- When you know your marriage is headed for divorce, you may have questions about what to expect during the process and how to get the information you need for your case. You may also be wondering if you need to hire a divorce lawyer. If you are considering divorce without an attorney, it’s essential to know that there are some circumstances where having counsel can make a significant difference in your case results. Here are five situations where you may want to reconsider going it alone during a divorce.
1. Your Ex Asks You to Sign Divorce Documents
- Sometimes when couples are going through a divorce, one person will prepare divorce documents independently and ask the other to sign them. Your ex may also hire an attorney to draft the necessary documents. Although these legal documents may appear straightforward, the language used in them can have significant implications. If you are given divorce documents, it’s crucial that you understand every term before signing. Further, these documents are ordinarily drafted to benefit the person presenting them. If your ex asks you to sign something that you had no part in preparing, it’s in your best interests to work with an attorney who can review all pleadings and documents and advocate for you.
2. Your Ex Has an Attorney, and You Don’t
- Divorce tends to involve a lot of decision-making and negotiation. The more informed you are about the law and the short and long-term implications of your choices, the better. An attorney can help you carefully evaluate your circumstances and provide valuable insight regarding your options. If your ex has an attorney and you don’t, you will probably be at a disadvantage throughout your case. An attorney will have training, knowledge, and experience that can benefit your ex and their position. When you have counsel, you will have an advocate working on your behalf who can offer you the same advantages and keep you on equal footing as you proceed through the phases of your divorce.
3. You Disagree on Custody and Placement
- In Wisconsin, the law favors parents having joint decision-making authority (joint custody) regarding minor children and kids having frequent access to both of their parents. When divorcing parents disagree on how to share legal custody and time with their children (placement time), cases can become complicated and contentious. In Wisconsin, parents who are at odds over these issues are typically required to attend mediation before proceeding to a final hearing. It’s crucial to have an attorney to advise and assist you regarding these critical issues. Not only can your counsel help you in assessing your case, but they will also be there to advocate for your position with the court and during mediation. Your choices regarding custody and placement during your divorce can impact you and your children for years. You will want to make them carefully and with the advice of counsel.
4. You Need Immediate Orders While the Case is Pending
- When a divorce begins, your ex may react by restricting your access to your home or joint financial resources, or by not letting you see your children. They may also move out without indicating how you are to pay for your household expenses. If you and your ex can’t agree on how these issues will work during the pendency of the divorce, you will probably need the court to issue temporary orders. These are orders that will be in place during the pendency of the case requiring that both parties abide by specific rules. The orders may include matters such as how your joint bills will be paid, who has exclusive use of your marital home, child and spousal support amounts, and your child custody and placement time structure. Temporary orders can be agreed upon after negotiation, or they may be issued after a court hearing. Not only do they set defined parameters, but they may also become the foundation for the case. Meaning that when the court issues these types of orders, they sometimes end up resembling case outcomes. You will want to have the benefit of counsel’s advocacy to help you ensure that your temporary orders are equitable and meet your needs.
5. You Have Reached an Impasse and Can’t Move Forward
- Sometimes couples begin their divorce believing they are on the same page only to find out later that they have different expectations. When you and your ex can’t agree on essential case issues, negotiations can stall. When you have an attorney, they can help you identify the factors contributing to your impasse so you can determine your next steps. Your counsel can also help you develop a case strategy and take action to move things forward.
Consult with an Experienced Wisconsin Family Law Attorney
- Attorney and Mediator Karyn Youso of First Look Family Law has extensive experience helping clients assess their situations and consider their divorce options. She understands the complexities of developing divorce terms and can help you identify the best solutions for your circumstances. Come in, and let us take a “first look” at your situation so you can figure out your next steps. Please call us today to set up a time to meet.