What is Divorce Law? How to Find a Divorce Lawyer

 Divorce Law

What is Divorce Law

Divorce law governs the process of divorce and the distribution of marital property. It is a subset of family law and corresponds with child custody law and child support law as well.

Governing Law

Each state has its own requirements when it comes to divorce. The majority follow a no fault divorce policy. In those cases, you can obtain a divorce within days using standard forms and without demonstrating reasons for the divorce. In other states, however, divorce needs to be obtained through a showing of cause. This requires going through the court system rather than filing out basic forms. States follow a blend of codified law and case law. Disbursement of the marital property typically follows factor based tests as do spousal support and maintenance. Often times, the governing law will be the jurisdiction in which you were married, although some exceptions can be made for extenuating circumstances.

Reasons for Hiring an Attorney

While you can handle a divorce in most states without a divorce lawyer, it's recommended that you do, particularly if your soon to be ex has an attorney. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing substantially more in the settlement. Despite the fact that most of the legal bases for divorce law and property disbursement are to be based on equity, the results are not always equitable. A lawyer will help protect your interests. Often times, it’s good to consult with an attorney or law firm before the marriage has reached the point of divorce so that you can explore your other options. You can also consult with a divorce attorney as a preventative measure. In a divorce, it’s not uncommon for there to be other matters that need resolution such as child custody and child support. A divorce attorney will help to resolve these for you as well, representing them according to your interests.

Things to Look for in a Divorce Lawyer

When looking for a divorce lawyer, you will generally find the best ones in the family law specialty. While some cities are large enough to have attorneys who just specialize in divorce law, this is not the case for the majority of the nation. Be cautious about hiring a general practice attorney, particularly if your situation is likely to become complicated or contentious. The reputation of a divorce lawyer is particularly important, whether from a law firm or a solo practice. Find out from the community whether the attorney has a reputation for delaying the cases or shortchanging clients. Divorce lawyers are among the most sued lawyers in the nation, primarily based on number of delays and inadequate representation. Many divorce attorneys charge flat fees with an hourly rate afterward. Often times, you must pay this partially in advance. Contingency fees, however, are illegal.

Many good divorce law firms may also recommend procedures other than divorce. If the attorney asks what alternatives you have explored such as counseling or reconciliation agreements, understand that this is typically indicative of an attorney who is watching out for your best interests. An attorney who just fills out the basic forms without getting to know your situation is doing little better than you would if you had to fill out the forms. Bear in mind also that more jurisdictions are requiring counseling and mediation to increase the number of amicable divorces. If you go in with your spouse to discuss matters with an attorney before proceeding with a divorce, remember that the attorney cannot represent you both and may not be able to represent either of you if you disclose information that would prove unfair to the other party.

Divorce Law Articles

Spousal Support and Maintenance: Spousal support and maintenance were developed to protect the interests of wives in divorce law. The thinking at the time went that since women did not work outside of the home, they would need some method of support so that they could continue to care for themselves and the children...

Divorce Blogs

  • How Do Judges Decide Which Parent Gets Custody of a Child?

    When parents cannot agree on how they are going to raise their children after separation, judges or arbitrators have to decide which parent should have custody. That is unfortunate because judges usually have a very limited amount of time to spend wi...

  • The Pros and Cons of Pro Se Divorce

    Whether the reasons involve mistrusting attorneys, high fees, or the belief of the "easy" case, pro se divorce filings are increasing. This trend is likely to continue as form availability increases and online document services such as LegalZoom grow...

  • Spousal Support and Maintenance

    Spousal support and maintenance were developed to protect the interests of wives in divorce law. The thinking at the time went that since women did not work outside of the home, they would need some method of support so that they could continue to ca...

  • Custody Arrangements Both Parents Can Agree On

    Divorce is always a life altering decision for the people involved. The feelings of hurt and anger that former husbands and wives have during the divorce proceedings often cloud their judgments, making it difficult to separate good decisions from bad...

  • The Best Interests of the Child

    In family law, matters regarding the children are generally settled using the best interests of the child test. The best interests of the child is a factor based test that developed in response to the parens patriae doctrine. The purpose of this stan...