Things aren't going well at home - although you and your spouse live under the same roof, you haven't spoken in weeks, your sex life is nonexistent and you've had about all you can take of the cold shoulders, icy stares and years of unhappiness and dissatisfaction.
You've already looked online for ways to help save your marriage - but none of the self-help routines seem to work. Maybe you've looked at divorce lawyers' websites online to get a sense of the landscape - but now it's time to take that next step and actually talk to a lawyer about your options regarding legal separation or divorce.
Although talking to a lawyer about divorce can be a scary proposition - you're not only admitting your marriage might be over, but you're seeking professional guidance from someone with years of experience who you hope won't judge you - it is a critical step in moving your life forward in a positive, confident and comfortable manner.
We previously discussed five of the top reasons to talk to a divorce lawyer and thought now would be a good time to examine five more good reasons to talk to a divorce lawyer - after all, with the holiday season fast approaching, things that are already tough at home are bound to get tougher.
1. System familiarity
Unless you are a trained healthcare professional, you probably wouldn't try to perform an appendectomy. And unless you're a trained lawyer, it is generally not a good idea to represent yourself in a divorce proceeding. After all, judges hold self-represented individuals to the same standards as they hold lawyers - that is, they are expected to know the law and follow the proper procedures.
Family law and divorce lawyers are well-versed in the laws regarding divorce, alimony and child custody and support - and, just as importantly, they know the rules, the processes and the people who run the system. A divorce lawyer will know how to adequately prepare your case - and how to properly present your case to the court - to get you the best resolution possible.
2. Objective advice
If you've mentioned your marital troubles to someone, they have probably given you their advice on what you should do. And although this advice from your mother, sister or best friend is often well-intentioned, it is likely misleading or, at worst, incorrect.
Divorce is a highly emotional journey - and although the friendly advice you receive no doubt has your best interests at heart, it is likely biased and may skew your judgment. And if you are thinking of handling your divorce yourself, your emotions may make it hard for you to make the best decisions about your future.
An experienced divorce lawyer, however, can be objective, maintain a clear focus and separate themselves from the deep-seeded emotions underlying the case. In this manner, they can focus on getting you the best settlement possible. Their objective advice acts as a buffer between you and your spouse - and it can help prevent you from letting your emotions, or the misguided advice of friends, get the best of you.
3. New options
An experienced family law attorney can evaluate your case and tell you the likely outcome. And based on their experience with divorce cases and their familiarity with the judge, they can usually offer a wide variety of options to help resolve your case. Many of these options are ones you may not have thought of on your own - and these options could greatly benefit you in both the present and the future.
4. Paperwork grind
Legal work entails a lot of paperwork. And divorce is no exception. In a typical divorce, there is a great deal of paperwork that needs to be filled out (properly) and filed (correctly) with the (appropriate) court. Knowing what paperwork and forms need to be filled out - and how to fill the forms out properly once you have the correct ones - can be a daunting task that can divert your attention from the more important issues at hand.
Nevertheless, providing complete paperwork is critical in a divorce case. The judge will rely on it in making decisions, and your financial future depends greatly on what is in the documents. If incorrect information is entered, or important information omitted, the results can be disastrous.
A divorce lawyer can make sure that all the necessary paperwork is filled out correctly, completely and persuasively. This, in turn, will keep your case moving smoothly through the system and increase your chances of having the judge view your position favorably.
5. Big picture focus
When you are confronting the end of a marriage and dealing with complex emotions, it is easy - and completely understandable - to get bogged down in the details, to focus on perceived slights or red herrings thrown out by the other side. It is also easy to become short-sighted and look only at the immediate consequences of a situation.
An experienced divorce lawyer, however, is practiced at creating the best deal possible for both the short and long term. They can also advise you not to spend a lot of time - or money - fighting over each and every issue. Although "winning" is important, winning at all costs is not, and sometimes compromise is required to ensure a happy ending - one that hopefully leaves you on the road to a better future.