5 Reasons Not to Pursue Divorce Without Legal Counsel
May 25, 2020 15:11
When you’re going through a divorce, life becomes emotionally challenging on all fronts. After spending years building a life with another person, suddenly you have to tear it down and rebuild a different, separate life. If there are kids involved, things are even more complicated.
If you’ve tried to reconcile differences with your spouse on your own or through marriage counseling and you aren’t making any progress, divorce might be your only option. Before you print off your own forms and try to file for divorce alone, consider the following reasons for retaining legal counsel.
1. Emotions will get in the way of negotiating fair alimony
Part of filing for divorce involves figuring out which person will pay the other alimony. Generally speaking, the person with more income will be the one required to pay alimony. The payments will be required for a set amount and for a set duration of time.
Trying to work out alimony payments with your former spouse isn’t a good idea. Whether you’re the one who should be paying or receiving, emotions will get in the way of rational thinking. If you’re the one who should receive alimony payments, you’ll be tempted to settle for less than you deserve simply to cease arguing.
On the other hand, an experienced family law attorney will determine a fair amount and duration for alimony payments. An attorney will take all circumstances into account including financial abilities and needs for both parties.
Without a lawyer, you won’t know how long alimony payments should last. Generally speaking, alimony payments should last:
· Half the length of the marriage for marriages under ten years. If you were married for six years you can expect alimony payments to last for three years.
· Between 60-70% of the length of marriage for marriages that lasted longer than ten years. If you were married for twenty years, you can expect alimony payments to last up to fourteen years.
If you’re the one who should receive alimony, you’ll have a hard time convincing your spouse to pay you for the proper duration of time without a lawyer.
2. Emotions will get in the way of negotiating fair child support
In addition to alimony, child support is another financial obligation with intricacies only a lawyer is qualified to tackle.
Negotiating child support payments is treacherous territory for anyone without a lawyer. Child support is also intertwined with child custody issues and should always be left to legal counsel. Even if you do manage to come to an agreement regarding child support payments, without a court order your agreement may not be easy to enforce.
Getting a court order for child support makes payments easier to enforce and adds financial consequences for nonpayment. For example, if the paying parent misses enough payments, the court will garnish that parent’s wages. Fines can also be imposed and liens can be placed on property.
3. Mistakes can push your divorce back
It’s not uncommon for a divorce to take years to complete. Since the legal system is complex, you can’t afford to risk making errors that can set you back further. For instance, if you fill out the paperwork incorrectly or omit one piece of information, your case could get pushed back for months while the court attempts to contact you to resolve the issue.
4. Splitting assets isn’t as easy as you think
You don’t want to try to split assets with your former spouse without a lawyer. If you think it’s going to be easy, think again. Someone will always feel shorted and cheated no matter how you split your property.
A divorce lawyer will help you split assets equitably, which doesn’t always amount to an even split. For example, say one spouse makes $300,000 per year while the other spouse makes $20,000 per year. A lawyer will probably give more property to the spouse who makes $20,000 per year in an attempt to make the split equitable.
5. You’ll miss out on filing obscure claims
Few states have ‘homewrecker’ laws, but North Carolina happens to be one that does. Fox 6 reports that under this law, a spouse can sue another person for “purposefully interfering with the marital relationship.” That’s exactly what a man from Raleigh, NC did. After his divorce, he sued his former spouse’s lover and won a $750,000 judgment.
Lawyers know the law
No divorce will be easy, but it will be less stressful with a lawyer on your side. Don’t try to navigate the court system on your own. A divorce is considered a lawsuit and you need an attorney by your side.
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