Divorce lawyers handle essentially all aspects of the dissolution of a marriage, including the division of assets, debts between spouses after a legal separation, and child custody and child support if applicable. Divorce attorneys represent their clients in court if the parties cannot come to an agreement through a mediation process.
Who is a Divorce Lawyer?
Lawyers must be attentive listeners because what they do greatly affects their clients' lives. To protect their clients' interests, divorce lawyers must remain non-judgmental. Relationships are the basis of their profession, so their interpersonal skills must be strong. They should have strong advocacy, mediation, and alternative dispute resolution skills.
What Does a Pennsylvania Divorce Law Attorney Do?
Divorce attorneys represent only one party in divorce proceedings. Their practice includes divorce, wills, trusts, and leases. Most of a divorce lawyer's day is spent conducting research, gathering evidence, drafting paperwork, and filing documents with the court. A divorce lawyer reviews a client's documents, including past tax returns, net worth statements, retirement plans summaries, prenuptial agreements, real estate tax bills, and information about stocks, bonds, and brokerage accounts. In settlement conferences and in court, Pennsylvania divorce attorneys advise and represent their clients.
When to Hire Divorce Attorneys in Pennsylvania?
You may wonder if you need to hire legal counsel when you're facing the end of your marriage. This decision depends on a number of things, including on your financial situation and whether your divorce is contested or uncontested. You may need a mediator if you are fighting with your spouse over important issues during your divorce.
1. Financial Issues
During a divorce, you and your spouse may share equity in a home, share debt and expenses, or have joint bank accounts. If you cannot agree on a solution through a mediation process, an experienced divorce attorney can help.
Lawyers provide expert advice and act as moderators. Not all states require equal asset division. An eligible spouse may receive future retirement income from their partner. A professional can help you split assets and debts based on your state's laws.
2. Child Custody
Child custody issues can result in disagreements over who has physical custody of the child, who is responsible for daily care and supervision, and who gets to make other important decisions for the child.
A parent may have sole physical custody, and the other may have visitation rights. With joint custody, the child will spend equal time with each parent to the extent possible.
3. Domestic Violence
It may be necessary to seek a court order when there has been domestic violence. If your spouse attempts to harm you physically, threatens you or your child, or pressures you sexually, it's a good idea to speak to a divorce attorney about obtaining a protection from abuse order or a restraining order.
Custodial arrangements are also influenced by the presence of domestic violence. To gain custody of a child or children, an abusive parent will have to demonstrate that they're addressing their underlying anger issues. Treatment, counseling, and parenting classes could be required for the abusive parent before they are given permission to have any visitation or custody of the child.
If you're in a relationship where domestic violence has occurred, you will need a qualified family lawyer to ensure that any decisions are compliant with state laws.
4. Your Spouse is Limiting Your Contact with Your Children
If your divorce is final, your spouse may use manipulative tactics to limit your contact with your children. They might deny you visitation or cancel your visits at the last minute.
In this case, engaging with your ex could do more harm than good. A lawyer will be able to help you negotiate the situation in court. Once a decision is made in court, your ex will have to abide by that. If they don't, the judge can impose harsh consequences until they comply.
5. Your Situation Changes
A change in your lifestyle, such as relocating or getting remarried, may change the arrangement you had with your ex.
Relocations typically have to be approved by the courts, and this occurs only when it is beneficial to the child. For example, relocation may be approved if you are moving because you received a higher paying job or because you are moving closer to family, who will help provide emotional and financial support to you and your child.
If the change benefits the child, an experienced lawyer can help you succeed in your case in court.
6. Child Support Issues
In some situations, one parent will be required to pay child support to the other parent as a way to cover the basic needs of the child, such as childcare, medical care and health insurance, educational expenses, and more.
If the situation changes, child support may be adjusted. For example, if a parent's income decreases or increases significantly, the amount they have to pay in child support is likely to change as well. The amount of child support may also change if the parent receiving child support receives a higher paying job.
How Do I Choose a Divorce Attorney in Pennsylvania?
When you are going through a divorce, you don't want just anyone helping you. The best option for you is to hire a local attorney, as these professionals will be intimately familiar with your area's laws and regulations.
If possible, get recommendations from friends and family who may have used a Pennsylvania divorce lawyer before. This way you have knowledge regarding how they work and if they did a good job for your friend or family member.
Find out what former clients have to say by reading online reviews. You'll want to keep an eye out for patterns, however, since anyone can get a bad review occasionally. It's also important to look at reviews on independent signs, such as Google, avvo, or even Facebook. Most lawyers handpick the reviews that show up on their website, so it's unlikely that you will find anything negative. To get the full picture, look at reviews in as many places as possible.
You can take advantage of the free initial consultations many family lawyers offer to see if they are right for you and your case. You should ask any potential lawyer if they have experience with divorce law, particularly if they've ever handled a case similar to yours. When choosing a lawyer, don't be afraid to ask questions.
When you talk to potential defense or divorce attorneys, pay attention to your gut. You're likely to enjoy working with them if they seem knowledgeable, confident, and comfortable.
How Much Does the Divorce Lawyer Average Cost Pennsylvania?
Family lawyers usually charge by the hour. You may be charged a flat fee upfront, and then a retainer fee may be added. Еhe cost of hiring a lawyer depends on a number of factors. You need to consider your relationship with your spouse, the complexity of your finances, and the involvement of your children.
It's also a good idea to get estimates from three local attorneys before deciding on a divorce lawyer. This way you can compare prices and decide who you think will be the best fit for you.
You may also qualify to receive financial help from federally funded programs if you can't afford a divorce lawyer. Pro bono representation may also be available through your state bar association.
Hiring the right divorce attorney can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
Do Divorce Attorneys Usually Charge for Consultations?
In the divorce process, consulting with a divorce attorney or lawyer can make or break the deal. Divorce lawyers typically offer free consultations, so when you meet with potential attorneys, all you have to lose is a little bit of your time. No lawyer should charge you to discuss whether he or she can help you. Each consultation should be treated like an interview. Make sure you have all of your questions written down before you walk through that door.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Get Divorced Without a Lawyer?
You can successfully file for divorce without the assistance of an attorney. However, before you start a DIY divorce, consider the following.
You're a good candidate to handle a divorce without a divorce attorneys in Pennsylvania if:
- You and your spouse agree on all main issues, such as property division, custody, and child or spousal support;
- You're satisfied that you have enough knowledge regarding your family's assets and debts and are able to come to an agreement about how to divide assets and debt.
How do I start the divorce process?
A divorce begins when you file a petition in court. One spouse (the petitioner), serves the other spouse with the petition. The petition is then filed in the county where one spouse resides, regardless of where the marriage took place.
Does it make a difference who files for divorce first?
You have more control over the situation and you might have more strategic options if you file for divorce before your spouse. You do not gain any legal rights over your spouse if you file for divorce first, but you will likely be more prepared, which is a benefit to you.