The thought of divorce often conjures images of court battles, depositions and hostility. If you and your spouse are separating on more amicable terms, though, your divorce could be quite different. In fact, you might find yourself thinking that you can get through the process without legal representation. While it's true that you can file the divorce petition without an attorney's support, it is still best to consult an attorney before you do so. Even if you and your spouse go to the attorney together, there are a few key considerations that the attorney will help you to settle appropriately.
Obligations for Child Support
One of the biggest sources of conflict in a divorce settlement – no matter how amicable – is the child support obligation. In fact, many custodial parents sacrifice their right to child support in the interest of getting things over with quickly and with limited hostility. The truth is that the courts can override that decision and issue a support order as part of the final decree.
If you want more control over the support payment determination, it's in your best interest to talk with an attorney about the current support standards. By choosing a payment amount that is in line with the current standards, you've got a better chance of receiving your final divorce decree without changes. The attorney can tell you what is a reasonable amount based on the court's current standards, and will even help the two of you negotiate the actual payment that you'll define in the settlement.
Parenting Plans and Custody
In addition to the struggles with child support, custody agreements can often become difficult as well. Even if the two of you have agreed in the past that the kids should be with a specific parent, that doesn't prevent some second thoughts when the paperwork is finally on the table.
When you have an attorney help with the negotiations, he or she can provide an objective and impartial perspective. You'll have legal guidance about what the courts want to see in the parenting plan, and he or she can give you some expert insight into the type of living arrangements the courts will typically seek for children during a divorce.
In fact, a divorce attorney can even help you to consider certain aspects of custody and visitation that you might not otherwise think of. For example, an attorney will likely recommend a legal clause that prevents the custodial parent from moving the children too far away. There may also be some specific requirements defined for taking the children out of school. When the custody agreement defines who can take the kids out of school and why, it eliminates any question about a parent suddenly taking them out of school on a day when they are not authorized.
Asset Division and Financial Settlements
Money is a difficult topic to negotiate when you're on opposite sides of the table. Having an attorney present when you're settling the final financial aspects of the divorce may help ensure fair division and avoid any hurt feelings.
The attorney can help you understand how to handle the marital assets, including your bank accounts and investments as well as the actual property that you own. The attorney will also help you define any requirements for college tuition payments or other financial requirements for the kids later.
Although filing an uncontested divorce will shorten the legal process, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't have some legal representation. As you can see, a divorce attorney can provide valuable insight and support for your divorce.