Why Do I Need A Lawyer for My Uncontested Divorce?
I frequently provide a free thirty minute consultation to individuals who are contemplating getting a divorce in Mesa AZ. Many of my consultations involve individuals who believe their spouse will agree on everthing and that the divorce will be uncontested. Most people who think their case will be uncontested usually ask the question “do I even need a lawyer for this divorce?”
In most cases, the answer is yes! You are probably thinking “what do you expect a lawyer to say!” However, most divorce cases are not as simple as they might seem on the surface. There are some divorces that probably don’t need a lawyer. These are usually cases where the parties have been married for a short amount of time, do not have any minor children together and have accumulated few, if any assets or debts. In that particular circumstance, because there is so little to divide or argue about the couple can probably get a divorce without an attorney’s assistance. These types of cases are frankly few and far between.
A more typical scenario is a case where the parties have been married five years or more, have one or more minor children and have purchased a house and/or have some substantial debts or assets that need to be divided. These types of cases include a number of potentially complicated legal issues that require a family lawyer’s expertise to properly navigate. Regardless of whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, you should always have an criminal defense attorney mesa az when dealing when your case involves the typical scenario described above and especially when the case involves minor children.
An uncontested divorce is one where you and your spouse have reached an agreement on all of the issues in the case and you submit a Consent Decree (settlement agreement) to the judge to sign. This is the preferable way to resolve any divorce case. An uncontested divorce can be finalized in a matter of a couple of months and both parties get to have a say in the outcome of the divorce instead of letting a judge decide for them. However, even if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse agree on every issue in your case you should still involve a lawyer for a few reasons.
First, an experienced family lawyer can point out legal issues you may not have even considered. One of the primary reasons you settle your case is to avoid having to ever go to court. An experienced family law attorney will help point out typical issues that arise in many divorce cases so you can come up with a long-term plan to avoid disputes down the road. This is especially important in any case involving children.
Second, At a minimum, you will need a lawyer to make sure your settlement is documented correctly. There are free forms that are provided by the court that many people use when they do not use a lawyer. These are simplified forms that do not include many of the issues that experienced family law attorneys address when drafting settlement documents. The common result of drafting your own settlemnt is future return visits to court to address issues that were not properly addressed at the time of the divorce. I have had many cases where parties have hired me after the divorce to help address issues that could have been resolved when the parties were initially divorced and that probably would have been addressed had they hired a lawyer.
Finally, even if you think you can settle your case without the assistance of a lawyer, it may be well worth your while and expense to at least have an experienced family law attorney review your settlement before you submit it to the court. There are some people who try to take advantage of their spouses in divorces. I have had some very sad cases where one spouse has convinced the other to do a quick settlement just to “get it over with” or “so we don’t drag this out.” While that may sound like a good idea, oftentimes there may be an ulterior motive. I have had cases where some spouses signed away their rights to compensation for businesses, or retirement accounts or spousal maintenance. In other words, they agree to a very one-sided settlement. In most cases once a settlement is reached and the judge signs off on the settlement, it is too late. Some people think that the family court judge will look out for them. That may be true when it comes to issues involving minor children, but rarely any other types of issues. Most judges will sign off on any agreement that is put in front of them. The majority of family court judges will take the very reasonable position that the parties know best and will not upset an agreement they have reached on their own. A family law attorney can point out pitfalls in your agreement. At a minimum, you will at least be educated and understand what you may be signing away. You may even decide to hire the lawyer to represent you for the rest of the case to assure you are not being taken advantage of.
There is an old saying that says an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In other words, spending a little money now may save you a lot of money later on. In an uncontested divorce case, spending a little money at the time of the divorce to make sure it is done correctly and documented correctly may allow you to get your divorce much more quickly and, more importantly, may save you thousands of dollars in future litigation.