Divorce is a difficult time for both spouses and their families. However, it will be more challenging for you and your family to go through a divorce without the help of an attorney.
You may think that you do not need a divorce attorney, but this is not true. The fact remains that it will be difficult to file for divorce in San Diego without the help of a lawyer. Moreover, an attorney does not just help you file for divorce but also represents your interests during the divorce.
If you intend to file for divorce, you should contact a reputable San Diego divorce attorney. There are many ways a divorce attorney can help you as we will discuss in this blog.
What is a Divorce Attorney and Why You Need One
A divorce lawyer is a professional you hire to represent your interests during the divorce proceedings.
Divorce lawyers are experienced professionals who are adept in the laws of divorce. They will help you settle issues such as child custody, property division, spousal support, and any other matters associated with divorce.
How to Find a Good Divorce Attorney
When planning on hiring an attorney for your divorce, you must choose a lawyer experienced in dealing with divorce cases. You will need to interview several attorneys before hiring one for your case.
Before you hire an attorney for your divorce, consider the following factors:
- Whether the attorney charges a flat fee or an hourly rate
- The attorney's area of specialization
- Whether the attorney has a good reputation
- The amount of experience that an attorney has in complex divorce cases
- The time an attorney will take to complete your case.
In many cases, the lawyer that you first meet will not be the one who ends up representing you in court. You may have to interview two or more attorneys before deciding on whom you want to hire.
Benefits of Hiring a Divorce Attorney
A divorce lawyer can help you file for divorce. He/she will file the appropriate paperwork to initiate a divorce.
A lawyer will also represent your interests during court proceedings. He/she will argue on your behalf and ensure you receive a favorable outcome on each contested issue.
An attorney will also help you collect evidence and witnesses that may be necessary to prove your case. In divorce proceedings, you must show the court that the relationship between you and your ex-spouse has irretrievably broken down. Your attorney can help you prove this.
Moreover, an attorney can help you review your prenuptial agreement. He/she will ensure that you and your ex-spouse follow the provisions of this agreement during the divorce proceedings.
Sometimes, you may decide to enter into negotiations with your ex-spouse. A divorce attorney can guide you through these negotiations and ensure you reach an amicable solution.
During negotiations, you may disagree with your ex-spouse on certain issues, such as division of property, maintenance, and child custody. A divorce attorney will help you get the best possible solution to such matters.
If you end up agreeing with your spouse, your attorney will draft for you the relevant agreements, such as separation agreements, custody agreements, and spousal support agreements. He/she will also develop appropriate mechanisms to ensure that your ex-spouse complies with the provisions of these agreements.
Hiring a divorce attorney is crucial to obtaining a favorable outcome during the divorce. This is because your attorney will do everything possible to protect your interests.
What to Expect After You've Hired a Divorce Lawyer
During your first consultation with a divorce lawyer, you will discuss your situation with him/her. You will explain to him/her the pertinent contested issues in your case, for instance, child custody and support, division of property, and maintenance. Then, your lawyer will advise you on the best steps to take.
For instance, your lawyer may advise you to enter into negotiations with your spouse. Or he/she can draft a post-marital agreement for you. Or, he/she can file for your divorce right away. Your lawyer will not force you to do anything you don't want.
After hiring a divorce attorney, you will be kept up to date with the developments in your case. Your attorney will do this in writing. The communication between you and your lawyer will be through letters, phone calls, emails, or faxes.
If you decide to conduct negotiations with your ex-spouse, your attorney will guide you through the whole process. Once the negotiations are successful, your attorney will draft for you the relevant divorce agreements.
If you choose to file for divorce, you don't have to attend all the court proceedings. Your attorney will attend these proceedings on your behalf. This will enable you to save time.
The divorce process can be long and arduous. It is important to note that you may need your divorce attorney for several years, depending on the circumstances of your case. This is why you must choose a lawyer with whom you feel comfortable working with.
Why you Should Hire a Divorce Attorney instead of Doing it Yourself
One reason you should hire a divorce lawyer is that he/she can help you save time. Remember, if you hire a lawyer, you don't have to attend all the court proceedings. Your attorney will attend these proceedings on your behalf.
Moreover, you don't have to respond to all correspondence from your ex-spouse or his/her lawyer. Your attorney can do this on your behalf.
Also, you will save money by not paying for things you do not need. For instance, your attorney will advise you on which issues are worth paying for full legal representation and which ones you can let your ex-spouse handle.
An experienced divorce lawyer can save you from mistakes that can negatively impact your case. He/she will help you keep track of deadlines and file the necessary paperwork so that everything runs smoothly.
But the most important reason to hire a divorce attorney is that you will avoid making costly mistakes at a sensitive time in your life.
How Long Does It Take to Complete the Divorce Process?
There are two types of divorce proceedings: contested divorce and uncontested divorce. In an uncontested divorce, both spouses have mutually agreed to break up and on pertinent issues affecting their breakup. In a contested divorce, one spouse may dispute the divorce or disagree on certain pertinent issues. Typically, contested divorce proceedings take a much longer time than uncontested divorce proceedings.
Typically, in San Diego, an uncontested divorce takes about 40 days. On the other hand, the length of time it takes to complete a contested divorce depends on the complexity of the divorce issues.
Remember, if your ex-spouse disputes the divorce, you'd have to prove that you have irreconcilable differences with him/her. This means that you may be required to demonstrate the behavior of your ex-spouse during the marriage. For instance, you can adduce evidence showing that he/she was unfaithful or cruel to you. You will need witnesses and evidence in such situations, and you may have to attend numerous court proceedings. Your attorney can do this on your behalf.
The following may also prolong divorce proceedings:
- Your children. Your divorce attorney will work with your ex-spouse to develop and implement a parenting agreement. He or she will take steps to ensure that the child custody arrangement is enforceable, for instance, by getting a court order.
- Your property. If there are issues of division of assets, your attorney will guide you into reaching an amicable agreement with your ex-spouse. If you disagree, your attorney will demonstrate to the Court your level of contribution towards the matrimonial property. This will enable the court to decide on how the property should be divided.
- Your debts. Your attorney will make sure that all financial obligations are settled, for instance, by getting a court order to divide debt.
- Maintenance (alimony). If you file for alimony, you must prove to the court that your ex-spouse was supporting you. You can do this by showing the court your tax and income reports and those of your ex-spouse. Your attorney can help you do this.
If you hire an attorney, you will complete the divorce process much faster. This is because a qualified attorney is familiar with the divorce procedures and has the technical know-how to avoid inevitable mistakes that can prolong the divorce process.
Is Divorce the Only Option for You and Your Family?
If you and your spouse cannot agree on relevant issues that affect your marriage, you may consider getting a divorce. However, before you pursue a divorce, you should consider the following:
- Have you started or finished counseling? Have both of you attended counseling together?
- Have you thought about mediation? Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party helps the spouses work out their differences.
- Have you considered separation? If you and your spouse live in the same home but have decided to separate from each other, you can live in different homes.
- Have you considered marriage therapy? Marriage counseling is a professional process that seeks to resolve marital problems.
Your divorce attorney can help you decide on any of these options.
Critical Roles of a Divorce Attorney During Divorce Proceedings
The following are the vital roles of a divorce attorney during divorce proceedings:
- Protecting your interests
- Facilitating equal division of property between you and your ex-spouse
- Mediation and settlement
- Child custody
- Child support
- Drafting a parental responsibility agreement
- Legal advice and representation during divorce proceedings
Below is a brief analysis of each of these roles:
Protecting your Interests
A divorce attorney will protect your interests in the course of handling the case. He or she can take steps to:
- Ensure that you are treated fairly according to the law, and your spouse follows all rules and procedures as set out by court orders.
- Ensure that none of your rights and fundamental freedoms are infringed in the course of the divorce proceedings.
- Avoid delays that may result from misunderstandings or miscommunication with your spouse, the court clerk, or any other person involved in the divorce.
If a divorce attorney does not represent you, your ex-spouse can take advantage of you. For instance, he/she can fail to comply with court orders.
Facilitating Equal Division of Property Between You and Your Ex-Spouse
A divorce attorney will ensure that all the matrimonial property is equally divided between you and your ex-spouse. He or she will do this by guiding you through related procedures and paperwork in a professional manner.
For instance, your attorney can:
- Help you review your asset holdings, calculate how much value they hold, and how much belongs to you.
- Act as your representative in financial negotiation with your ex-spouse, or his/her attorney
- Negotiate and finalize the property division agreement so that it is in line with your marital property settlement agreement.
If you do not hire a divorce attorney, there is a high likelihood that you may get less property than what you deserve during the divorce settlement.
Mediation and Settlement
Your divorce attorney will help you mediate with your ex-spouse or their attorney. Mediation is a process in which both spouses sit down with a neutral party and try to resolve their disputes.
Mediation is effective for the following reasons:
- Both parties may agree to the terms of the divorce.
- Mediation helps avoid expensive and unnecessary litigation.
- It is a private process that is less emotionally taxing than courtroom litigation.
- It saves time and money.
A divorce attorney can also help you reach a settlement agreement with your ex-spouse. This can be done by helping you and your ex-spouse draft and finalize a Marital Property Settlement Agreement.
If you and your spouse cannot reach a settlement agreement, or if the judge rejects your proposed divorce settlement agreement, your divorce attorney can represent you at the hearing for a final settlement agreement.
A divorce attorney will help you obtain custody of any children you may have with your ex-spouse. He or she can facilitate the process by drafting and filing a petition for custody with the court.
There are two types of child custody:
- Legal custody - you are authorized to make decisions about the welfare and education of your child.
- Physical custody - you have the right to spend time with your child.
If you and your ex-spouse cannot come up with a custody agreement, the court will come up with a ruling based on facts and evidence presented during court proceedings.
A divorce attorney will help you obtain child support from your ex-spouse. He or she will do this by preparing and filing a petition for child support with the court, per California's child support guidelines.
In child support cases, you must prove your child's financial needs, especially if your ex-spouse is disputing the value of the child support. Your lawyer can help you do this.
A divorce attorney can help you get alimony from your ex-spouse. Alimony is financial support paid by one spouse to the other after divorce.
Divorce attorneys can help you get alimony by:
- Preparing and filing a petition for spousal support with the court.
- Documenting your ex-spouse's monthly income and using it as proof during court proceedings.
If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement on spousal support, a judge will decide how much alimony is appropriate during the court proceedings.
Drafting a Parental Responsibility Agreement
Your divorce attorney can help you and your ex-spouse draft a Parental Responsibility Agreement. In this agreement, the parents state the terms of their custodial rights when they are not together. This includes information about where and how the child will be cared for in each parent's custody.
If your ex-spouse refuses to sign the agreement, or if he or she does not abide by it, a divorce attorney can help you enforce the agreement in court.
Legal Advice and Representation during Court Proceedings
If you and your ex-spouse cannot resolve your disputes during mediation or negotiation, the court will have to resolve them. A divorce attorney can represent you during the proceedings to ensure that your interests are protected.
A divorce attorney can help you file for divorce if your spouse does not want to divorce. You may also be able to get a restraining order so that your spouse does not hurt you.
Find a San Diego Divorce Attorney Near Me
A divorce attorney can guide you through all aspects of your divorce process by advising you on the following:
- Whether or not to negotiate with or enter into mediation with your ex-spouse
- When and how to file for divorce
- How to prepare a Marital Property Settlement Agreement or petition for divorce
- How to negotiate with your spouse or his/her attorney
Divorce proceedings in San Diego are challenging. However, if you hire an attorney, the divorce process will be much easier to handle and less stressful.