Why do I need a Lawyer?
Divorce is challenging– emotionally, mentally, physically, financially, and legally. The cost of an attorney often leads parties to question why one is needed. There can be concern that utilizing attorneys suggests that the parties are being contentious. The question is, why is an attorney needed?
The simple and straightforward answer is that you really have one shot to get this right. I have a niche of potential clients who handled their divorces themselves, wanted to be what they defined as amicable, and prepared and submitted their own paperwork (or used an available form) for court. They hire me after-the-fact to fix what they did or didn’t do. The fixes usually relate to vague language they used, forgotten specifics, or an overall “bad deal” that they regret. I cannot always fix what they did. A property division is generally not modifiable. A waiver of maintenance usually cannot be undone. The damage to their children as a result of an ill-conceived parenting schedule cannot simply be erased.
An experienced attorney can assist the client through the process. This assistance includes identifying issues that the party would not otherwise know to address (such as title alone is not determinative of whether property or debt is to be divided between parties in a divorce; there are specific orders that can be utilized to divide qualified retirement plans between the parties incident to a divorce; there is no presumptive 50-50 parenting time in the state of Colorado). The attorney can refer the client to experts, to best address the issues, such as to provide the value of a pension (not a 401(k) but a true pension), or to look into and recommend what parenting time is in the best interests of that party’s child specifically. The attorney can prepare the final documents, and all documents for that matter, to address each and every issue thoroughly, with specifics about how the terms are to be implemented, and with an explanation to the client as to what can and cannot be accomplished and how.
The attorney will advise them, at each step, as to all the issues that should be addressed in the divorce, and guide them through final resolution to address each and every one of those issues consistent with the daunting law that is controlling in domestic relations cases. Having an attorney does not mean the case is contentious, or not amicable. It means that the party is represented by an expert in the field in order to get through the complicated and challenging divorce process successfully.
Although money is saved upfront when parties do not hire attorneys to handle their divorce, the cost to try to fix what they did/did not do can be very expensive. Each potential client that comes to see me for the “fix it” discussion says, “I wish I would have hired an attorney the first go around.” They are correct. It was their one shot to get it right.