When Should I Contact a Lawyer If I am Considering a Divorce?

If you think that you may be considering a divorce or legal separation, it is advisable to contact an experienced family law attorney or Certified Family Law Specialist at the earliest possible stage to put you in the best position to understand the divorce process, the legal procedures and the practical implications for your life over the coming months.

There are many reasons to obtain sound legal advice before you take any other steps toward divorce. Some of those reasons are:

  • To get advice regarding your rights and how best to protect them at the earliest stage possible.
  • To learn about the legal significance of the date of separation, and what it means in a practical sense regarding your rights to both separate and community property.
  • To understand what domestic violence is, and is not, and its implications for your particular proceeding.
  • To learn about potential amounts of child or spousal support that you could be paying or receiving.
  • To become acquainted with the law regarding custody of minor children and possible parenting schedules.
  • To obtain practical tips on next steps that may prove critical to the outcome of your case, such as gathering necessary financial documents and ensuring access to funds in the interim before a support order may be obtained.
  • To determine if it is advisable to remain in the marital residence and whether that is a feasible course of action.
  • To prevent destruction, and ensure retrieval of important data, including computer hard drives and other digitally-stored information.
  • To avoid making missteps that could potentially jeopardize your interests, perhaps significantly, in the coming legal proceeding.
  • To become acquainted with the various paths to a resolution, including litigation, mediation and the collaborative process.

Unfortunately, most people learn about divorce in the worst possible way – they listen to the war stories told by their friends and family. This source of information often proves to be misleading and counterproductive. No two divorces are the same. The facts in your friend’s case may be very different from the facts in your case, and thus it would be unwise to rely on the friend’s outcome as a reliable predictor of your individual outcome.

Better to have an early consultation with an experienced family law attorney at the first inkling that a divorce or legal separation may be in your future. This same suggestion holds true for any possible family law litigation, including post-judgment matters.

While many individuals or agencies offer “divorce services,” the adage, “you get what you pay for” is most applicable in choosing the appropriate professional to assist you at one of the most difficult periods you will face during your lifetime.

You are best served to find a seasoned attorney, preferably one who specializes in family law who can assist you in navigating a path through the divorce process to ensure that you are protected and informed at each stage of the proceeding, including the all-important period prior to any action being taken.

It is well worth the price of an hour-long consultation with an experienced family law attorney to learn your rights and to have all of your questions answered at the earliest possible stage.

Paula Swensen

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