Wooden justice gavel and block with brass “Is it worth my money to hire an attorney?” As divorce lawyers, we get this question surprisingly often. Potential clients are also often surprised to hear our answer: “not always.”
As Oregon family law lawyers, we are not in the business of turning away clients. However, we recognize that having an attorney on board is not necessarily beneficial to the client in all cases and advise accordingly. Generally speaking, there are factors that come into play where saving the cost of legal counsel could make financial sense:
- Extremely short marriages where there is little or no property;
- No children or parenting time questions are involved;
- The parties’ finances have not been intermingled (i.e. have been kept separate);
- Young parties with no children with similar earning capacities.
As a general rule, going through a divorce warrants at least consulting with a child custody attorney to determine the scope of the issues you and your spouse need to address. When there are children involved, consulting with an attorney to get an expert opinion is strongly recommended in all cases.
Remember that the purpose of the court’s involvement in a divorce proceeding – beyond the legal necessity of signing the divorce judgment – is to divide the marital estate equitably and to resolve parenting matters. If there are no children and few assets of the marriage, there is relatively little for a judge to decide. In these cases, people often make use of the family law forms provided by the state of Oregon to complete their divorce on their own. Even with the DIY nature of Oregon’s family law forms, it can usually be helpful to at least schedule a consultation with a skilled family law lawyer so that you can better understand what it is (and why) you are filling out. Unfortunately, even uncontested “simple” divorces can create problems down the road if people don’t complete them correctly. For example, what if you forget to account for real property? What about name changes? How are retirement accounts to be handled? Again, the more assets in a marital estate, the more it is recommended that people contemplating divorce consult with an attorney.
At Jill Brittle Family Law Group, we offer a range of services ranging from consultations to full litigation. Sometimes clients simply need a “coaching” arrangement where they consult with us while handling their own divorce. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to review your case.