Do I Need A Divorce Lawyer If We Agree On Everything?

Woman divorcing and taking off wedding band

The short answer is “yes” – even if you and your spouse seem to agree on all the principle points of your divorce, it is in everyone’s interest to have experienced attorneys who understand the process helping guide you to a resolution. Attitudes and situations can change as the complex divorce process unfolds, and it is crucial that you protect your rights with the able assistance of a seasoned lawyer on your side.

Here are some of the numerous advantages of enlisting the assistance of a divorce lawyer.

Divorce Lawyers Advise You On The Finer Points.

Often, both parties think they agree about everything – how to split up their debt and sell the house, for instance, or the amount of parenting time and child support. Yet, experienced attorneys often bring up a number of important points in finalizing the agreement that neither party previously considered. You may not agree on all these finer points. Have you considered the future tax burden of the agreement you’re negotiating? It may seem as though the assets have been divided equitably, but the cash value of funds in a retirement account is not the same as the cash value of funds in a savings account. If a business is involved, are you looking at the future value of the buyout? What about custody of the children? You will need to ensure that the children are given a safe environment to continue their education, health care, and standard of living. Have you thought about life insurance policies? Will the alimony be paid yearly, monthly, or weekly? Will it be paid directly or through probation? Who covers unexpected health expenses, extracurricular costs, and college expenses for the children? Do you understand the laws necessary to split up your retirement assets? A divorce lawyer sees you through all the intricacies of decision-making.

Divorce Lawyers Save You Time.

Life doesn’t stop on a dime because you’re going through a divorce. You still have to work at your job, cook dinner, do laundry, and take care of children. Many people in “the sandwich generation” are not only caring for young children, but elderly parents, as well. All the tasks that were once split are all on you now. You may have boxes to pack, a new home to find, and assets to sell, related to the divorce. Self-represented litigants can expect to spend four to six hours a day working on their cases. If you don’t have that kind of time, a divorce lawyer can bridge the gap. Many people who represented themselves later regret that they didn’t spend that time caring for their children and making sure they were emotionally okay during the transition.

Divorce Lawyers Help You Overcome Common Barriers To A Favorable Outcome.

Self-represented litigants face many setbacks:

  • The inability to understand “legalese”, the language of the courts. For instance, the judge may refer to you as a “pro per,” which comes from the Latin “in propria persona.” When self-represented litigants don’t know when the judge is addressing them, it creates confusion and delay.
  • The complexity of the clerk’s office. The court clerk’s office is a crowded, confusing place. When the required forms are not completed, you may find it difficult to find a sympathetic clerk who will hold your hand through the process and let you know exactly what you need to finish your file. In the past, clerk assistance was seen as a violation of court neutrality. You may not be aware of the filing fees or the process to seek a fee waiver. 
  • Problems with service. It is your responsibility to hire a service provider to serve papers to the opposing party. Can you physically locate the other party? Have you properly filled out the proof of service form before serving the papers?
  • Confusing court procedures. Occasionally, the protocol for court confuses even the most experienced attorneys. In one study, 60 percent of self-represented litigants hadn’t finished their divorce cases after five months because they didn’t realize there was anything more to do. Nearly 20 percent were still waiting to hear back from the courts before taking further action. By contrast, the vast majority of cases with representation were finalized by the five-month mark.
  • Overcrowded dockets. Time constraints affect how clearly and comprehensively you are able to communicate with the judge. Even if you feel a lengthy explanation is warranted, the judge may not agree, particularly if the schedule is busy that day. Knowing precisely how to state your claims is a must.
  • Uncertainty on written orders. Once the judge issues an order, a lawyer typically draws up a written order, which is signed and then enforceable in court. Without this order, a litigant has only memory to rely upon and ends up inadequately informed of his or her rights. 

Divorce Lawyers Help You Keep Your Cool.

Family law cases can be very stressful. You’re painfully aware of what’s at stake here – your home, car, retirement, pets, assets, and even your children. Self-represented individuals may struggle to present their cases in a calm, cool, collected manner; meet all the technical requirements; and follow court procedures. The longer the case drags on, the more likely it is that negative behavior will surface, with very grave consequences. A divorce attorney helps litigants maintain poise, even when tensions are running high. Lawyers act as impartial third parties who intervene with the judge and the other party on behalf of their clients.

If you happen to agree on all fronts – great! Your legal costs will be much lower. Having a lawyer to draft your agreement ensures that you’ve considered every possible pitfall into the future, and that your best interests are protected. Contact KGG Law, with offices in Rockland County, NY and Bergen County, NJ, and schedule a divorce consultation.