The Divorcerer Speaks:  Top 5 Reasons to Hire a Divorce Attorney

Often times, friends and prospective clients alike ask the question, “Why do I need to hire a divorce attorney?”  In these instances the parties are usually amicable and have worked out the settlement terms of their divorce on their own and feel like since there are unlimited resources online, including forms, books and documents that they could be in a position finalize the entire divorce process without an attorney.

Here are the top 5 reasons to hire a divorce attorney:

  • Professional education of the law – it is a J.D. degree, after all. Knowing the details of the law, which can include local, state and federal statutes, supreme court rules, county laws and filing processes and procedures can be very helpful in mitigating the risks and spotting the issues that will most likely come up down the line.  An attorney should also know the right questions to ask in order to provide legal guidance and clarifications in regards to the settlement terms reached and how they can be implemented and subsequently enforced.
  • Experience and expertise in family law. Having an attorney draft the documents, including the settlement terms, incident to the divorce should allow clients to avoid pitfalls in court filings, legal processes and procedures.
  • Engagement Letters and Ethics. Attorneys are under very specific ethical guidelines and at the commencement of the attorney-client relationship, you should expect an engagement letter or contract that outlines all of the aspects of the representation, including fee structures, that you should read and understand, with signatures.  In Illinois, you should also receive a “Client’s Rights and Responsibilities” document outlining additional information for consideration in representation.  This contract and document allows for a clear understanding of the rights, responsibilities and obligations of each party as it pertains to the representation and should allow for a smooth management of your case since both parties have an understanding at the onset of the case.
  • Less Stress Usually Means Less Conflict. When you are uncertain of laws, procedures, guidelines or realistic outcomes from settlement, it can be added stress to an already difficult time – the breakdown of the marriage itself.  When turning over the legal aspects of the dissolution of marriage to a professional in the field, you should be selecting someone that you trust who also understands your goals and plans in order to implement a strategy that will work for you.  This should create less stress, which often time leads to less conflict in other aspects of your life.
  • Not having a lawyer can actually cost you more. Many cases are brought to my office after-the-fact, where the level of conflict due to poor drafting, misunderstanding, misinterpretation and countless other issues that arise now creates a case where court intervention is imminent and will be costly.  Often times there were drafting mistakes, items left off or forgotten, vague language, unknown tax ramifications or other well-known pitfalls that will now cost more in time and money to hire an attorney to remedy.  Often times, the issues could have been handled easily at the onset with professional, legal guidance.