When a married person realizes they are heading for divorce, it is not uncommon to develop the belief that they can handle the legal process on their own. The thought is understandable—legal fees are notoriously expensive, and divorce can have a significant impact on most individuals’ personal finances. However, it is vital to understand the value of reliable legal counsel as you are heading into the divorce process. While you may be able to save money on legal fees by foregoing legal representation, you are likely to lose much more than you saved regarding the outcome of your divorce.
In fact, hiring a divorce lawyer in Pasadena is an investment into a positive outcome from your divorce proceedings. Divorce is a highly emotional issue for everyone who experiences it, even when divorcing spouses are certain they need to end their marriage. Having an attorney on your side who can provide an objective and experienced perspective can help you counterbalance the emotional impact of the divorce process.
What Happens If I Don’t Hire a Divorce Attorney?
Technically, there is no requirement to hire legal counsel for your divorce, and it is possible for you to navigate your divorce proceedings without legal representation. However, doing so puts you at an extreme disadvantage, especially if your spouse has hired their own lawyer. If you do not have any legal training or experience with the Pasadena family court system, you will likely find it very difficult to navigate the procedural requirements your case will entail. You risk making mistakes with court filings and significantly extending the time required to complete your divorce. Alternatively, you could unintentionally agree to divorce terms that do not suit your best interests.
Many things can go wrong if you do not hire a divorce attorney to represent you in your Pasadena divorce case. While you may have concerns about the cost of legal representation, the reality is that you could end up paying much more in the long run if you do not hire a lawyer to represent you.
What to Expect From Your Pasadena Divorce Lawyer
Your attorney can provide several significant benefits throughout your divorce proceedings. Most importantly, your attorney will handle all procedural obligations on your behalf, allowing you to focus on other issues important to you during your case. They will handle court filings and make sure you complete all required court appearances. They can also oversee document gathering and help you compile all the records you will need to submit throughout your divorce proceedings. If your divorce entails complex investments, business assets, or other complicated financial matters, your attorney will help you obtain the records and supporting documentation you need to finalize the financial aspects of your divorce.
Hiring an attorney will also mean access to more significant legal resources than you would have on your own. Specifically, a good attorney will be able to coordinate expert witness testimony on your behalf should your case require it. For example, if you have any reason to believe that your spouse has hidden assets to subvert a fair property division determination, your attorney can coordinate assistance from a forensic accountant who can carefully review you and your spouse’s financial records. It is also possible for your attorney to consult with medical experts, social workers, psychiatrists, and other professionals and have them testify on specific aspects of a divorce case.
The ideal Pasadena divorce lawyer should be experienced, reliable, and responsive. They should provide you with multiple ways to contact them and provide you with timely updates about your case proceedings as new development unfold. They should also help you make informed choices about your options during the divorce process, such as the potential value of alternative dispute resolution.
Can a Lawyer Help With Divorce Mediation?
Many divorcing couples throughout the United States choose alternative dispute resolution to settle their divorce cases. This option saves a significant amount of time and money in nearly any divorce. Mediation also allows the divorcing spouses to retain more control over the outcome of their divorce. If you think divorce mediation may be the best method of handling your divorce, your attorney can provide valuable assistance throughout the mediation process.
You might wonder why you need an attorney if you intend to pursue alternative dispute resolution. However, it is important to remember that if you and your spouse decide on divorce mediation, your chosen mediator is present only to guide negotiations and help you draft your divorce agreement. They cannot provide either you or your spouse with legal counsel. Similarly, while you might think that you and your spouse are agreeable enough toward one another that you can manage mediation without legal representation, it is best to have reliable legal counsel on your side who can provide detailed guidance as your mediation sessions proceed.
Mediation typically consists of collaborative sessions with both divorcing spouses at once, as well as one-on-one sessions between the mediator and each spouse individually. Mediation requires working through every facet of a divorce so the couple can compile their divorce agreement. However, it is important to remember that not every divorce-related issue can be completely settled in mediation. It is often necessary for some measure of litigation to finalize a divorce agreement, and your attorney can help with this process as well.
Why Would I Need to Go to Court for Divorce?
Alternative dispute resolution is only possible when both spouses agree to the process. If one spouse demands a trial, the divorce case must still proceed to litigation. As mentioned, it is also possible for a divorcing couple to require some level of litigation to complete the divorce process. For example, it is not possible to reach a binding agreement regarding child custody or child support in divorce mediation. The Pasadena family court system has a legal duty to ensure all custody and support agreements suit the best interests of the children they will affect. You and your spouse can negotiate a parenting plan in mediation, but a judge will still need to review and approve it before it carries legal weight.
It is also possible for a divorcing couple to require litigation for other aspects of their divorce. For example, if you and your spouse own a business together, control complex investments, or have trouble negotiating spousal support in mediation, you will need to go to court to handle these issues. Having an attorney on your side for divorce litigation is an undeniable asset. Your attorney can help you prepare for every court appearance, helping you understand what you can expect and how to navigate the process with confidence.
It is common for recently divorced individuals to experience unexpected life events that influence the terms of their divorce agreements. For example, if your divorce order requires you to pay child support to your ex-spouse and you lose your job, this event has undoubtedly influenced your ability to meet your legal obligations. So, when you encounter this type of situation, how do you continue abiding by the terms of your divorce order?
Fortunately, the family court system recognizes that life can be unpredictable, and some events may occur outside of your control that make it impossible for you to abide by the current terms of your divorce order. The modification process is an alternative to the usual appeals process required for overturning a court order. If you have experienced any change in your life that affects your ability to abide by the terms of your divorce order, or if your circumstances have changed in any way that renders your current divorce terms untenable, you can file a petition for modification. Modification can help you ensure your family court order more accurately reflects your new circumstances.
An attorney can be a fantastic asset if you need to file a petition for modification, especially if your attorney already assisted you through your initial divorce proceedings. They will already be familiar with the details of your case and can streamline your modification proceedings significantly. Modification requires submitting a petition that clearly details the desired change to your family court order and your explanation regarding why you believe the change is necessary. Once the court receives the modification petition, it will set a hearing date. Both parties will have the chance to speak about the issue before a judge.
Approach Your Divorce More Confidently With Legal Representation
One of the best advantages of hiring an attorney to represent you in your Pasadena divorce case is the peace of mind your legal counsel will provide. Just as every marriage is unique, every divorce case will proceed a bit differently. While it is natural to feel uncertain about the best way to approach a divorce, a reliable divorce attorney can provide the assurance you need to handle your divorce proceedings effectively and with minimal stress. Divorce is rarely easy, but you can make your divorce much easier by choosing an experienced and trustworthy Pasadena divorce attorney to represent you.
If you are preparing to divorce in Pasadena and want to know what you can expect from hiring an experienced attorney to represent you, the Khalaf Law Group can help. Our team has extensive experience handling the most complex divorce cases in the Pasadena area, and we can put this experience to work for you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with a compassionate and reliable divorce attorney so you can approach your divorce with greater confidence.