When Should You Hire a Divorce Attorney?

  •   |   Meghan Freed

"When to hire a divorce attorney" in black writing in white square with a blue border.“When should you hire a divorce attorney?”  Though many people associate divorce lawyers with the actual legal proceedings, their guidance can be invaluable even before you’ve made the decision to file for divorce.  Don’t assume that you need to be ready to file before you retain counsel.  And, don’t think that hiring an attorney means that you’ve decided to divorce.  In fact, working with a divorce attorney early-on can actually give you the clarity you’ll need to make the decision.  Good divorce attorneys do not push you towards divorce — they want you to have the information you need to make whatever decision that’s best for you.  This blog post will explore when hiring a divorce lawyer before initiating the divorce process makes sense, and explain pre-divorce plans.

Hiring a Lawyer Before Filing for Divorce

At Freed Marcroft, many clients work with us to help them decide whether to divorce.  In our pre-divorce planning work, we tailor our work to each client’s situation and questions.  Below are some of the most common services and advice we provide to those contemplating divorce.

Read: A Divorce Lawyer’s Top Tips to Her Friend About How to Choose a Divorce Lawyer

Share Divorce Law Basics

Some people considering divorce want to understand the differences between legal separation and divorce.  Others ask us to give them a sense of how courts view alimony, property division, custody, and child support.  Our clients tell us that getting their background questions answered allows them the clarity to focus on the most critical decision: whether to stay in their marriage.

Explaining the Divorce Timeline

Another item people ask when trying to decide whether to divorce is what the timeline looks like.  We can dig into the particulars of your situation and give you insights based on our experience.  This can include how quickly the court you’d be filing in moves, and a discussion of the factors that tend to impact a divorce’s timeline.  These include, for example, how collegial you and your spouses are, who you think your spouse might hire as an attorney, and the complexity of your finances and parenting.  Understanding the range and the factors for how long a potential divorce might take allows you to refocus on what you truly want for your life, and whether that includes remaining married.

Read: How Long Does Divorce Take in Connecticut?

Guidance on Divorce Methods and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Some people anticipate a high-conflict divorce, and want to understand how that might unfold in their case.  Others want to do everything they can to support an amicable divorce, including learning about ADR divorces outside of court, such as mediation and collaborative divorce.  Freed Marcroft’s attorneys practice in all divorce modalities and can analyze and describe the specific pros and cons as they relate to each client.

Read: ADR & Divorce

Read: What Is an Amicable Divorce?

Pre-Divorce Planning

Once you’ve learned more about what you can expect from the divorce process, it can also be helpful to put together a pre-divorce plan in the event that you decide to divorce.  For example, Kim Kardashian had a pre-divorce plan in the event that she decided to exit their marriage.  Although you are not in control of your spouse’s reactions, having a plan will eliminate variables and provide you confidence and clarity.  Pre-divorce planning is custom to each client, but here are some examples of what may involve:

Document Gathering

In some cases it makes sense prior to filing to gather documents, such as financial records or and prenuptial agreements, that will be required during the divorce.  This proactive approach gives you time to look for things that might be harder to lay your hands on.  It also takes something off your plate during the divorce.  Finally, it can streamline the divorce process and ensure that you have a solid foundation when you decide to proceed.  If you’re concerned that you have a high-conflict spouse who might try to remove your access to accounts, etc., this is a particularly useful tool.

Read: Discovery in Connecticut Divorces

Strategy for Telling Your Spouse and Service

We work with some people to pre-plan their strategy for how, when, and where they will tell their spouse.  Sometimes this involves coordinating the discussion itself.  In other cases, clients schedule a solo weekend a way with friends or family to give both spouses some breathing room. In the event that there are any safety or health concerns, a coordinated plan is even more essential.  Again, it all depends on the individual circumstances and personalities of each couple.

Read: Discussing Divorce With Your Spouse

Service Document Preparation

Sometimes we also prepare the documents that officially begin a divorce to have them on hand if and when our client decides to file.  For example, when a low-conflict divorce is the goal, we might prepare a letter explaining, for example, mediation or collaborative law, rather than beginning the divorce by serving all the formal paperwork.  Or, if it’s likely to be a more formal litigation, we may gather the information we need to know where and when to ask the marshal to serve your spouse.  The point is we create a customized plan and are ready to execute it if and when our client tells us to move forward.

Situations When You Need a Family Law Attorney

Divorce is the classic scenario when you need a divorce lawyer.  It’s important to know that you may also need a family law attorney in various situations involving legal issues related to family and domestic matters. Family law attorneys assist in areas such as divorce, child custody, spousal support, adoption, and more.  Again, it’s best to invoice a lawyer before you take legal action.

Here are some common situations when family lawyer can help:

  1. Divorce: When you and your spouse decide to end your marriage, a family law attorney can help you navigate the legal process.  This includes property division, child custody, and spousal support.
  2. Child Custody and Visitation: If you are facing a dispute over child custody or visitation rights, an attorney can help you protect your parental rights and work towards a fair custody arrangement.
  3. Child Support: When you need to establish, modify, or enforce child support orders, a family law attorney can assist in ensuring that child support obligations are met.
  4. Alimony/Spousal Support: If you are seeking or contesting spousal support (alimony), an attorney can help you negotiate or litigate the terms.
  5. Restraining Order: If you need a civil restraining order, a family law attorney can help you obtain legal protection.
  6. Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements: If you want to create a legally binding marital agreement regarding property and financial matters before or after marriage, a family law attorney can draft and review a prenup or postnuptial agreement.
  7. Legal Separation: When couples opt for legal separation rather than divorce, a divorce lawyer can guide them through the process, addressing issues such as property division and support obligations.
  8. Guardianship: If you need to establish legal guardianship for a minor, a family lawyer can help you navigate the legal process.
  9. Grandparent Rights: If you are a grandparent seeking visitation or custody rights, a family law attorney can help you understand your options.

It’s important to consult with a family law attorney when facing these or similar issues because they have the expertise to guide you through the legal process, protect your rights, and help you achieve a favorable outcome. The specific circumstances of your case will determine when and how you should engage an attorney.

Next Steps

Hiring a divorce lawyer before deciding to file for divorce can provide numerous benefits, ranging from understanding your legal rights and options to understanding the timeline and different divorce options.  Their experienced guidance can provide you with the clarity you need about some complexities of divorce so that you can refocus on making the most important decision, if you want to stay in your marriage.  In addition, you can pre-plan how you are going to tell your spouse and begin the divorce.  If you are contemplating divorce, consulting with a qualified divorce lawyer can empower you to make informed decisions and approach the process with confidence.

If we can be helpful, please contact us here.

Freed Marcroft LLC

Freed Marcroft LLC