You’re about to discover the little-known strategies that can save you from needless heartaches and protect your future
By: Stevie Draklan, Esq.
If you have been thinking about divorce, it’s likely you are frightened, worried about your future, and concerned about money. There is a lot of misinformation out there from well-meaning family, friends and online searches about divorce attorney.
We are here to help you get clear about your options.
Let’s take a look at 10 common myths about filing for divorce.
Myth 1: Can I handle this on my own?
From the very beginning of your situation, legal representation can save you time and money in the long run. An experienced divorce attorney can ensure you’re your case is filed properly and help you to determine what marital property to which you may be entitled.
While hiring a divorce attorney is not mandatory, you could be risking your future trying to work through this alone. Understanding the intricate procedures involved during divorce proceedings can be challenging.
Your attorney can apply years of experience and offer the best outcome for you possible.
Or maybe you just want to ask someone what your rights are?
With any divorce you have choices. A competent legal counsel can help you identify the choices and help you get the best possible outcome.
Myth 2: What I share with an attorney will be used by my spouse against me
What you discuss with any attorney is privileged and private
Many people often delay making an appointment even though the matter they want to discuss with is weighing heavily on their minds. One of their main concerns is privacy.
I want to assure you that all communication between you and any professional attorney is both privileged and private. Your personal family matters are safe.
Myth 3: All attorneys are the same
Divorce law is a complicated practice. The laws are changing all of the time and are different from state to state. These changing laws make it hard for people to know their rights.
Not all lawyers perform all of the work necessary to aggressively defend his or her client in every case. A skilled attorney will not compromise any professional standards and will take every action possible to best serve his or her client.
The best divorce attorneys are experienced in the law, the court in which you are filing, and the process.
Myth 4: A divorce attorney will lie to me about their fees
You may have been told that when you hire an attorney that you will never know how much you will pay.
That is simply not true. When armed with the right questions you will know exactly what representation will cost you.
You can receive the answers you need by just asking some simple questions.
- Do you charge a flat fee or are your fees hourly?
- If you charge by the hour, what is your rate?
- Will I have to pay a retainer fee and if so, how does that work?
- If you charge a flat fee, what does it include and what doesn’t it include?
- Is it refundable?
- Do I have to pay it all up front?
- What are my expected expenses outside of the attorney fee?
- Can you provide an estimate for them?
Myth 5: The best divorce attorneys are expensive
There are many well-meaning people who don’t always know the facts.
You may have been told that you have to hire the attorneys who drive fancy cars and wear expensive suits to be sure you will be served best. In fact, a co-worker or family member may be telling you incorrect information.
When interviewing a lawyer, you should find out in detail what work the lawyer will do to defend you in your case.
Some questions to ask are:
- Are there legal issues he will research?
- Will he interview any witnesses?
- How often does he go to court?
- When was the last time he handled a case like yours?
- Does he view the case as complex or simple? Why?
- Is the lawyer smart? Motivated? Well educated? Experienced?
Ask these questions before factoring in price.
There is no shame in seizing the very best outcome. Seek advice from someone who is working on your behalf and who will discuss their fees in a straightforward manner. Your future depends on it.
Myth 6: As a Grandparent I have no custody rights.
Grandparents can encounter difficulty in maintaining contact with grandchildren when their own adult child is the noncustodial parent. Hostility or even domestic violence issues between the parents can result in a grandparent’s inability to see the grandchild on a regular basis.
Whether a grandchild’s parents are divorced or were never married, an attorney can help grandparents explore the possibility of establishing a right to regular visitation.
The main factors to consider and prove in family court are the existence of an existing substantial relationship between the grandparent and the grandchild, and evidence that protecting and recognizing that relationship is in the grandchild’s best interests.
Other situations where a grandparent’s right to visitation or custody can be advanced include:
- Stepping into a parent’s visitation schedule in the event of overseas military deployment
- Petitioning for primary custody in circumstances where neither parent is available to discharge parental responsibilities effectively
- Applying for temporary guardianship in cases where drug or alcohol problems, conditions of neglect or abuse, or the incarceration of the primary custodial parent make placement with the grandparent a good alternative to foster care
Myth 7: An attorney can’t help me with an abusive spouse during a divorce
While we can’t speak for every divorce attorney, helping you protect yourself in the event of domestic violence or spousal abuse is one of the main responsibilities of an experienced and caring family law firm. At our firm, we have zero tolerance for those who terrorize their families and endanger their children.
Working closely with law enforcement, investigators, and other experts as needed, our office employs every legal tool and resource available to protect you and your children.
It’s important to document instances of domestic violence in order to provide information to police and prosecutors. The following kinds of information are important in building a case against an abuser:
- Photos of bodily injuries
- Copies of threatening letters
- Threatening phone messages
- Copies of medical or emergency room reports
As your attorney, we can assist you in filing for a Protection from Abuse Order to ensure the abuser is removed or barred from your home. Depending on your situation, we can also put you in contact with counseling and support services, including shelters if necessary.
We are vigilant in our efforts to protect you from your abuser, staying in contact with the authorities so we are prepared to respond to any violations involving PFA Orders, criminal assault, or phone harassment.
Myth 8: Mothers are always awarded primary custody of the children in a divorce
In Pennsylvania, there are 16 different factors that the Courts take into account when making custody determinations. These include which party is more likely to encourage the children to maintain a relationship with the other parent, and which party is more likely to attend the daily physical, emotional, developmental, and educational needs of the children.
Pennsylvania law mandates that these 16 factors are evaluated in a gender neutral manner.
A family law attorney serves as your partner in a custody situation and the more correct information the client has the better. The trusted relationship between a family law attorney and the client will permit sound decisions to be made about approaching these delicate matters.
If a father can demonstrate that he provided a primary caregiver role during the marriage, then the father and not the mother may be awarded primary physical custody.
Myth 9: I will never get my fair share because I don’t know anything about my spouse’s finances
When going through a divorce, you are entitled to know how much money your spouse makes, what property they own, and how much he or she has saved in retirement and life insurance accounts.
Unfortunately, sometimes spouses involved in a divorce are not willing to voluntarily share this information, a divorce attorney can compel the other party to share the information you need to ensure you receive a fair settlement.
Myth 10: I can’t afford to hire a divorce attorney – they are too expensive
How much a divorce costs depends primarily on you and your spouse and how you decide to approach a divorce action.
If the two of you have a civil relationship now and can continue that through the divorce process, then the involvement – and the cost – of a divorce attorney will be minimal. If you do not get along with your spouse and must use your divorce lawyer to resolve every aspect of your case for you, then the cost will be more.
So how much your divorce will cost you is, in large part, in your hands and within your control.