LEGAL GUIDE
Written by Avvo Staff | May 30, 2014

Divorce paperwork review options

When going through a divorce, it can seem like there are endless forms to fill out and papers to file. It is easy to make a mistake, or simply not know if it has been done correctly.

For this reason you may want your divorce paperwork reviewed, and it helps to know why you should have your paperwork reviewed, what paperwork can be reviewed, how to get paperwork reviewed, and what to expect from a reviewing attorney.

Why you should have your divorce paperwork reviewed

You should consider having your divorce paperwork reviewed if you are filing it yourself, or if you are not confident that your lawyer is doing the job correctly. It can be very tempting to file your divorce paperwork by yourself. It saves you the upfront cost of having an attorney do it, and can even feel gratifying.

However, if your divorce involves children, splitting up complex finances and property, or it is hostile, you could be handicapping yourself in the long run. A wiser option than the “do-it-yourself” method is to fill out your own papers, and then hire an attorney to look over them. This will ensure that your have done everything correctly, and that your best interest are protected.

What paperwork can be reviewed

Although many documents may be reviewed, it is especially wise to think about having an attorney review the final divorce decree. The divorce decree is the final step of the divorce and dictates the terms of the divorce, but it may include errors or things you don’t understand. By hiring an attorney to review the decree you are ensuring that what was intended by the judge is carried out legally.

The attorney can also help you file for a divorce decree amendment, which can fix small mistakes such as typos or big ones that could affect you negatively. For a serious problem, most states give you 30 days to review and request a new hearing. After this time period, amendments can still be made, but you cannot have a complete re-trial.

If you already have an attorney, but are concerned about the way they are doing their job, think about getting a second opinion. Getting a second opinion does not make you disloyal to your attorney: it means that you realize the importance of having your needs met in the divorce.

While an attorney is an advocate for you, you personally need to assert you needs and goals. Getting a second opinion and having another attorney review your divorce proceedings can give you not only piece of mind, but key words and even a plan that will help you communicate your need to your existing attorney.

How to get divorce paperwork reviewed

In cases of second opinion divorce reviews, many family law attorneys offer a review service and will keep the fact that they are reviewing your case and papers completely confidential. An attorney can review as much of your file as you bring to them. However, it is recommended that you bring them the entire file.

  • The entire legal file includes the pleadings, the deposition transcripts, all court orders pertaining to the case, and all correspondence between you and your attorney and your attorney and your spouse’s attorney. Having all of this ready will help the reviewing attorney do a thorough job.

  • Remember you can (and should) always ask for copies of all these documents.

  • This new attorney will be looking at your attorney’s claims and judging if they are valid. The will also be looking at your attorney’s interpretation of the law, timeliness of all court filings, and the overall presentation they are preparing.

The best way to find an attorney to review your divorce paperwork is to approach an experienced family law attorney and ask if he or she gives second opinions.

If you end up deciding to switch attorneys, it is best to do it as early on as possible. If you make the switch before the Early Settlement Panel there is no need to motion to change attorneys, and you will not need to pay as large a court fee as you would if you did it later in the proceedings.

What to expect from a reviewing attorney

An attorney reviewing your paperwork can suggest that you stay on your current course, or advise you to seek different or additional legal counsel.

  • If the attorney is reviewing paperwork that you filed, the attorney may foresee a complication that you will need expert help with.

  • If the attorney is reviewing the work of another attorney, he or she might suggest that you clarify your goals with your current attorney, or help you prepare a plan to take to your attorney. Your current attorney does not even need to know you sought a second opinion unless you choose to tell them.

  • The attorney reviewing the case may advise you to seek a new attorney if they believe your current one is not doing a good job. The most the attorney reviewing your case can do it advise you and help you form solid plans.

If you do your own paperwork, consider having an attorney check it for you, and if you are uncomfortable with your attorney, get a second opinion. Having your divorce done right will make the rest of your life a bit easier.

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