Do I really need an Oregon divorce lawyer?

When going through a divorce, many people choose to go it alone and not use a lawyer. They ask themselves: “do I really need an Oregon divorce lawyer?” In Oregon Family Law courts, packets of necessary paperwork may be received at the courthouse or downloaded from the court website. If you can do a divorce without a lawyer, why would you use one?

The truth of the matter is, a lawyer is not always necessary. Generally people can successfully navigate the system on their own under a few common scenarios.

Where an Oregon divorce lawyer may not be necessary:

  • Short marriage where finances of the parties are not very commingled
  • No children
  • Minimal assets or debts
  • The parties have already been separated and maintained self-sufficiency
  • No retirement accounts to be divided by Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)
  • At Jill Brittle Family Law Group, our Portland, Oregon divorce lawyers offer a “coaching” arrangement for clients who would like to get advice from a lawyer but who may prefer to handle most of the issues on their own. This provides the client with some professional advice, while simultaneously allowing them to save costs on legal fees.

However, there are certain times when having a skilled Oregon divorce attorney on your side is important.

Where hiring an Oregon divorce lawyer is a very good idea:

  • When there are minor children
  • Long marriages with one party who has not been in the work force (or where there is a great disparity between the parties’ respective incomes)
  • Move-away cases (one parent trying to move a child out of state)
  • When there is real property owned by the parties
  • When there are retirement accounts that will need to be divided
  • In any of the above-circumstances, the law becomes significantly more complex when dividing assets and debts. One of the most common, expensive errors that we see made by people handing their own divorces involve children. Vague, poorly written, or non-existant parenting plans can lead to costly litigation down the road. Likewise, personal property that is not divided in an asset-rich marital estate may not be able to be recovered.

If contemplating doing an Oregon divorce on your own, we generally recommend at least meeting with an attorney to discuss the issues in your case. Sometimes the issues that become the most problematic down the road are the ones that a do-it-yourselfer did not even know existed. At Jill Brittle Family Law Group, we can help you set up an outline of the issues you will need to address, even if you decide to move forward on your own. In addition, our coaching arrangement can provide you with assistance as you proceed on an as-needed basis. Contact our Portland divorce lawyers today to set up a consultation.