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Hiring a Divorce Lawyer – What you Need to Know

Marriage – sever or salvage?

Men and women who have spent at least five to ten years together know that there’’s a lot at stake when a marriage has to break up. The tendency of most divorcing couples who still have a shred of love and affection for each other is to salvage their marriage. There are good reasons for it:

  • Children (the most important consideration)
  • Assets and property
  • Relationships in the community and with other family members
  • Our ability to love and trust again

There are instances, however, when no amount of counseling or mediation will do the trick and the divorce becomes urgent. Cases of verbal or physical abuse, alcohol and drug dependency and other factors make it crystal clear that a reconciliation of the parties would only make matters worse. Divorce is the only recourse which would give each party the opportunity to start from where they left off and start a new life.

We are aware of how essential it is for every husband and wife who has been profoundly hurt by the marriage to get a new lease on life. There is no turning back and the only thing left to do is for the parties to move on with their own agendas. Everyone deserves a second chance. All human beings deserve a chance to be happy again.

Hiring a Divorce Lawyer – Hollywood Style or Poor Man’’s Divorce?

Divorce can wipe you out. Financially. Emotionally. Physically and mentally. When considering divorce, a lot of logistics preparation is needed, but we also think that mental preparation ranks up there with completing pre-divorce documentation.

The movie divorces you watch among the rich and famous are fairly accurate. When a person can truly afford it, that person will hire the sharpest and most aggressive lawyer no matter how costly the move is. As we said earlier, there’’s a lot at stake, and the wealthy and upper classes have more to lose in a divorce.

You’’ve seen and heard all about them yourself in the tabloids, in the rumor mills of your community. Lawyers acting on behalf of their moneyed clients know that they’’re not the only lawyers on the case. Some clients who don’’t care a wee bit about the costs will hire as many as half a dozen lawyers to wage their battle. And if they don’’t wage the battles like true grit warriors, they get fired on the spot.

Before shopping around for your legal options, you may want to put on your thinking cap and consider:

  • How much you can afford to pay for legal fees and other courtroom costs,
  • How much you want from the communal and joint assets of the marriage,
  • How much you believe your spouse is willing to give,
  • How you want to share the expenses covering the children’’s education, camps, personal effects and health bills,

In brief, if divorce is the only answer, make sure you know how much you can afford to get that divorce. And if you’’re paying for a lawyer, he must obtain the best possible settlement for you. The measure of a skillful lawyer lies in the end product the final settlement.

If you can afford it, by all means go for the lawyer with the ‘“mostest.’” You’’ll need his expertise. Divorce laws are complicated enough, and the procedures can be complex. Just remember that divorce for the wealthy is a high stakes game that can drag for years. Know what you’’re getting into. You don’’t want your lifetime savings and hard-earned assets to dwindle and disappear overnight.

If you opt for a more toned-down divorce the poor man’’s version do your due diligence. Individuals who do not want to spend a fortune on legal bills will sometimes hire a lawyer to undertake just a part of the process. The divorcing couple will then handle all the paper work themselves.

There is what is also called the ‘“collaborative divorce.’” This means that each party has retained the services of legal counsel, but instead of engaging in an all-out battle, they adopt an attitude of ‘“let’’s do this on the basis of friendship and trust.’” In a collaborative divorce, the two lawyers representing each side work as a team and not as adversaries.

Because divorces occur everyday, it has become a commodity in the market place. And a commodity comes in different sizes and shapes. Pamela Weintraub and Terry Hillman (The Complete Idiot’’s Guide to Surviving Divorce, third edition, 2005) say that a divorce can either be:

  • Do-it-yourself divorce (also known as pro per or pro se)
  • Mediated divorce
  • Variations in between the first two

Whether you go for the high stakes game necessitating a battery of lawyers or for the $99.00 divorce you saw in the shop window, Weintraub and Hillman encourage you to think about the choices you make prior to filing for a divorce with legal assistance, because those choices will significantly influence your financial future for decades to come.

Useful Tips

One reason for hiring a divorce lawyer is to reduce the amount of stress one will experience from the act of divorcing itself. Breaking up a 10-year or 15-year union is not as easy as breaking up the relationships we had prior to our marriage. In most of the break-ups we experienced with others before we tied the knot with the chosen one, we simply walked out of the relationship or out of the apartment, bidding our partners adieu. Breaking up with your boyfriend and breaking up with your husband are like comparing apples to oranges. Each has its set of dynamics, and in a marriage, the consequences and the emotional go deeper.

Here are some things to chew on:

The divorce lawyer you hire MUST be experienced in family law practice. Only an experienced lawyer will know how to assess your options. His instincts will tell him what the best course of action is appropriate in your case, and he will provide a range of options with respect to financial assets, child support and custody rights.

Between the two of you, your lawyer will demonstrate more objectivity. A divorce can turbo charge your emotions and when you’’re enveloped in a sea of emotion, you can’’t possibly look at your situation as objectively as a lawyer can.

Your attorney and his staff will be in a better position to sort out the required documentation and swim through red tape. His office has access to resources and tools that you may not otherwise have if you decide to go the DIY route.

An experienced lawyer will draw from proper expertise. If you and your spouse have accummulated assets and other forms of wealth throughout your marriage or have extensive investments and interests here and abroad, an experienced lawyer will know what experts to call on who can shed light on the administrative and financial details that the court will need to evaluate, particularly when it comes to deciding the division of assets and determining issues like child support payments.

An experienced lawyer will obtain the most favorable settlement accords for his/her client. A lawyer who has worked on numerous divorce cases in the past will be able to judge which types of settlements are looked upon as just and fair by the court. They will either encourage their client to ask for more, or ask for less, depending on their predicted outcome, and to a lesser degree, they will know how a particular judge would lean towards the parties.

Where to Look

Experience shows that most people rely on word of mouth when it comes to delicate matters such as divorce. They would much rather have a recommendation from a friend or family member than walk their fingers through the yellow pages.

If they can’’t get a decent recommendation, the next step is to check with their city’’s bar association. They either ask for a recommendation or they can request to consult some lawyer directories or registers. Publications like Martindale- Hubble or CanLaw (Canadian lawyer referral service) will provide names of lawyers and their fields of specialization.

Individuals can also visit the Law Faculty of any large university in their area, members of whom can provide referrals as well.

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