Sadly, there are about two divorces every minute in the United States today, which adds up to more than 875,000 divorces a year. Divorce has become incredibly common, with between 40-50% of first marriages ending in divorce and about 60% of second marriages ending in divorce, according to researchers. Furthermore, most of these marriages end after about nine years. The divorce process can often be long and arduous, particularly if it's a contested divorce. But no matter the situation, virtually all couples will seek out divorce lawyers to aid with the process.
Why Do I Need a Divorce Lawyer?
At the most basic level, you will need legal advice when dealing with a legal problem. If you're seeking child custody rights or have a large amount of assets and property to divide, a divorce lawyer becomes even more necessary to protect each party's interests and to make sure that things are handled fairly.
Divorce can also be a stressful time, and having a divorce lawyer who will handle paperwork, negotiations, and family court proceedings can often relieve some of the anxiety and stress. And if you have been a victim of domestic abuse, you should absolutely seek out a divorce lawyer for protection. This is doubly true if you have children who will also be affected by the divorce's outcome.
And, of course, if your partner has engaged a lawyer for his or her side, it's wise to lawyer up yourself, just in case.
How Can a Contested Divorce Make Things More Complicated?
If you have a contested divorce, then there's going to be conflict ahead. A contested divorce occurs when a partner either does not agree to the divorce or how the divorce should be conducted. For example, they may may feel entitled to more of the assets, refuse to assume debt, alimony, or child support, or fight for more custody than the other party feels is fair.
In these cases, where the interests are not aligned, lawyers are needed to help the two parties come to an agreement. Often, they'll try for a settlement before the case actually goes to court. A ruling from a family court will often hurt one party's interests, as the court's decision will be final. That's why many divorce lawyers will try to help spouses reach a settlement on mutually agreeable terms.
There are a lot of emotional, financial, and legal threads tied up in a contested divorce; hiring a lawyer is essential for navigating these complexities in a rational and sensible fashion.
Are There Other Alternatives Other Than Litigation for Divorce?
So long as the partners can reach an agreement, there is no need for a formal proceeding in court. That's why mediation is often a popular method for divorcing couples who don't want to go to court. A neutral mediator will help the divorcing parties figure out an agreement that covers issues like child custody, visitation, alimony, division of assets, and more. The mediator will have a thorough understanding of family law and must not be aligned with either party. Lawyers should still be consulted during the mediation process, especially before the final settlement is signed. Mediation can help keep legal costs down and resolve a divorce in a more peaceful manner, which benefits your future relationship with an ex-partner. If you were hoping to keep your relationship civil or become good co-parents, then this is often the ideal path to take.
Likewise, a collaborative divorce requires two lawyers who can work out a divorce agreement on behalf of their respective clients. Instead of a mediator, each lawyer argues for your best interests. However, if the agreement is not reached, both of the attorneys have to leave the case and new attorneys must be found before you can try again.
Just as every relationship and marriage is different, every divorce will also be different. Depending on the marriage - and why it's ending - you'll take a different approach to divorce. However, if you want someone to look out for your interests, then you should speak with a divorce lawyer as soon as possible.