Do I need a lawyer to get a divorce?
A do-it-yourself divorce is possible in Washington. However, having a divorce lawyer makes the process easier and less stressful on your family. Furthermore, lawyers can protect your assets and rights to child custody and alimony.
Types of Difficult DivorcesEven though Washington is a no-fault divorce state, the cause of your divorce can matter in determining how complicated your case will be. Divorces caused by adultery or physical and/or verbal abuse can be difficult and can easily turn into more arguments and stress without a lawyer helping calm everyone down and move things along.
Divorces with minor children to consider are always more difficult because the parents must determine a custody agreement, parenting plan, and child support.
If you have significant assets such as property, vehicles, high-value collections, and financial accounts, dividing these assets can become very complicated very quickly. High-wealth divorces tend to get complicated due to property valuation and division, and a lawyer can help ensure division is fair and truthful.
Divorces that Do Not Need Legal HelpIf you had a relatively short marriage without many co-mingled assets, you may be able to handle divorce on your own. As long as you and your spouse are in agreement regarding the terms of the divorce and have no minor children, you can typically handle a simple divorce like this without legal intervention. However, if disagreements come up while in the divorce process, you always have the right to hire a divorce lawyer after you have begun the divorce.
The Benefits of a Lawyer in Any Kind of DivorceWhen you hire a lawyer to represent you during your divorce you can relax, a little more knowing that someone has your best interests in mind. Lawyers are especially important in divorce cases involving abuse, because the abused spouse and children will need to ensure their safety and protection from the ex. A divorce lawyer can negotiate for termination of visitation from an abusive parent or put a restraining order on a combative spouse.
In a divorce with a large amount of high-value assets such as a personal business or multiple investment properties, you will need experts to evaluate and divide these assets. Your lawyer can find a business valuation expert or real estate appraiser to make the estimates used in dividing these assets. Your lawyer can also connect you to professionals regarding dividing a married business partnership.
When to Contact a LawyerIf your spouse has already retained a lawyer, you should do the same. You do not want to be at a legal disadvantage when going into property division or child custody negotiations.
Divorces that begin with lawyers already supporting the spouses typically go faster and easier than divorces where the spouses bring lawyers into the situation after the proceedings have begun. The sooner you get your lawyer involved in your case, the more familiar they can get with your situation and desired outcomes.
If at any point in your divorce you feel that your spouse or the courts is taking advantage of or bullying you, or you fear that you will lose important assets or control of your children, it is time to talk to a lawyer.