Family & Divorce Lawyer
Forty to fifty percent of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. In 1969, California was the first state to legalize no-fault divorce. In 2010, New York was the last of the fifty states to approve it. No-fault divorce does not require any evidence of wrong-doing on the part of either spouse. Although divorce is a difficult emotional decision, in terms of the law, it can easily be granted under a no-fault divorce ruling.
Divorce in the United States is in accordance with state law rather than governed extensively by federal regulations. A divorce lawyer specializes in civil law. This field can be saturated with emotions and life-changing decisions. Therefore, a divorce lawyer must delicately yet justly handle a wide variety of family law issues from divorce, marriage annulment, and legal separation to child custody, child support and visitation rights. They are also called divorce attorneys or family practice lawyers.
A divorce can take three to twelve months to finalize. However, it depends on how the divorce is filed. It may be a fault or no-fault divorce, contested or uncontested divorce or simplified divorce. The many legal issues to settle and the amount of conflict to mediate influence the time frame.
- Educational Requirements
There are no specific educational requirements for a divorce lawyer however, some courses are advised. Law school attendance and passing the bar examination is compulsory. With an interest in divorce law, a law student may select courses in family law to help him specialize in child custody issues, family dysfunction and property rights. While pursuing a Juris Doctorate (J.D.), a law student can receive a certification in family law. In addition, certain law schools offer a Master of Law (LL.M) in Family Law which would follow the acquisition of a J.D..
- Job Description & Skills Required
When terminating a marriage, many legal aspects must be addressed. A divorce lawyer is responsible for the division of assets and debt among spouses. If there are children involved, a divorce lawyer helps set the terms for child custody and child support. Thorough research is required in order to gather supporting evidence in each case. Detailed paperwork must be compiled and then submitted to the court documenting the evidence. For legal separations, a divorce lawyer carries out the separation through court orders.
A divorce lawyer must excel in a few unique skills. They have to be an attentive listener because the decisions made in or out of court will greatly affect their client’s lives. Although it may be difficult, it is vital a divorce lawyer remains non-judgmental to assist them in promoting their own client’s best interests. Their interpersonal skills must be strong because they are dealing with a variety of relationships in their profession. Advocacy, mediation and alternative dispute resolution skills should be acquired and mastered in law school as well as through continual work experience in the field.
The cheapest way to get a divorce with a child
The cheapest way to get a divorce with a child involves both you and your spouse to remain cordial, and be ready to compromise on several issues. Property division and child custody, which are the main battle fronts in most divorce proceedings.
To get a cheap divorce, you can start the process online and minimize the number of professional services you contract. In order to get the cheapest divorce possible, you must make sure that both you and your spouse are willing to work together and your divorce is uncontested.
Even if you plan on representing yourself, divorce can be expensive. However, there are ways to make it cheaper or even divorce with no money.
Here are some tips to go about it:
- Divorce fee waiver
Each state has an indigent fee waiver that allows you to file for your divorce without paying the filing costs. When you go into your local court, ask the court’s clerk what forms you need inorder to waive the fees. This option is only available and designed for those with limited finances while filing for divorce.
- Getting divorce forms
You can get the divorce forms online from the local divorce court site or use a service like mydivorcepapers.com we highly recommend. You can also download the form for asking for a fee waiver. Some sites have instruction booklets that help users in filling the forms. If you can easily access the courthouse, then the clerk can help you with the forms and instructions for filling them.
- Provide financial proof of indigence
Include proof of your income, debts, and tax returns to prove to the court that you cannot afford the court fees. You will then get the forms notarized by your bank or the court clerk.
Once the is done, the court will review your applications and once the fee waiver is approved or deferred, you can move forward with the case. You can simply file a settlement or make a court appearance together and tell the judge what you have agreed on. If the divorce is uncontested, then your ex-partner does not need to appear in court, this will be a quick process and much cheaper on both of you.
Here is a list of the 9 things you should never do during a divorce:
1. Don’t forget to consult an attorney.
A lawyer can make sure that you both review and understand anything before you sign or agree. An experienced family law attorney is often a good idea for situations where the divorcing couple has a large amount of assets, property or other complicated financial matters. In more contentious divorces, an attorney can make sure that your interests are represented in court. Even in a “friendly” divorce you are often better off hiring a lawyer to help file paperwork and guide you through the court system.
2. Don’t neglect your finances.
If you’re thinking about divorce, you need to immediately begin to set aside money for the all the expenses involved. Make copies of all your financial documents and legal records before your divorce proceedings begin. These documents should include bank and investment statements, wills, trusts, tax returns, property deeds, insurance policies and vehicle titles to name a few. Keep these copies in a secure location not accessible by your ex.
3. Don’t immediately tell everyone you are getting a divorce.
Emotions are running high, it’s perfectly normal to want to let others know what’s going on in your life. You may desperately want support, you may not want to suffer in silence, or you may just want to punish your partner and embarrass them. This doesn’t mean that you have to keep your a divorce secret from everyone, you just need to decide who you tell and why.4. Don’t use your children as pawns.
This should go without saying, but unfortunately, it still happens, even unintentionally. Check your own behavior and don’t use your kids to punish or manipulate your spouse. In the end, this will cause resentment and have a negative impact on the relationship you have with your children.
5. Don’t take divorce advice from family and friends.
It’s only natural that those close to you want to provide support during this time. Everyone wants to share their experiences, offer opinions and give advice. Your family and friends may have good intentions, but their divorce experience is based on the facts and circumstances that are unique to them and may not apply in your situation. Let these friends and relatives be there for you emotionally, but if they offer financial or legal advice about your divorce, politely say “No thank you.” Your future is too important.
6. Don’t do anything you’ll regret later.
While it is normal for you to feel conflicting emotions making the end of your relationship into a bad reality show is never a good idea. Act like everything you say, do, post, tweet, text or snap will immediately be posted on YouTube. Don’t take your negative emotions feelings out on your children, pets, or personal property. Don’t self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. Don’t rant or fight with your ex on social media. At best, these things could be used against you during the divorce proceedings, at worst you could land on the wrong side of the law or lose visitation rights.
7. Don’t jump into another relationship.
This is not the time to start a new romantic relationship. If you already have, consider putting it on hold. Even if you and your spouse no longer live together, in some states a relationship outside of marriage can become an issue during the divorce process. With all of the changes going on in your life, avoiding any type of romantic relationship is often the best thing to do for your emotionally.
8. Don’t focus so much on the little things that you forget what’s important.
In a contested divorce, you are likely to accumulate thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees because your lawyer must spend an enormous amount of time preparing the case and filing paperwork. You may be angry but remember the more you and your spouse argue over issues or items, the more you pay in attorney’s fees. Concentrate on what really matters, and focus on that. Leaving a decision up to a third party often means you end up not getting what you really want, and with a gigantic legal bill to boot.
9. Don’t put your friends in the middle.
Having a couple close to them end their marriage can bring up mixed emotions in your friends as well. They will often feel awkward and uncomfortable around you or your ex. Let them know that this is okay, and that you understand. It’s not fair to demand that your friends take sides. It’s up to your friends–not you–whether or not they will continue to stay friendly with your ex. Respect the choices that they make, even if you don’t agree with them.
Ten Things You MUST Do Before You File for Divorce
- Be Certain You Want to Get Divorced
While this may seem obvious, the decision to get divorced is an emotional one, and shouldn’t be made when you’re feeling overly emotional. Make sure you’ve exhausted all hope of reconciliation before you file for divorce. Once you’ve served your spouse with divorce papers, it can be difficult to go back on that decision, even if you’ve changed your mind. The court can grant a divorce even if only one spouse wants to end the marriage. If you’d still like to give marital counseling a try, do so before you file for divorce.
- Interview Attorneys
It’s a good idea to interview more than one attorney before you decide to file for divorce. You’ll want to work with an attorney that fits your style, and understands your goals for litigation. Avoid lawyers who offer you solutions before listening to the particular facts of your case. Attorneys come at different price points and experience levels. If your divorce is likely to be messy or deals with specific types of assets, be sure your attorney is qualified to handle your particular case. For more information, see What to Look for in a Divorce Lawyer.
- Gather Financial Documents
Divorce cases depend heavily on documentation. Your financial account records, phone records, mortgages, and car notes are all likely relevant to the divorce. To the extent possible, gather all the documents you’ll need for your case before filing for divorce. If you and your spouse have a shared file of paper records in your home, make copies of everything before meeting with your attorney. It’s also smart to obtain records of your shared online accounts. Not all spouses react well to being served with divorce papers, and some will make it difficult to access documents after you’ve filed. Save yourself potential future headaches by getting your hands on the documents ahead of time.
- Determine Your Goals for Custody
If you have children, their custody situation is probably at the forefront of your mind when getting a divorce. You should know that, absent extreme circumstances, you and your spouse will end up sharing custody of the children. It’s a good idea to sit down and carefully review your work schedule, your children’s schedule, and your other obligations and come up with your desired schedule for custody. If you can come up with a arrangement that gives both you and your spouse time with the children, you’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of most people who file for divorce.
- Make Necessary Purchases or Sales
In most jurisdictions, the judge automatically issues an order at the beginning of your divorce case that prohibits you or your spouse from selling, buying, or otherwise encumbering or disposing of any marital property. Courts do this to prevent either spouse from draining the bank accounts, or dissipating the marital estate out of spite.
If you’ve long been meaning to upgrade your car, or sell a rental property, you’ll be prevented from doing so if you file for divorce first. While it’s not appropriate to drain the bank accounts before filing for divorce (as that can come back to bite you), if you have a legitimate sale or purchase that’s been in the works, it’s best to complete it before filing for divorce.
- Figure Out Your Living Situation
Do you want to stay in the same house with your spouse during the divorce? Do you plan to move elsewhere? Do you want your spouse to move out? Decide what your goals are for your living situation, both during and after the divorce. How you behave in the weeks and months leading up to your divorce can affect your chances of winning use of the marital residence during the divorce. For example, moving in with a relative or friend in the weeks leading up to your divorce won’t help your chances of staying in the residence during the divorce. Speak with your attorney about how to best position yourself for the living situation you desire. Click here to find out more about housing issues during divorce.
- Talk to an Attorney About Joint Bank Accounts and Credit Cards
Depending on how you and your spouse handle your joint financial accounts and credit cards, your attorney may advise you to close the accounts or leave them the same. You don’t want to be in a situation where your spouse has the ability to run up bills in your name or drain the bank accounts – both circumstances may take the entire divorce to sort out. Your attorney can best advise you about whether you should divide the accounts in half, close them, or leave them the same before filing for divorce.
- Don’t Live Like You’re Single
Even if your marriage is for all intents and purposes over, refrain from living the single life prior to filing for divorce. In most jurisdictions, even if you and your spouse are living separately, having a romantic relationship with another person is still considered adultery. Additionally, a judge may consider money you spend on a paramour dissipation of the marital estate, and could require you to reimburse your spouse for those expenditures. In any case, it typically doesn’t help your case to have started another relationship before your divorce has been filed. In some states you can begin a relationship after filing for divorce; speak with your attorney about how the court will view dating before your divorce is complete. See Divorce and Dating for more information.
- Prepare a Marital Balance Sheet
You can’t decide your financial goals for your divorce without having an accurate picture of your assets and debts. While it’s not usually necessary to hire an accountant prior to filing for divorce, it’s a good idea to put together a simple balance sheet showing all of your assets and debts. Include real property, cars, retirement accounts, bank accounts and other assets, as well as any mortgages, notes, credit cards, and other debts. This can give you an idea of what you and your spouse will split, and you can start working on your desired division of the marital estate. Determining your total assets can also help you set a budget for how much to spend on your attorney and the divorce litigation.
One often overlooked aspect of divorce is the emotional toll it may take on you and your family. Just as important as hiring an attorney and obtaining relevant documents is surrounding yourself with people who can help you through this difficult time.
- Develop a Support Network
One often overlooked aspect of divorce is the emotional toll it may take on you and your family. Just as important as hiring an attorney and obtaining relevant documents is surrounding yourself with people who can help you through this difficult time. If you have the financial means, it can help to speak with a therapist or other mental health professional. At the very least, speak with friends who have been through divorce. Let your family and friends know that you’ll be leaning on them for advice and moral support. Being emotionally stable will better prepare you to make smart decisions as your divorce progresses.
Do You Need a Lawyer to Get a Divorce?
When it comes to divorces, most people want to get through
them as quickly as possible. Since the majority of the states accept no fault
divorces, you can quickly and easily get through the entire divorce process
within a matter of hours or days, depending on your state’s requirements.
However, just because you can get through a divorce quickly and without hiring
a lawyer does not mean that you should. The answer to, “Do you need a
lawyer to get a divorce?” depends primarily on your situation when you
begin to seek the divorce.
Times When You May Not Need a Lawyer
A lawyer isn’t necessary for a divorce when you have no marital assets or children. Oftentimes, this comes up when you’re getting an annulment or when you’ve been married for only a short time. The quickest routes through divorce court involve relinquishing all of your rights for equitable support, as well as spousal support. If you don’t want these things, then you don’t need a lawyer. All you need are the forms, which you can generally obtain from your local courthouse or clerk’s office.
Times When You Do Need a Lawyer
Whenever children are involved, you will want to have a lawyer assist you with the agreement. In some states, the court may even provide legal assistance. All states have some variation on a “best interests of the child standard,” meaning that the primary focus in the divorce will be providing for the children. Your rights as a parent could be severely restricted, or you may find yourself in a difficult position. Whenever you have assets in the marriage to be divided or want spousal support, you will also want a lawyer. You should also get a lawyer if your spouse decides that she wants any of these things, since you could easily find yourself losing just about everything.