Authored by H. Clare Callow in Divorce
Published on 07-18-2009
Divorce is one of the most stressful periods any person can go through, and it can be helpful to have a professional adviser on your side. At the same time, divorce attorneys can be expensive, particularly in the current financial downturn. What should you do?
The course you choose will depend on a combination of factors. How amicable is your divorce likely to be? If you have been together a long time and simply grew apart, it might be possible for you to arrange your divorce between you and your ex without divorce attorneys. However, be aware that there are hidden issues behind every break-up, and the amicability both of you feel now could swiftly change.
A no-fault divorce can be a relatively simple process that does not require divorce attorneys. If you and your ex are able to sit down and agree on terms for your divorce, you will be able to file your papers with your local domestic relations court. This will take quite a bit of your time, and will require a basic understanding of legal wording. If you are unable to negotiate terms, or your ex hires a divorce attorney, it is advisable to hire an attorney yourself.
If you do decide to hire an attorney, meet with more than one prospect. Remember that you are hiring them, not the other way around, and interview them just as you would anyone you were hiring. It is important for you to be relatively comfortable with your divorce attorney, as they will be at your side during an intensely stressful time. If they are unable to clearly explain their fees and how they are charged, do not hire them. It may help to write up a list of questions to ask before you meet with them. It is also advisable to not just meet with ‘no consultation fee’ attorneys, as such firms tend to concentrate more on getting cases rather than providing a valuable service.
Divorce attorneys who keep things on a professional and businesslike level are of great value during divorce proceedings. Because you and your ex are emotionally invested in the proceedings, it is vital to have someone on board who can remain objective. For this reason, even if it might feel nice to have a lawyer who sympathizes with how you feel, choose a lawyer who will not get emotionally involved in your case.
Deciding whether to hire a divorce attorney or not is essentially a matter of money. In not hiring an attorney, you save on fees but will have to give up more of your time and possibly suffer more stress. Hiring an attorney may save you on stress, but it adds to the financial burden of divorce and may cause stress of its own. In the end, it depends on your continuing relationship with your ex and what, between you, you feel you can afford.