If you're facing a change in your marriage and family life, you're not alone in Massachusetts. The best thing you can do is to find out what your options are, and learn how to protect yourself, your assets, and/or your children. One of the most common questions someone in this situation asks is, "Do I really need to hire an attorney to represent me?"
It's true, you do have the right to represent yourself in your divorce case, and some people think that's a good idea. Representing yourself is certainly a lot cheaper than hiring a lawyer, but the money you "save" by not hiring an attorney could end up costing thousands of dollars in the end.
More importantly, if you represent yourself, you risk giving up important rights. Many times, those rights cannot be recovered, even if you later decide to hire an attorney.
Additionally, attempting to represent yourself in family court usually results in being at a signiﬁcant disadvantage in the case, especially if the other side has an attorney.
It is generally advisable to hire an attorney if you face any of the circumstances described below:
If custody of your children is contested. Even if you are a good parent, you may lose custody of your children if you do not present your case in the proper manner. An experienced family law attorney will help prepare the strongest possible case for custody and eﬀectively present it to the court.
If your former spouse has hired a lawyer. The laws and procedures involved in a divorce 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. If there is only one lawyer in the courtroom, make sure that he is sitting beside you - not beside your spouse!
If you have signiﬁcant assets to protect. An attorney will ensure that your hard‐earned property is divided fairly, as well as help identify and protect all of your non‐marital assets. A lawyer can also help put you in the best possible position to remain in control of your business.
If your spouse is claiming spousal support. Alimony is one of the most diﬃcult areas of divorce law to predict. Courts come to very diﬀerent decisions as to how much spousal support should be paid, even on similar facts. Your attorney will work hard to ensure that a fair amount of spousal support is awarded in your case.
If you have a retirement account. If you have been working at the same job for any length of time, it is likely that your most valuable asset after your home is your retirement account, whether 401(k), IRA, military, 403(b), or pension. The law regarding how these accounts should be divided is complicated. Your lawyer will ensure that each such account is valued accurately and divided fairly.
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 a lawyer. Your attorney can help to shield you from such conduct, and our attorneys have years of experience successfully dealing with diﬃcult personalities.
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. This is true whichever side of the allegations you ﬁnd yourself on, whether you are the accuser or the victim of the abuse. These allegations are serious and must be dealt with in a serious manner.
If you cannot communicate with your former spouse. You will never be able to resolve the issues in your case with your former spouse if the two of you cannot eﬀectively communicate. You will need the help of an attorney to ensure that you achieve the best possible results in your case.
If you are self‐employed or your former spouse is self‐employed. The valuation of a business is a complicated and specialized process, and you will need the help of an experienced attorney to achieve the best results. Also, spousal and child support payment amounts are closely tied to income, which makes it especially important that all issues pertaining to the business are handled correctly. It is often easy for someone who is self‐employed to manipulate income or hide assets, and your attorney can help minimize the likelihood of this happening to you.
Making the decision to file for a Massachusetts divorce is one of the biggest decisions you can make. We are here to help. Attorney Renee Lazar will be glad to meet with you face‐to‐face to discuss your situation and help you understand the options available to you based on the facts of your particular case. Waiting another day is not the solution. Don't live with needless emotional stress and anxiety any longer. You can reach our office by filling out the Contact Form on this page or by calling 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation.