When your marriage is starting to fall apart, it can be tempting to save money and legal fees by going through a divorce on your own, or pro se. This can definitely be a good idea when everyone agrees on how to share co-parenting responsibilities and how to divide marital assets, there are some important signs you need a divorce lawyer to represent you in your divorce case.
Common Signs that You May Need a Divorce Lawyer
#1 – You and Your Spouse Disagree on Parenting Issues
One of the hardest things about going through a divorce is trying to figure out how to be effective co-parents for your minor children once the marriage ends. These issues are highly emotional, and frequently disrupt an otherwise smooth-sailing divorce case where everything else is agreed to.
Parents going through a divorce often feel the same way: that they are the only parent the kids have that is fit to be the majority parent. They are often scared about what will happen to the kids when they are with the other parent during their exclusive parenting time. They wonder if the other parent will step up to the challenge of raising a child or children if they are used to being the primary caregiving parent. These questions are totally natural and come from a place of love and concern for the children. That said, these questions can easily turn toxic and accusatory. If during the marriage there were disagreements about how to go about a particular aspect of raising the children, it’s likely those disagreements will get worse now that the marriage is headed for divorce.
A good divorce attorney can guide you through a divorce and help you get an agreement or judgment in place that more specifically addresses your goals. If you have a specific idea for how this will work after the divorce, it’s a great idea to communicate that to your attorney and let them negotiate with your spouse.
#2 – You and Your Spouse Disagree on Money Issues
You may need a divorce lawyer if you and your spouse disagree on money issues with no hope in sight. Many people going through a divorce don’t even know where to begin if they have shared money and shared assets that have been purchased or acquired after the marriage. Frequently, the parties to a divorce case don’t even really have a sense of what the other person has in their bank accounts, retirement accounts, or other joint asset accounts. And, additionally, if the parties have a sense of what the other person has, and disagree about how to divide it, the best way to go about handling this situation is to hire a divorce attorney who will do a close read of your financials and assets and determine an equitable method of dividing it that will work for the long-term.
Finally, if you have all of the information you need, and just can’t agree after trying on how to divide the assets, a good attorney will be able to take the issue to a hearing and ask the Court to come down on your side. An attorney worth their weight in salt will determine the value of the issue, and make recommendations about how to resolve it. If the issue would cost more to litigate than the asset is worth, usually, they can find a way to work it out by agreement.
If you or your spouse contemplating divorce, or you need help with a child support or child custody issue in Illinois, please visit our Chicago Divorce Attorney services page to learn more how we can help you and your family more forward.
#3 – Your Spouse Will Purposely Make Your Life Difficult to Punish You for Divorcing Them
Nobody enjoys going through a divorce. It’s a difficult, emotional process. If your spouse is someone who has made threats about the divorce – or using the divorce process – to punish you, an attorney on your side will be able to stop those abusive tactics. This is a clear sign that you need a divorce lawyer.
#4 – You Have Suffered Abuse, Physical or Emotional, In Your Marriage
Unfortunately, physical and emotional abuse are still things that regularly happen within our society. If you have been a victim of physical or emotional abuse, you will want to hire an attorney to ask the Court to enter an Order of Protection, which prevents them from continuing the abuse and may even remove them from your vicinity so that they cannot harm you further. In some cases, these incidents also involve or are seen by the children of your marriage. If that is the case, an attorney will ask that the kids also be protected against the harassing contact. A wise attorney will allow you to tell your story to the Court, and get you some protection against them.
#5 – There’s A Severe Power Imbalance in the Marriage
If you are in a marriage that has a severe power imbalance in your marriage, you will want to hire an attorney to represent your interests rather than just allowing them to get what they want and leave you with less than you deserve. For example, if your spouse is fully employed, and earning over $100,000 per year, but you work in the home and do not have a regular income, they have access to significant monetary assets and can bury you in legal filings, paperwork, and the like until you get tired out and just decide to give them what they want. This is a regular occurrence in Chicago divorce cases where one of the parties has all of the financial power and the other has contributed to the marriage in other ways. If you are in a marriage where your spouse has significant power over you – and that includes in non-financial ways – you should hire an experienced Chicago divorce attorney to assist you through the divorce process.