This is the second of our two-part blog post designed to explain the reasons that parties with attorneys almost always fair better in a divorce than those who are unrepresented. Many people do not have a clear idea of exactly what the divorce process entails or the potential pitfalls that can result in undesirable outcomes. If you are uncertain about whether you want to retain an attorney after reviewing this article, we invite you to contact us to discuss your concerns and issues.
Minimizing Anxiety and Stress: People facing divorce are often distressed and anxious about the future. Divorce brings enormous changes to the most fundamental aspects of the lives of the parties, including financial security, parent-child relationships and living arrangements, so apprehension is natural. However, the best way to combat such feelings is with a better understanding of the process and potential consequences. The prospect of divorce is much less frightening when you feel like you have a grasp of the process and a realistic idea about what you should expect.
Effective Document Preparation: The documents that are filed in a marital dissolution proceeding must be completed correctly. Even if you and your spouse reach a global settlement on all divorce issues, the marital settlement agreement (MSA) must be artfully crafted, so it conforms to all court requirements and accurately reflects the substance of your agreement. When an MSA is not prepared properly, it can be rejected by the court and delay your judgment. When you file for temporary alimony while your divorce is pending, poorly prepared documents can delay receipt of money you critically need to pay your mortgage and other monthly expenses.
Ethical, Diligent and Competent Divorce Assistance: There are other types of businesses that offer to prepare documents for parties in a divorce. Sometimes these businesses market their services as “paralegal” or “typing” services. The primary benefit these businesses purport to offer is low cost. However, a so-called “paralegal” is very different from a family law attorney licensed in Kansas. A divorce attorney will have a law license based on a rigorous law school education and a proficient performance on a state bar exam. Attorneys also are subject to strict ethical standards to perform competently and diligently in handling legal matters for their clients. The potential of malpractice liability and professional discipline provide clients with assurance that their attorney will comply with these ethical standards. A paralegal is not subject to professional licensing and discipline or malpractice liability. In many cases, these non-professional service providers might not even carry business insurance.
Protect Your Interests in Front of a Judge: While parties are free to serve as their own attorney, judges simply do not listen as closely to unrepresented parties. When a husband or wife is unrepresented, the spouse tends to discuss issues that might have little or no relevance in most divorces, such as details regarding the infidelity of a spouse. Judges know that an experienced Wichita divorce attorney is thoroughly familiar with what evidence and factors are relevant, so the judge assumes that the attorney will not waste court time on superfluous issues. Public speaking also is something that makes many people very uncomfortable. This discomfort may be exacerbated if you are forced to articulate the reasons a judge should decide an issue in your favor when your spouse has a seasoned attorney advocating for his or her interests.
Better Financial Outcome: Some individuals do not retain an attorney because they want to save money, but the decision to forgo legal representation can be an extremely costly mistake. The amount or duration of alimony you receive can be impacted significantly be the effectiveness of your attorney. Further, the equitable distribution of property depends on a diligent review and analysis of the parties’ assets and debts. The judge will consider relevant factors and persuasive advocacy regarding what constitutes an equitable distribution of property in the courtroom. In some cases, your spouse might even be forced to pay for some or all of your legal expenses if you are the lower earning spouse. The bottom line is that saving a little bit upfront in a divorce by not hiring a lawyer can be an extremely costly mistake in the long run.
If you have questions about divorce, child custody, division of assets/debts, alimony and/or child support, we welcome the opportunity to answer your questions and explain your options. We invite you to call us at (316) 265-7802 or submit an inquiry form through this website to schedule your initial consultation.