Rarely do couples choose to divorce on a whim. It is often an emotional process, one that involves considerable discussions and experiences. By the time a couple chooses to divorce, it is usually something that both parties know is coming, and that one or both individuals knows is the right decision for them.
When the unfortunate reality of a divorce looms, one of the first questions that comes to mind is, “Do I need a divorce lawyer?” Traditionally, there is this idea that divorce requires two divorce attorneys whose job it is to argue on their behalf.
But the answer is not as straightforward as a simple yes or no. What many do not realize is that while legal assistance is absolutely beneficial, not everyone requires a divorce litigation lawyer. In fact, many people are better served by a divorce mediation lawyer – one who can work collaboratively with both parties.
Divorce Litigation Attorney vs. Divorce Mediation Attorney
Attorneys play a critical role in the divorce process. But many people envision that the role of divorce attorneys is because of conflict – that both parties each get their own attorney in order to “fight” in a courtroom and determine who gets ownership or custody of various items.
But different attorneys can offer different approaches to managing a divorce:
- Divorce Litigation Attorneys – Litigation attorneys are the ones that “take to court.” They are the attorneys that represent your interests in a courtroom, arguing on your behalf with another attorney for your partner. They play a valuable role, but it is more confrontational and adds conflict in a way that may not be warranted.
- Divorce Mediation Attorneys – Mediation attorneys take a different approach. They represent both of you. They have formal discussions with the two of you together, and create more customized plans that help you manage life after the divorce.
Most people are familiar with litigation attorneys, but mediation attorneys – like the Law Office of Gina Pellettieri on Long Island – offer an alternative that tends to lead to more amicable divorces.
The Importance of Legal Assistance in Divorce Proceedings
Many couples want an amicable divorce. To do that, instead of an attorney, they consider trying to go through with the divorce without a lawyer.
That’s not typically a good idea. It’s essential to recognize the gravity of divorce as a legal process. This is not merely a relationship coming to an end; it is a binding contractual agreement being dissolved. This often involves the division of assets, potential alimony, child custody arrangements, and other complex issues. Legal guidance ensures that your rights are protected and that you navigate this maze in the most effective manner possible.
- Legally Binding Results – You and your former partner may be capable of dividing up some assets now, but the results of those discussions are not legally binding and other issues may arise in the future. Lawyers can work with you to make sure that the final decisions are legally binding.
- Knowledge and Expertise – Divorce laws vary by jurisdiction and are often riddled with complex clauses and exceptions. A qualified divorce lawyer will understand the nuances of these laws, helping you avoid pitfalls that you might not even be aware of.
- Objective Advice – An attorney can also serve as an objective third party, offering rational advice during an emotionally charged period. This objectivity can be invaluable, particularly when you are required to make crucial decisions that will impact your life for years to come.
Lawyers provide a critical service that helps to make sure that you’re able to move forward.
The Litigation Lawyer: Not Always Necessary
In a litigation-focused divorce, each party hires their own attorney, and these lawyers advocate solely for the interests of their individual clients. This is a competitive model, where the concept is to “win” the divorce, often at the expense of the other party. While a litigation lawyer is sometimes necessary—especially in cases involving abuse, fraud, or extreme animosity—it can also be a costly and polarizing experience.
- High Cost – Litigation is often more expensive due to court fees, multiple lawyer fees, and the extended time frame of divorce cases that go to trial.
- Emotional Toll – The adversarial nature of litigation can exacerbate emotional distress and potentially harm relationships further, particularly when children are involved.
- Less Control – A judge has the ultimate decision-making power in litigated divorces, which means you give up a measure of control over the outcome.
In contrast, a mediation lawyer represents the interests of both parties and aims to facilitate a mutually beneficial agreement. Mediation is generally a more amicable, quicker, and cost-effective method.
- Reduced Costs – One lawyer, fewer court fees, and a more streamlined process often make mediation significantly less expensive than litigation.
- Better Control – Mediation allows both parties to have a say in the final agreement, offering a sense of control and mutual satisfaction.
- Emotional Benefits – The collaborative nature of mediation helps maintain respectful relationships, which is particularly beneficial when children are involved.
There are many factors at play when determining what type of lawyer you need. Your financial assets, the complexity of your case, the amicability of you and your spouse, and more, all affect the decision. But one thing is clear: a divorce lawyer is helpful for moving forward as you dissolve your partnership.