Divorce, Family Law

When to Consult with or Hire a Divorce Lawyer: Top 5 Considerations

When it comes to divorce, most people will have thought about divorcing their spouse for at least a year before they actually call and meet with a divorce lawyer. Leaving a marriage is one of the toughest decisions a person can make, and meeting with a divorce lawyer adds a level of reality that their marriage is failing, which many people would rather continue to deny.

A divorce impacts a person emotionally, physically and spiritually, and that’s before children are added to the equation.

Filing for divorce is a very personal decision, and no lawyer can tell a person whether a divorce is the right thing to do or when the time is right. However, there are some times when it is advisable to consult with a lawyer, and a few rare circumstances where filing a divorce can make a difference.

Consideration Number 1: “I’m thinking about divorce, but I’m not sure.” If you are thinking about divorce, but are not certain you actually want to divorce your spouse, that is a good time to consult with a divorce lawyer. A consultation is a time to meet with a divorce lawyer, learn about the process, and ask questions about your situation. Often a lawyer can help dispel fears a person may have about what will happen with their property or their children. Consulting well in advance allows a person to understand their options and can allow for some strategy. For example, a person may be advised to set up their own bank account and set aside money for expenses. This is not setting up a secret account because all accounts must be disclosed during the process of divorce. This allows some privacy and flexibility. Even if you never actually divorce, understanding the process can help a person decide whether it is time to stay or go.

Consideration Number 2: “I’ve learned my spouse has seen a divorce lawyer.” If you discover that your spouse has been to visit a divorce lawyer, you have a couple of options. Of course, the first thing you can do is ask your spouse about the consultation. If you’re reluctant to do so, or you see the handwriting is on the wall, then you may want to consult with a divorce lawyer about your options. Understanding your rights and options are two important purposes of seeing a divorce lawyer.

Consideration Number 3: “I’ve been served!” If a constable or a private process server has delivered divorce papers to you, it is time to see divorce lawyer! When legal documents are delivered to you, important deadlines have started. You should see a lawyer immediately. In addition, the documents can require you to refrain from certain action, and in rare instances, may exclude you from your home or access to your children. It is perfectly acceptable to call your spouse’s lawyer and let them know you have received the papers and you will let them know as soon as you have hired a lawyer.

Consideration Number 4: “I think my spouse is cheating on me, financially!” Learning about an affair can be devastating, but may not mean a trip to see a lawyer. Maybe a counselor or other advisor should be seen first in that situation. However, if you suspect your spouse is cheating on you financially by hiding or diverting away assets, you should see a lawyer immediately. If a spouse is cheating financially, it may be advisable to file for divorce in order to get certain protections that are automatic from the court. These protections are designed to preserve and protect property, but are only available if a divorce is filed. These situations merit a meeting with a lawyer who can quickly assess whether filing immediately is necessary.

Consideration Number 5: “My spouse is threatening to leave the state with the children!” Any threat to leave with the children should be treated with the utmost concern. Each biological parent generally has the right to take the children anywhere in the universe without the other parent’s permission. The only way to get protection for the children is to file a lawsuit to obtain some protection from the courts.

Bonus Consideration: Most divorce lawyers charge for consultations. Most lawyers charge either at a flat fee or an hourly rate for a consultation. The hourly fee can range from $250 to upwards of $500. Divorce lawyers charge for consultations because it is some of the most valuable time with a potential client and to screen out people who are simply trying to block their spouse from hiring a particular lawyer.

If you’ve decided to hire a divorce lawyer, the best way to find one is to ask another lawyer who they recommend. If you don’t know a lawyer, ask a friend. Be wary of internet searches, though, since a tech savvy lawyer is not necessarily a good lawyer and vice versa. There are a few organizations that can be searched. High quality lawyers can be found through the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML). The AAML is a group of the nation’s top divorce lawyers and is a great resource to find a quality lawyer.

Contact Our Team

If you are considering a divorce in the Austin, TX area, we invite you to contact The Law Office of Janet McCullar, P.C. to speak with an Austin divorce attorney. Our knowledgeable, caring, and experienced staff would be happy to answer your questions and provide you with guidance on what to do next. Fill out an online contact form to get started.

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