Magnuson Lowell Blog
Each week we post a blog about relevant legal issues. Glance through our various topics to learn more about a particular legal situation.
There are no requirements that you retain counsel in the event of a divorce. You and your partner can work cooperatively to draft the necessary legal documents and file them with the court to initiate and finalize the dissolution. But, just like maintaining your own car, unless you’re sure what you are doing, you might end up with a big mess to clean up in the process. While attorneys are not necessary for any legal case, hiring an attorney is often a benefit for your pocketbook and sanity.
What Situations Might an Attorney Be Less necessary?
The simplest divorces are the cases with the fewest issues. If your marriage fits into one of these (or hopefully most of these) categories, you may be able to work your case without formal counsel.
- Uncontested on every issue
- Short-term marriage
- Amicable relationship between the parties
- No children
- Simple assets
- No transfers of financial or real property
Cases with these qualities may not always be simple. If you’re trying to understand the legal ramifications of parenting and child support while balancing the need for spousal maintenance against an equitable division of stock units, pensions, and 401(k)s, your stress and feelings of being overwhelmed are hopefully one attorney away from being reduced.
How Can an Attorney Help?
Uncontested divorce cases are simple because there is no fighting over who gets what. The parties draft the agreement, sign the documents, and file them with Court. There are instructions for dealing with uncontested dissolutions often through the court’s website. When fights break out – whether over the kids or the dishes – complications arise, and legal questions become necessary to analyze.
Take stock, for example. Washington’s “time rule” for dividing employee benefit stock units is well known to attorneys and – with some analysis and math – can help determine the fair equitable community portion of the asset. Often, the lesser earning spouse is at a disadvantage in these situations. An attorney can provide the knowledge and guidance to ensure your community interest is protected.
Understanding the law is important but knowing what information to examine is essential. Often, unrepresented parties will just accept their spouse’s representations at face value. You trusted them for 20 years with your finances, so why not trust them again now at divorce. The problem with that thinking is that they now have a benefit to manipulating you to increase their own financial future. Working with an attorney levels the playing field by ensuring that both parties have all the available information to apply the laws appropriately to reach a fair outcome.
How Can You Help My Situation?
The attorneys at the law offices of Magnuson Lowell, P.S. know that working with an attorney is a difficult decision. There is a fine line between working cooperatively with a manipulative spouse and creating a conflict to protect your interests in divorce. Hiring an attorney is sometimes a catalyst to contention. At the same time, without counsel, unrepresented parties are often taken advantage of to the tune of thousands or even millions of dollars.
We offer flexible representation. Perhaps you’d like an hour of time to sit down and review your situation. Done. Instead, you may want help drafting or reviewing your divorce documents. Can do! Maybe a few appointments over time to make sure you’re on the right path. Our calendars are open. In most situations, standard representation ensures that your interests are protected throughout the litigation. Call today for a free case evaluation.