advice from their neighbor, a friend or a colleague at work and that advice can be wrong. This then gives the client an unrealistic expectation when they are going through their divorce. At the Edgar & Dow, family law is all we do. We have years of experience in dealing with family law related issues. We are not going to tell you what you want to hear but tell you what you need to hear. This can be painful to hear, especially when dealing with your kids, your money or your house. It is better that we develop a realistic strategy to obtain the results that you are looking for.
Don’t use your lawyer as a therapist for the emotional battles you’re dealing with, they don’t have the training of a therapist and will cost much more. While they will do their best to help, it’s better to seek outside support to process the emotional aspects of the divorce. Focus on the process with your eyes on the prize or outcome of the case as your goal. Stay proactive in the fight. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the changes coming from your divorce. You’re living in an empty home or apartment and not spending as much time with the kids. You may be launching a new career or experiencing financial changes. Stress and strains on friendships and family relationships are all too common. Emotions are high for you and your children and it can be tempting to shut down. Now, more than ever, is the time to be brave and contemplative. Don’t overreact. Don’t start hurling insults. Don’t go posting things on social media about your ex that your kids may see. Some social media mistakes can be erased but some may be used against you in court
Now that you know you need a lawyer, it’s time to consider how to find the right one. First, look for a lawyer who has years of experience in family law. Some lawyers even have a certification in this area, which means they have worked on many family law cases and passed special tests related to this. You can find this information on their website, as well as on sites that list all the family law attorneys in your area. You can also ask friends and family who have gone through divorce if they would recommend their lawyer. At the Edgar & Dow, APLC, family law is all we do. We don’t handle personal injury or criminal law matters. We have years of experience in the local courts handling family law cases.
Once you have a few lawyers to consider, schedule a consultation with the first one to find out more. Be sure to bring any paperwork that will help the lawyer understand your case, such as a list of your assets and debts. During this first meeting, you can decide if you feel comfortable with the lawyer, since it’s important to choose someone you trust to take on your case.
If you want a chance to keep your divorce as fast, friendly and affordable as possible, you need to work well with your lawyer. The more prepared you are for every meeting, the smoother the process should be. This can also keep it cheaper, since most lawyers bill for hours spent on your case. If they have to spend less time preparing your case, you pay less.
You can start by always bringing copies of important documents to meetings with your lawyer, and you can even organize and label them to save more time. If you have to fill out a legal form, do it as soon as possible. Keep notes on any issues you have along the way, and plan meetings with your lawyer so you can get any answers you need at one time rather than in several quick, unplanned phone calls. And make sure you tell your lawyer the truth about your debts, assets and changes in income or you’ll end up wasting time during the divorce. Finally, avoid the temptation to use your lawyer as a counselor, as you’ll find that talking to an actual counselor may be more effective and affordable.
As you can see, there are many reasons to hire a divorce lawyer. If you’re ready to find out more about how a lawyer can help with your specific case, contact the Edgar & Dow for a free consultation. We have offices in Riverside, Temecula, and Anaheim.
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