Hiring a Divorce Lawyer Should Be a Calculated Investment
A couple that decides to divorce often has two goals in mind: 1) finalize the divorce as quickly as possible and 2) accomplish it as inexpensively as possible.
Myriad websites offer do-it-yourself kits so you can file the paperwork on your own in an effort to keep costs low.
Maureen F. Hallahan, supervising judge in the family law division at San Diego Superior Court, told the New York Times in 2014 that about 75 percent of family law litigants don’t have lawyers and instead opt to file the initial paperwork on their own. But then they often don’t file the paperwork properly or don’t know what to do next, so their files can languish for months as a result.
Some California courts created a “one-day divorce” program to help address the legions of DIYers in need of guidance in finalizing their divorce. San Diego implemented its one-day divorce program in March 2014. Under the program, divorcing couples answer questions online to determine whether they qualify to use the program. A family law expert offers advice regarding the types of forms and documentation that must be brought to court.
Those eligible for the program must have already filed a divorce petition and served their spouse with divorce papers, according to the New York Times article. But once that is done and the couple agrees there are no contested issues, the divorce can be finalized in a matter of hours.
Hiring a lawyer can seem like the expensive way to go. After all, studies show that a typical divorce where there are no major disagreements over assets and custody issues can cost a few thousand dollars, while cases with significant disputes can result in a price tag of $25,000 or more. But you’re probably familiar with the saying, “You get what you pay for,” and there is an element of truth to that.
“Hiring a lawyer to represent you doesn’t always mean it will be expensive,” John Griffith says. “An experienced family law attorney knows the ropes and can navigate the process seamlessly. While hiring a lawyer will cost more than an DIY kit, consider that going this route may get your divorce finalized more quickly.”
There also are potential pitfalls involved in DIY divorces that an experienced family lawyer knows must be addressed. The average adult isn’t always well-versed on important elements of divorce, such as:
- Child support, custody and parenting guides
- Spousal support
- Calculating future living expenses following divorce
“People often neglect to consider every issue that comes up during a divorce, so a DIY settlement could result in important issues that go unaddressed and unresolved,” Griffith says.
It’s obvious that not every divorce requires a lawyer. For example, a couple married for a short time with no children and no property very likely can go the DIY or one-day-divorce route and navigate the process flawlessly. But if you have accumulated assets, debt, retirement savings, and minor children are involved, “it’s a good idea to consult an attorney to make sure you cover all your bases,” Griffith says.
Please call us today if you would like to schedule a complimentary consultation. We will work with you to finalize your divorce as quickly, seamlessly and economically as possible.