Divorce is usually difficult in just about every aspect. Emotionally and logistically, not to mention the legal aspect. Luckily, that’s where divorce attorneys come into play. Unless you have legal experience, it’s likely that the proceedings and paperwork involved are going to feel like an unintelligible whirlwind without a divorce lawyer around to guide you through the steps. Many people envision their divorce cases going straight to court (since that’s what’s often depicted on TV), but in truth, over 95% of divorce cases end up agreeing to an out-of-court settlement. Without some expert advice, you may not have even known that was a possibility! Presenting your options is just one way a divorce attorney can help you. We’ll discuss other advantages of having an attorney on your side below.
The Case for Divorce
The divorce rate has been steadily growing, to many people’s dismay (or resignation). A first marriage ending in separation or divorce in five years is at around 20% and interestingly, after ten years, it goes up to 33%. On an annual scale, almost two million children’s parents divorce in the United States and about 10% of the population is divorced.
Divorce can happen for any number of reasons and is usually highly personal, depending on the couple and their relationship. Some may simply grow apart or realize they’re not compatible, while others may seek divorce because of a harmful emotional or physical relationship.
Whatever the reason, you want to have legal protection on your side, especially if it’s not a mutually-agreed upon divorce or if your partner already has a lawyer. A unilateral divorce (a divorce where one spouse wants a divorce and the other does not agree) is the most common type, with this accounting for around 80% of divorce cases.
How Can Having a Divorce Attorney Benefit Me?
There are a number of ways getting a divorce attorney can be helpful. For one, without an attorney, a divorce can wind up being long and drawn out, which means it becomes even more expensive. An average divorce has proceedings that take around a year and costs anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000. If it’s a particularly nasty divorce that lacks any legal guidance, it could stretch on for longer.
A divorce attorney can also help facilitate mediation, which benefits both parties (meaning that a judge doesn’t have to make a final decision that may not benefit one party or the other). Indeed, over two-thirds of couples who got a mediated divorce said they were happy with the outcome.
If you have children or a lot of assets, a divorce attorney can also make sure that your interests are protected. Custody battles can get nasty (and adversely affect your children). And, of course, you want to protect your financial interests as well.
Furthermore, if you’re seeking a divorce because of an abusive situation, a lawyer can help protect you and your dependents and make a solid case for restraining orders, full custody of your children, and financial security.
Overall, a lawyer can help get the necessary paperwork in order, guide you through the process, and help you choose the outcome that works best for your interests.
What Should I Look For in a Divorce Attorney?
You want to make sure that your divorce attorney’s goals and views are aligned with your own. For example, if you’re more interested in mediation, a super aggressive attorney who wants to take it to court probably isn’t going to be the best fit for you. Your attorney should be able to explain things to you in plain terms, not swamp you in more legal jargon that leaves you still feeling confused. It’s your life and your future, so you want to understand what’s happening.
Appropriate experience and credentials are a given. And, of course, you want to find someone who falls within your budget!
Don’t take this difficult step alone. Find a good divorce attorney — after all, you want someone who will work with your best interests at heart and make the process as smooth as possible.