It makes a lot of sense to hire a divorce lawyer if there is a real problem with abuse – spousal, child, sexual or substance abuse in the marriage.
In these situations, it may be impossible for the abused spouse to negotiate effectively: A lawyer can help arrange the necessary protection for an abused spouse and the children, if any.
It can also make sense to hire a lawyer if your spouse is being dishonest or vindictive and you just can’t cope with it. In that case, you may need someone to protect your interests.
Finally, it’s prudent to hire a lawyer if your spouse has an attorney. This is especially true if you have children or are facing complicated financial issues. It could be difficult and emotionally intimidating to go head to head with a seasoned pro.
If you can’t afford a divorce lawyer, consider calling your local legal aid office.
If you qualify financially, a lawyer will (at a minimum) discuss the legal aspects of your case with you and may continue to answer questions on an ongoing basis during your proceedings while you represent yourself. Ask whether the legal aid office has a pro bono program. The office may have a list of private attorneys who are willing to take on cases referred by legal aid at little or no cost.
If you don’t qualify for legal services or pro bono help, you’ll have to shop around for someone to represent you.
If You Fear Violence
If you fear that your spouse might harm you or your children (or abscond with your property), take action immediately.
Move to a safe place, and, if necessary, get a temporary restraining order to keep your spouse away.
It’s very important that you also get a temporary order for custody of your children so that you’re not accused of kidnapping.
If you need money, you have the right to use your joint accounts. Take the amount of money you realistically need plus some extra for emergencies (but try not to take more than half of what’s there unless you absolutely have to), and immediately file an action in court for support.
Divorce is never an easy decision to make, but sometimes it’s necessary, especially in cases of abuse, as listed above. There’s a lot to do in order to get a divorce, including tons of paperwork and various procedural rules to follow.
It’s a good idea to hire an experienced divorce lawyer, like Attorney Mishak, who is familiar with the divorce process and can advocate on your behalf, both in and out of the courtroom, inevitably getting you the best result possible for your situation.