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Do I Need an Attorney for an Uncontested Divorce?

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Do I Need an Attorney for an Uncontested Divorce?

Filing for a divorce can bring up an onslaught of questions and concerns. From property division to child custody to legal fees, there are many stressful issues that must be addressed after deciding to end a marriage. For couples who are fortunate enough to divorce on civil terms, an uncontested divorce can be an appealing option.

Contrary to a contested divorce, an uncontested divorce requires that both partners agree on all divorce-related terms to reach a settlement outside of court. If either partner disagrees with any aspect of the agreement, an uncontested divorce is no longer possible.

There are various benefits to pursuing an uncontested divorce in lieu of a contested divorce, such as:

  • Less time-consuming
  • More cost-effective
  • More privacy
  • Easier on kids
  • More likely to result in lasting civil relations

Assuming both partners can reach a comprehensive agreement, an uncontested divorce can typically be finalized outside of court with minimal intervention from a judge. As you can imagine, this can save divorcees an abundance of time, money, and stress.

While an uncontested divorce is typically the most cost-effective route, it’s important to be aware of the risks involved. Many couples find themselves wondering if they need to hire a lawyer to proceed with an uncontested divorce. Although this probably isn’t the answer you wish to hear, it’s true: it depends. Keep reading to learn whether hiring a lawyer for your uncontested divorce is a necessity.

Dangers of a DIY Divorce

While DIY divorces are an excellent route for some couples, others suffer from it. From misinterpreting a key term in your contract to accidentally waiving certain rights, many people find themselves back in court several weeks or months after their uncontested divorce is finalized to do damage control.

As you can imagine, returning to court can be costly—not just in a financial sense, but in regard to your mental and emotional health. Sadly, many couples proceed with an uncontested divorce without legal representation in an effort to save money, only for that effort cost them more in the long run.

Before you assume you don’t require a lawyer to represent you during an uncontested divorce, it’s wise to assess your unique situation before rushing headlong into a situation you’ll eventually regret. New York law does not require you to have legal representation for your divorce if you choose to forgo it; however, this isn’t a decision that anyone should make lightly.

5 Reasons to Hire an Attorney for Uncontested Divorce

As you know, every marriage is unique, meaning that divorce circumstances vary from couple to couple. In some instances, hiring a lawyer is inevitable whether you're pursuing an uncontested divorce or not. The following factors can make securing legal representation a necessity during divorce:

  • You and/or your spouse have high-value assets. In the event of a high-asset divorce, it's wise to seek sound legal counsel from a qualified divorce attorney who can help you keep what's rightfully yours.
  • You share children with your spouse. This is often a no-brainer for coparents. If you share children with your partner, child custody and child support are likely two concerns that are top of mind. Hiring a trusted family lawyer can help ensure that your parenting plan, visitation, and child custody arrangement are fair.
  • You have retirement plans or investments. For many couples, property and asset division is one of the most anxiety-inducing parts of divorce. If you have significant retirement savings or investments, it’s likely worth your while to seek help from a skilled divorce attorney who can advocate for fair distribution.
  • You have a high amount of outstanding debt. If you and/or your spouse have accrued outstanding debt over the years, hiring a divorce attorney is likely in your best interest if you wish to obtain a fair division.

To determine if hiring an attorney is right for you, consider these top 5 advantages of securing legal representation for your uncontested divorce.

#1. You’re concerned for the safety of yourself and/or your children.

If your marriage has a prior history of domestic violence or spousal abuse, it's critical to seek immediate help from an experienced divorce attorney. In some instances, you may find yourself involved in a divorce case with parallel criminal proceedings or domestic violence charges.

To combat unsafe conditions and minimize risks, it may be necessary to apply for a protective order during the divorce proceedings to protect you and your loved ones from harm. A skilled divorce lawyer can assist you with the legal processes, paperwork, and evidence to keep you and your family safe during and after a divorce.

#2. Your spouse hired an attorney.

If your spouse has legal representation, it is absolutely in your best interests to do the same. If your partner retains a divorce attorney, rest assured that they are that lawyer’s sole client—not you. Under any circumstances, you can’t count on your spouse’s attorney to keep your best interests at heart.

It’s easy to feel outnumbered if your partner hires a divorce attorney and you don’t. You wouldn’t enter a battle unarmed against an enemy with plenty of ammunition, right? Divorce proceedings can feel quite similar: if your partner has the advantage of legal representation, it’s wise to secure your own lawyer to ensure a fair process.

#3. Your attorney can share their insights to establish which type of divorce is in your best interests.

Sometimes, couples are mistaken in believing that an uncontested divorce is the right path under their specific circumstances. This is understandable considering that the average American lacks a comprehensive knowledge of family law and how our legal system functions.

A trusted attorney is an excellent resource to determine if an uncontested divorce is right for you, as they have a deeper and fuller understanding of family law that can help guide your next steps. In some cases, a spouse may opt for a seemingly cheaper route to divorce while unknowingly waiving their rights. A good lawyer will be able to advise you on the pros and cons of various options and recommend the best path forward.

#4. Your lawyer can review legal documents, conditions, and terms with a practiced eye.

Unfortunately, one or both spouses can overlook or misinterpret a key term in their divorce agreement. Regardless of foul play or ulterior motives, it's in your best interests to have a legal professional review all terms of your divorce agreement with a practiced legal eye. This can help ensure that you're not accidentally or unwisely waiving your rights or agreeing to terms that will hurt you in the long run.

Translating everyday language into legal jargon (or vice versa) is a complex task. It’s best to consult with a trusted legal advisor who is fluent in both languages, as they can work to help obtain the results you desire.

#5. Your attorney can help ensure that you file paperwork accurately and on time, in addition to meeting deadlines.

Divorce includes a lot of moving parts. For the average person, it can be overwhelming to manage such a wide range of responsibilities.

From completing and filing mandatory paperwork to collecting and organizing sufficient evidence, divorce proceedings can be challenging, confusing, and time-consuming—especially on top of the emotional toll that divorce can take on our health. Retaining the support of a qualified divorce attorney can be a lifesaver in moments of stress or confusion, as they can help ensure that you take the correct steps to finalize your divorce.

An attorney’s ability to prevent costly mistakes—from missing deadlines or court appearances to filing incorrect paperwork—can save you copious amounts of time and money in the long term.

Choose a Firm Who Knows Family Law

Our Long Island divorce attorney brings over 30 years of family law experience to the table. Our team takes pride in providing skilled and ethical representation to each and every client we serve. Rest assured that Rubenfeld Law Firm will work with you to develop a customized legal approach that caters to your unique needs and personal goals.

We understand how stressful it can be to file for divorce, especially when it feels like you’re running into one roadblock after the next. That’s why we’re here to lighten your burden. We’re committed to finding peaceful and cost-effective solutions for families in the Long Island area, and you can count on our trusted divorce lawyer to be in your corner from start to finish.

Filing for divorce? Take action today to create a better tomorrow. Call (631) 777-7200 or contact us online to discuss your case with our experienced Long Island divorce attorney.