Family Law Articles

Do I Need a Divorce / Family Law Lawyer?

You have the right to represent yourself in your Divorce / Separation case.  However, it is important for you to recognize that you’re likely impaired, emotionally, and not likely able to approach negotiations and any litigation in a business-like objective manner. As well, you ought to appreciate that you may be giving up significant entitlements or overpaying without proper advice and guidance from an experienced family law if you represent yourself.  As such, I strongly recommend that you at least meet with an experienced and trusted family law lawyer to discuss your circumstances. Also, I recommend that you retain such a professional, especially if you face any of the following circumstances:

1.  If custody of your children is hotly disputed.  Even if you are a good parent, you may lose custody of your children.  A lawyer will help you present a stronger case for custody to the court.

2.  If your former spouse has hired a lawyer.  The laws and procedures involved in a Divorce / Separation are quite complex.  Do not let yourself be outmaneuvered by someone who knows the ropes.  The Court will not protect you when you make errors.

3.  If you have significant assets to protect.  A family law lawyer will ensure that you pay only a fair amount in support payments and that the property is divided fairly.  A lawyer can minimise the amount of taxes you pay by structuring the settlement properly.  A lawyer can help ensure that you remain in control of your business.

4.  If your spouse is claiming spousal support.  The area of spousal support is one of the most uncertain areas of family law, like mobility and relocation cases.  Courts come to very different conclusions about how much spousal support should be paid, even on similar facts.  Your lawyer will ensure that you only pay a fair amount of spousal support.

5.  If you have a pension.  If you have been working at the same job for any length of time, it is likely that your second most valuable asset (after your home) is your pension.  The law regarding how pensions should be divided is complicated.  Your family law lawyer will ensure that the pension is valued and divided fairly.

6.  If there is an imbalance in power between you and your former spouse.  If your former spouse is domineering or controlling, you will be better off dealing with him or her through an experienced family law lawyer.

7.  If there are allegations of domestic violence or child abuse.  Even if the allegations are not true, they can have a devastating effect and must be dealt with quickly and appropriately.

8.  If you cannot communicate with your former spouse.  You will not be able to settle things with your former spouse if you cannot communicate.  You will need the help of a family law lawyer to ensure that you get what you are entitled to.

9.  If you or your former spouse are self-employed.  The valuation of a business or an appreciation of income for family law purposes is complicated and you will need a family law lawyer’s help (and possibly the help of a chartered business valuator in more complicated cases).  Also, the amount of spousal and child support payments that must be paid is based on income.  It is often easy for someone who is self-employed to manipulate income or to hide assets.

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