Do I Need a Lawyer?

I am often asked, “Do I need a lawyer, it’s so expensive.” The answer to that question is yes and no- I hear you laughing, “that’s a lawyer’s answer.” True!

Are you comfortable with public speaking? Can you communicate your ideas clearly? Have you taken advantage of your court’s self-help center? Are you organized? Have you Googled divorce, alimony, and child support to begin educating yourself? Can you speak to your soon to be Ex so that you can resolve issues? If you answered no, you need a lawyer.

Do you own a home? Do you have children? Are you disabled or have a serious illness? Do you have a retirement plan or a complicated financial history?  Are you over the age of 50? If you answered yes, you need a lawyer.

BUT, you may not need a lawyer for every step of your divorce. You can hire a lawyer to perform only certain tasks or draft certain documents, or just advise you as you move forward with your divorce. This type of limited representation will reduce your legal costs while providing you with support.

The most effective way to reduce your legal expenses is to create a Marital Separation and Property Settlement Agreement and BE REASONABLE. Zillow is not the actual value of your home, the black velvet painting of Elvis is not worth as much as you think, and you may not be entitled to alimony no matter that s/he was unfaithful.  You will need an attorney to help you through the drafting and negotiation of the agreement but you will reduce your costs if you come prepared and willing to settle with your soon to be Ex.

A divorce is the ending of a “business transaction” so don’t be penny wise and pound foolish.  A divorce is more time consuming that researching your next car or your kid’s college so be ready to put in the time or live with the results.


Civility – An Attitude Adjustment

There is much talk across the country about the lack of civility. When we are under stress or angry, we often become uncivil. Divorce is a decided stress on each spouse and on the children. Divorce is also a stress on the extended family and friends of the divorcing couple.

When you are angry it’s hard not to lash out. There’s also the constant fear that if you express your anger the child support or alimony check may be delayed. A delayed support check can be devastating for those living paycheck to paycheck.

So what can you do?  (1) Don’t immediately answer the call from your spouse, let the message go to voicemail. (2) Don’t immediately return a nasty text (it can be used against you in court). (3) Think about your children. Lashing out at a spouse hurts your children more than it punishes your spouse. (4)Meditate or do yoga. (5) Go for a run or a walk. (6) Tell your troubles to your dog or cat.  (7) Call a friend and bitch. (8) Distract yourself by joining a Meet-up group, or read a book, drink a glass of wine (or ice tea), cook a batch of cookies – anything that allows you to cool down. (5) Answer your spouse in your own time and be civil. You will catch more flies with honey than vinegar and your blood pressure won’t boil.

I know this will not work every time but it will work most times. Civility starts with you and in your home. Don’t let a jerk define how you respond to his or her incivility.