By clicking on “Learn More” we hope you have learned about the basics of divorce in Virginia on our website and are now ready to consider whether or not you need a divorce attorney. You probably discovered that there are a lot of components to a divorce. Some of those components may be confusing. Some may seem straightforward. Much of it depends on the facts in your particular case. You are probably asking yourself
- How will a divorce lawyer help me?
- How do I find the best divorce lawyer?
- Should I have a consultation with a lawyer about my divorce?
If you are asking these types of questions then it is time to read on. If you are not sure then read on anyway. You will find that the answers to these questions will further educate you about divorce. As a result, we hope you will also feel further empowered.
- Do I need a divorce lawyer?
- How do I find the best divorce lawyer?
The answer to the question “Do I need a divorce lawyer?” depends on you, your spouse, and the facts in your particular case.
You need to ask yourself:
- Will I be comfortable handling my divorce without professional assistance.
- Will my spouse and I be able to work through issues pertaining to the classification and division of property (equitable distribution), spousal support, child custody and visitation, or child support?
- Are there special circumstances, complex assets, business interests, or liabilities that must be addressed?
- Am I capable of drafting or reviewing a comprehensive settlement agreement that addresses all of the potential issues in a divorce?
- Is my spouse represented by counsel?
Self-help and an amicable divorce are great ways to save money and avoid emotional strain. Both are admirable goals that are supported and encouraged by the Moore Law Firm. The right divorce attorneys facilitate settlement and work to reduce the emotional impact of divorce even if “amicable” is not an attainable goal.
We hope that the information provided on this website helps spouses to work through divorce without attorneys if it is possible for them to do so. It is not unusual for a spouse to come to us asking that we simply help with drafting a final settlement agreement or carrying out the technical process of obtaining an uncontested divorce for them.
On the other hand, many people are busy managing other aspects of their lives or careers and want to hand all responsibility over to an attorney even in the simplest cases. There is value in knowing things are being handled correctly. Peace of mind is enough for many clients. Others consider lost work or career productivity when deciding it is in their best interests to retain a divorce attorney.
One of the most important considerations is what is at stake and likely to be contested. It may not be possible to answer this question until after you have had a consultation with a divorce attorney, which is why we always recommend a consultation before spouses proceed with taking any action in their divorce.
If equitable distribution may be an issue in your divorce, ask yourself about the assets or debts that must be classified and divided.
- Are there major assets that you feel should be divided as separate rather than marital property?
- What is the total of value of the marital assets to be divided between you and your spouse?
- What is the total amount of debt you and your spouse owe?
- Is any of this debt separate debt that should not be allocated between you?
- What percentage of the marital assets or liabilities do you think should be allocated to you?
- Is your spouse likely to agree with you on these classifications and estimates of value?
If attorneys fees and costs are likely to exceed the amount in dispute then you probably should not retain a lawyer for equitable distribution. Instead, you and your spouse should settle the issue of property division between yourselves and have an attorney draft up a formal agreement.
If spousal support is an issue in your divorce then you will need to ask yourself similar questions, such as:
- What do our finances look like?
- What will my bills look like after divorce?
- Will I be able to make it on my own without support?
- What would I need to reduce my reliance on spousal support after the divorce?
- Will I be able to survive if I am paying spousal support?
- Is my spouse willing to work out an agreement regarding spousal support?
- How far apart are my spouse and I when we discuss spousal support?
Spousal support is probably the most frequently litigated issue in a divorce. The range of possible spousal support awards can be overwhelming to consider in some cases. This is because just a $500 per month difference in spousal support can add up to a $30,000 difference in 5 short years. Just $30,000 can make a big difference in many people’s lives. It is a new car or a decent down payment on a new house. In high income cases, the range of potential spousal support awards can easily reach into the hundreds of thousands or millions when added up over just 5-10 years. For this reason, we will always recommend that you obtain advice and counsel from an experienced divorce lawyer when spousal support is likely to be a contested issue in your divorce. Our divorce attorney, Brian R. Moore, has the experience and knowledge necessary to handle the most complex spousal support issues. If spousal support is likely to be litigated in your divorce, please contact us immediately to arrange a consultation with Brian.
- The general rule when deciding whether to hire an attorney for your divorce is to ask yourself: What issues are in dispute?
- How complex are the issues?
- How far apart am I from my spouse on the issues?
- What value will an attorney help me obtain or protect?
Of course, there are some issues that you simply cannot place any value on. Those are almost always child custody and visitation.
We sincerely hope that as parents you and your spouse will work out custody and visitation and see eye-to-eye when it comes to deciding upon what is in your children’s best interests.
If this is not possible and litigation of child custody and visitation is inevitable then it would be a grievous error in almost every case not to seek representation by a divorce lawyer with extensive experience preparing and presenting child custody and visitation cases in the courts. Our divorce attorney, Brian R. Moore, has this level of experience and is capable of handling even the most complex custody and visitation issues. Please contact us immediately to set up a consultation with Brian if you are facing any child custody or visitation litigation.
No discussion regarding the decision to hire an attorney can be complete without a consideration of the costs versus the benefits. The decision to hire attorney always boils down to a cost-benefit analysis. Attorneys are not cheap (at least not the ones you want to hire). Litigation is always expensive. That is just the way it is.
Any attorney you consult with should counsel you about the options for resolving your case out of court using “alternative dispute resolution” (“ADR” for short) tools such as mediation, negotiation, and collaboration. ADR presents an opportunity for substantial cost savings. ADR does not always require the hiring of attorneys. Any divorce attorney who has your best interests in mind will always explore these options with you during your consultation and help you perform this part of the cost-benefit analysis.
The likelihood of settlement must also be analyzed after available ADR tools are discussed. If attorney settlement negotiations are to be used in lieu of other ADR models then the costs of those negotiations during trial preparation should be considered. It is possible for some attorneys to spend more time trying to settle than it would to simply take to litigate the issues. This leads to wasted time and money as well as lost opportunities.
Although our law firm works hard to reach fair settlements for our clients, we are always ready to go to trial if settlement seems unlikely or is not in our client’s best interests. We are known for our willingness to go to trial, which actually helps us to settle cases. It also leads to cost savings in those cases where settlement is clearly not going to occur. It is not our mission to waste time on fruitless negotiations. This works both ways.
When a client’s goals are set higher than reasonable expectations will allow, it is the attorney’s job to explain to the client why their goals are unreasonable and to help them evaluate options before surging forward. In other words, the value of an attorney is often in his or her ability to assist clients with the cost-benefit analysis in light of the client’s particular goals for the legal representation. The more difficult the desired result is to obtain, the higher the likely costs will be in trying to obtain it. Only an experienced divorce lawyer can advise you on this level.
So if you need an attorney to help you answer the question “Do I need a divorce lawyer”, the next question has to be “How do I find the best divorce lawyer?”
Choosing a divorce attorney is the most important decision you will make in your divorce.
Attorney ethical rules prevent me or any other attorney from claiming to be “the best divorce attorney in Lynchburg” or anywhere else for that matter. If you are trying to find the best divorce lawyer it is not a bad idea to start with law firms and attorneys who devote all or the majority of their practice to divorce and family law. After you narrow the field,
The “best” divorce attorney is the best fit for you and your particular needs.
The “best” divorce attorney for one person may not be the best choice for someone else. Here are a few ways to get to know an attorney before committing to a consultation:
- Search for divorce attorney and family law firm websites then spend some time learning about divorce while you peruse divorce attorney profiles. Look for informative websites as opposed to those packed with keywords and devoid of substance. Try to get a feel for attorneys through their bios.
- Check out attorney ratings and reviews on sites like Avvo.com.
- Read divorce attorney blogs and articles to determine who is actively engaged in the practice of law and up to date on the latest cases and technology.
- Look for attorneys who have argued divorce and family law cases at the highest levels including the Virginia Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Virginia.
Do not make the mistake of assuming that all attorneys are equally competent to represent you in one of the most important events in your life.
Divorce and family law cases are some of the most challenging and complex in the practice of law. Consider a lawyer’s experience as well as what former clients say in reviews. Trust your gut and check the facts.
Attorney-client compatibility is essential to a successful relationship during what may be one of the most challenging times in your life.
Make it a priority to consider that the attorney you choose will be working very closely with you.
Divorce involves a lot of choices. It affects the rest of your life. Remember that the path you choose is just as important as the ultimate destination.
The right divorce attorney will help you find your path and not try to force you down theirs.