Do I Need a Divorce Attorney

Should I hire a divorce lawyer

I am often asked:  “Do I need a divorce attorney for my case?” 

In Missouri, you are allowed to represent yourself if you so choose. However, do-it-yourself divorces are risky for many reasons.

Therefore, I recommend that you consult with an attorney.

Many attorneys, including Gateway Divorce and Family Law, offer an initial 1 hour consultation for free.

There is a big difference between a consulting with an attorney and retaining an attorney. 

A consultation is a meeting where you and the attorney discuss the facts and circumstances of your case. 

Retaining the attorney means that you are hiring the attorney and the attorney is committing to handle your case.  The attorney is retained after the initial consultation.

It is a good idea for everyone to consult with an attorney before proceeding with divorce. 

There are many things the attorney can do for you. 

Most importantly, an attorney can help you identify the legal issues surrounding your case and devise a plan to protect your interests.

Remember, because you are not a lawyer, you may be missing something important, which may come back to bite you later.

So you need to ask yourself this question. 

Even though you are allowed to proceed without formally hiring an attorney, should you? 

I understand that this may not be an easy question for you to answer, especially if you feel as though as though you can’t afford an attorney. 

But if your case has one or more complicating factors, hiring an attorney is the smart thing to do.

  • If you and your spouse have children and you disagree about custody or child support, you should hire an attorney;
  • If you and your spouse have a disagreement about maintenance [alimony], you should hire an attorney;
  • If you and your spouse have a disagreement about the division of debts, property, investments, businesses and/or pensions, you should hire an attorney. 
  • If there has been any history of domestic violence or substance abuse in the marriage, you should hire an attorney. 
  • If you or your spouse has significant health problems, you should hire an attorney.

If you do not have an attorney and end up in a trial, your ability to present your case will be severely limited by the fact that you do not know the rules of evidence or the rules of civil procedure.  If you do not understand the rules, you may not be allowed to present the witnesses and evidence you need to support your case, which means the judge may not hear your side of the story. 

It’s not enough to merely appear in court and start talking.

There are countless numbers of people who got burned while trying to represent themselves. 

If the case is as straightforward as you envision, then the attorney’s work will be limited and your costs will be minimal. 

On the other hand, if you overlook something because you do not have an attorney, the costs of such a loss could be substantial.

The choice is yours…

Want to speak with a St. Louis divorce and family law attorney? Click here to get started on a free consultation with McChesney & Ortwerth.