An often asked question is “Do I need an attorney for a divorce?” The answer is it really depends on your circumstance.
Some people can and do file their own divorce. There are forms available online that some people are able to use effectively. This is especially true if there are no children from the marriage and few if any assets or debts to be divided. And some people have enough confidence to represent themselves in court.
If children are involved it becomes more complicated. There are forms for child support and parenting that must be filled out completely and correctly. If the paperwork is not correct or complete, the Court will not grant the divorce. The letter from the Court will often contain language that the lay person does not understand. They will have no idea what is wrong and how to fix it. Sometimes untangling the documents filed in a do-it-yourself divorce takes an attorney longer (and costs more money) to fix than if an attorney drafted the paperwork at the start.
In addition, it is very important to get the custody, visitation and child support issues right in the divorce decree. It sets the standard for changing those things in the future. It is also how your children’s lives will operate in the future. An attorney can provide valuable advice on these things.
If there are significant assets or debts to be divided, the language used in the agreement is very important. For example, there could be serious tax consequences that you might not understand. It is unlikely that an attorney can change these things later if the agreement isn’t exactly what you thought it was.
If your spouse has an attorney and the divorce is contested, you are at a disadvantage if you don’t have one as well. If the divorce ends up in a trial, your spouse’s attorney will know the rules of evidence and court procedure… and you will be on your own.
Some people just can’t represent themselves in court. They are so nervous and afraid that they can’t function. They don’t know what to bring to court, what to say, they have a hard time speaking in a crowded courtroom, or they don’t even know what they really want the court to do. For those people, an attorney is a must. The attorney can prepare that person and conduct the hearing in a way to help make them more comfortable. (Everyone is still nervous!)
Many attorneys will review documents and give advice for a small fee.
If money is an issue, and you really need an attorney, think about taking out a loan, using a credit card, or finding an attorney who has some sort of a payment plan. Many people find the money they spend on a good attorney will save them time, money, and hassles in the long run.
But the decision is yours and based on your unique circumstances.
Nedra K. Howard
Nedra has represented clients in matters relating to divorce, separate maintenance, child custody and support, family violence protective orders, adoption, prenuptial agreements, business disputes and litigation, personal injury, property damage, and wills.
John B. MIller & Associates, P.C.
16 Eastbrook Bend, Suite 201
Peachtree City, GA 30269
Call us today so we help you
770 - 863 - 8355