If you are getting a divorce, one of your first tasks will be to find someone who can represent you and/or walk you through the process. If you don’t have everything in order and if you don’t have adequate representation, you could end up regretting it for a long time; keep in mind that you’ll be bound to whatever you and your ex decide on. This means that even if you make decisions that are skewed toward one party or the other, nobody will stop you from following through if you do not have a representative. Of all of the options for divorce, the three most popular ways of getting legal help are hiring a private lawyer, going through mediation, and going to a legal resource group. Here are some considerations for each.
Hiring a Private Attorney
If you have the money (more on that later!), your first inclination might be to hire a private attorney. After all, you don’t want to be under-represented in your divorce, so you reason that it might be best to err on the side of over-representation. One problem with this is that it can fan the fires of divorce.
This is the case particularly when you hire an aggressive divorce attorney whose main concern is to get you what they think you deserve, regardless of what your spouse might also deserve. Rather than show your soon-to-be ex that you want to work through the issues that come up through the course of the divorce, you might be showing them that you’re ready to come in with the big guns blazing before giving other options a chance.
Another issue with hiring a private attorney is that it can be very expensive. In fact, an attorney can cost from $15,000 to $20,000 per person, on average. If you cannot afford an attorney, you might be able to get one through legal aid or find one to work pro bono, but most of the time, people who choose to hire private lawyers end up paying for them out of their own pockets.
Going Through Divorce Mediation
A less hostile way of getting through a divorce, particularly if you and your ex are amicable, is to go through the divorce mediation process. In this process, you will both meet with a mediator, who will walk you through all of the decisions that need to be made. For example, you’ll need to decide who will live in the house and how much that person will pay to buy out the other, how much child support will be, who will have custody of the children, who gets which furniture and household goods, whether alimony will be paid, how to divide retirement funds and other investments, what to do about real estate that you own other than your primary home, and so on. Mediation is typically best for couples who already agree on a lot of these items already.
One potential pitfall with divorce mediation is that the mediator is a completely neutral party. That means that while he or she will walk you through the options, they won’t interject their opinion on whether a particular agreement is fair to both parties. You and your spouse might come up with an agreement that sounds good in theory but will be hard to maintain in practice; once it’s in the divorce decree, however, you will need to stick with the terms. For example, a mother might agree to accept less child support than she’s entitled to from the father of her child, but she might regret that after a few years go by. Similarly, a father might agree to pay more alimony than his ex-wife is actually entitled to; if he were to get remarried a couple years later, however, this could prove problematic.
Mediation is not a bad choice for couples who do agree on most things and who want to avoid hiring a private attorney. The case can usually be settled fairly quickly and inexpensively. Mediation is not without its downfalls, however, and if your divorce is anything other than very amicable, it might not be feasible.
Hiring a Legal Resource Group
A legal resource group, sometimes called a legal advocacy group, is an option for people who are amicable or non-amicable. It’s a group of attorneys and other legal professionals who work together to help their clients learn how to best represent themselves. They will also handle paperwork and storage and will refer their clients to private investigators, parental evaluators, and other professionals that they might need. In addition, a legal resource group will counsel you on what to wear to court and what to expect from the courtroom process if you end up needing to go to trial (which most people who are getting divorced don’t need to do!).
A legal resource group is much less expensive than private attorneys and they will help you work toward your best interests and the best interests of your children if you have them. They’ll talk you through the various options when it comes to the divorce, distribution of assets, child custody, child support, alimony, and more. The legal professionals will help you compile, fill out, and file your paperwork as documents and requests come up.
The vast majority of cases settle out of court, and your group will work with you to help you keep your divorce as amicable as possible. After the divorce is finalized, they’ll still answer your pertinent questions and can store your documents so you can move on with your life unencumbered by boxes of paperwork and bad memories.
Choosing how to go about your divorce is a personal matter that shouldn’t be taken lightly. National Family Solutions is an advocacy group that can help you get the best settlement possible when it comes not only to your divorce and asset allocation but also your children and their custody. Call us today to find out whether your case can be effectively handled by a legal resource group.