10 reasons why good divorce attorneys are worth every penny
You might be able to do your divorce by yourself, but that doesn’t mean that you should. Divorce can be a multifaceted legal matter involving property transfers and complex financial accounts. And, most importantly, it will establish the future relationships between you, your spouse, and your children. Hiring a good attorney can make your divorce less stressful, less bitter, and even less expensive.
You only want to do this once. You need to get it right the first time. Hiring a trusted and knowledgeable attorney gives you an advocate, an ally during one of the most difficult times of your life. We know good lawyers can be expensive.
Here are 10 reasons why hiring a trusted and knowledgeable divorce attorney is worth every penny.
Stop worrying about what you don’t know
The unknown is frightening. You don’t know the divorce laws in Colorado. Why should you? Working with an attorney gives you an advocate, an information source, and peace of mind that you don’t have to know the law. If you have a legal question, just call.
Your attorney will also assess your case and tell you what to expect, from how the court is likely to divide your property to your odds of facing a contested hearing. Knowing what to expect before you start reduces the unknown and enables you to determine which legal paths to take. Hiring a lawyer may actual give you more control over your case.
Talk to my lawyer
You can’t stop talking to your spouse entirely, but you can have an intermediary when the fighting begins. Let the lawyers negotiate the settlement agreement and resolve your differences instead of starting a verbal MMA match in the kitchen. If your spouse is being a jerk, don’t confront him or her. Your lawyer is your champion.
Don’t face them alone
Standing in front of a judge is intimidating, even for some experienced attorneys. I can’t imagine how terrifying it is for people outside the legal profession. Even facing a mediator can be chilling; you’re sure she’s judging you. A lawyer will prepare you for a court appearance or mediation and stand with you. Most of the time, the attorney will do 95 percent of the talking.
Get it done
Missed appointments, deadlines, and incorrect paperwork can cause your DIY divorce to actually take longer than if you hire an attorney.
Our support staff are experts in tracking deadlines, court appearances, meetings, and even phone calls. That’s their jobs. They will also complete almost all the paperwork and coordinate with the court and your spouse to schedule court appearances and mediation sessions. We call, email, or text all of our clients with reminders about upcoming appointments and paperwork deadlines.
Is your spouse hiding assets or spying on you?
Your spouse is acting suspicious. You think he’s fudging his financial information and possibly hiding assets. You might not be able to prove it, but a good attorney will find out, and make sure everything gets added to the marital pool the court will divide. This is one way hiring an attorney can actually make you money. And if you think your spouse is spying on you or snooping through your online accounts, your attorney can find out, and make it stop.
Know what each court, clerk, and judge needs
We know courts and judges can all look similar, but believe us, they are completely different. Each court and judge can require different paperwork, schedule hearings differently, even make you attend additional mediation or negotiation conferences. We are in courtrooms all the time, and we talk to other lawyers. If we don’t know a judge’s eccentricities, it’s pretty easy for us to find out. Knowing how to make the judge happy can go a long way in moving your divorce through the system.
This is mine, that is ours
One of the most important ways a lawyer will earn her high legal fees is getting your financials right. And we don’t just mean putting the right numbers in the right boxes on the right forms. Colorado divorce law treats separate property very differently than marital property. Effective legal representation might be the difference between owning the house your parents willed to you, and selling it to pay your spouse his half. You will probably still have to split the amount a separate asset increased in value during the marriage, but what was yours should stay yours.
When it comes to alimony (now called spousal maintenance), proving the standard of living during the marriage, your ability to afford that standard of living after the divorce, and your spouse’s ability to pay are critical steps to setting the right amount and length.
Third, if you or your spouse owns a business, properly appraising the business’s income and worth frequently involves experts testifying in court. It gets more muddled if you and your spouse own a business together.
Are you prepared to address these legal issues in court? Family law attorneys do it every day. We have the technology and experience to handle these complex financial arguments quickly and efficiently.
No excuses, ambiguous agreements, or broken promises
Once you’ve negotiated the financial settlement, parenting responsibilities, and parenting time, it’s important to put it all down in writing. Generally, issues that arise after the divorce is done (known as post decree matters), such as enforcing the terms of a settlement agreement or modifying a parenting plan, are more difficult and more expensive than obtaining the original divorce decree.
It’s much easier to ask the court to enforce these agreements when the agreements set deadlines and specific responsibilities. It also opens the door for the court to award costs and attorneys’ fees.
Your attorney will work with you to set reasonable deadlines for completing any financial transfers and paying any marital debts. She will also prepare all the paperwork to complete the transactions so you will never have to master Qualified Domestic Relations Orders. Believe us, you don’t want to know.
When it comes to parenting responsibilities and parenting time, we can’t stress enough how important it is to have an inclusive and detailed parenting agreement. Besides spelling out daily responsibilities like who picks your daughter up from school if she is sick, the parenting agreement can define your post-divorce relationship with your spouse.
The time you spend with your spouse after the divorce will most likely be related to your kids, such as school events and after-school activities. A detailed parenting agreement determines when those situations will and will not happen.
Knowledgeable family law attorneys will help you see the big picture and provide the small details to ensure that your separation agreement and parenting plan are both comprehensive and specific.
If things change, you’re covered
You are getting a divorce to change your and your children’s future. That’s the whole point. So it’s not hard to imagine that things could change in ways you couldn’t anticipate. Your job and income may change. You may need to move. The same goes for your spouse.
If you have to go back to court, you need an attorney. Post-decree divorce cases are not simply extensions of the original matter. Family law courts can handle post-decree matters in a similar fashion that civil and criminal courts handle appeals. The courts may refuse to address issues they feel are not substantial, and they can require higher standards of proof to modify existing agreements.
If you complete your divorce without a lawyer, hiring an attorney to handle a post-decree matter can be expensive. We estimate that 20-25 percent of the cases we get involve cleaning up family law matters where the parties did it themselves and either missed something important or botched one of the agreements. And our legal fees in these situations can be as much or more than it would have cost to do it right the first time.
Hiring a lawyer from the start can help you avoid going back to court altogether by looking to the future and building contingencies into your settlement agreements, such as designating places where you can relocate without requiring your spouse’s or the court’s approval.
If you do have to return to court, having an attorney from the outset can get the matter completed more quickly and more efficiently, which can mean less expensively. You won’t waste time getting a new attorney up to speed, and you can feel confident that your attorney already knows your case inside and out.
Get it right the first time
The bottom line is that you want your divorce done right, as quickly as possible. You want to minimize the stress, the drama, and the hassle.
You want the financials and parenting issues done right. And you don’t want to go back to court, or hire an attorney, ever again. Ever.
That’s what a good family law attorney can offer you. Call us for an assessment if you are ready to get started, and get it right the first time.