Should I get an attorney for my separation/divorce? 21 Answers as of March 30, 2011

I am trying to separate from my husband. I am getting an apartment with my children, and moving from our joint apartment. However he is making it difficult by constantly harassing me daily about it, and the money which I have separated by opening a single account. Do I need to get an attorney?

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L. Smith Legal Help
L. Smith Legal Help | Laura J Smith
I suggest that you do hire an attorney. Depending on your jurisdiction, opening an account in your name and taking money from the joint account is an act that could cause the Court to sanction you. Generally, the marital assets need to remain exactly the same until the Court divides the assets or a settlement is reached. Please know that you moving into your own apartment is allowed. If you are in need of financial support while the divorce is pending, an attorney can Motion to Court for temporary maintenance (if your situation warrants it) and child support. Also, if your situation warrants it, you can ask for an Order of Protection if you truly feel in danger.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 3/29/2011
Fox Law Firm LLC
Fox Law Firm LLC | Tina Fox
Yes you do need a lawyer to protect your legal rights and needs. Call our office today to schedule an appointment for a 30 minute free consultation to discuss your situation and the options of legal sepation vs. divorce.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 3/30/2011
Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
The short and obvious answer is YES. Of course, lets be honest here, if you ask a car dealer if you should buy a new car, or ask the preacher if you should repent, will he ever say NO. But, there is more than meets the eye to your question, which is a very common theme on this forum. The fact of the matter is, whether or not you should hire a lawyer depends on many variables. What do you want to accomplish? What are the assets, debts, issues on child support and custody, can you and your estranged spouse work together to resolve your differences? Do you want to reconcile? Does he? Can you afford to hire a lawyer or more to the point, can you afford not to hire a lawyer? There is no simple answer to your question because there are so many variables. First and foremost, I have a philosophy, I am certain it cost me a certain amount of business, but it also saves me a lot of anguish and personal introspection. If you do not want a divorce, do not file for one. Let me repeat that: If your goal is to get your spouse to go to counseling, ask them to go to counseling, do not file a divorce.

In Texas, a Judge cannot order a party to attempt to reconcile or go to counseling. A Judge can encourage it, many do, but there is no provision in the law that allows a Judge to force a party to do one of these things. Second most important is this: If your spouse hires a lawyer, you will need a lawyer.

While I am only 5'10", I love basketball, so I will use a basketball analogy here. I know quite a bit about the game, the rules, strategies, etc. However, if I were ever privileged enough to play a game of one on one against Jason Kidd or J.J. Berrea (Jason is 6'2" and JJ is 6'0" so at least they have minimal height advantage on me) I may get a few lucky shots and even score a few baskets but I will never win. These are two professionals. They play basketball for a living. By definition, they are supposed to win. The same can be said about a lay person taking on a skilled lawyer. You can be an avid courtroom drama fan, you may even understand some of the rules of evidence. However, at the end of the day, if you play a game against a trained professional you are supposed to loose. That is why they are trained professionals. If you fall into the category of you want a divorce, reconciliation is not an option, and you think you and your spouse can agree to most of the details, this presents a situation where you may get away with neither one of you hiring a lawyer. However, just because you can does not mean you should represent yourself. Particularly when the two of you can hire one lawyer, split the cost and get an uncontested divorce. If you and your spouse agree to all the details - in other words, you both agree the divorce will occur and you have agreed to who gets what property and who pays what bills, who is keeping the house/apartment, etc. Then you have what we call an uncontested divorce. The cost of an uncontested divorce varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction based on court cost - cost are generally in the $300 range, and attorney's rates. I offer a one cost turn key option - it includes court cost, filing fees, notices, drafting, certified copies at the end, submission of the "Austin Form" and withholding orders if applicable, and all closing documents (except QDROs - an order dividing a retirement account - those are extra since I hire another firm to do those if they are needed.) If you do not have an agreed divorce, then refer back to my second point. The law allows you to represent yourself, but that is not always a good idea. While I am certain this did not answer all your questions and may have brought up even more, it does provide you some sort of framework. You can find a lot of answers to your questions you have not asked here on my website.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 3/28/2011
The Davies Law Firm, P.A.
The Davies Law Firm, P.A. | Robert F. Davies, Esq.
You need a lawyer. Please call me before you do anything at all. You have children, and you need to raise them; that means years of being their mother, and you need money measured in tens of thousands of dollars. Their father has to pay his share. I can help you with that. You may be able to send them to college many years from now; again, he has to pay his share. He is harassing you? I can put a stop to it. Give me a call, make an appointment to come see me, and let's get moving on this for you. I know people worry about how expensive a lawyer is, so I am careful to be as inexpensive as I can for my clients. Before you spend a dime, you will know how much this is likely to be.
Answer Applies to: New Jersey
Replied: 3/28/2011
Cody and Gonillo, LLP
Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
If you think you will need legal assistance then you should probably interview different attorneys to see who you feel will best represent your interests. We offer a free initial consultation. Please contact us if you wish to discuss further.
Answer Applies to: Connecticut
Replied: 3/28/2011
    Law Office of Michael E. Hendrickson
    Law Office of Michael E. Hendrickson | Michael E. Hendrickson
    Yes, good idea if you can afford it.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 3/28/2011
    Rice & Co., LPA
    Rice & Co., LPA | Kollin Rice
    I anything but the simplest, most agreeable divorce, you would probably benefit from having an attorney. Even in a simple agreeable one you should probably at least consult with one to make sure that you have considered all the relevant factors and reached an agreement that is comparable to the likely result of a contested divorce. Matters of child custody, support and pension rights can get very involved. In the best of cases, the parties can work out custody and visitation in a way that works for their particular situation, but emotions often impact decisions of support and property division. Many times people have brought agreements to me that involve substantially more or, more often, substantially less support than a court would likely award.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 3/28/2011
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    Most people divorce without an attorney, but that's largely because they can't afford it. There are cheaper ways to hire an attorney.Most give a free consultation. Many will discount their rates if you ask. Manyoffer "unbundled" services which decrease costs.A few are collabortively trained which is a method that often decreases costs.I can't answer your question without knowing more.Schedule some free consultations and see if you hear the same thing. If you and your husband are in agreement, many attorneys will give a flat rate forpreparing the paperwork. If there are differences, you might need to just hire a mediator together. But first, find out what your procedural options are, how the law applies to your facts, and move ahead with knowledge. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 3/28/2011
    Michael Anthony Wing, P.C.
    Michael Anthony Wing, P.C. | Michael Anthony Wing
    I would think getting an attorney to review that would be in your interest.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 3/28/2011
    Goldberg Jones
    Goldberg Jones | Zephyr Hill
    Yes. Whenever children are involved I encourage people to get an attorney. Even if you have an agreement and do it uncontested, you should have an attorney draft the settlement.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/28/2011
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
    You should hire an experienced family law attorney, without delay. You have important rights that need to be protected, and you will be vulnerable without the protection, advice and counsel of your family law attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/28/2011
    Michael Apicella
    Michael Apicella | Apicella Law and Mediation
    If you have a severe illness or injury, should you see a doctor? If you have a legal problem, there is no law that says you must have an attorney. However, it is of course prudent to consult with a lawyer when you have a legal problem, as much as it is wise to see a doctor when you have a serious injury.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/28/2011
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
    I recommend the use of an attorney. I believe that the services of an experienced and qualified attorney can resolve the matter quicker and more efficiently than without one. Please feel free to contact me for a free consultation if you are in my area.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/28/2011
    Steven D. Keist, Attorney at Law
    Steven D. Keist, Attorney at Law | Steven D. Keist
    It is advisable to have an attorney represent you or at the very least have a consultation with an attorney so that you know what you are entitled to.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 3/28/2011
    Edward A. Kroll, Attorney at Law
    Edward A. Kroll, Attorney at Law | Edward A. Kroll
    Yes. In any divorce in which children, property, or money are involved, it is almost always a good idea to have an attorney to protect you and your interests. Doing it yourself can leave many things undone and may not get you the best result.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 3/28/2011
    Attorney Paul Lancia
    Attorney Paul Lancia | Paul Lancia
    It is always to your benefit to have counsel involved. It makes the process swifter, easier and you will move through the system more effectively.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 3/28/2011
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