When the decision has been made to end a marriage, one of the most important next steps is to hire an attorney. While there is no legal requirement that you do so, there are a number of benefits to hiring a divorce attorney that you should consider before deciding to go it alone through the divorce process.
Why the DIY Route Isn’t for Everyone
In today’s internet age you can find almost anything with a few clicks of your computer keyboard, including legal forms. Unfortunately, the fact that these forms are readily available leads far too many people to rely on them –to their detriment. There are some divorces that can be handled pro se (without an attorney) using DIY legal forms; however, the risk of relying on these forms is usually not worth the money you save by not hiring an attorney. As a general rule, if any of the following apply, you should not go it alone:
- You have minor children from the marriage
- You have assets that need to be divided
- You have debts that need to be divided
- You are asking for spousal support (or the other party is requesting it)
- You entered into a prenuptial agreement prior to the marriage
Why You Benefit from an Attorney Even If You Agree on Everything
A common misconception is that if you have reached an agreement with your spouse regarding the terms of the divorce that you don’t need an attorney. Once again, most of the time this simply is not the case. At a bare minimum, you should have an experienced divorce lawyer review the agreement you have reached with your spouse before signing the agreement. All too often, one party to a Marital Settlement Agreement signs the agreement because they want the divorce done and over with only to find out after the fact that their rights were not protected in the agreement. A form cannot provide you with legal advice, nor can it explain your rights to you – both of which you should understand before agreeing to a settlement. In addition, there may be issues that you and your spouse overlooked in your settlement negotiations that only an experienced divorce attorney will know to address. It is considerably more expensive to go back and fix a divorce settlement after the fact than it is to make sure it covers everything when submitted to the court.
Navigating the Legal System
Most people who go through a divorce are new to the legal system. Navigating that system under the best of circumstances can be frustrating and confusing. Trying to do so when you are also dealing with the emotional and practical impact of a divorce certainly does not qualify as the best of circumstances. Having an experienced attorney on your side means that you do not need to worry about procedures and court rules. Instead, you can concentrate on other aspects of your divorce that undoubtedly require your attention.
The Emotional Impact of Divorce – and How an Attorney Can Help
The bottom line is that divorce is not easy – even when you are certain that you are doing the right thing. Divorce has an emotional impact on everyone involved, and that impact can have a domino effect. When you are also faced with handling the legalities of your divorce on your own, in addition to dealing with the emotional impact, it can become too much. It makes you much more likely to overlook an import step in the process or to accept terms that you really should not accept, just to get the divorce done. Hiring a divorce attorney allows you to focus on your emotional state of mind and on moving forward while your attorney handles the legal steps necessary to end your marriage.
Contact a Tennessee Divorce Attorney
If you are contemplating divorce in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced divorce attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.