Some divorcing couples are able to come to agreement on all major issues. They may have a basic plan for what to do with regards to dividing their property (including both assets and debts), who gets the marital home, who should have custody of the children and whether alimony will be a part of the divorce. They may assume that, since they have essentially worked things out, that they don't need attorneys and can just handle things on their own.
However, you should think long and hard about possible complications that could arise and consequences that could affect you before you make the decision to proceed through a divorce - even an uncontested one - without an attorney by your side.
Someone to protect your rights and interests
Ever hear the saying "hope for the best, but plan for the worst?" That idiom is often used in the context of insurance; after all, nobody wants their home to burn down, but they plan ahead for the possibility by purchasing homeowners insurance. The point is to protect yourself "just in case" something terrible happens.
The same thought process applies to having an attorney with you through an uncontested divorce. You may think that your soon-to-be-ex-spouse is dealing fairly with you when it comes to property division and spousal support, but can you be sure? There are many questions that an attorney will ask that you may not have considered, the answers to which can have a dramatic impact on the overall success of the divorce proceeding - and on the rest of your life - after the proverbial dust settles.
- Is he or she hiding assets? Could that be why a particular asset or debt division arrangement was proposed?
- Is the asset distribution proposal really equitable, or are you getting shortchanged?
- Would you be granted alimony by a court if it were requested? Is it fair to you to waive alimony (if that is something your spouse has suggested)?
- Are there any difficult-to-value assets on the table? Have those been properly accounted for? Are you really getting a fair share of them?
You should also consider the technicalities involved in filing for divorce. If you are thinking about going it alone, are you confident that you can fill out all the legal paperwork correctly? Not doing everything by the book could jeopardize the official granting of your divorce, possibly leading to huge issues down the road if one of you wishes to remarry.
Legal matters may seem straightforward at first, which could lead you to believe that you can handle things on your own. Keep in mind that divorce is a big deal, though, and things can go south in an instant. It is always better to proceed with the help of someone with in-depth knowledge of these matters. If you are considering filing for divorce, contact an experienced family law attorney in your area to learn about legal options.