Why You Should Consider Hiring an Attorney for an Uncontested Divorce in the State of Maryland

on Jan 19, 2018 in Divorce

The Constitution allows individuals to represent themselves in all legal proceedings.  This includes divorce matters.  However, doing so presents problems and has drawbacks.  The temptation for an individual to represent himself or herself is particularly strong when the divorce is uncontested.

Uncontested Divorce: Human Emotion

A quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln, says, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.”  It is believed this was aimed at attorneys, but it certainly also applies to a layperson.  A common trait that everyone has is we are all human.  Emotions easily cloud even the most intelligent person’s judgment.  This is even more true when a person’s financial, emotional, and mental security are at stake.  Divorce impacts every aspect of a person’s life.  It is easy – and human – to be affected by emotion.

Also, guilt is a frequent emotion in divorce.  One of the parties often does not want a divorce.  It is easier for the party that wants a divorce to give in on issues that a non-emotional professional would not concede.  This can have disastrous financial consequences.  Guilt can also affect children.  Parties in a divorce use guilt to impact child custody issues.  A manipulative spouse can argue, “Since you want the divorce, I get the kids.”  This basis for custody is not fair to the parties and it is not fair to the children.

It is impossible to separate emotion from judgment during a divorce.  An objective, third party is vital when making decisions surrounding divorce.

Uncontested Divorce: Expertise

These days, very few people change their own oil.  Nobody would conduct surgery on themselves. Many taxpayers hire an accountant to do their taxes.  No patient performs their own root canal.  Why?  Professionals are trained to perform these tasks.  Often, this includes years of education and years of experience.  Training and experience allow professionals to make objective decisions in a meaningful way.  In cases such as divorce, this means lifelong financial damage, the loss of custody of your children, the loss of a home, ruining a comfortable retirement and many other unforeseen problems.  

An individual that represents himself in a divorce, even when the parties agree, does not know what they do not know.

Uncontested Divorce: Family Law is Complex

Further, family law in the state of Maryland is complicated.  A layperson does not even know the most basic things.  For example, did you know that before a divorce can begin, the parties must live apart for one year?  Do you know what exactly this means?  If you spend a weekend with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, does that interrupt the year?  Does “apart” mean one of you sleeps in the guest room or on the couch?  

Children complicate the divorce further.  How do you calculate child support?  Child support calculations are not simple.  They require knowledge of the law and some accounting knowledge.  Can the parties waive child support if their incomes are “close enough”?

Also, the tax consequences are complex.  Is child support received taxable income and tax deductible for the payor?  What about alimony?  When are property settlements taxable and what happens to the tax basis for a piece of property awarded in a divorce?

These are just a few of the complexities in a divorce.  Again, a party going through a divorce does not know what he or she does not know.  Family law attorneys are familiar with all these issues.

Further, issues arise during a divorce that the parties, and often even an attorney, does not anticipate.  Experience and training equips a family law attorney to handle unforeseen issues.

Uncontested Divorce: Attorneys Do Not Have to Be Expensive

Schedule an initial consultation, making it clear that you believe you have worked out most issues already.  If the attorney refuses to honor your agreement and says he or she fights until the bitter end, this is not the attorney for you.  During your meeting, also be open to the possibility that your attorney will raise issues that you may not have thought of.  As your advocate, it is their job to point out all you may be entiteld to under the law.

It is reasonable for an attorney to educate you and inform you of all of your rights.  You want to hire an attorney that will advise you of your rights and then honor your decision to resolve your case in a way that does not maximize the financial outcome for you.  For example, it may be important to you and your spouse to allow the children to remain in the family home.  You may be willing to make decisions about the property settlement that are not in your best interests, but allow your spouse to keep the home.  A qualified, experienced family law attorney will advise you of your rights in a divorce, listen to you when you will settle for less, and help you resolve your divorce accordingly.


If You are Planning a Divorce

If you are planning a divorce, it is a good idea to at least consult with a family law attorney, even when you think you have resolved all the issues.  There may be areas you and your spouse haven’t considered.  There may be agreements that come with unexpected tax consequences.  At Fait & DiLima, our attorneys practice family law exclusively.  Contact our office for to schedule a consultation today.