7 Ways A Divorce Attorney Makes Divorce Easier
Getting divorced is never a part of the plan when you say “I do,” but sometimes it’s inevitable. Whether divorce is contested or uncontested, the process is still emotionally challenging. We’ve seen, time and time again, intense emotions that accompany separation and divorce often get in the way of making clear and rational decisions. Most people who try to navigate this process alone end up overwhelmed and sometimes even give up on the process and stay in an unhealthy relationship. Obtaining legal representation, especially finding a lawyer with experience, who you trust, and who understands your goals, makes the process much smoother.
Here are just some of the many ways a divorce attorney can simplify your divorce and get you the best resolution for you and your family.
1) Legal Guidance
You need a legal team who has focused their practice on family law. In family law, more than many other types of law, you need someone in the state and county you are getting divorced in. In North Carolina, just like in any jurisdiction, there are certain legal requirements that must be met, like residency and separation requirements, in order for you and your spouse to qualify for a divorce. There are also important decisions to be made about property and asset distribution, custody, and more. Requirements, policies, and proper procedures vary from state to state as well as county to county. And, frankly, working knowledge of the other lawyers and the judges in your county is a key asset you want in your corner so you aren’t disadvantaged by not knowing the lay of the land or being “home-cooked.”
A divorce lawyer should be familiar with state law, so they’ll understand each requirement you must meet, as well as the necessary legal documentation you must provide. If you get an experienced local lawyer, they will understand the nuances in your specific county that just can’t be found by Googling. They can lay out all your legal options and rights that you have for divorce in North Carolina and help you figure out which path would be best for your specific situation. Their guidance can help prevent you from making mistakes that could cost you down the road, or delay a resolution.
Another way an attorney can assist you is through mediation. Not every divorce has to be a nasty legal battle. At Triangle Smart Divorce, we prefer to keep matters out of court if at all possible. An attorney can negotiate on your behalf with your spouse and their attorney to help you reach a satisfactory agreement. This process is referred to as mediation.
Mediation is not only a more private route, as it remains confidential and not on court record, it is also much more cost effective than going to court. The number one reason we like mediation, though, is that it gives you the most control over your personal assets, property, children, cash flow, and future. Unlike in court where a judge makes the decisions, in mediation, you get a say. In North Carolina, both spouses have individual representation, as well as a mediator helping you reach a resolution. You mediator cannot act as your attorney, and your attorney cannot act as your mediator. Getting the right divorce lawyer, one familiar and experienced with mediation, means you will be provided with creative solutions to help you reach your goals.
3) Child Custody & Support
In addition to divorce, if you have children, an attorney can help with child custody and support. While divorce is challenging for you and your spouse, it is important to remember that it is just as much of a transition for your children as it is for you (if not more so since they didn’t make the decision to get divorced). Even if you and your spouse have kept your emotions under wrap during the divorce process thus far, we find they tend to be heightened when it is time to make decisions on custody arrangements and child support.
While it is likely that you and your spouse want what’s best for your child, it’s also possible that egos and the idea of “winning” custody can cloud your best judgment. A divorce lawyer can help you keep your composure while sorting out custody, so that you don’t do or say anything that can hurt your opportunity to be with your children as much as possible. A well-versed family law attorney can also help you sort through the myriad of custody scheduled to determine what works best for your family.
For certain income levels in North Carolina, child support is fairly simple to figure out based upon the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines. However, if one of you is unemployed, if you are self-employed, if you have a child with special needs, or if your combined incomes are over $30,000 per month, child support calculations are a lot more nuanced. A family lawyer who has handled these types of cases can guide you through the process and help simplify what could be a daunting process if you are unfamiliar with all the ins and outs of child support.
4) Spousal Support
Another way an attorney can make divorce easier is by assisting you with spousal support, also known as alimony. Spousal support is meant to aid spouses who make lower incomes than their partners, or who were financially dependent on them during the marriage. The application of the laws concerning spousal support vary based on location. A divorce lawyer who is familiar with North Carolina’s laws about spousal support and how they are applied in your home county can assess the appropriate amount of support, present arguments on your behalf for a reasonable amount, and help you gather the appropriate evidence needed to support your claim or to defend against your spouse’s claim. For the higher-earning spouse, an attorney can make sure you are protected against overpaying, now and in the future. One wrong move or forgotten evidence when negotiating alimony can make all the difference.
An attorney can also help you with post-separation support, which is a temporary form of spousal support in North Carolina, paid by the supporting spouse to a dependent spouse who is in need of support after separation but before alimony is determined.
In North Carolina, alimony is complicated. It is very hard to get your alimony changed unless there was specific modification language in your separation agreement or overwhelming proof of “substantial change to circumstances” to change a court order. It is very important to get alimony right at the beginning, and hiring the right lawyer will make sure that happens.
5) Legal Protection From Abuse
If your spouse has a history of domestic violence or substance abuse, navigating the divorce process is especially challenging. It is likely and understandable that you’re afraid to file for divorce, serve your spouse with divorce papers, and begin to initiate the division of property, ask for support, seek custody, and more. A divorce lawyer can help you begin the process by explaining the different ways you can serve your spouse safely.
If you have children and fear for their safety when your spouse is informed of your intent, a divorce lawyer can inform you of the legal protections that are available to you, like a restraining order to keep your abusive spouse away from you and your children. They can also help you gather proper documentation of the abuse to use in advocating on your behalf in court, and even help you develop a way to maintain your safety during and after the divorce is finalized.
We find many people in this situation don’t know how to safely reach out to an attorney to begin the process. Many times, we see clients using their family’s or close friend’s phone number and email address so their spouse will not see the correspondence. We don’t like this method as you lose the protections of attorney-client privilege and confidentiality. We recommend creating a new email address or getting a “burner” phone to contact an attorney. Once you get an attorney, they can help you figure out the safest way to go about this process going forward.
Emotional abuse is another aspect we see in family law. In these cases, it is so important to find a therapist who has experience with situations such as these. If you find the right lawyer, they understand how critical mental health is to the divorce process and will refer you to a professional in your area with specialization in abusive relationships.
6) Post-Divorce Modification
After you and your spouse have officially parted ways, it is common that circumstances in both of your lives will change at some point in time, requiring the terms of your separation agreement or court order to be altered. Your income might change or you might relocate for work. There could be a change in your child’s educational or medical needs, and child support may need to be modified.
No matter the circumstance, a divorce lawyer can evaluate your needs and help you create a strategy for approaching post-divorce modifications. They can help negotiate for the right terms or fight in court on your behalf if your former spouse refuses a modification.
7) Asset Division
North Carolina is an “equitable distribution” state, meaning that when it comes to dividing assets, what’s “fair” does not necessarily mean a 50-50 division. While this is the division that typically happens, that is not what has to happen. A divorce lawyer can provide invaluable assistance in comprehending your legal rights concerning your assets and making sure you get what you are entitled to. If you have any separate property mixed with your marital property, they will tell you what documents to gather to prove your claim and work to get your separate property back. They can also guide you through negotiations, champion your interests throughout the process, and prevent the need for litigation when dividing assets. If you have a spouse that fails to honor any agreements or orders, they can help you take legal action to ensure you get what you’re supposed to.
What Triangle Smart Divorce Can Do For You
If you and your spouse have decided to divorce, you don’t have to do it alone. At Triangle Smart Divorce, we have extensive knowledge of North Carolina’s divorce laws, and over 165+ years of combined family law experience under our belts, which you get the benefit of when you hire our team. We can advocate for your best interests, protect your financial well being, fight for your children, and help you move forward with your life after divorce.
We aren’t your typical divorce lawyers. We strive to help you navigate the process on your own terms, outside of the courtroom, and without all of the drama. However, if the situation calls for it, we are willing and able to fight on your behalf. Call Triangle Smart Divorce today to request a consultation and learn how we can make the divorce process easier for you.