Why You Should get a Lawyer for Your Divorce
If you are in the early stages of the divorce process, you may be wondering whether or not to represent yourself rather than engaging a lawyer. Perhaps you are concerned about legal costs, or you think the divorce process is straightforward.
Is a Lawyer necessary?
It is possible to obtain a divorce without the aid of a divorce lawyer. However, before deciding to represent yourself, it is important to consider what is at stake. If you have children and/or property, a lawyer’s fees may not amount to much when compared to what you stand to lose.
Representing yourself also requires a significant investment of time and energy in addition to your existing commitments and the emotional strain of a broken marriage.
Even for an uncontested divorce, you will still need to familiarise yourself with all of the legal procedures required for divorce procedures, including finding out which forms to complete and where to file them before the deadline expires.
If your spouse contests the divorce, your workload will increase significantly as you will have to file a response personally to every legal document you are served with, while also building your case and arguing it in Court.
It is important to remember that divorce is a complex and difficult process which will have a significant impact not only on your shared property and financial accounts, but also on the future relationships between you, your spouse, and your children.
Below is a list of reasons why you should consider engaging a professional family lawyer rather than representing yourself.
- You are not familiar with the Family Court and matrimonial law
Litigants who represent themselves are not granted any special treatment or leeway in Court. Instead, the judge will hold them to the same standards as the opposing party’s lawyer. While the judge may be patient with you, you do not know the law, what documents you need, or what the procedure is for making your case in Court.
Family lawyers, by contrast, represent clients for a living. Divorce lawyers are experts in family law and know how to argue their cases to make them seem more reasonable and convincing than yours.
It is very unlikely that you alone will be able to prepare adequately to face the court process and your spouse’s lawyer and once you enter the courtroom, it is no exaggeration that saying the wrong thing can jeopardise your entire case by saying or doing just one thing wrong.
- You need objective guidance at this highly emotional time
For both parties, divorce is highly emotional. You may be going through feelings of sorrow, betrayal, anxiety, depression, anger, confusion, and resignation. This heightened level of emotion means that it can be very difficult to remain objective about your case and work productively with the other side to resolve important issues. So, if are considering representing yourself, you should remember that your emotional state may prevent you from making sensible and informed decisions about your future.
As an objective third party, a divorce lawyer is better able to keep a clear, level head and look past the emotional aspects of the case to identify the best solutions for all parties involved. At every stage of the separation process, a divorce lawyer can advise you on when your requests are unreasonable or effectively impossible. Your lawyer can also help to act as a buffer between you and your spouse to prevent you from saying or doing things that may be interpreted as aggressive or vindictive and could, in turn, harm your case.
- A divorce lawyer can suggest options that you didn’t even know were possible and save you money
If you represent yourself, the judge may reject proposals that you make, leading to more work, greater costs, and delays for you, your spouse, the judge, and the court system.
On the experienced divorce lawyer has the expertise to evaluate your case, predict the likely outcome if it goes to Court, and suggest a variety of legal solutions to ensure that your interests are protected.
Family lawyers understand the needs of the individuals they represent. In particular, your lawyer knows that cost is important. A good lawyer will advise you on which issues are worth fighting so that you do not to waste your money by disputing every issue or dragging out litigation for longer than is required to reach the right solution for you.
While you may only focus on winning the case, your lawyer may recognise that the best outcome is to negotiate for a settlement, which may mean that you will need to compromise in certain areas so that you can keep hold of what you value most.
- Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork
During divorce proceedings, you may often feel as though you are being buried alive under a mountain of documents.
In fact, in a contested divorce, it is a common tactic among divorce lawyers to wear down the opposing party with paperwork to force them to settle on their own client’s terms.
Even in an uncontested divorce, it can be challenging to find out which forms are required for your situation, and tracking down the information that you need to fill out the forms can be both difficult and tedious.
However, to have a chance of succeeding in your divorce, it is essential that you can provide the Court with complete paperwork. Because the judge will rely extensively on your documents to decide the outcome of your case, you may be perceived as careless if you include the wrong numbers on one form or the wrong words on another. Similarly, the opposing side may accuse you of trying to hide information if you forget by mistake to include certain information. All of this will harm your credibility and damage your case.
A professional family lawyer knows exactly what information to include to make your case in the most persuasive way possible.
Why should I hire a divorce lawyer if my spouse and I can just go for mediation?
A growing number of court-based and private mediation schemes are available for couples seeking a divorce in Singapore. Mediation may be ordered by the Court in a number of situations and is mandatory if the couple has children.
Mediation is a useful alternative to litigation and can potentially save money and minimise the conflict involved in getting a divorce. However, entering into mediation without first understanding your legal rights can be risky. This is because a mediator will not provide the parties with any legal advice about their rights and similarly, will not tell either party whether a settlement is a good idea for him or her.
For this reason, you are highly recommended to seek legal advice before going to mediation, so that you are fully aware of your rights, especially those you stand to lose.
Issues that a lawyer can help to clarify before mediation include:
- Division of marital property
- Custody of children
- Child support
If you are not aware of your rights, you may end up with a divorce agreement that either gives away things you had a legal right to or leaves problems unresolved that will frustrate you later.
A quick Summary
When you get a divorce, you are making decisions that affect the rest of your life, so it is only natural if you find yourself overwhelmed.
However, it is important to remember that when divorce is something that you need to get right the first time. Obtaining assistance from a family lawyer can make your experience of divorce less stressful, less emotionally-damaging, and even less expensive. With a professional divorce lawyer at your side, you not only have an advocate to defend you, but also an ally during what may be one of the most difficult periods of your life.
Although not everyone needs one, engaging a good divorce lawyer is most often in your best interests, especially if your divorce is contested, if you have children and/or significant assets, or if your spouse has also engaged a divorce lawyer. In these cases, choosing to represent yourself could end up being a costly mistake.
How We Can Help
Filing for a divorce and divorce procedures in Singapore are delicate issues and may be too technical for you to fully understand alone. We understand that going through such an event in your life is difficult and emotional. Worry not, at I.R.B. Law; we have experienced divorce lawyers who are well versed in family law proceedings in Singapore. We will be able to guide you through the process and explain to you each and every stage of your divorce or your separation.
Do contact us to receive advice on how your divorce proceedings can be best handled so that you can focus on getting back up on your feet. Our first consultation is usually free as we wish to focus on you and not on your wallet. Do not hesitate to reach out to us at email@example.com or call us at 6589 8913 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced lawyers today.