Full and fair disclosure: I am an attorney. Specifically, I am a family law attorney, which means I make my living by helping people start over through the divorce process. So, of course, you might be a little skeptical when my answer to the title question of this blog is “of course”. But it goes a bit deeper than that. One of the main reasons for that answer is not just the
One of the main reasons for that answer is not just the self-interest of continuing to have work for me to do. It’s also because while a large part of what I do is helping people through their divorce, another big chunk of what I do surrounds fixing the issues people have with their separation agreements and parenting plans AFTER the divorce decree has entered. Believe me when I say that it takes a lot more time and money to try and fix a poorly or incompletely drafted separation agreement than it would have to just do it right the first time.
That’s not to say that working through the divorce process is terribly arcane or difficult. The courts in Colorado provide forms specifically designed for pro se parties to fill out, and in many divorces, you can get by with just those forms. Checking boxes and filling in the blanks isn’t especially complicated or difficult. But, as the old maxim goes, you get what you pay for, and those forms are free.
There are lots of reasons to hire an attorney, and specialized knowledge is certainly one of them. Most people going through a divorce have never done it before and most likely never will again. That means that your experience with everything that happens in a divorce is likely zero. In contrast, I work on divorce paperwork and the issues that come with it every day that I show up for work.
I’ve drafted more divorce petitions, sworn financial statements, separation agreements, parenting plans, and stipulations than I can count. I’ve handled contested and uncontested cases, and worked to resolve disputes about cases that everyone thought were already resolved, that is until there’s a conflict that the parties (largely through lack of experience) couldn’t foresee at the time they settled their case. It’s not that they were unintelligent, nor is it a case of one party trying to manipulate the other. Most often it’s just that they didn’t know enough about the process to know what kind of problems might arise in the future. A large part of my job is stopping problems before they start, and I can do that because I have seen all sorts of problems, and I have a lot of experience coming up with creative ways to solve and avoid them. An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.
But, it’s not just my experience with the law that leads me to the suggestion that you should have a divorce lawyer. The most persuasive argument for hiring a divorce attorney is this: I am a divorce attorney, I know the ins and outs of family law very well, and if I was going through a divorce, the first thing I would do is go and hire the best divorce attorney in Denver I could afford. That’s because, to put it mildly, divorce sucks. It’s a terribly emotional, difficult experience. One that can make even the most rational people go a little bit crazy.
I’ve seen folks willing to spend literally thousands of dollars fighting over a couple of hundred dollars worth of stuff, and I’ve seen people willing to walk away from tens of thousands of dollars in income because they couldn’t handle the emotional toll the case was taking. In those cases, having a smart, level-headed attorney on their side to keep things calm and make unemotional recommendations is key. Your attorney will be your greatest ally, both in being willing to fight for you when you need it and to talk you down from the ledge when you are about to make a big mistake. So, as self-serving as it may sound, you really should hire an attorney to help you with your divorce. The peace of mind is worth it and you can hopefully avoid lots of problems in the long run.
If you’re considering a divorce, the experienced attorneys at Modern Family Law can help. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.
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