Why and When You Need a Divorce Lawyer

When a marriage is ending, it can be tremendously difficult to deal with both the emotional trauma and your fears about how life will go on after a divorce. The legal guidelines surrounding divorce lead to additional concerns. Questions like "do I need a divorce lawyer to file for divorce?" and "what can a divorce lawyer help me with?" are common, along with many others.

Do I need a divorce lawyer?

When You Need a Divorce LawyerIn many cases, speaking with a qualified divorce lawyer about your legal options and how the divorce process works can reduce some of that anxiety. A divorce lawyer can also advise you on how best to protect your rights and interests, especially if you and your spouse don't agree about how to resolve your divorce settlement.

When should you talk to a divorce lawyer?

  • You want to get divorced.
  • You think you want to get divorced, but want to know what your options are.
  • You have been served with divorce papers.
  • Your spouse is talking to a divorce lawyer.
  • You think your spouse wants a divorce and may be intentionally hiding or spending your marital assets.

Why talk to a divorce lawyer?

Divorce is a process that, at the end of the day, dissolves a legal partnership between two people. The kind of legal representation you need when faced with a divorce depends on the complexity of that partnership.

The more complex your divorce, the greater your need will be for legal representation to protect your rights and interests. Considerations when evaluating how complex your divorce case will be:

  • Assets and Property. The more property you and your spouse own, the more complex it will be to value and divide those assets. This can include savings, real estate, investments, retirement, business interests, and so on.
  • Children. If you and your spouse have minor children together, you will need to resolve child custody issues in your divorce either through negotiations or trial.
  • Support. The necessity of financial support of a spouse (alimony) or minor children ( child support) can dramatically increase the complexity of your divorce.

You need to make sure you fully understand what you are agreeing to.

Often, the "quickie" or cheap, do-it-yourself divorces you see advertised can result in a settlement agreement that you may not fully understand. If you've agreed to something unknowingly, divorce settlements and parenting plans can be difficult and expensive to modify after the divorce is final, and you'll end up having to hire a lawyer anyway.

The services of a qualified divorce lawyer at the beginning can help ensure that you don't agree to anything you don't understand - it's their job to explain to you what the legal documents mean before you sign.

You may have legal issues to resolve that you aren't aware of.

A lawyer can make sure that your divorce settlement addresses every issue pertinent to your situation, both big and small. During a do-it-yourself divorce process, people often overlook issues like future college costs for children, tax issues, division of retirement assets, parenting plan contingencies, proper allocation of debts, and other concerns. A divorce lawyer will be able to identify and ensure that your divorce settlement addresses all the issues.

Is it ever safe to divorce without hiring a lawyer?

If your marriage lasted a very short time (a year or two) and you and your spouse have no children, are not pregnant, have minimal assets (less than $30,000), no major debt (less than $15,000), and agree on all the terms of the divorce, the risks of divorcing without legal representation are much lower, though still present.

In most cases, however, divorces are not that simple. Consulting with a divorce lawyer can provide a wealth of information you may not have known. Representation from a divorce lawyer can ensure that the divorce settlement you receive will protect you now and well into the future, especially if your case involves property or children.

For more information, contact a McKinley Irvin divorce attorney or read more about how to find a divorce lawyer.


Please be advised that family law cases can be very complex and are different for everyone, based on unique circumstances. The information provided here should not be construed as legal advice in your case.

McKinley Irvin proudly serves Washington State and Oregon with offices in Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma, Puyallup, Vancouver and Portland. Contact our family law offices to set up an appointment with a McKinley Irvin family attorney.

Categories: Divorce
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