Many people start thinking about divorce long before they ever set foot in a courthouse. A long separation can sometimes help remove the emotion from the divorce process. But when do you need an attorney? Can you do everything yourself, or should you bring a trained divorce lawyer on for help?
This blog post will explain how a Colorado divorce lawyer can help, even before you officially start the process — even if you are just thinking about divorce. This post will review when a DIY approach to divorce is appropriate, and how to know when you need a lawyer’s help.
Family Law Sometimes Starts Before Divorce
Some families are separated for months, or even years, before either spouse decides to file for divorce. But when there are children involved, these long separations sometimes bring family law concerns of their own. Even if you’re still thinking about divorce, you may need to ask the court to enter a custody order allocating parenting responsibilities between you and your spouse. Or you may need child support from the other parent to provide for your kids. In these cases, you will need a family law attorney even before you are ready to file for divorce. A family law attorney can help you negotiate the terms of parental responsibility, visitation, and support — sometimes without needing to go to court — so you can take your time and decide if a divorce is a good idea.
Resolving custody and child support issues early is also a good idea because it can make the actual divorce emotionally easier. In many cases, if there is one thing parents are going to disagree over its their children. By resolving this before you decide whether to end your marriage, you can speed the process along when it does become time.
Consult with a Divorce Lawyer Early to Protect Your Interests
There are many reasons to have your first consultation with a divorce lawyer even before you separate from your spouse. Depending on your financial situation, you could benefit from rearranging assets, or making different decisions when it comes to the home or other valuable property. The last thing you want is to find out a decision made in anger will negatively affect your life for years to come. Before you move out of the house or sell that vacation rental, sit down with an experienced attorney to find out the long-term effect of those decisions.
How a Lawyer Can Help with DIY Divorces
Increasingly, couples are deciding that they can do their divorce themselves, without the help of a trained family lawyer. It is true that many couples are able to complete the forms and obtain a divorce. But the more complicated your lifestyle is, the more likely you will need a lawyer somewhere along the way. The best candidates for a DIY divorce are:
- Uncontested — you and your spouse agree on who should take what
- Simple — you don’t have a lot of assets or debts
- Short marriages — you don’t need help untangling retirement assets or spousal maintenance issues
- Close to the court — you don’t need someone to appear on your behalf in court
Even if you are the perfect candidate for a DIY divorce, it can still help to meet with a lawyer as you go through the process. Many times, people who represent themselves are turned away at the courthouse because their papers are incomplete or filled out improperly. Other times, the order is entered, only to find that it is missing important instructions for parties or the professionals who serve them (i.e. bankers, financial planners, creditors, etc.).
In these cases, it is a good idea to sit down with an experienced divorce attorney and go through all your paperwork. He or she can ask you and your spouse questions to help you clarify what you want and write an order that will be sure it gets done. Even if you are still thinking about divorce, this kind of meeting can help both sides understand what they have to lose if the case goes to court.
When It Is Too Late to Hire a Lawyer
If you are just thinking about a divorce, you may want to wait to talk to a lawyer until you are sure. Divorce lawyers don’t have to be involved from the very start (though it is a good idea). If you suddenly find yourself in over your head — maybe you and your spouse didn’t agree about everything after all — you can hire a divorce lawyer to step in and sort things out.
But the longer you wait, the harder it will be for the lawyer to get you what you want out of the divorce. The longer you are separated from your children or out of the marital home, the harder it will be to argue you should be awarded custody or that your spouse needs to move out. Once the Dissolution of Marriage is entered, you will give up certain claims altogether. Then it will be too late to hire a lawyer.
At Aviso Law, LLC, our divorce lawyers don’t want you to miss out because you are afraid of the cost of hiring a lawyer. We know that in many cases, even a single consultation may be enough to set you on the right path. We are here to serve you and your family while your are thinking about divorce, and throughout the process. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.