As well-known divorce lawyers, we have been asked on more than one occasion, “Do I need an attorney to file for divorce?” The answer to this is, unfortunately, not black and white. While an attorney is not required to file for divorce, some divorces are so involved and complex that it is impossible to move forward without the expertise of an attorney. While Georgia does not require that couples hire lawyers when seeking a divorce, getting a divorce attorney might be to your advantage. To decide whether you should hire one, consider the following factors.
Is Your Divorce Contested or Uncontested?
As part of your divorce, a judge will need to untangle a married couple’s financial relationship, as well as decide sensitive issues involving children. In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse agree to the following:
- The reason for the divorce. Georgia allows you to seek a no-fault divorce in which you allege that the marriage has broken down. The state also allows several fault options, such as adultery and desertion.
- Child custody. Some couples divide custody 50/50, but this doesn’t work for everybody. Instead, one parent may get primary custody or other types of custody arrangements depending on the certain circumstances of your divorce case.
- Child support. The state has a formula a judge will use, but you can get more child support for extenuating circumstances, such as a child’s disability.
- Division of marital property. This is property you acquired together while married, not property each spouse brought individually into the marriage.
- Division of marital debts. These are debts you are jointly responsible for.
- Alimony. One spouse can request spousal maintenance to help them get back on their feet or to support them indefinitely.
If you disagree on any of the above issues, then your divorce is “contested.” This means you will submit evidence to a judge, telling him what you want, and the judge will rule. In a contested divorce, you definitely need a lawyer’s help building the strongest case on your behalf.
If, by chance, you and your spouse agree on all of the above, you might be able to file for divorce without a lawyer.
Do You Understand Your Rights?
Even if you agree with your spouse on all the above issues, you can still benefit from meeting with a lawyer. A lawyer can advise you about your rights, which you might be unaware of. For example, do you know if you qualify for alimony? Do you know if you can ask for more child support than the state formula provides? A lawyer can analyze your situation and advise you about your best options for coming out of the divorce in a strong position.
You should also hire a lawyer if you are intimidated by your spouse or fear for your safety. It is very easy to be bullied into agreeing to something that is not in the best interest of you or your children. If you think this is a possibility, reach out to a Georgia divorce lawyer now.
Can You Learn Court Procedures?
If you choose to proceed without a lawyer, then the judge will expect you to meet all deadlines and follow all court rules, just as a lawyer would. Many people are very busy and do not have the time to commit to their cases. In this situation, hiring a lawyer is well worth the price since they can make sure you submit everything to the court in a timely manner.
Call a Winder, Georgia Divorce Lawyer Today
Divorce can be emotionally draining and legally complex. Men and women who try to go through a divorce alone can make critical errors which are impossible to fix once the judge issues the divorce decree. To protect your rights, you need a divorce lawyer in your corner.
Helpfully, Mitchell & Crunk provides potential clients with a free consultation where you can ask any question you want. To schedule your consultation, please reach out to us today.