For most people, going through a divorce is one of the most stressful events imaginable. Even in the best divorce scenarios, difficult family and economic issues need to be resolved reasonably and objectively.
Even though divorces and related custody and support disputes have the potential to be among the most stressful and emotional of all legal matters, having an experienced divorce attorney on your side can make the process easier. They can help to ensure that your interests are protected to the fullest extent possible.
This article discusses how to get legal assistance with divorce and what a lawyer can do for you.
Common Issues That Arise During a Divorce
Every case is different, but most divorces require the resolution of some or all of the following legal issues: property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support. Any of these can further complicate or prolong the divorce process. Some of these potential complications include:
- How will property and assets be split up between the divorcing spouses?
- What if only one spouse is working? Will that affect the distribution of property?
- How will bank accounts and debts be divided?
- Should one spouse be awarded spousal support (or alimony)? If awarded, what factors go into determining how much spousal support must be paid?
- Who gets custody of the kids?
- Which parent will the kids live with?
- Who stays in the family home, and who must move out? Or will you sell any shared real estate and decide how to split the proceeds?
- What happens if the kids only want to live with one parent?
- How much child support is appropriate?
- Do you qualify for an annulment?
- Should you try a legal separation prior to divorce?
The answers to many of these questions depend on the laws of your state. Whether you live in a community property state or a state that abides by different standards, how marital property is divided post-divorce can be very different.
Why You Should Get Legal Help With Divorce
As you can see from the list above, there are a number of legal questions that must be resolved in a divorce. All those details can make the process extremely contentious and adversarial, even if it initially seems like an uncontested divorce.
If you are thinking about filing for divorce, or if your spouse has initiated divorce proceedings, now is the time to make sure you will have an experienced divorce attorney on your side throughout the divorce process. Possibly more so than in any other type of civil law case, what can be at stake in a divorce may seriously affect you and your family — legally, emotionally, socially, and economically — now and for many years in the future. So when you hire an attorney, make sure they're the right fit.
An experienced divorce attorney will evaluate your divorce case with you, explaining what you can expect and identifying your options. At every stage in the divorce process, from the first filing of divorce papers to the aftermath, your attorney will represent you zealously and act to protect your legal rights and your personal interests, all with the goal of ensuring that the outcome of your divorce is as favorable for you as possible.
Review the following resources for more help with your divorce:
- Legal Aid Offices: In every state, there are legal aid groups. These groups staff attorneys that can provide you with legal help for free or at a low cost, if you're a qualifying low-income individual. Contact the legal aid group in your state or city. The legal clinics available through these organizations can be a useful resource if you cannot afford an attorney. The legal services that legal aid offices make available are a useful tool. They can help you with everything from how to apply for exemptions for court fees and filing fees to eliminating attorney's fees. The court systems provide many resources for indigent persons.
- The American Bar Association: Under the American Bar Association, the bar associations in each state can serve as a lawyer referral service. If you need help finding a lawyer, contact the bar association where you live. They can provide you with referrals for free. As referral providers, bar associations can be a very useful resource.
- Domestic violence: At this FindLaw resource, you can learn more about domestic violence in general. But you can also learn more about divorce in domestic violence contexts. You can learn about protective orders and all the court orders involved in domestic violence proceedings. You can also learn about how to protect your loved ones from such family violence.
Getting Legal Help With a Divorce
Finding a divorce attorney or law firm to help you with the divorce process and all its related issues isn't as hard as you might have heard. Contact a local divorce lawyer who will be able to explain the laws of your state and other general information you should consider, in addition to representing you in court, should the need arise.
Laws related to divorce, as determined by state law, can vary dramatically from one state to the next. It's important to get help from a lawyer. This area of family law is a difficult one to handle on your own. Family law cases can be very stressful. Getting legal advice for a licensed family lawyer can help.