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Should I Hire a Divorce Attorney?

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As of 2022, the divorce rate in the U.S. is 2.3 per 1,000 people. While the divorce rate in this country is declining, many couples still face divorce.

When you decide to get a divorce, you can choose how to go through the process. The primary decision is between hiring a divorce attorney or handling it yourself.

Some couples choose to waive hiring attorneys, but is this the right way to handle your case? 

Here are some questions to consider to help you determine if you should hire a divorce attorney.

How Long Were You Married?

The length of your marriage doesn’t necessarily dictate whether you need a lawyer. However, there is a general rule that involves a marriage’s length.

Do-it-yourself divorces work well for short marriages. Conversely, hiring a divorce lawyer is better for long-term marriages.

Couples with short marriages generally don’t have enough time to acquire things as a couple. Thus, ending the marriage is much easier.

On the other hand, couples with lengthy marriages often have joint assets or debts. As a result, ending the marriage is more complicated, causing these couples to seek legal help. 

Do You Meet the Grounds for Annulment?

An annulment ends a marriage just like a divorce, yet it’s different. However, a lawyer is helpful for both. 

You can hire lawyers for annulment if you want to annul your marriage. These lawyers specialize in ending marriages through annulment vs. divorce. 

Of course, divorce law varies by state, but most states allow couples to seek an annulment if they meet one of the following conditions:

  • Invalid marriage license
  • One of the spouses was married to someone else on the wedding day
  • One of the spouses was under the influence when the wedding occurred
  • Fraud took place, causing the couple to wed

Getting annulled ends the marriage as though it never happened. With an annulment, you don’t have to say you’re divorced. Instead, you can legally say you were never married.

On the flip side, you must consider yourself “divorced” if you use a traditional divorce. 

Do You Have Mutual Assets or Debts?

Assets and debts complicate a couple’s divorce, but there are options. 

First, do you have a prenuptial agreement that outlines how to split these things? If so, you might need to hire an attorney to draw up the divorce arrangement.

You might also need an attorney to handle disputes over the prenuptial agreement. 

Secondly, if you don’t have a prenuptial agreement, do you agree on how to divide things? For example, can you and your spouse agree on how to split the assets and debts?

After all, you might not need to pay for an attorney if you agree on everything. However, you might need one if you can’t agree on how to divide your things.

One of the primary duties of a divorce attorney is to help couples reach agreements.

Do You Share Kids?

Couples with children typically hire lawyers when they can’t agree on how to split the kids. For example, some couples both decide to fight for custody rights. In these cases, both spouses need attorneys.

Hiring the best attorney is essential for a custody battle. This is because custody battles take time and money. In addition, they can be highly complex in many cases.

For example, the fight often begins with determining who gets custody rights. Next, it moves on to fighting over support payments. 

Thus, opting out of an attorney is more common for couples without children. This is especially true for couples without kids or assets. 

Will You Request Spousal Support?

Spousal support is another factor that affects a divorce case. Some states call this alimony, but both mean the same thing.

Spousal support is something one spouse requests from the other. This money helps the lower-income earning spouse continue with the same lifestyle after the divorce. 

Most divorcing spouses won’t willingly agree to pay spousal support to the other. Thus, you’ll need an attorney’s help if you want spousal support payments. 

Your attorney can help you prove why you need it. They can also ensure that you get enough money for it. 

Did Your Spouse Hire a Divorce Attorney?

As you and your spouse discuss getting divorced, you might ask if they hired a lawyer. After all, you’ll need one if your spouse has one. 

If you both hire one, you’ll have an even playing field. Otherwise, you’ll be fighting alone against your spouse and their lawyer.

You can ask your spouse if they’re hiring one. Then, you can decide if you should. 

Have You Considered All the Methods for Divorces?

Finally, it’s wise to consider all the divorce methods available before determining if you need an attorney.

As discussed, annulment is one option for a divorce. Couples using this option need a good lawyer to handle the annulment. 

Another option is mediation. Mediation can involve lawyers but only sometimes. Through mediation, couples meet with a neutral third party who helps them settle their divorces. 

Of course, couples can also file for divorce themselves. You can call these DIY divorces, and these are the most affordable option.

But DIY divorces are not the best option for most couples. They work well for short-term marriages without assets, debts, or kids. 

The most common method is the lawyer-against-lawyer approach. This type of divorce requires two separate lawyers, one for each spouse. The lawyers battle it out, each fighting for their client. 

DIY or Attorney: You Decide

After considering these questions, you might have the answers you need. While DIY divorces work well for some couples, others hire a divorce attorney for help. But you can decide which is best for your situation.

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